Pay homage to the royalty of this oil boom city with a free tour of the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum (918-977-6166, phillips66museum.com), where you’ll find the history of Oklahoma’s Burbank Field and the industrial achievements of the Phillips Brothers. While you’re at it, visit the Frank Phillips Home (918-336-2491, frankphillipshome.org), owned and operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society, for an intimate look at the life of an oil tycoon. For a bit of fresh air, enjoy the Historic Cherokee Avenue Walking Tour (918-338-4290) in the heart of downtown Bartlesville before indulging in a famous “hot hamburger” at Murphy’s Steak House (918-336-4789), a monstrous, open-faced hamburger topped with French fries and a boatload of gravy. If you’re still upright when you finish, make the quick drive 12 miles southwest to Woolaroc (918-336-0307, woolaroc.org), once the ranch retreat of Frank Phillips, now a western museum and 3,700-acre wildlife preserve. Will Rogers’ once called Phillips’ retreat “the most unique place in this country.”
1) Celebrate your weekend freedom with a visit to the Prairie National Wild Horse Refuge, just south of Bartlesville on Highway 123. Established in 1989, the refuge was one of the first in the country, and is now home to nearly 2,000 free-roaming wild mustangs and burros. Or take a 10-minute drive in the opposite direction to Dewey, for a stop at the Tom Mix Museum (918-534-1555, tommixmuseum.com),where many of the personal possessions of the first cowboy movie star are on display.
2) If you’re near Bartlesville during the first weekend of June, don’t miss the 33rd annual Bartlesville Sunfest (918-331-0456, bartlesvillesunfest.org), “Oklahoma’s Biggest Outdoor Picnic,” featuring all kinds of live music, a drive-in movie, a free car show, and more. If you haven’t already, step inside the 19-story Price Tower (918-336-4949, pricetower.org)downtown, the only realized skyscraper designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. And don’t return home empty handed. Shop around at Yochum’s Custom Leather and Cowboy Décor for some fresh western style. If birdsong and big skies are more your style, bring your horse and hit the equestrian trails at either Copan Lake (918-532-4334) or Oologah Lake (918-443-2250), both less than an hour’s drive from Bartlesville.
For a longer stay, reserve a campsite at Osage Hills State Park (918-336-4141) and enjoy forests, bluffs, and the placid waters of Sand Creek and Lookout Lake. During the week, make the 45-minute drive northeast to Coffeyville, Kan., where the infamous Dalton Gang met its demise during a failed bank heist in 1892. Check out the Dalton Defenders Museum (620-251-2550, daltondefendersmuseum.com) for exhibits related to the iconic Wild West shootout, then hit the Elmwood Cemetery (620-252-6159) to visit the graves of those on both sides of the battle. For something a little more lighthearted, try the Will Rogers Memorial Museum (918.341.0719, willrogers.com/memorial_museum.html) in Claremore, Okla., an hour’s drive southeast of Bartlesville. For less than $10, you can check out Rogers’s final tomb, a famous saddle collection, and fine art and artifacts related to the famous cowboy humorist-philosopher.