If you’re not familiar with all that America has to offer, you may not be aware of the breathtaking scenery, exciting attractions and educational museums lining Route 66 in Oklahoma.
In fact, the state is one of the main reasons that Route 66 is famous. During the Great Depression, many families left Oklahoma and nearby areas as farming communities throughout the region were ravaged by the Dust Bowl. This migration was chronicled by American novelist John Steinbeck in ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ Seeking a better life in California, these groups travelled down the historic route in search of new opportunities.
Times have changed, and today, Oklahoma is a destination that attracts tourists from far and wide. The state is also home to a thriving variety of Native American cultures, due to the number of Indigenous nations headquartered in the area.
In addition to the museums, diners and other attractions lining Route 66 throughout the state, Oklahoma’s capital and largest city, Oklahoma City, lies on the Mother Road and hosts numerous places of interest.
Ready to find out what to see and do on Route 66 in Oklahoma? Let’s get started!
Our journey starts in the northeast corner of the state, only a few miles from the border of Kansas, which Route 66 passes through briefly after exiting Missouri.
Here in Miami, Oklahoma, which is still quite a distance from the larger town of Tulsa, there’s a historic site that’s truly worth experiencing for yourself.
We’re talking about the Coleman Theatre. If you’re looking for a little bit of Las Vegas glitz in the region, check out this venue, located right on the legendary highway. According to its official website, the Coleman Theatre opened on 18 April 1929. Some of its distinctive features include an exterior in the Spanish Colonial Mission style and Louis XV interior adornments. This lavish venue still boasts its original Wurlitzer organ, which was installed in February 1929, shortly before the theatre’s opening.
Over the years, this theatre has served many purposes, first existing as a popular destination on the vaudeville circuit. It has subsequently hosted live performances ranging from ballet to jazz, and to this day, visitors can watch a silent movie accompanied by live music from this historic Wurlitzer organ.
Visitors can also tour a grand ballroom. In the past, this spectacular and spacious interior served as a secondary studio for large-scale murals painted by Charles Banks Wilson. The ballroom was also a gathering place for community groups. Today, it can be rented out for private functions.
While you may want to explore the Coleman Theatre for hours and hours, eventually you’ll hear the open road calling your name again. When it’s time to continue your journey, be sure to stop by the famous Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66 in Oklahoma before travelling to Tulsa and beyond.
For Route 66 travellers who need to take a moment to wet their whistles before exploring further, the POPS outside Oklahoma City on Route 66 in Arcadia is a must-visit location. The regional name for soft drinks differs from one location to the next in America, and soda pop is one the variants you’ll come across on your trip across the states.
That’s where POPS gets its name, and for good reason. This roadside destination allows travellers the opportunity to fuel up with petrol as well as to sample some of their 700 different soft drinks.
Yes, you read that right: 700.
In addition to the staggering volume of fizzy drinks available for purchase, visitors can partake in some classic American foods, including the Mother Road Burger, cheesesteaks, chilli dogs and pulled pork sandwiches.
One of the things we love most about this fanciful outpost in Arcadia is that it keeps the heritage of Route 66 alive in the 21st century. So many of the other destinations lining the historic highway harken back to a previous time. This stop in Arcadia proves that Route 66’s spirit and sensibilities are alive and well in today’s day and age, from the tall neon soda pop bottle outside to the delicious dishes available inside.
Oklahoma City Route 66 attractions
Oklahoma City is such an exciting locale that we hardly have time to delve into great detail about all the outdoor activities, cultural experiences and historic sites present here. Here’s a small sampling of some of the things we most anticipate when we follow the Route 66 signs in Oklahoma.
The state Capitol
Oklahoma’s Capitol building is located right on Route 66 in Oklahoma City. From the impressive dome to the working oil wells that are actually located on Capitol grounds, there’s a lot to experience here. Visitors will also love touring the governor’s mansion, which was constructed in 1928.
Do you want to take a moment to learn about the past? The Oklahoma History Center is the museum for you. It features exhibits about aviation, state history and, of course, Route 66.
The Adventure District
This aptly named section of northeast Oklahoma City hosts the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum as well as Science Museum Oklahoma. In this area, you’ll also find the Oklahoma City Zoo and a popular racetrack.
Lucille’s Service Station
Farther down the road in Hydro, you can visit Lucille’s Service Station, a picturesque roadside attraction worth seeing. The distinctive architectural style evokes bygone days on the Mother Road. This family-owned service station was in operation from the 1920s until the early 21st century, and today, like a miniature museum, it’s been preserved for photo opportunities and historical appreciation.
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
Located in the small town of Clinton, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum pays homage to historic places on the famous highway and offers a notable display of Route 66 memorabilia. This museum features exhibits that make the heyday of the Mother Road come alive, from the diners to the music and the vehicles.
If you’re ready to explore the sights, museums and scenery of Oklahoma, and every other state on Route 66, book a tour with us today.