A Route 66 Journey Through Green Country

 

Affectionately known as the “Mother Road,” Route 66 has been celebrated as the ultimate road trip experience for decades. As they wind their way across the Green Country portion of this storied highway, savvy travelers will find charming towns full of history and attractions the whole family can enjoy. Plan a nostalgic trek along Route 66 in Green Country and make a lifetime’s worth of memories on the Main Street of America! The route below runs from Miami in the northeast corner of Oklahoma to the west through Tulsa and Sapulpa.

 

The Coleman Theatre – Miami

When Route 66 travelers arrived in Miami, OK in the 1930s, they were treated to the most beautiful and ornate theatre experience between Dallas and Kansas City.  First opened in 1929, the Coleman Theatre was built as a venue for live entertainment and the popular silent films of the day. The Coleman is a breathtaking example of Spanish Mission Revival architecture, sporting stately features such as gold-leaf trim, silk damask panels and a carved mahogany staircase lined with gilded statues holding their candelabras aloft. Take a seat in the lovingly restored theatre and marvel at the 2,000-pound chandelier overhead and the massive ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ pipe organ up front as you conjure up images of the stars who once graced this very stage, including Will Rogers, Tom Mix and Bing Crosby. The Coleman is still home to cultural events like concerts, theatre productions and silent film showings accompanied by live playing of the pipe organ as guests would have enjoyed in the 1930s. Visitors can tour the grandeur of the Coleman Theatre during business hours.

 

Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park – Chelsea

Just a couple of miles off of Route 66, you’ll find the quirky Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park which is home to the world’s largest concrete totem pole. One of the region’s best-known landmarks, the park’s largest totem pole was completed by artist Ed Galloway in 1948 using 100 tons of sand and rock, 28 tons of cement, and 6 tons of steel. A whopping 90 feet tall, the totem pole rests on the back of a giant turtle – a reference to a Native American creation myth – and is decorated with over 200 bas relief images. The park is also home to several smaller totems, as well as the Fiddle House, an 11-sided structure that now houses a gift shop and several of Galloway’s handcrafted artifacts. Totem Pole Park is the perfect Route 66 photo op, capturing the very essence of the authentic, little-known attractions that line Mother Road.

 

JM Davis Arms & Historical Museum – Claremore

One of the largest privately-owned collections of firearms in the country, the JM Davis Arms & Historical Museum in Claremore holds an arsenal of over 50,000 unique pieces. As you explore the museum, you’ll be delighted to find a wide array of collections that surprise you around each turn. In addition to more firearms than you can even imagine, you’ll find collections of military memorabilia, antiques, Native American artifacts, Western memorabilia, musical instruments and more. One popular display is the collection of more than 1,000 beer steins from all over the world, one of which is definitely party-sized at over five feet tall. If you are very observant, you’ll spot the tiny saddles that were once ridden by trained monkeys in the parades, rodeos and Wild West shows of yesteryear. Explore the museum’s replica 19th century gunsmith shop and keep an eye on their events calendar to catch a thrilling Old West shootout staged by historical reenactors. 

 

Will Rogers Memorial Museum – Claremore

Learn about the life and work of Oklahoma’s favorite son at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore. One of the foremost actors, satirists and social commentators of his day, Rogers penned over 4,000 articles and was the highest paid Hollywood star of the 1930s. Discover the details of Roger’s amazing life – including his stint in the Ziegfeld Follies and his three trips around the world – through more than 15,000 square feet of art, manuscripts and photographs. Let the kids play in the children’s area, then take a seat in the Museum’s theater to watch one of Rogers’ classic films from the height of his popularity. The Will Rogers Memorial Museum is a wonderful resource to explore the legacy of this Oklahoma icon, making it a great stop for any family trip down Route 66.

 

The Blue Whale – Catoosa

This beloved Route 66 landmark has attracted many visitors since its completion in 1972. Designed and built by zoologist Hugh Davis as an anniversary gift to his wife Zelta (who collected whale figurines), it soon became a favorite stop for travelers looking to relax and enjoy a picnic or a swim in the surrounding pond. While swimming is no longer allowed at The Blue Whale of Catoosa, this utterly unique roadside attraction continues to beckon lovers of nostalgia, those seeking a quintessentially Oklahoman photo op, and those just looking for a nice leisurely spot for a lunchtime stop.

 

Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza & Neon Sign Park - Tulsa

Tulsan Cyrus Avery, known as the “Father of Route 66” was instrumental in getting the famous highway paved and in promoting it. Stop by Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza in Tulsa to pay homage to Avery, and marvel at the huge bronze monument there symbolizing the evolution of the national highway system, with a horse-drawn wagon on one side and the Avery family traveling down the Mother Road in their Ford Model T on the other. Across the highway lies the Neon Sign Park with its replica signs from days gone by. Be sure to capture some great photos of the neon glow in the evening.

 

Admiral Twin Drive-In Theater – Tulsa

During the spring and summer, relax and enjoy one of Hollywood’s newest flicks from the comfort of your car or truck at the Admiral Twin Drive-In. Originally opened in 1951, the Admiral Twin even has a film credit of its own, featured as a popular hangout in the Francis Ford Coppola film “The Outsiders." The 1983 movie was filmed mostly in Tulsa and featured a cast of then young, up-and-coming actors including Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon and Emilio Estevez. Snuggling up with loved ones to watch a movie the old-fashioned way is an ideal addition to your Route 66 journey.

 

Golden Driller Statue – Tulsa

Take a short detour of just a few blocks off The Mother Road to discover the massive Golden Driller statue that stands watch over the Tulsa Expo Center grounds. This 76-foot-tall giant is the tallest free-standing statue in the United States and a must for every Route 66 road trip photo album. The Golden Driller was originally built in 1952 for that year’s International Petroleum Exposition, and it remains an iconic Tulsa fixture to this day.

 

Route 66 Historical Village - Tulsa

Located along a stretch of the historic highway in southwest Tulsa, the Route 66 Historical Village is home to restored rail cars and steam engines, including a 1942 Frisco 4500 Meteor, as well as a 154-foot oil derrick (the nation’s tallest), which marks the site of the 1901 strike that made Tulsa the “Oil Capital of the World.” You’ll also find several other preserved historic vehicles, as well as a visitors center modeled after the traditional 1920s Phillips Cottage gas station design.

 

Waite Phillips Filling Station – Sapulpa

Just a block off Route 66 in Sapulpa, you’ll find the Waite Phillips Filling Station Museum with a collection of 1920s antique automobiles housed in a restored 1922 filling station building. The filling station was originally built by Waite Phillips, the brother of Phillips Petroleum founder Frank Phillips, and is a wonderful example of the early filling stations that dotted the roadsides of The Mother Road.  While you’re in Sapulpa, be sure to stop by the massive buffalo statue at the edge of town to snap a selfie with your travel buddies.

 

When you take a journey on Green Country's long stretch of Route 66, you'll discover all of the above attractions and so many more. Plan for a leisurely pace so you can stop and explore the many attractions, mom and pop diners and kitschy roadside curiosities. See Mickey Mantle's boyhood home in the town of Commerce, the origin of his Commerce Comet nickname, just outside of Miami. Take time to enjoy outdoor adventure at Grand Lake or Claremore Lake within a few miles of the highway. Visit the Mother Road Market for souvenirs, a tasty meal or snacks for the road. Explore Tulsarama Town Square & Decopolis Discovitorium where you'll find surprises like huge dinosaurs, life-sized dioramas and a scaled down version of quaint town inside this one of a kind souvenir and gift store. Stop at any of the many casinos near the route from Miami to Tulsa, including the renowned Hard Rock Hotel & Casino just east of Tulsa in Catoosa. All along America's Highway in Green Country, you'll find charming Main Streets and welcoming restaurants, attractions and shops to help you get your kicks on Route 66!

 

 

 

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