If you like The Pioneer Woman, or have ever dreamed of spending a night at her new Boarding House in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, you have got to see this video.
Now, here’s how we met this adorable couple.
Earlier this week, we made an impromptu trip back to one of our favorite places, Pawhuska, Oklahoma. As you may know, Pawhuska is a small town so word typically travels fast there. We’d only been in town a few hours when someone mentioned that there might be a few rooms available at new The Pioneer Woman Boarding House for that night due to a last-minute cancellation.
We were super excited to get a room at the boarding house on a recent visit to Pawhuska.
Now, you should know that when this cowboy luxury hotel opened for reservations this spring, they booked every room available (for months in advance) in about an hour. From the moment it was announced, Pioneer Woman fans from all over the world anxiously awaited the opening of the Food Network star’s new boutique hotel. Since opening, reservations there have been nearly impossible to get. Take a look at this picture from The Tack Room and you’ll see why.
The Tack Room at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House.
So when we called someone at The Boarding House Monday afternoon and discovered that a few rooms had indeed unexpectedly become available for that night, we jumped on it before they were booked. We arrived at the front desk in about four minutes (you can do that in a town the size of Pawhuska). We were so excited for the rare opportunity to check in and enjoy one of the eight luxurious, themed rooms.
Like all beds in the PW Boarding house, the bed in the Photograph Room is king-sized, has a Tempurpedic mattress and amazing bedding. If you’re anything like us, you’ll sleep well.
We unpacked our suitcase in The Photograph Room, which was beautifully decorated with white wainescoting, charcoal gray walls, and photographs taken by Ree Drummond herself.
There are always fresh flowers in every room at the PW Boarding House.
A picture of one of the Drummonds’ beloved dogs in the Photograph Room.
A little after 5 p.m., we joined a few other guests for complimentary wine and cheese in a common area and got to talking about anniversaries and what brought each of us through Pawhuska.
Jessye pours wine during the social hour at the PW Boarding House.
One couple from Oklahoma was celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary while our soon-to-be friends Claude and Kathy were there to learn more about Osage history after reading the book, “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann.
After having supper at the newly opened P. Town Pizza (you must have the Not Knots if you go), we went back to the hotel where ran into Claude and Kathy again outside on the balcony overlooking Kiheka Avenue.
The menu at P-Town pizza calls the Not Knots “life changing.” After trying these savory morsels, it’s safe to say the menu is correct. These are the stuff dreams are made of.
It was then that we learned more about how they came to stay at The Boarding House that night, despite knowing little about Ree Drummond or having ever watched even one episode of The Pioneer Woman’s popular TV show!
Claude and Kathy were a hoot. We ended up showing them around The Photograph Room and they invited us to see The Prairie Room in which they were staying.
The bathroom in the Photograph Room has beautiful black and white tile.
We got such a kick out of this couple who was married 50 years ago on the same day of the year as we were – August 27! Their story and lively personalities were just too good not to share, and they happily agreed to allow us to interview them on video.
We hope you enjoyed their uplifting story as much as we did. It certainly made for a memorable stay for all of us.
-Ann & Steve
Note: The Pioneer Woman Mercantile is inviting you to put your name into the hat for a free night’s stay at The Boarding House in 2018! Simply sign up at the link below to subscribe to The Merc’s email newsletter and each month for the rest of 2018 they will draw a random winner.
We were at the right place at the right time this week when we rolled across the windy plains of Oklahoma into the small town of Pawhuska for the seventh time in nine months, excited to see if there was any progress on the Pioneer Woman Boarding House.
As you know by now, we adore this historic town that is coming back to life, in part due to the entrepreneurial spirit of The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond and her husband, Ladd.
We pulled into Pawhuska Wednesday and walked by the Drummonds’ new cowboy luxury hotel on our way to The Merc for dinner our first feeding.
The Pioneer Woman Mercantile building in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
It wasn’t open yet, but the stunning lobby caught our eyes and we peeked through the door for a better look. One of the front desk attendants, Leslie, saw us and invited us in for a personal tour of The Pioneer Woman Boarding House.
These swinging wood doors were original to the building and lead to the lighted themed rooms upstairs.
The lobby is amazing — and it’s not even completed yet! The Drummonds kept the original tile floor and also preserved the steps and swinging doors that lead upstairs. Constructed in 1920, Leslie told us the building originally housed the Indian Silk Shop and was later a clothing store and J.C. Penney department store.
The sunlight coming into the Butterfly Room made the room so refreshing and relaxing.
Rooms at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House
Each of the eight rooms has its own unique theme and name — Tack Room, Prairie Room, Ranch Room, Butterfly Room, and more. Leslie said Ladd designed the four rooms on the third floor while Ree created the four on the second floor.
The Drugstore Suite was amazing! The uncovered mural, the apothecary jars, oh, my!
The Drugstore Room was one of the first rooms we visited and I’ll admit our jaws dropped about as far as the time we first laid eyes on Ree’s chicken fried steak. It was incredible. The largest feature of this suite is a huge Puryear’s advertising mural on the south wall. There are also wooden shelves that display apothecary jars filled with penny candy.
PIN FOR LATER
Everything was just all so well thought out with careful attention paid to details that bring relaxation and luxury.
All of the beds have luxurious bedding with embroidered pillow shams.
Amenities at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House
Each room has a king Tempur-Pedic bed topped with soft, fluffy bedding and decorative blankets. There is a stocked mini fridge and basket of unique snacks and fresh fruits in each room. In addition, they have provided not only a hair dryer, but a curling iron, as well. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Each of the rooms includes a basket of fresh fruit and unique snacks (like wax lips and Smarties) for purchase.
Bathrooms at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House
Oh, and bathing will be an experience at this hotel. The rooms have showers that are walk-in (many from both sides) and some have claw foot tubs. These aren’t the tiny, curl-up-your-knees and contort your body claw foot tubs, either. I’m talking stretch-out-your-legs, lie back in bubbles and soak-for-eternity claw foot tubs.
The Boudoir is decorated in burgundy velvet and glossy black paneled walls. Can you imagine soaking in this claw foot tub with a chandelier hanging above?
Every room was strikingly beautiful but the Emerald Room really caught my eye. Featuring emerald green tile throughout the huge bathroom, this room just makes you feel like you’re in a completely different place and time.
Each room at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House has luxurious bedding, and an accent blanket.
This emerald green bathroom has a large claw foot tub in addition to a walk-through shower with floating glass doors. I know I’m in the reflection in the mirrored tile, but I just had to share a picture of this amazing room!
I also loved the Photograph Room. The charcoal plaster walls are decorated with stunning photographs from the Drummond ranch, all taken by Ree. The bathroom has marble countertops and the entire room is ADA-accessible.
The Photograph Room is ADA compliant and filled with photographs taken by Ree Drummond.
Everything in this ADA-accessible room is so well thought out. The closet is open and includes a lower bar for hanging clothes.
The Photograph Room in filled with Ree Drummond’s photography.
The staff at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House
There’s no doubt in our minds The Boarding House is going to be a destination in and of itself for people who want to escape, relax, and unwind. Not only are the rooms and amenities some of the best we’ve seen in all our travels, the people who work there are committed to one thing – making people happy.
Our tour guide Leslie, who is from nearby Hominy, was a wealth of information about the history of Pawhuska and Osage County. And like everyone we’ve met in Osage County, her gift of hospitality made us feel right at home.
Our tour guide, Leslie, was so sweet and full of great information about the history of the town and the building.
We can’t wait for The Boarding House to open and look forward to sharing much more about the additional perks and services provided to guests. The spicy cowgirl coffee delivered to your room. The outside terrace overlooking Kihekah Avenue. The wine reception. The turndown service each evening complete with chocolate truffles. We’ll share it all with you, soon.
In fact, we’ve got a room booked the first week in May and we can’t wait to check in.
Thanks again to everyone at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile and The Boarding House for your incredible hospitality. We can’t wait to check in.
The first time we visited Pawhuska, Oklahoma, we went directly to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile to taste Ree Drummond’s frontier cooking for ourselves. We spent a day and a half in Pawhuska sipping coffee and eating cinnamon rolls upstairs in the bakery, shopping for kitchen supplies in the general store, and savoring every last bite of the most delicious chicken fried steak we’ve ever had.Since then, we’ve returned to Pawhuska several times and quickly learned for ourselves there is so much more to see and do there. Pawhuska has rich history, incredible art, unique shopping, and some of the most genuine hospitality we’ve come across in all our travels. Bottom line — if you come to Pawhuska and leave without dust on your car, you’ve missed out! Admittedly, this does not include everything, but here is our growing list of 70+ things to do in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, after you’ve eaten at The Mercantile. (Along with pictures of Steve doing many of them.)
1. Pour a pop at Handy’s
Handy’s is a convenience store that doesn’t sell gas or have a public restroom. Stop there anyway! What they do have is the best fountain pop in Pawhuska (that’s what the sign out front says) thanks to three choices of ice — cubed, pellet, or shaved and another little secret you can read about HERE. While you’re there, be sure to pick up an “I got a pop at Handy’s in Pawhuska, OK” postcard.
This dark and bubbly pop with that good pellet ice is just waiting to provide cool refreshment to any customer who comes through the door.
2. Take a tour with Roaming the Osage
Every first visit to Pawhuska should begin with a guided tour byRoaming the Osage Historic/Scenic Tours. Casey and his crew deliver a fantastic 90-minute overview of the community and its history while you sit back and relax in a comfortable Mercedes sprinter van with a retractable roof.
The Roaming the Osage tour is a great way to see the area.
You’ll tour the town, learn the history of the Osage, visit the Tallgrass Prairie preserve and drive by the now-familiar entrance to the Drummond Ranch. They also offer a tour to the Lodge on the days it’s open to the public. Call Casey at (918) 440-5312 to book a tour before you come or just stop by 429 E. Main to see if they have open seats.
3. Follow the mooing yellow truck to the Buckin’ Flamingo
Trust us on this one, if you see a yellow truck with a conestoga wagon cover pulling a trailer with a saddled pink flamingo in the back, follow it to the world famous Buckin’ Flamingo — it is a must-see! What started out as a pawn shop/bail bonds business has grown into a retail store just down Main Street from the Merc that specializes in metal yard art, decor, unique items, as well as vintage and retro pieces. The store has lots of cool stuff to take home or give as gifts.
Meghan and friends Kelsea and Kennedy stand with the well-known truck and trailer the Garnetts use to advertise their business.
We loved walking around the store, looking at all of the different pieces and seeing how they were displayed (yard ornaments stuck in sand in a canoe, for instance). Everyone who works there is super nice and interesting. If nothing else, just making their acquaintances is worth the stop.
4. Get your bling on at Salt Creek
Located in the heart of downtown on Kihekah Avenue, Salt Creek (look for the “SC” in the window) offers the latest in high fashion including Kendra Scott jewelry like what Ree wore on her People magazine cover.
Salt Creek offers Kendra Scott jewelry, women’s clothing, and gift items.
You can also shop their selection of women’s clothing as well as cute gift items like locally hand-embroidered tea towels and bath bombs.
5. Buy the best plastic wrap dispenser on earth
Have you ever tried to tear off plastic wrap only to have it stick to itself and not behave making you want to cuss a blue streak? At thePioneer Woman Mercantile, you can get the best plastic wrap dispenser ever made.
Love this plastic wrap dispenser from The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
We’ve bought the plastic wrap dispenser as well as the parchment paper dispenser and love them both. They also make a great gift idea for that difficult-to-shop-for person and are reasonably priced at $12.
6. Swing on the bridge
Be adventurous and try the swinging bridge! A favorite attraction of locals for years, the swinging bridge crosses Bird Creek just four blocks south of the Mercantile. Once the only way to get from one side of town to the other, the swinging bridge has been a favorite of visitors, and crossing it is a rite of passage, so to speak.
Steve walks across the swinging bridge. Don’t worry, it’s only a little more terrifying than it looks.
The signs at the ends of the bridge tell you not to jump up and down, though locals will later ask you if you did.
7. Stand in awe of stained glass at Immaculate Conception Church
We have been to Europe and have toured some of the most famous and impressive cathedrals in the world. None have stained glass windows quite like those at theImmaculate Conception Church in Pawhuska. The most famous window shows Father Shoenmaker bringing Catholicism to the Osage people.
The Osage Window at the Immaculate Conception church is not to be missed.
To even be created, the window required special dispensation from the Pope because it depicts people who were alive at the time it was made. More impressive than that, though, is the 3D effect you see when you look at the windows up close. You can make your visit Tuesday-Friday from 10am to 3pm. The door on the north side at the top of the ramp is typically open and a volunteer guide can show you around and answer questions.
8. Indulge in Indian Tacos
Every year on the first Saturday in October, dozens of home and professional cooks compete for fry bread bragging rights at theNational Indian Taco Championships in Pawhuska.
One of the many homemade Indian Tacos we sampled at the National Indian Taco Championships in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
Throughout the day, downtown is chock-full of Indian Taco stands, craft and retail vendors, as well as games for kids, and entertainment. They also have Powwow dance competitions for all ages. If you go, be sure to pace yourself and wear stretchy pants. You can read about our experience judging the competition in 2017 HERE.
9. Learn about the Osage Nation
Start your study of the Osage Nation with a visit to theOsage Nation Museum. The oldest tribally owned museum in the country, it offers free admission (but free will donations are accepted). Wah-zha-zhi Spirit: A Celebration of Osage History and Culture is a permanent exhibit there. It showcases themes including but not limited to pre-history, government, warfare and traditional arts. The museum is closed Sundays, Mondays, and holidays.
The Osage Nation Museum shares a great deal of history of the Osage Nation.
10. Try something on at Osage Outfitters
If you are looking for a unique pair of custom made cowboy boots or a cowboy hat that fits just right (yes, they steam and shape the hats right in the store at the hat bar), look no further than Osage Outfitters. Owners Joey and Callie have created an amazing store just a stone’s throw away from the Mercantile on Kihekah. Osage Outfitters carries dozens of quality boots for men, women and children, all made from the finest ethically sourced animal skins, including ostrich, hippo, and alligator. They also have some of the highest end western fashion in the area. If you see saddles on the sidewalk, you’re at the right place. Joey told us this was his first “inside” job, so he has a good understanding of what type of clothing real cowboys and ranch hands need and want. He said his wife Callie has great style and by browsing through the racks of modern and fashionable women’s apparel, we think he’s right. We loved this store, the owners’ hospitality, and the boots … oh, those boots.
The boots at Osage Outfitters are some of the best you can find.
11. Salute the start of Boy Scouts
Outside theOsage County Historical Society Museum sits a bronze statue of a few boy scouts with their scout master. Pawhuska claims it was the place where the first Boy Scout troop in the United States was organized in 1909. The museum also has displays and information on the history of Osage County.
The Osage County Historical Society museum is a great place to learn some of the history of the area.
12. Savor a skillet at El Vallarta’s
If you like Mexican food, you’ll loveEl Vallarta’s. Their lunch specials are delicious and are delivered to the table quickly. We especially enjoyed the grilled chicken and rice skillet (splurge and get it topped with queso) and the fried beef burrito. You can’t beat the prices. Our lunch for two, which included chips and drinks, was under $20.
Ann loved the chicken skillet from El Vallarta’s.
13. Search for bronze sculptures
Pawhuska is a city where the arts are important, and a quick look around town proves it. Throughout the town you’ll find number of bronze statues and sculptures, including several by famed sculptor John D. Free and his son John. See if you can find at least five of them.
One of the public bronzes by John D. Free in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
14. See a show at Constantine Theater
The historic (and allegedly haunted)Constantine Theater in downtown Pawhuska is the second oldest performing arts center in Oklahoma. Originally a hotel, the building was converted into an opera house in 1911 and remained a theater until it closed in 1970. In 1987, a group of concerned citizens got together and restored the building, reopening it as a performing arts venue. Check the schedule and catch a show!
15. Furnish your home at Lorec Ranch
LOREC Ranch Home Furnishings is a home decorating store just down the sidewalk from the PW Mercantile on Kihekah Avenue. Inside, you’ll find creative decor with a western bent, much like what you’ll see inside the Merc. This makes sense, because the LOREC Ranch provided many of the furnishings found there, including the couch and tables upstairs near the bakery. We loved the dyed cowhide placemats and huge dining room table and chairs. There are also lots of other small treasures hidden around the store like branding irons for your steak. Friendly staff, like manager Gay Kincaid, also make every visit a special one.
A great selection of western furniture and accessories is available at the LOREC Ranch.
16. Hunt for rocks
Pawhuska is home to an ongoing game among locals that includes the hiding and finding of painted rocks. When you’re in town, keep your eyes peeled for brightly painted rocks.
This is the rock we left in Pawhuska. Can you find it?
According to the rules listed in the Pawhuska Rocks Facebook Group, if you find a rock you like, you may keep it, but you have to replace it with another rock of your creation. Alternatively, you may just re-hide the rock. Either way, though, you’re asked to take a picture and post it to the group so the rock’s creator gets to see where it is. When we were in town, we hid a Postcard Jar rock … so keep your eyes open!
17. Throw a disc at Taylor Ranch
With two of the top ten disc golf courses in the United States and three overall, Pawhuska is quite the destination for disc golf enthusiasts as well as those new to the game. The city maintains a public disc golf course in Williams park, but the real action takes place a few miles south of town atThe Lodge at Taylor Ranch.
This hole at the Taylor Ranch requires players to clear a water hazard.
There they have two championship courses (a round costs $5) including one hole on which players must clear a water hazard. Taylor Ranch also offers everything from Zumba classes to homemade apple butter and they even have a cabin for rental on Airbnb that is down by the water.
In addition to a disc golf course, Williams Park in Pawhuska has playground equipment for the kids to enjoy.
18. Take a picture by a mural
As we’ve said before, Pawhuska is home to lots of public art including several murals. Take a moment to search them out and snap a photo like this one by the Osage Language building near Matthews and Main.
This mural is on the side of the Osage Language Building.
19. View the vista from Lookout Mountain
Head out of Pawhuska a few miles on Okesa Road and when you come to a fork in the road, keep to the right. You’ll immediately see a gravel road heading up a loooong hill. Drive up that road and you’ll be on the top of Lookout Mountain. There, you’ll find the memorial and gravesite for Chief Fred Lookout and his wife, Julia. Take a moment and pay your respects. You’ll also find an incredible, 360-degree panoramic view of Pawhuska, Bird Creek Valley, and Osage County. This view is definitely worth the trip.
The view from Lookout Mountain is incredible. In this photo, you can see Pawhuska in the distance.
20. Caffeinate with a Cowboy Coffee
There’s no better way to start to the day than with a Cowboy Coffee at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile. While The Merc may be best known for its food, don’t overlook the coffee. The Mercantile offers two world-class coffee bars with beans sourced and roasted exclusively for the store through a partnership with Topeca Roastery in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ann loves the Cowboy Coffee at the Merc.
Ann loves starting the day with the Cowboy Coffee, served “shot in the dark” style, infused with Sarsaparilla and topped with frothed milk. The Spicy Cowgirl has a hint of cayenne and is also a treat. The best part is that both the coffee beans and the flavorings are for sale at The Mercantile so you can also try your barista skills at home.
21. Launch a rocket
Every September, Pawhuska plays host to the theHigh Frontier Amateur Rocket Launch. Hundreds of hobby rocket enthusiasts gather at the Pawhuska airport to launch more than 300 rockets over two days’ time. Some are small rockets built by kids. Others are large rockets made of fiberglass that can reach altitudes of 10,000 to 15,000 feet! Sounds to us like a high-flying event that shouldn’t be missed.
22. Scale the stairs to the Osage County Courthouse
Need to burn off a few extra calories from that indulgence in queso dip at The Mercantile? Run some steps. There are two long sets of steps in downtown Pawhuska. If you start near the China Cafe, 129 steps will take you to the top of the hill where the courthouse sits. While you’re up there, take in the commanding view of downtown Pawhuska and surrounding area, catch your breath, and remember the 129 steps are much easier heading down. You’ll burn about a calorie and a half for every 10 steps you climb.
Steps to the courthouse in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
23. Compliment your cottage
The Prairie Cottage is a fun decor boutique located on Main St. just a block or so from the Merc. The folks there have traveled far and wide to bring unique items back to town, but they also have a selection of Pawhuska items in case you’re hunting for a souvenir to take home with you.
Home decor items at the Prairie Cottage.
24. Appreciate the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
At 39,650 acres, theTallgrass Prairie Preserve is the largest protected remnant of native tallgrass prairie on earth. With about 2,500 free-ranging bison, any visitor to the preserve has a good chance of spotting one or more of these majestic creatures. If you do, please remember the three rules for bison viewing the prairie’s conservancy has: 1. Stay in your car. 2. Stay in your car. 3. Stay in your car. In addition to being incredibly beautiful animals, bison are speedy, large, powerful and a little unpredictable. No human on earth can outrun them. Follow the rules.
Steve enjoys the fresh air and scenery at the Tallgrass Prairie.
25. Relax at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House
There’s no doubt in our minds The Pioneer Woman Boarding House is going to be a destination in and of itself for people visiting Pawhuska to escape, relax, and unwind. Not only are the rooms and amenities some of the best we’ve seen in all our travels, the people who work there are committed to one thing – making people happy. Read about our tour of the Boarding House HERE.
Each room at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House has luxurious bedding, an accent blanket, and a stuffed animal from The Mercantile.
26. Pamper yourself at a local salon
Take time out to get pampered at a local salon/spa. Pawhuska has a number of places to go includingAmbition Salon & Country Road Boutique, Hair Razors, and Thairapy. Whether you just need your hair styled or want to go home with a brand new cut and color, these salons offer it all. Some even offer mani/pedi services that can make your day of pampering complete.
Everyone needs a spa day. Thanks, Ambition Salon, for making Steve look so good!
27. Notice the architecture
Pawhuska’s unique history and its ties to oil and the money it brings mean that there are many beautiful, stately homes in town. Take a drive and admire the historic mansions that line the streets. Then, head downtown to see the triangle building and other historic structures, noting the decorative brickwork near the tops of the buildings. Built in 1914, the courthouse at the top of the hill is also worth a visit.
The newly-renovated Triangle building with its lights on for the first time in decades. This picture was taken in July 2018, right before the grand opening of the Frontier Hotel.
28. Sidle up to the Pig Stand
T-Bone’s Pig Stand is really just a food trailer on the west side of town with an awning over it. Apparently, the original building burned down years ago and they brought the trailer in as a temporary fix. After working in it, the owner liked it so decided to make it permanent and put the awning up.
The chopped pork sandwich made for a great lunch one day.
Don’t let the facade fool you, the food is great. Steve had the chopped pork sandwich with fresh cut fries and Ann loved her burger that was greasy in all the right ways. Locals also tell us you need to get there early if you want to enjoy the fish fry on Fridays.
29. Get your dawgs up
Pawhuska has quite a lively sports scene for a town its size and there is a great deal of local pride in their teams. While in town you should check out theschool’s activities calendar and head to an event. With football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, track and more, there has to be something to pique your interest. While there cheering for the Huskies, don’t forget to get your dawgs up! A local will be glad to explain how.
Check out a high school game while you’re in Pawhuska. If you’re lucky, you might find yourself witness to the pageantry and tradition of a small town’s homecoming.
30. Book a room at The Grandview Bed & Breakfast
Back in 1923, TheGrandview Inn Bed & Breakfast was a private residence owned by Drummond family. We learned that Ladd and Ree Drummond also lived here when their girls were young and in 2004, the home was purchased by historical home preserver, Charlotte Rhineheart. She replaced windows, updated central heating and air, refinished the beautiful wood floors and gave the interior a new design.
The stately Grandview Inn was home to the Drummond family for years.
In 2012, the property was purchased by Steven and Tiffany Poe, who have made their home in Pawhuska and become innkeepers of this gorgeous and stately bed and breakfast. Simple and wholesome breakfasts are served daily in the dining room and are complimentary with each night’s stay.
31. Play the piano
We noticed several upright pianos near business fronts in Pawhuska and asked about their significance. One local business owner told us it was just a way to bring something arts and craftsy to downtown and business owners were encouraged to create their own unique piano display for passersby. See how many you can spot (and play) in Pawhuska.
32. Visit the Drummond Lodge
As you may or may not be aware, the Drummonds have opened up for tours the Lodge where The Pioneer Woman shows are often filmed. Check the Pioneer Woman Mercantile website for open dates and details. Visitors can explore the Lodge on self-guided tours where you’ll get an inside look at the pantry, cozy guest rooms, and the two-sided fireplace with a boot-lined mantle.
It’s so fun to pretend that you’re helping Ree cook!
Be sure to take your camera or camera phone, as pictures are not only allowed, but encouraged. You’ll want to be sure to snap a shot of the women and girls (and a few brave men) playing kitchen in Ree’s beautifully designed space. You can read all about our first visit to the LodgeHERE.
33. Check out a book at the Pawhuska City Library
Pawhuska has a wonderful public library that is open every day but Sunday. Check outtheir website for their exact hours. Anyone is welcome to come in out of the heat (or cold), use the restroom, and settle down in a comfy chair with a book, magazine, or newspaper. Several copies of the New York Times Bestseller Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann are available there if you’re interested in this newly released true crime novel about the Osage murders and the birth of the FBI.
Steve pauses with a book in the Pawhuska Library.
34. Visit the Blessed Kateri Shrine of the West
Kateri Tekakwitha was the first Native American to be canonized as a saint, and there is a shrine in her honor outside the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 1314 Lynn Ave. She was canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI and is the patroness of ecology and environment, people in exile, and Native Americans.
St. Kateri was the first Native American canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
35. See where movies were made
Believe it or not, Pawhuska has played host to Hollywood more than once. August: Osage County was filmed there as was To the Wonder. Because of this, you should know that George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ben Affleck, and Rachel McAdams were all in and around the town during filming. Even more special, if you visit the original Mudpies as you head west from downtown, you can sit on the wicker couch used as a prop in the filming of August: Osage County.
On the porch of Mudipies, Steve relaxes on the same couch used during the filming of “August: Osage County.”
CLICK HERE for even more things to do in Pawhuska. (Part 2)
Have you been to Pawhuska? If so, what did you enjoy most and what have we missed? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you. Also, we’d like to thank Reba Bueno, Joni Nash, and all of Pawhuska’s residents and business owners we’ve met for your incredible hospitality and assistance. Until next time …
As always, thanks for sharing (and Pinning).
70+ things to do in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, after you’ve eaten at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile
If you’re working your way down this list, by now your cup is dry and you still have many more stops to go. Remember that at Handy’s, refills are discounted, so take your cup in, get more of that wonderfully crunchy ice, and head on back out into friendly Pawhuska.
Steve finishes refilling his cup with a cool, refreshing, pellet-ice laden Diet Coke at Handy’s.
37. Pitch a tent at Osage Hills State Park
Located about 15 miles from Pawhuska, the 1,100 acre Osage Hills State Park offers many outdoor recreation opportunities like camping, hiking, fall foliage viewing, and fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, and perch. In the park, there are sites for tent camping, and RV parking. There are also eight cabins available for rent. With a pool, ballfield, and tennis court, this park has something for everyone. Head on out, you never know, you just might spot a whitetail deer or a wild turkey!
38. Read the papers
The Osage News is a monthly publication that is sent across the country that, along with a website, keep people up-to-date on what’s happening with the Osage Nation. If you’re in Pawhuska, reading the paper is a great way to catch up on all the important news and events that are affecting the Osage. There is also the Pawhuska Journal-Capital, which includes local and area news, sports, and a “Happening Now” section on its website with a weekly calendar of events.
Read the paper and catch up on the news.
39. Celebrate America
On July 4th, Pawhuska residents line the streets for a non-motorized parade to celebrate America. Participants march down the street while spectators enjoy free hot dogs, apple cobbler and water. Prizes for funniest entry, best wheels, best pet, best family, most original, most patriotic, and most outrageous entry are awarded.
40. Have a breakfast burrito at Buffalo Joe’s
Or a hot hamburger platter. Locals told us that the breakfast burrito at Buffalo Joe’s Restaurant is to die for. They tell us that if you go, you need to make sure you add lots of fresh salsa. We took our moms there for lunch and all of us had great meals. Ann had the street taco daily special with spicy jalapeño salsa. Steve loved the Hot Hamburger served open face with fries on top then covered in brown gravy. You can also get sandwiches and salads, so there’s typically something for everyone.
There is an open faced cheeseburger under this pile of fries and brown gravy from Buffalo Joe’s.
42. Stop and smell the roses at Tallgrass Prairie Flowers and More
It’s always good to slow down a bit and appreciate pretty things in life. One great place to do that in Pawhuska is Tallgrass Prairie Flowers and More. A unique store just down the block from The Mercantile on Main Street, it is not only a florist, but also a boutique that has candles, reed diffusers, snack baskets, fruit baskets and even barbecue buckets.
Bath products for sale at Tallgrass Prairie Flowers and More.
43. Find the Bronze Horse Foundry
Home to the late, famed bronze artist John D. Free Sr., Pawhuska also plays home to his Bronze Horse Foundry. Located in Pawhuska at what used to the Armory, the foundary completes work for bronze projects all over the country. While not open to visitors on a regular basis, limited tours are available by appointment during which you can learn the fascinating process of creating bronze statues. For more information or to schedule a tour, call Cindy Free at (918) 287-4433.
A sculpture of Ben Johnson Jr. is taking shape at the Bronze Horse Foundry.
44. Light up the night at the Christmas Parade of Lights
Each year, town residents and visitors line up alongside the street to watch the Christmas Parade of Lights. The parade features floats covered in Christmas lights and always includes a very special guest: Santa Claus. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and head on down to this unique local celebration that brings on the holiday cheer! The parade takes place annually on the first Saturday in December.
45. Jump off a cliff at Bluestem Lake
Bluestem Lake near Pawhuska is a beautiful reservoir just a few miles out of town. The lake offers swimming and boating as well as cliffs with waterfalls to jump from during the hot Oklahoma summer months. We’re told that the cliffs are quite popular with teenagers in the summer.
Spend a day relaxing on the water at Lake Bluestem.
46. Get some groceries
CV’s Family foods may also be known as Pawhuska Hometown Foods and/or Pawhuska Cash Saver. We like to call it the store where Ree might get a loaf of bread, or a gallon of milk. Located at 236 E. Main, and featured on The Pioneer Woman cooking show, it is your one-stop shop for all things grocery in Pawhuska. They also sell Pawhuska Huskies ballcaps and t-shirts have a full service flower shop and even a deli with hot foods.
CV’s Family Foods is a great place to pick up a few things, especially if you’re staying at a B&B in town.
47. Mail a postcard
Yes, we put this on all the lists we write about what to do when you’ve traveled somewhere. Send a postcard to your friends or family or mail one home for your own Postcard Jar like we do. Of course, we’d love for you to send us a postcard, as well. Send it to Postcard Jar, PO Box 334, Crete, NE 68333.
Mail your postcard at the Pawhuska Post Office.
48. Pay your respects
The cemeteries in and around Pawhuska are quite historic and worth a visit. The Pawhuska City Cemetery in town is where Oscar-winning actor Ben Johnson Jr. is buried. The local cemetery also has unique grave markers and mausoleums.
The cemetery in Gray Horse is actually located about 25 miles from Pawhuska but is key to understanding the history of the area. In his book, Killers of the Flower Moon, author David Grann tells the chilling story of the Osage murders. After oil was discovered, U.S. law said that only Osages or their legal heirs could receive payments for the oil leases on Osage land. Some white men then took advantage of that law, marrying into Osage families before murdering family members so they could inherit. The Gray Horse cemetery is where many of these murder victims were laid to rest. Read the book to learn more about this case and the FBI investigation into these horrific events.
The cemetery at Gray Horse.
49. Browse the shelves at Weigant’s Pharmacy
At Weigant’s Pharmacy, in addition to being a place to fill prescriptions, they have a large selection of medallions and other religious items pertaining to the Catholic faith. We found a charming Saint Kateri figurine on the shelves there. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is the patroness of Ecology and the Environment and was the first Native American Saint.
Weigant’s Pharmacy has a number of religious figurines.
Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy offers opportunities for arts education through ballet, tap, and jazz classes to students of all ages and levels of expertise. They have an annual recital each May and also offer some other special performances throughout the year. Check the Dance Maker website for more information.
The Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy says they have classes for all ages and levels of expertise. There might be hope for Steve, after all.
52. Step in Mudpies
Mudpies is a unique home decor and gift boutique with two locations. Each store offers a unique inventory of humorous signs, kitchen towels, home decor items, jewelry, gifts, soaps and deliciously scented candles. And, it seems some of the nicest people in town work there.
They have quite a line of men’s soap in Mudpies2.
When you’re shopping at the store on West Main, you can also sit a spell on the shaded porch, and relax on the wicker couch used in the filming of August: Osage County.
Jewelry in Mudpies.
53. Remember those who served
Visit the Pawhuska, Oklahoma Veterans Memorial at the southeast corner of Main Street and Lynn Avenue which pays tribute to local veterans who served. Take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have given so much for our nation and freedom.
The Veterans’ Memorial in Pawhuska.
54. Search for a Geocache
There are more than 80 Geocaches placed within a 10-mile radius of Pawhuska. Use the Geocaching app on your phone to search for hidden treasures like one called “Just a Swingin’” with the following clues:
Stay on the trail. No need to bushwack for this one.
The cache is now a magnetic key holder. Bring your own pencil! You can approach from the North or the South, but I recommend the North. Parking is within feet of the cache from this direction.
If you get seasick, definitely approach from the North!
55. See the significance of the Million Dollar Elm
The “Million Dollar Elm” was the place the Osages auctioned off leases for companies to drill for oil in the early 1900’s. Millions of dollars changed hands under this tree, and there was even an occasional fistfight when a patch of ground was seen as super-profitable. While the tree is no longer there, a monument marks the spot that played such an important role in America’s and the Osages’ history.
This monument marks the place where the Million Dollar Elm stood. In its shade, millions of dollars worth of oil leases were sold.
56. Savor a sweet treat at Sweet-T’s
Head west on Main Street to a small drive-up building near the car wash where you’ll find Sweet-T’s. There you’ll find fantastic burgers and huge portions of incredible fries. Perhaps even better, though, is real homemade ice cream in flavors like Birthday Cake and Brown Butter Walnut. Hours vary depending on the day of the week, so you’ll want to check the Sweet-T’s Facebook page or drive by to see if it’s open.
57. Use the public potty on Kihekah Ave.
We wouldn’t normally include a public loo on our list of things to do, except it’s the best small town public restroom we’ve ever seen. This new facility in the middle of downtown has been shiny clean on each of our visits, and it features beautiful wooden stall walls and doors. Every town should have public restrooms this nice!
The public restrooms in Pawhuska are some of the nicest and cleanest we’ve ever seen.
58. Show your team spirit and support the Huskies!
If you’re visiting Pawhuska and want to fit in, stop by Spurs & Arrows or other local stores and pick up an orange Pawhuska Huskies t-shirt or hat. Who knows, you may even get looks from locals wondering why they can’t figure out who you are.
You can get some local team gear while you’re in town.
59. Ride ’em and rope ’em at Cavalcade
Each summer for more than 70 years, residents of Pawhuska have come together for Cavalcade, the world’s largest amateur rodeo. For a solid week, the town welcomes bull riders and calf ropers, barrel racers and pole benders, each trying to outdo the others. With food vendors and street dances, Pawhuska has a great time. Cavalcade is typically the third week in July.
60. Admire Gina Gray’s art
Pawhuska native Gina Gray was one of the most well-known Native American artists of the past 30 years. Her work, incorporating bright, bold colors featuring stylized figures and abstract landscapes can be seen throughout the community. This is just one more reason that the the art scene in Pawhuska is so wonderful.
61. Join a service club
Pawhuska has a Rotary Club, Kiwanis, American Legion, and Lions Club along with other service organizations, and they do many great things in and for the community.
62. Warm up in a Pendleton blanket at Clifton’s Gift Shop
Clifton’s Gift Shop on Main Street offers a large selection of Pendleton blankets, Osage regalia, as well as other gift items and Indian art. Be sure to stop in an say hello to the friendly folks who work there. They’re always happy to meet new people and hear all about what brought you to Pawhuska.
The Trubmlys are the longtime owners of Clifton’s Gift Shop and are some of the friendliest people in town.
Another place to get blankets is at the Osage Trading Company. At this old-style trading post, you’ll find everything from silver jewelry and Pendleton blankets to beads, feathers and fringe for traditional Native American dance garments.
63. Take in the view at the Million Dollar Inn
Named after the Million Dollar Elm where Osage Indians and businessmen gathered to make million-dollar deals for oil rights, The Million Dollar Inn bed and bath overlooks downtown Pawhuska and is just across the street from the former auction site on the Osage Nation campus.
The suites at the Million Dollar Inn each have a private bath and kitchenette.
The house that is now the bed and bath was originally built in 1912. It was recently saved from certain ruin and was renovated by current owner and Osage Tribal member Cheryl Potts. Each of the four guest suites is equipped with a kitchenette and private bath. Cheryl has decorated with family heirlooms that showcase her unique style and personal flair. We spent a complimentary night at the Million Dollar Inn and loved the comfortable pillow-top bed as well as Cheryl and her husband’s warm hospitality.
The Water Bird Gallery, located at 134 E. 6th St. in downtown Pawhuska, is a wonderful little store that will help bring some style and color to you and your home. Framed Native American art, turquoise and sterling silver jewelry, vintage and new Native American clothing items, cedar boxes and chests, and macaw beaded fans are just some of the items you’ll find in this friendly shop. It’s right across the street from the post office so it’s easy to find when you’re sending us a postcard from Pawhuska!
Beautiful Native American items in The Water Bird Gallery
65. Remember Sally
Sally Carroll was a local fixture in Pawhuska and the sign on her cafe is something of a local landmark. She began working in food service when she was just 12 years old and then changed jobs at 14, going to work at a cafe called Lazaro’s. When she was 21, she bought Lazaro’s, and renamed it Sally’s. For the next 77 years, the folks in Pawhuska indulged in her burgers, chili, and pie. She retired at 98 and passed away in early 2017 at age 100, but the sign for her cafe and her memory remain.
Historic Sally’s Cafe is closed now, but the sign remains.
66. Drop off your cleaning and find a new outfit at the Grape Dumplin’
Out on Highway 60 near the Tag Office, you’ll find a little store called The Grape Dumplin’. Inside they offer women’s clothing along with home decor and get this … you can also drop off your dry cleaning there.
Ann checks out some of the cool clothing at the Grape Dumplin’.
67. Grab a quick bite at Roadhouse Coneys
Over on Lynn Ave you’ll find a neat little place that offers great hot dogs with all your favorite toppings like chili, and cheese. Roadhouse Coneys also offers other favorites like walking tacos and Frito pie. In addition, they have a number of TVs, both inside and out, tuned to sports programming so you can take in the game along with some of your favorite comfort foods. When you go, don’t forget to order a little of their edible cookie dough for dessert. You’re welcome.
The coneys were so good that Steve ate them before we could remember to take a picture. The edible cookie dough which we did remember to photograph was also delicious.
68. Visit the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce
There are a couple reasons to visit the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce. The first is that Reba Bueno and Joni Nash work there and they are super friendly people who are a wealth of knowledge on the entire area. The second is that the building itself was the first house built in Pawhuska and has quite an interesting history. Reba will tell you all about it if you ask.
Stop in the historic chamber office to meet some of the friendliest people around!
Steve and Ann took a pic with Reba and Joni from the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce during the National Indian Taco Championships.
69. Rope a goat
So, the Buckin’ Flamingo that we mentioned earlier is a pretty cool place. In addition to everything they offer in their store, they can also bring goat roping to your next get-together. Contact them for details and to book this unique entertainment experience.
70. Watch a sunset
You are on the plains of Oklahoma, one of the places that God set aside for having beautiful sunsets just about every single night. Head out west on Highway 60, find a safe spot to park along a side road, kick back, and take it in. You’ll be glad you did.
71. Purchase a purse at Pierce Arrow
Want to carry a graf lantz bag like the one Ladd bought Ree on that one episode? You can get it here! Just across from The Mercantile, Pierce Arrow is a great place to shop for fine jewelry, apparel, home decor & gifts. In addition to the beautiful handbags, be sure to check out their beautiful selection of Chili Rose bracelets.
Pierce arrow offers Graf Lantz handbags, Chili Rose bracelets, women’s clothing and other jewelry.
72. Place a bid at the First Tuesday Auction
The first Tuesday of every month is a big day at the Osage County Fairgrounds Ag building. Cody Garnett from the Buckin’ Flamingo puts on an auction that draws a crowd from far and wide. Starting at 6:01 p.m., he auctions off tons of items including jewelry, coins, treasures, trailers, guns, equipment, furniture, and home decor. Make plans to attend if you’re in town because you may just stumble into the deal of a lifetime.
73. Find a bargain at Sister’s Attic
Sister’s Attic is a consignment store located just east of the Merc on Main Street. It is a shop of many mini-shops, each booth with its own flavor and flair. Stop in and find amazing things from new clothing and art to used toasters and books. The owner, Randi, is so friendly that a stop in this store will never be a waste of time.
Steve follows the advice of the sign at Sister’s Attic. And the sign is right, they have one of about everything in there.
74. Feast on a Frito pie
Bad Brad’s BBQ is an amazing little place on the north side of Highway 60. The Frito Pie features a bed of Fritos corn chips topped with cowboy beans and your choice of meat and cheese. Also available is a dish called cowboy fries which is the same thing but with fresh cooked french fries. Both are amazingly delicious.
This Frito pie with pulled pork at Bad Brad’s tastes even better than it looks.
Locals tell us that the fried bologna is the best meat choice and it must be, as they were completely sold out of it by the time we arrived. Instead, we ordered the pulled pork and the smoked brisket and it was some of the best BBQ we’ve had anywhere. Go hungry, as the portions are hefty.
75. Stay downtown
There are quite a few places to stay right in the heart of downtown Pawhuska. The Little Rainsong Loft is a recently renovated space that is 1,100 square feet with two bedrooms that will sleep six people comfortably. It also features a private entrance, kitchen, living room, full bath, dining room, screened-in back porch, and backyard with firepit.
Historic Whiting Bed & Bath is another great place to stay. Each of the 12 uniquely themed rooms has a private bathroom, as well as a kitchenette with microwave, coffee pot, toaster, and refrigerator.
The kitchen of our room in the historic Whiting Bed and Bath in downtown Pawhuska.
The Prairie Cottages, located next to the Prairie Cottage store, are charming one room cottages located about 100 steps from the Mercantile. One has a king bed, the other has two queens. Both are clean and modern.
One of the two Prairie Cottages available for rent in downtown Pawhuska
Finally, the Triangle building recently reopened as the 23-room Frontier Hotel. With all these options, you’re sure to find a comfy place to rest your head.
76. Meet an Aussie at the Gypsy Cowgirl and Gypsy Boutique Mall
Operated by a delightful woman from Australia, the Gypsy Cowgirl and Gypsy Boutique Mall offers unique collections of women’s clothing, infant and toddler clothing, accessories, home decor, furniture, antiques, and gifts for a variety of styles. They have an adorable line of mommy and me and clothing items for moms who want to match their little ones.
The Gypsy Cowgirl has a wide variety of interesting items.
77. Drive out to Woolaroc
About 20 miles from Pawhuska, you’ll find oilman Frank Phillips’ ranch retreat he called Woolaroc, which is now a museum and wildlife preserve. Pay admission at the gate then drive onto the property where you’ll see bison, as well as some other unique animals like water buffalo, zebras, giraffes, and ostriches.
The sign speaks for itself.
The property also includes a museum with extensive collections of western art and artifacts, Native American material, and according to its website, one of the finest collections of Colt firearms in the world. Woolaroc (derived from the words woods, lake and rocks) is open year-round to visitors and a trip to the area would not be complete without a stop at this unique attraction.
78. Get a selfie with Mr. Reber
John G. Reber is one of Pawhuska’s most beloved residents. The former band teacher at Pawhuska High School, Mr. Reber is now retired and often has a pancake and coffee in the morning at The Mercantile before going next door to LOREC or across the street to Osage Outfitters to visit with employees and customers there. He loves to meet new people and take selfies.
Meghan took a selfie with Mr. Reber after breakfast at the Merc.
79. Be happy at Handy’s
Because you probably want another one, and the ice is sooo good that you can’t stop crunching, make one last stop at Handy’s during happy hour (10-11 a.m. or 4-5 p.m.) for a half-priced fountain pop. The best part is that by your third stop at the store in the same day, people might begin to mistake you for a local.
Ann and Steve pause for a picture with Martha and Margie at Handy’s.
Have you been to Pawhuska? If so, what did you enjoy most and what have we missed? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you. Also, we’d like to thank Reba Bueno, Joni Nash, and all of Pawhuska’s residents and business owners for your incredible hospitality and assistance. Until next time …
As always, thanks for sharing (and Pinning).
We’re Steve and Ann Teget. We spent more than two decades in corporate America and public education before Ann’s health and Steve’s aversion to middle school girl drama convinced us to try something new. Now we are making the most of midlife and telling authentic stories about extraordinary travel. And yes, we send ourselves postcards.