Best of 2017 [part 2]: Our pics for best food, museums, views, and experiences

Best of 2017 [part 2]: Our pics for best food, museums, views, and experiences

In Best of 2017 [part 1] we posted our picks for best attraction, show, new place, and people. Today, we’re back to share some of the best food, museums, views, and experiences from our year in travel.

Best food –

Chicken fried steak at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile (Pawhuska, Oklahoma)

Chicken fried steak is a dish we’ve never made for dinner at home but enjoy ordering when we’re out. It’s a splurge for sure and if you’re going to take in the calories, you want it to be worth every one of them. The first time we went to Pawhuska, Oklahoma, this summer, it was a given that we’d try Ree Drummond’s chicken fried steak and it did not disappoint. In fact, Steve has tried chicken fried steaks all over the country and says the one at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile is, by far, the best he’s ever had.  It was a fork-tender, thinly sliced ribeye, breaded and fried to perfection, served with a side of delicious mashed potatoes, all smothered in creamy country gravy and five months later, he’s still talking about it.

Chicken fried steak at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Honorable mentions: Sunday brunch at College of the Ozarks (Branson, Missouri);  mini chocolate chip cookies at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch; the fresh fish and clam chowder up and down the Oregon coast; soup and salad at Salad Bros. (Rochester, Minnesota); and the garlic bread and steaks at The Peppermill (Valentine, Nebraska).

Sunday brunch, College of the Ozarks, Branson, Missouri

The College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri, serves an amazing Sunday Brunch that is prepared and served entirely by students who are working to pay their tuition.

Chocolate chip cookies, Vala's Pumpkin Patch, Gretna, Nebraska

These mini chocolate chip cookies at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch near Omaha were the perfect blend of crunchy, chewy and sweet. Ann had to make Steve count to 30 between cookies so they would last longer.

Clam chowder in Oregon

Ann and Carol tried the clam chowder everywhere we went in Oregon.

Salad Brothers wild rice soup, mixed greens, and ranch pasta salad, Rochester, Minnesota

Ann’s favorite lunch in Rochester, Minnesota comes from a restaurant called Salad Brothers. It’s a mixed green/ranch pasta salad, a cup of wild rice soup and one of their delicious parmesan bread sticks.

Peppermill garlic bread, Valentine, Nebraska

The garlic bread at the Peppermill comes au jus for dipping.

Best museum –

Art Institute of Chicago

We love museums and make a point to go to them when we travel. This year, we visited several museums we’d never seen near our home in Nebraska, including the Benne Museum (Crete), Lincoln County Historical Museum (North Platte), and Homestead National Monument (Beatrice). But the museum visit we enjoyed the most was the morning we spent at the Art Institute of Chicago.

One of the most impressive pieces of work at the museum is Marc Chagall’s American Windows. These stained glass windows have recently been restored and are as beautiful as they are impressive.

Marc Chagall’s American Windows was absolutely breathtaking to see in person.

We also loved seeing the Thorne Miniature Rooms. We couldn’t get over the detail packed into these tiny rooms! Parquet flooring, tiny newspapers left folded on the table and even fruit trees outside the windows of these rooms were just some of the amazing details that made these miniatures look just like an actual room.

Steve looks at one of the many Thorne Miniature Rooms. We couldn’t get over the detail packed into these tiny rooms!

Honorable mentions: Space Center Houston (Houston, Texas); Centennial Museum (Valentine, Nebraska); Columbia River Maritime Museum (Astoria, Oregon); Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City); Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum (Ashland, Nebraska); Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve (Bartlesville, Oklahoma).

Apollo Mission Control Space Center Houston

The Apollo Mission Control room at Space Center Houston helped make history again and again.

Centennial Hall, electric hair curler, Valentine, Nebraska

We had never seen a hair curling device quite like this one we found at Centennial Hall. A number of readers remember them, though.

We spent several hours at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City on our summer vacation with Meghan and some other college students

We spent several hours at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City on our summer vacation with Meghan and some other college students.

Columbia River Maritime Museum US Coast Guard lifeboat, Astoria Oregon

This US Coast Guard lifeboat is on display at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Nearly impossible to sink, boats like this patrol the often dangerous Columbia River Bar and provide emergency assistance to boaters in need.

SAC Museum hangar, Ashland, Nebraska.

One of the hangars at the SAC Museum near Ashland, Nebraska. The museum allows visitors to walk right up the airplanes on display and even take a peek inside some of them providing a look into the history of military aviation.

Woolaroc Museum mosaic, Woolaroc, Oklahoma

Located near Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the Woolaroc museum is loaded with art and artifacts from the collection of Frank Phillips. Mosaics like this one show the high level of artistry you’ll find there.

Best view –

Off the stern of the Carnival Valor in the Gulf of Mexico

There is nothing more calm and relaxing that watching the wake (and the world) go by from the stern of a cruise ship. Let’s just say, this is Steve’s “happy place.” We’ve taken six cruises so far and one of our favorite things to do on each one is simply sit back, relax, and watch the water. The views are spectacular and the weight of the world just seems to drift away with every wave.

Wake of the Carnival Valor

Steve loved watching the wake of the Carnival Valor on our trip across the Gulf of Mexico.

Honorable mentions: The shoreline at DePoe Bay (Oregon); from the top of the lookout tower at Nebraska National Forest (Halsey, Nebraska); from the blind at Rowe Sanctuary during the annual Sandhill Crane Migration (Gibbon, Nebraska); from the air while flying into Key West (Florida); from the deck of the lodge at Drummond Ranch (Pawhuska, Oklahoma).

Oregon Coast, Depoe Bay, Oregon

We stood and watched whales in the Pacific Ocean in Depoe Bay, Oregon.

View from Scott Lookout Tower, Nebraska National Forest

The view from the top of the Scott Lookout Tower across the Sandhills at the Nebraska National Forest. You could see for miles.

We watched thousands of Sandhill Cranes gather at sunset on the Platte River near Gibbon, Nebraska.

Florida Keys from the air, near Key West, Florida

Passengers on flights into Key West get to see views like this as they approach the airport; views that tell them they made a good choice in going there.

Pioneer Woman's lodge view

The view from the lodge across the Drummond Ranch near Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is absolutely incredible.

Best experience –

Watching the total solar eclipse from our own back yard

Of the hundreds of new new things we did while traveling this year, none compares to experiencing our first total solar eclipse from our own yard. We spent the day with family, college students, old friends, and new people we met that day. We were all in awe as we watched the sun go behind the moon and for two minutes and thirty-six seconds, we experienced one of the rarest occurrences in the universe. It was absolutely spectacular.

Steve and his dad, John Teget, watch the total solar eclipse from our front yard in Crete, Nebraska.

Steve and his dad, John Teget, watch the total solar eclipse from our front yard in Crete, Nebraska.

Total solar eclipse photo by Ronald D. Koch of Crete, Nebraska.

Total solar eclipse photo by Ronald D. Koch of Crete, Nebraska.

Honorable mentions: Whale watching in the Pacific Northwest; judging the National Indian Taco Championships (Pawhuska, Oklahoma); tasting Pinot Noir while feeding llamas at the Rain Dance Winery (Newberg, Oregon); traveling with our parents (Nebraska, Key West, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas); swimming in a cenote in Mexico; and throwing our boys off a tube on Table Rock Lake (Branson, Missouri).

Whale watching, Depoe Bay, Oregon

Visitors to Depoe Bay, Oregon, can stand along this wall and watch whales breaching in the water below.

Indian Taco fry bread being cooked in oil at the National Indian Taco Championships in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Indian Taco fry bread being cooked in oil at the National Indian Taco Championships in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Rain Dance Vineyards, feeding a llama, Newberg, Oregon

Meghan sips Pinot Noir while feeding a llama at Rain Dance vineyards near Newberg, Oregon.

Smith Falls, Valentine, Nebraska

We had a wonderful trip around Nebraska with Steve’s mom and dad this summer. Here we are at Smith Falls near Valentine, Nebraska.

We had such a good time with Ann's mom, Carol, on a trip to Oregon to see the coast and watch the Nebraska Cornhusker football team play the Oregon Ducks.

We had such a good time with Ann’s tiny mom, Carol, on a trip to Oregon to see the coast and watch the Nebraska Cornhusker football team play the Oregon Ducks.

Meghan and Steve swam in this cenote (can you find them) on our family vacation in Mexico this summer.

Meghan and Steve swam in this cenote (can you find them) on our family vacation in Mexico this summer.

Tubing on Table Rock Lake, Branson, Missouri

Michael, Josiah, and Davron loved tubing on Table Rock Lake near Branson. Steve loved driving the boat and making them fly off the tube.

What were some of your “bests” of 2017? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.

A parade, The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, and Pawhuska at Christmastime

A parade, The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, and Pawhuska at Christmastime

Just after Thanksgiving, I received a text message from the Pawhuska (OK) Chamber of Commerce that said, “Kind of kidding, but if you Steve want to be in Pawhuska the first weekend in December, I have two judging spots left for the parade. We just miss you all!”

It had been several weeks since we’d taken our moms there for a visit and truth be told, we missed Pawhuska, too. I quickly answered the text with, “Sign us up!.”

Each Christmas, we usually plan a short family getaway to see something new and celebrate the season. We’ve gone to Christian music concerts, sought out Christmas light displays, and last year saw Mannheim Steamroller live for the first time. So, it was very exciting to add something new to our list of Christmas adventures and we’d heard so many good things about Pawhuska’s annual holiday lights parade.

Kihekah Ave., Pawhuska, Oklahoma

All ready to judge the parade!

Our daughter, Meghan, was able to come with us and we enjoyed the time to reconnect on the 6-hour car ride from our home in Nebraska to the Oklahoma border. We got to town Saturday afternoon with just enough time to check into our room at the Historic Whiting Bed & Bath in downtown Pawhuska and stop by a few of the shops there, including the Tallgrass Art Gallery, Osage Outfitters, and LOREC Ranch Home Furnishings.

Osage Outfitters, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was Ladies’ Night at Osage Outfitters.

The Holiday Lights Parade began just after sundown and it was AMAZING! Cody and Lauren Garnett (owners of the World Famous Buckin’ Flamingo) were the parade emcees and they did a fantastic job introducing each entry and entertaining the crowd with what Steve likes to call “hilarious dad jokes.”

Cody and Lauren Garnett and Reba Bueno, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Lauren Garnett, Reba Bueno, and Cody Garnett prepare to host the parade. We knew Reba was multi-talented, but we didn’t know she was a “gansta wrapper.”

I took pictures and shot video of the parade while Steve and Meg judged the more than 30 entries, each covered in lights and exemplifying the theme of this year’s parade, The Nutcracker.

Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Christmas Parade of Lights.

Filming the Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was fun to share our parade experience “Live” on Facebook.

There were parade entries from businesses, non-profits, and even families who all just love celebrating the season and having a good time.

Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Christmas Parade of Lights.

We had a late supper at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile and enjoyed doing a little Christmas shopping during the extended holiday hours that evening.

Christmas Tree, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

One of many trees at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska.

Boots ornament, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This pair of cowboy boots was another of the cute ornaments at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

The Mercantile was beautifully decorated for Christmas, with several well-adorned Christmas trees, each with a different theme. There was one with food and cooking-related ornaments. The mini cinnamon rolls and KitchenAid mixer were a favs of mine.

Cinnamon roll ornaments, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

These cinnamon roll ornaments at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile look good enough to eat.

Another tree had a cowboy/ranch theme and had ornaments with things like cowboy boots, horses, dogs, barns, and John Deere tractors.

Cowboy Santa ornaments, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This cowboy Santa looked great on the ranch-themed Christmas tree at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Christmas dogs, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

These cute pups at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile are a perfect Christmas gift for any dog lover.

When we left The Mercantile, there were still a few shoppers in the streets and looking back at the strings of lights draping from building to building and hearing Christmas music played over a loud speaker downtown, we all felt like we were in the middle of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. I just love Christmas. I love my family. Pass the Kleenex, please.

Kihekah Ave. at Christmas, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Meghan stands on Kihekah Ave. after the parade.

The next day, we ventured outside and found a few local store owners working in their shops. We had a nice visit with the owner of Hair Razors and then spent quite a bit of time talking to the owners of the Book Burrow. The (mostly) used book store is a great addition to downtown Pawhuska and they had so many interesting books on the shelves, along with some antiques and other household items.

Book Burrow books, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The Book Burrow in Pawhuska has a huge selection of used books including these children’s books.

Of course, when in Pawhuska, you MUST stop at Handy’s, so we made our way over to our favorite convenience store to grab a cup of the best soda fountain pop in all of Oklahoma. We loved catching up with one of the owners, Martha, who was excited to tell us that our blog post about Handy’s a few months ago has helped business. She said several groups of people have even come in for a pop, saying they came to Pawhuska just to try the pop!

Martha at Handy's, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was nice to have a chance to catch up with Martha at Handy’s.

We spent the afternoon touring the area, as there was still so much we had not seen on previous trips. We drove out to Grayhorse Cemetery and paid our respects to those buried there, many of whom we’d recently read about in the book, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. It is an eye-opening and riveting book, if you haven’t read it. I highly recommend.

We also visited the Shrine of Kateri, the Veteran’s Memorial, and had lunch at Buffalo Joe’s. Later in the day, we attended a worship service with a new church in town and then drove about 20 miles to Woolaroc for the Wonderland of Lights display.

Woolaroc entry at Christmas, Woolaroc, Oklahoma

The Woolaroc Museum was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

The grounds and buildings there were covered in 750,000 lights and it was an absolutely spectacular sight. We enjoyed time in the museum and seeing Frank Phillips’ lodge all decorated for Christmas.

Painting at Woolaroc, Woolaroc, Oklahoma

Woolaroc has many incredible pieces of art.

The next morning, we indulged in breakfast back at The Mercantile. It’s my favorite meal of the day and The Mercantile is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to eat it. Steve got the pancake breakfast this time. He says he thinks they are served with three big scoops of flavored butter to hold them down, as they are so light and fluffy, they might just float away without it.

Pancake breakfast, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The pancake breakfast at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

I love the farmer’s breakfast which includes eggs, tomatoes, breakfast potatoes, ham, bacon, freshly made sage sausage, and the most amazing, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuit … my mouth is watering just typing this … that I’ve ever had. Oh, and it comes with blackberry jam. Needless to say, I can’t eat the whole thing, but it is nice to try a little bit of everything and there is no need for lunch.

After breakfast, we walked upstairs to the bakery and checked out the cutest gingerbread Mercantile made by the bakers there. It was adorable! It was all edible, with the exception of a tiny string of lights and even included mini Ree and Ladd Drummond characters on a balcony. (We’re told The Mercantile will be adding a similar balcony to the building early next year.)

Pioneer Woman Mercantile gingerbread model, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This gingerbread model of the Mercantile is full of beautiful detail, including a preview of the soon-to-be constructed balcony that will overlook Main St.

We took one more quick stroll through The Mercantile and picked up just a couple more gifts (who can resist the World’s Best Plastic Wrap & Dispenser) and headed down the street to visit a few more businesses.

Plastic wrap dispenser, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This plastic wrap dispenser at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile really is the world’s best.

We were so delighted to finally meet, in person, the Trumbly family who own and operate Clifton’s Gift Shop just around the corner from The Mercantile.

Pendleton Blanket, Clifton's Gift Shop, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

We were honored to be given this blanket by Mr. and Mrs. Trumbly of Clifton’s.

We’d spoken with Teresa on the phone and were just honored to spend time with her and her family, hearing about the history of Pawhuska and learning about the Osage Nation. We spent more than an hour visiting and then, Mr. and Mrs. Trumbly presented us a with a generous gift – a beautiful Pendleton blanket. We were so touched by the gift and are honored to display it in our home.

They were also so kind to set up an impromptu meeting for us with Osage Nation Chief Jeffrey M. Standing Bear. After one last stop at the Waterbird Art Gallery, we filled up our drinks at Handy’s and headed home.

Until next time, Pawhuska, thanks for your genuine hospitality.

Have you been to Pawhuska’s Holiday Lights Parade? Tell us about it. We’d love to hear from you. 


70+ things to do in Pawhuska [Part 2] after you’ve eaten at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile

70+ things to do in Pawhuska [Part 2] after you’ve eaten at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile

[well]Note: If you have not read #1-35 of the “70+ things to do in Pawhuska after visiting The Pioneer Woman Mercantile,” click HERE first.[/well]

36. Get a refill on your pop at Handy’s

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.

Handy fountain pop, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Osage News, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Buffalo Joe's open-faced burger, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

There is an open faced cheeseburger under this pile of fries and brown gravy from Buffalo Joe’s.

41. Visit a church

Pawhuska has more than a dozen churches that love to welcome visitors and several are listed on this Chamber of Commerce directory.

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.

Tallgrass Prairie Flowers and More, products, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Bronze Horse Foundry, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Lake Bluestem, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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 milk, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Post Office, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Gray Horse Cemetery, Gray Horse, Oklahoma

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 figurine, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Weigant’s Pharmacy has a number of religious figurines.

50. Get Uncorked

Every year, the Osage County Cattlemen’s Association combines with the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition and the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce to host an evening of fun, wine tasting, and good food to support the arts in Oklahoma. This event is the kick-off to the annual Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping competition, also held in Pawhuska.

51. Learn to dance at Dance Maker Academy

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.

Dance Maker Performing Arts Academy, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Mudipes2 Soap, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Mudpies jewelry, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Veterans' Memorial, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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:

  1. Stay on the trail. No need to bushwack for this one.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Million Dollar Elm momument, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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!

Public restrooms, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Huskies hat, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Clifton's Gift Shop, the Trumblys, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Million Dollar Inn, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

It and several other bed and bath properties can be found on Airbnb. We have also stayed at The Grandview Inn Bed and Breakfast, Redbud Cottage, and the Flamingo’s Nest and can recommend them all.

64. Add some art from the Water Bird Gallery

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!

The Water Bird Gallery, blanket, Pawhuska Oklahoma

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.

Sally's Cafe, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Grape Dumplin' clothing, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Roadhouse Coneys, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce building, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Stop in the historic chamber office to meet some of the friendliest people around!

Chamber of Commerce staff with Postcard Jar, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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 Pawhuska Oklahoma handbags and jewelry

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.

Sister's Attic, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Bad Brad's BBQ frito pie, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Whiting Bed and Bath, kitchen, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Prairie Cottage Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Gypsy Cowgirl, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve, Oklahoma

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. 

Mr. Reber Selfie, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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.

Handy's Martha and Margie, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

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).