About This List
Between all your classes, piles of reading assignments, social obligations—and not to mention all those student group activities with free food—it’s often quite tempting to hunker down and spend your college life on campus. The University of Tulsa is no different from other institutions of higher learning in this regard. The programming and amenities that TU offers its students is top-notch.
But college life can (and should) stretch beyond the physical boundaries of the school campus. And fortunately for you, Tulsa is a city teeming with educational opportunity. From dining on authentic foreign cuisine to savoring the art on display in our world-class museums and all-ages programming throughout our city, there’s plenty to learn outside the classroom here in Tulsa. With plenty of activities and events on the University of Tulsa’s campus, it's tempting to stay put and never leave. And best of all—you can do it without emptying your wallet.
So grab your student ID (you’ll need it to get those sweet, sweet student discounts) and a set of wheels from the TU bike program and hit the town with help from us! —Bea Baker
Please note that programming at many of these Tulsa places may have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing is recommended and wherever you go, please take a mask.
2648 E. 11th St., Tulsa, OK 74104
Located on 11th St. not far from TU's campus, Tom's Bicycles offers a 10% discount to TU students, faculty and staff. It's a great visit for students looking to get plugged into the local cycling scene, as Tom's sponsors Bike Club and supports many rides including Tour de Tulsa, Copland Classic, TBC Fall Century, DAM J.A.M., Bike MS, and CF Cycle for Life Night Ride. –Root staff
2727 S. Rockford Rd., Tulsa, OK 74114
Oilman Waite Phillips donated the 72-room mansion and its surrounding 23 acres of grounds—then his private residence—to the city of Tulsa in 1938. It's served Tulsa as an art museum ever since, making great strides in recent years to cater to younger and more diverse audiences by expanding its programming. In a given week visitors may find garden tours, movie screenings, workshops with local artists or even a burger night at the Philbrook's Kitchen 27.
The result is a more social museum experience that still takes its art quite seriously. Visitors can spend hours exploring Philbrook's permanent collection—which includes some of the original Italian Renaissance pieces that Phillips donated with the villa as well as a stunning Kehinde Wiley portrait installed in 2017—or its modern exhibition series, which has recently shown work by Andy Warhol and Pakistani artist Anila Quayyum Agha. What makes the Philbrook even better? Students get in free with a valid TU ID. –Root staff
2625 E. 11th St., Tulsa, OK 74104
This 18 and up joint is tucked into a strip mall right off of The University of Tulsa campus. Walking into the surprisingly large space, eclectic curtains cover the large window where fluorescent light seeps in during evening hours. It’s a Mary Poppins bag of flavorful vaporized smoke, people chatting and students studying.
The drink menu is full of teas and Turkish coffee. Needing something more substantial? The staff recommends the meat and cheese pie with olives. Once you’ve satiated your appetite, turn to the hookah menu. Flavors range from apple to blue magic and watermelon mint. Head over on a Tuesday night for 10% off with a valid student ID. –Bea Baker
2420 E. Admiral Blvd., Tulsa, OK 74110
Craving something sweet? Pancho Anaya Bakery boasts dozens of pan dulce, traditional Mexican pastries, or “sweet bread,” baked fresh every day. The family brought the business and their generations-old recipes to Tulsa from Mexico almost 20 years ago. Grab a tray and a pair of tongs and help yourself to the bakery cases that line the far wall.
Don’t be afraid to indulge; most of the pan dulce costs only 64 cents per piece. Might we recommend the concha, a fluffy bread with a conch-shaped sugar paste on top, or the empanadas, hand pies filled with either Bavarian cream, pineapple or pumpkin? Don't be afraid to pile 'em high. –Root staff
4008 E. 11th St., Tulsa, OK 74112
Movie stars past line this east Tulsa restaurant, glancing over their shoulders into your taco platters. Look closely and you’ll learn about Jorge Negrete and Germán Valdés from Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema (Época de Oro del Cine Mexicano) who hang in frames around the restaurant. Looking down, they give you their nod of approval. Be assured, Tacos Don Francisco is the place to be.
Located on Route 66 near The University of Tulsa, the establishment is a hot spot for lunch-goers and the late night crowd alike. Open until four in the morning on weekends, it can be especially popular with TU students. The menu is simple, but don’t be deceived. There’s potential for an infinite combination of meats to mix and match with your meal. Tacos, burritos, gorditas, and tortas alike can be filled with fried or marinated pork, chicken, tongue or cheek meat, and sausage (to name a few). The guacamole is made fresh to order.
Valentina and Tapatio hot sauces sit on each table, looking longingly at customers. A splash of hot sauce can bring the spices of the meat and onion together to inspire a completely new flavor profile. Be sure to pick up an horchata or another one of their two agua frescas to wash down any heat as a sweet refreshment telling your stomach that you are done. –Bea Baker
112 S. Elgin Ave. Ste. B, Tulsa, OK 74120
St. Vitus is fun. Craft cocktails on tap, high-grade couch cushions made to repel spills and withstand boots and high heels, a DJ (or more) every night it’s open. And those lights above the dance floor! (They really do sync up with the music if you care to look.) Modeled after house and techno nightclubs like Fabric in London, it’s no wonder that there’s a line to get into this place just to dance. Take a few friends (assuming that everybody's 21 or older) and go party the night away. —Matt Carney
3136 E. 11th St., Tulsa, OK 74104
One truck to rule them all, Lone Wolf set the standard in Tulsa for the ideal food truck-to-brick-and-mortar model. Featured on the second season of the CNBC television show "Restaurant Startup," Lone Wolf feeds the masses its locally crafted, locally sourced Vietnamese and French fusion food. Banh Mi sandwiches, kimchi fries and fried rice bowls highlight this creative and flavorful menu. While one location Is downtown, the location on 11th Street is right next to the University of Tulsa. Come for 50-cent wings on Wednesday and BOGO dessert items on Tuesdays. –Root staff
1216 S. Harvard Ave., Tulsa, OK 74112
Retro Den sells a carefully curated collection of vintage furniture, rugs, lamps, wall hangings and rare knick-knacks. The open space is filled with swoon-worthy seating—like those sleek, low-slung midcentury couches and chairs that make a design statement no matter where you place them. This is the place to go if you want to repurpose an old library card catalog or want to dress your walls with old lithographs and prints. The knowledgeable staff can also help you spot a specific furniture or decor piece that can tie a room together.
Retro Den also has an awesome selection of succulents that make a great gift or add some decor to any dorm or apartment shelf. The staff will help you choose succulents to create a large centerpiece or small display using their vintage containers and planters. –Root staff
3132 E. 15th St., Tulsa, OK 74104
Do you like doing laundry? Do you like drinking? If you answered yes to at least one of these questions then University of Wash is for you. Located just off Harvard on 15th St., U. of Wash is the only laundromat near the University of Tulsa campus that serves wine, beer and mixed drinks from open to close. Okay, maybe no one enjoys doing dirty laundry, but this is a place where one can relax and enjoy a coffee while loads spin, sit with friends, or break out the homework.
With both self-service and drop-off pricing, the laundry also hosts trivia Fridays with credit as prize winnings, features games, and serves a limited food menu. —Root staff
2650 S. John Williams Way, Tulsa, OK 74114
It's free, it's huge and every visit promises a new adventure! Spanning over 100 acres in midtown Tulsa, Gathering Place is inclusive space built for learning, discovery and exploration, no matter your age.
College students will find plenty of comfy nooks and crannies to do some studying or meet up with friends. And the park consistently hosts free programming, such as outdoor zumba and yoga classes. Every visit to Gathering Place is unique, so visit early and often! —Matt Carney
2623 E. 11th St., Tulsa, OK 74104
New Hong Kong is easy to miss in a shopping center that has a corner store, hookah bar and Rozay’s Wingz surrounding you. Walk in and you’ll see a plethora of selections on a standard menu and another menu right below with all kinds of specials. Their bourbon chicken gets straight to the point with the chicken and a side of fried rice. At a little over $6, you get more than enough food for leftovers.
For those who grew up on buffets, there’s a selection of fried donuts, which New Hong Kong labels as Sweet Bread. They come in a pack of 10 for a little over $3. Another selection that should catch your attention is the barbecue pork bun or lobster selections they have as well. All in all, with it being your first visit, you might need some time to ponder over your options.
One thing’s for sure, bring cash. They do not accept debit or credit cards. New Hong Kong’s selections run from $6-8 (the specials are a tad bit cheaper than the ones on the main menu). Your stomach will be full and your pockets will thank you. –Root staff
10 S. Lewis Ave., Tulsa, OK 74104
Tulsa's beloved art house movie theater, Circle Cinema opened in 1928 with a showing of "Across the Atlantic" starring Monte Blue.
Located in the historic Kendall Whittier Square and built by architect/builder William R. Chilton, Circle Cinema screens exclusive and rare films in addition to regular programming seven days a week. Circle Anime Club shows anime movies regularly and TU students can show up on Tuesdays for $2 movies with a valid student ID. –Root staff
1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Rd., Tulsa, OK 74127
Gilcrease Museum is one of the country's finest facilities for the preservation and study of American art and history. The museum's charm, beauty and art collections draw thousands of visitors from around the world to the Osage hills for a glimpse into the past. Gilcrease houses the world's largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. The museum also offers an unparalleled collection of Native American art and artifacts, as well as historical manuscripts, documents and maps.
In 2008, the City of Tulsa and The University of Tulsa entered into a historic partnership to preserve and advance Gilcrease Museum. In its new role as steward of the museum and its collections, TU is leveraging its nationally recognized academic expertise in western American history, art history, anthropology, and archaeology to propel Gilcrease into a new era. University of Tulsa students receive free admission with a valid student ID. –Root staff
124 N. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
At Club Majestic all are welcome, and that includes 18+ entry every night of the week, excluding Saturdays and for special events. One of Tulsa’s most fun LGBTQ+ friendly dance spots, Majestic also features showcase nights and talent shows, where participants can enter to perform and win cash prizes. Check in on a Thursday Night Throwdown or Friday for “Hoe! You Think You Can Dance?”
Located in the heart of the Tulsa Arts District, imagine that scene in “A Star is Born” where a drunken Bradley Cooper walks into a bar to discover Lady Gaga’s character—that’s the energy and vibe Majestic is able to capture on any given night. —Root staff