Tulsa at a Glance
Location: Northeast Oklahoma
Access: Tulsa International Airport, Interstate 44
Hotel rooms: 12,608
Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau
Cox Business Convention Center
Built: 1964; renovated 2020
Exhibit Space: 102,600 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 30,000- and 40,000-square-foot ballrooms and 28 breakout rooms
Hyatt Regency Tulsa
Guest rooms: 444
Meeting Space: 31,686 square feet
Tulsa Marriott Southern Hills
Guest rooms: 378
Meeting Space: 44,354 square feet
DoubleTree by Hilton Tulsa Downtown
Guest rooms: 417
Meeting Space: 23,982 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Tulsa
Ironman Tulsa — North American Championship
SeneGence International — Global Sales Seminar
Mid-American Shelby Automotive Club — Ford Shelby Meet
Tulsa is on a roll.
The city has recently won a flood of accolades. National Geographic listed Tulsa among its “Best of the World: Destinations on the Rise” for 2021. Last December, Conde Nast Traveler named Tulsa in its “Best Places to Travel.” In 2020, Trip Advisor ranked it among the top 25 emerging destinations in the world, and Lonely Planet deemed it one of the nation’s five best unexpected foodie destinations.
Why all the buzz? Oil-wealthy Tulsa touts Art Deco architecture, sophisticated culture and a burgeoning foodie scene. Plenty of easy-to-access outdoor settings help differentiate Tulsa, too. Most notably, this uber-creative city can host even large-scale events without a big-city price tag.
Among Tulsa’s many facets, the recently developed Gathering Place sits on nearly 100 acres along the Arkansas River. Wide-ranging activities include hiking nature trails, attending concerts and cruising Peggy’s Pond on paddleboats and kayaks. The Boathouse Restaurant’s elegant dining juxtaposes the casual Overlook Deck that affords panoramic views. Anchoring it all, the glass-and-stone Williams Lodge houses meeting rooms and hosts activities.
Tulsa’s art scene flows into the outdoors. The Philbrook Museum of Art, a 72-room Italian Renaissance villa, contains the lovely La Villa restaurant overlooking the gardens, which host live music and movies. A collection of Western art amassed by self-made oilman Thomas Gilcrease is the cornerstone of the Gilcrease Museum, which also offers garden tours and nature trails.
As the birthplace of Route 66, Tulsa brims with history. Cain’s Ballroom was built in 1924 as a garage and is now a popular music venue with iconic neon signage. The Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District pays homage to the devastating 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Greenwood Rising, a world-class museum, will anchor the area in 2021.
“Groups will find that Tulsa has many unique sites, like the Gathering Place and Route 66, where every mile is different,” said Ray Hoyt, president of Tulsa Regional Tourism. “We’re developing the Route 66 corridor along 11th Street with breweries, distinctive retail, art galleries and neon signage. We’re creating a walkable journey that people want to be on.”
Mother Road Market, Oklahoma’s first food hall, supports up-and-coming chefs who turn out everything from vegetarian bowls to fried chicken. Local boutiques sell their wares, and there’s live music and Route 66-themed mini golf. An afternoon with Pearl Brewery Tours delivers tastings along the city’s Ale Trail.
Postoak Lodge and Retreat, six miles from downtown, sits on wooded acreage with eight lodges and 13,000 square feet of meeting space. Options include all-inclusive day packages that feature a zip line, team-building activities, an outdoor pool, putting greens and hiking. Meals are wide-ranging and can include indoor dining; picnics at the pole barn, where attendees play horseshoes or human foosball; or evening snacks around a bonfire.
“The property has beautiful views of downtown, but people feel like they’re 100 miles away,” said Hoyt. “It’s unexpected, and it feels like you’re in the western part of the state.”
Built in 1923 by a wealthy oilman, the four-story Harwelden Mansion occupies a full city block. The mansion, carriage house and gardens can be booked for executive retreats or events by the hour or day. Add-ons include house tours, musicians and catering.
Encircling a seven-acre lake, the Tulsa Botanic Garden celebrates spring with more than 100,000 blooms. The J.E and L.E. Mabee Grange room accommodates up to 200 guests in 2,400 square feet with folding glass doors leading to a covered patio. A tent for 200-plus attendees can be erected on the adjacent lawn.
For a fun twist, the Tulsa Zoo hosts catered events at the giraffe area, the rhino reserve and the sea lion cove. The Oklahoma Aquarium’s walk-through tunnel showcases the nation’s largest collection of bull sharks. The shark-view room hosts meetings, and the entire aquarium, including the outdoor areas, can be rented after hours.
Major Meeting Spaces
Newly renovated, downtown’s Cox Business Convention Center (CBCC) sits within walking distance of four full-service hotels. The center’s 275,000 square feet of meeting space, which includes Oklahoma’s largest ballroom, hosts numerous events. As an ASM Global facility, VenueShield guidelines ensure advanced environmental hygiene and operational protocol.
The CBCC connects to the 417-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tulsa Downtown via a skybridge. This property contains 23,982 square feet of event space. Downtown’s 444-room Hyatt Regency Tulsa features 31,686 square feet of flexible space, a dedicated meeting planner lounge and an indoor-outdoor rooftop pool.
Also renovated last year, the 19,000-plus-seat Bank of Oklahoma (BOK) Center was named Arena of the Year in 2018 by the International Entertainment Buyers Association. Accompanying the 17,000-square-feet arena, a 130,000-square-foot concourse occupies the main level. Foyers and breakout rooms are available for events and receptions.
The Golden Driller statue stands tall above Expo Square’s four-building complex. River Spirit Expo, one of the planet’s largest clear-span buildings, totals 448,000 square feet on two levels. The Exchange Center offers 58,500 square feet of space. The second-floor mezzanine of Art Deco Central Park Hall overlooks 43,000 square feet of exhibit space. The Pavilion, a historic Art Deco arena, boasts more than 4,200 seats, locker rooms, VIP boxes and meeting rooms.
Nearby, the 300-room Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center provides 50,000 square feet of meeting and conference space. Marriot Tulsa Southern Hills recently renovated its 378 rooms and has a full-service spa. Up to 1,400 guests can be accommodated within 44,354 square feet that include 23 breakout rooms.
After the Meeting
Thanks to Tulsa’s downtown renaissance, after-hours choices are many and varied. The BOK Center and Oneok Field bookend downtown. The BOK Center hosts the hottest names in music, such as Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney, plus major indoor sporting events. Oneok Field is home to AA baseball’s Tulsa Drillers and the city’s USL soccer team, FC Tulsa. Numerous indoor and outdoor private party spaces offer catering menus and a cash bar. The Coors Light Refinery Deck and the Eide Bailly Conference Center can accommodate more than 225 guests.
The Tulsa Arts District showcases the Woody Guthrie Center, which highlights Guthrie’s career. Across the street, Guthrie Green hosts free concerts, fitness classes and food trucks. The ground underneath is heated to 66 degrees Fahrenheit by ground-source heat pumps. The district’s Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture is slated for completion in 2022.
“Guthrie Green is the lynchpin of our downtown renaissance,” said Hoyt. “Later this year, the Bob Dylan Center will open with all his archives, and the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture will be a tribute to all the creatives that have come out of our state.”
Music lovers can take in a show at Duet Jazz in the historic Archer Building within the Tulsa Arts District. And Hard Rock Tulsa schedules big-name, live entertainment.