Bartlesville Oklahoma is a popular destination thanks to its vibrant downtown area and music festivals. Bartlesville was originally a small town until the 1920’s-oil boom transformed the area. Your stay will be a unique experience between the Caney River and its amazing landscapes and the downtown architecture that dates back to the 1920s.
From Trading Post To Booming Oil Town
The oil industry played a major part in the development of Bartlesville, and you will see signs of this past during your stay. Bartlesville was established as a trading post during the last 19th century but didn’t become a large urban area until the discovery of an oil supply under the Caney basin.
The Phillips Petroleum Company and Conoco Company were the two largest employers in the area for several decades. The companies were originally competitors but ended up merging before splitting up again and eventually moving their headquarters to Houston.
You will see traces of this history when visiting Bartlesville – the city itself is named after Jacob Bartles, the man who funded the trading post, and you will notice several buildings left behind by the Phillips Petroleum Company and by Conoco in the downtown area such as the Price Tower.
Fun fact: the submersible oil pump was invented in the 1920s and used for the first time in Bartlesville when its inventor, Armais Arutunoff, came to Bartlesville to work with the Phillips brothers.
When Is the Best Time To Visit?
Bartlesville Oklahoma weather can be rainy from April to June. The summers are hot and humid and the winters are usually cool. The average high temperature gets close to 93°F in July and August, and the average low temperature for December and January is around 25°F.
If you plan on visiting the area in the Spring, you should know that Bartlesville is in Tornado Alley. There are plenty of shelters in town but a tornado warning might put a damper on your vacation.
There is a fun arts and craft festival every year in June. The Sunfest takes place over three days during the weekend that follows Memorial Day. The Indian Summer Festival is another exciting event that draws tourists to the area. It takes place in the Fall and celebrates Native American culture through arts and crafts, music, and presentations.
The city’s biggest festival takes place in June. The OK Mozart International Festival takes place in the downtown area and is the occasion to hear live music. The festival is geared towards celebrating Mozart’s music, but you will find live performances of other genres as well. Book your accommodation in advance if you want to visit Bartlesville in June since this festival draws crowds of music lovers.
Top Five Things To Do
The festivals are one of the most exciting thing about this city, but there are plenty of other things to do in Bartlesville Oklahoma.
Explore Downtown Bartlesville
Go for a stroll in the downtown area to admire the 1920s architectures. The Price Tower is probably the city’s most emblematic building and is one of the few instances of a skyscraper built during the 1920s. You will also find plenty of coffee shops, stores, and restaurants in the downtown area.
The Kiddie Park is a lot of fun if you are traveling with young children. It is only open in the summer and offers bumper cars and other rides your children are going to love.
The downtown area has a farmer’s market that is held on Saturday mornings. You can find the market by heading towards Johnstone Park on South Cherokee Avenue.
Spend A Day At Woolaroc
Frank Phillip, the businessman behind the Phillips Petroleum, had a significant impact on the town’s development. His home is now a museum dedicated to Native American and western art. You will also see an impressive firearms collection, and get to observe different animals in their natural habitat since the Woolaroc property is a natural preserve. Check the Woolaroc event schedule in advance since there are usually some educational events geared towards young visitors.
Fun fact: Phillip’s home is named ‘Woolaroc’ after the woods, lake, and rocks that can be found on the property.
The Caney River
The Caney River is a popular spot for canoeing. You can also hike in the area if canoeing isn’t your thing. This is definitely a spot worth visiting if you enjoy the outdoors or just want to photograph the green landscapes Oklahoma is known for.
If you want to enjoy the river without going too far, you can spend an afternoon at Johnstone Park. The park is located just North of the downtown area and you can follow the Pathfinder Parkway for a leisurely stroll along the river.
The Pathfinder Parkway actually trails along the Caney River for miles. You can follow it if you are up for a day-long hike.
The Jo Allyn Lowe Park
The Jo Allyn Lowe Park is located on the Eastern bank of the Caney River. Spending a day at this park is perfect if you want to get away from the busy streets of the downtown area.
There is an arboretum with many rare plants and trees inside of the park, as well as a lake with a fishing pier. If you feel like hiking, jogging, or want to rent a bicycle, you can find an entry point to the Pathfinder Parkway inside of the Jo Allyn Lowe Park. The Parkway follows Caney River for a few miles and will take you all the way to the Johnstone Park in the downtown area.
The Washington Park Mall
The Washington Park Mall is the city’s main shopping spot. You can spend an afternoon there to shop for clothes, accessories, or gifts. You will also find a spa, a movie theater, and a few beauty salons. The mall might seem somewhat small next to what you can find in Tulsa, but it will keep you busy if you happen to be in Bartlesville during a rainy day.
Fun fact: Bartlesville was the very first test site for pay cable television in 1957.
Bartlesville’s Best Hotels
If you are wondering where to stay Bartlesville Oklahoma, there are a few options available to you. Keep in mind that you will need to book your accommodation in advance if you plan on visiting the city in June because of the festivals.
The Days Inn & Suites Bartlesville and the Econo Lodge are your best options if you are traveling on a budget. These hotels are located on the Eastern bank of the Caney River, which means you will have to cross the river to access the downtown area where most of the stores and restaurants are.
The Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites offers mid-range prices but the hotel is definitely a good value. It is also located on the Eastern bank of the Caney River, but you will be right across from the Washington Park Mall.
If you would like to stay in the downtown area, book a room at the Inn at Price Tower. This is a little pricier than other options but staying inside of the Price Tower is well worth it. You will be within walking distance of the OK Mozart festival if you get a room at the Inn at Price Tower in June.
Fun fact: the Price Tower was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. You can see other buildings designed by famous architects in the downtown area, including Bruce Goff and Edward Delk.
If hotels aren’t for you, there is an RV park on the bank of the Caney River. The Riverside RV Park has a swimming pool and isn’t very far from the downtown area.
The downtown area is where you will find most of the restaurants. If you are wondering where to eat Bartlesville Oklahoma, here are a few recommendations:
- Samantha’s is a popular lunch spot among locals. The menu is going to surprise you with items like Cajun shrimp, grilled tacos, or stuffed jalapenos.
- If you like Italian fare, Luigi’s Italian Restaurant is the place to go. The atmosphere is perfect for a dinner with your family, and you can enjoy pizza as well as more traditional dishes.
- The Painted Horse has a great selection of appetizers and would be a good choice for brunch and cocktails.
- If you are looking for burgers, steaks, and traditional American fare, book at table at Murphy’s Original Steak House West.
- Stop by Billy Sims Barbecue if you decide to shop at the Washington Park Mall. This restaurant has an excellent selection of smoked meats and a fun college football theme.
Bartlesville Oklahoma has enough to offer to keep you busy for your entire vacation. You can choose to take a day-trip to Bartlesville if you are visiting Tulsa, or simply book a hotel in Bartlesville to enjoy this small town instead. Try visiting the city in June so you can enjoy the festivals, or plan a trip in the summertime so you can go canoeing on Caney River.