JUST VISITING? LIVING LOCAL? WE'VE GOT YOU COVERED.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Playground with Promise

Coffee bars, chocolate shops, breweries, parks, gyms, high-class restaurants, and hole-in-the-wall bars are all vying for attention for those new to Tulsa.

Article
Lindsey Mills
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
July 28, 2018

Remember your first day of middle-school? Or moving to a new town in junior high? Or maybe showing up to a party you were invited to, but it turns out you didn’t know anyone there? That’s how we showed up in Tulsa.

The company my boyfriend and I work for decided to open a new store here, and we both jumped at the chance to live somewhere new. Jackson, myself, and our dog, Kona, readied ourselves to take on a new city. We researched the area. We window shopped on Zillow. And we packed our bags.

It’s like the first trip to the playground: watching children run, jump, and shriek with joy. There’s a merry-go-round, state of the art swing set, swirly slides and all, but everyone is already well into their games, their groups, their conversations.

We are thrilled to be somewhere new, pumped to meet some new people, and ready to get involved. But where do we start?

Getting out more
As we were prepping to move here, my boyfriend and I talked about how we want to get out more. How often have you heard that from a couple of 20-somethings? Aren’t people our age usually full of life, outgoing, and social?

Maybe we work too much, or maybe we’re just lame. In Tulsa, however, we promised ourselves we will make an effort to do all of the things we want to do —  even if that means getting up early after a late night or staying out late after a long day. We will skip a few chores if it means saying yes to an invitation, and we will do more chores if it means we are excited to have people in our home.

We won’t just talk about the things we want to go do; we’ll make plans to do them.

We like to take a second and splash through the fountains in Riverside Park on a hot morning and really look forward to coming through on an evening to try the shaved ice.
We like to take a second and splash through the fountains in Riverside Park on a hot morning and really look forward to coming through on an evening to try the shaved ice.

Finding our new home
We made multiple trips to search for a house and scope out the area where we would work. We strolled neighborhoods as spring came into bloom — the sun bright, the sky blue, and a warm breeze common as winter faded away. It was green everywhere, which for some reason was not what I was expecting, but it reminded me of my hometown. It was the time of year that everything seemed new, ready to reset.

We were ready to reset too.

We fell in love with a little house in Brookside. The old home sits across from a park. We live a short walk from ample choices to eat, drink and hang out. And the backyard is a paradise for two people and a shepherd-mix that loves to be outside.

Our anticipation built when we moved our stuff to that house. It grew still as we spent our final days in Springfield, Mo., and swelled when we spent the first night in our new home.

We will ride our bikes down these streets. We will (try) to visit every single one of these bakeries. We will earn and spend our money here. We will see this place early in the morning when the sun just brims the horizon and in the evenings when it sinks slowly into dusk. It’s slowly been dawning on us: we live here.

Trying everything in sight
Coffee bars, chocolate shops, breweries, parks, gyms, high-class restaurants, and hole-in-the-wall bars are all vying for attention, but there are only so many hours in the week and only so many dollars in the bank.

“Let’s go there,” and “I want to try that,” are phrases repeated throughout the day as we drive past a strip of shops or are passed along information from a local. I make notes in my phone, scribble things on sticky notes and repeat the names of things in an effort to make it stick in my brain.

I’m inviting all of my friends and family to come visit because I’m so eager to show this place off. I keep picking things up at the store to add a new touch to our house: a flower, a pillow, a vase. I take pictures of our home, my dog in her new yard, the greenway trail, cute restaurants, and everything in-between. I pin photos on our fridge and stock the freezer with ice cream. I want to savor each discovery.

My excitement has grown and grown, and it’s almost become overwhelming. There’s so much to do at our house and so much to see outside of it!

I set my alarm for early morning wake up calls, and sometimes we stumble out of bed. Sometimes we don’t. We take long runs and rides down Riverside. We pause to let our pup gulp from the fountains and allow ourselves to splash in the water at 41st Street. We admire the two trails — one for people on foot and one for those on wheels because wow, what a difference it makes for both walkers/runners and cyclists to not worry about the much faster/slower traffic. We marvel at this and speak our praise for Tulsa’s trail system aloud. I’m sure the other trail travelers can pick us out as newcomers like two chickens hanging out in a raft of ducks.

The Donut Hole has provided both breakfast and late-night dessert.
The Donut Hole has provided both breakfast and late-night dessert.

We eat out a lot more than is probably financially responsible, but we attribute the cost to the fact that we work a lot and don’t quite have time yet to cook. Really, we just like to eat out. We like to have our food prepared, delivered, and cleaned away. We like to try new things. Mostly, we love a place where the atmosphere is welcoming and the service is spot on.

Looking for a connection
What we are looking for — in our date nights, our runs and rides, our shopping, our explorations altogether — is a connection with this city. We want to get to know this place and these people. We want more than good food; we want an experience. We want more than good service; we want relationships. We want more than to just reside here; we want to make it our home.

So we’ll look at this ‘playground,’ and jump right in.

Our favorite spots (so far)
If we were to write down our day-to-day comings and goings, a few places would already stick out.

The Donut Hole: This colorful little shop has seen us through their door a few times. We’ve had them for both breakfast and for a late-night dessert.

Queenie’s Plus: We frequent this spot in Utica Square because it’s a 60-second walk from work to grab lunch and because I’m determined to try each flavor of those dazzling cakes.

StudiOne’s Sunday morning beer and yoga class: We visited this class to start off a rainy Sunday before heading to work. The beer was great, but the people we met were the highlight of our day.

Riverside Park: We see this park every other day as we cruise down the greenway either on foot or on our bikes. We like to take a second and splash through the fountains on a hot morning and really look forward to coming through on an evening to try the shaved ice.

Home: We threw our first party in our Brookside home after stringing the lights we so wanted over our deck, only for the sky to let loose buckets of rain and force us inside for most of the night.

Each of these experiences has left us hungry for more. We may be the new kids on the playground, but I like to think we’re doing it right: jumping right into every game of tag, hopping onto the merry-go-round, and waiting in line for the slide because it’s worth it.  

LOCATOR
I want to hear your suggestions, whether you’re a native Tulsan or a newbie like us. We want to know where to hang out, pig-out, shop ’til we drop, and everything in between. If you know a place with a great story, share it with us so we can go check it out.

Every day is an adventure with our little family, and I’m sharing our story because I think some people can relate. Follow us on Instagram and/or search #TakenWithTulsa or #NewInTtown to check out our latest adventures as we seek out new experiences and share our advice on how to embrace Tulsa.