Tulsa

Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Oklahoma Tulsa

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Introduction

Tulsa is the second largest city in the US state of Oklahoma. The city itself has about 400,000 inhabitants, while the metropolitan area has almost 1 million people living in it. Tulsa is the "Oil Capital of the World." Situated between the prairies of central Oklahoma and the foothills of the Ozarks, Tulsa is located in the Green Country region of Oklahoma. It is also affectionately called “T-town” by the locals. Here, the age of the oil boom found its center. A small town by US standards, metropolitan luxuries such as theater, fine dining, nightlife, and shopping are found in an state known for sparsely populated farming communities. The picturesque downtown is surrounded by rolling hills covered with prairie grasses and ancient forests, a first impression that soon reveals world-class architecture and museums of art, miles of biking and walking trails, and huge parks. With a wealth of iconic sights and neighborhoods to explore, a trip to Tulsa can easily fit several weeks of touring.

Tulsa was settled in the mid-1800s by the Lochapoka Band of Creek Native American tribe. A booming city during the 1920s, rich oil barons built stately mansions and skyscrapers, turning Downtown Tulsa into a treasure trove of art and architecture. Tulsa was the most important hub for the American oil industry for most of the 20th century. Tulsa sustained heavy economic hardships during the oil crises of the 1970s and 1980s which led to diversification efforts that created an economic base in the energy, aviation, finance, telecommunications, and technology industries. Tulsa is known as the arts and culture center of Oklahoma. Tulsa contains two world-renowned art museums, the Philbrook Museum of Art and the Gilcrease Museum of Art. Tulsa also boasts full time professional opera and ballet companies, which are a rarity in the region. Tulsa contains one of the largest concentrations of Art Deco in the nation, ranking number 9 on US News and World Report's list of top cities for Art Deco. Tulsa has also been called one of America's most livable large cities by Partners for Livable Communities, Forbes, and Relocate America. In Tulsa you will find old west charm and southern hospitality as well as a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The people of Tulsa take pride in their city, welcoming outsiders with open arms. Most are willing to help you find your way around.

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Sights and Activities

  • Creek Council Oak Tree, 18th St. and Cheyenne Ave. It was under the Creek Council Oak Tree in 1836 that the Lochapoka Creek Indians kindled a ceremonial fire using live coals they had carried from their Alabama homeland. This oak was Tulsa's first town hall, first conference room, first church and first court of law. This tree symbolizes the spirit of Tulsa's early settlers.
  • Gilcrease Museum, 1400 N Gilcrease Museum Rd, ☎ +1 918 596-2700. Daily 10AM-5PM, tours at 11AM and 2PM. Touted as the "Museum of The Americas", has one of the world's largest collections of Western and Native American art and artifacts and constantly changing exhibits on a yearly basis. The gift shop has a good collection of art, jewelry, music and books as well. A must-see attraction for any visit to Tulsa. $8, donation optional.
  • Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N Greenwood Ave., ☎ +1 918 596-1020. M-Sa 9AM-5PM. Serves to promote the history of Tulsa's Greenwood District. Was home to one of the worst race riots in American history. Special performances are often held at this center.

The Ida Dennie Willis Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, 627 N Country Club Dr., ☎ +1 918 584-6654. W-Sa 11AM-4:30PM. Over 2000 dolls, dollhouses and other miniatures. The museum is rumored to have closed in 2007 after the death of the old lady who was running it.

  • Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, 111 E 1st St, ☎ +1 918 596-1001. M-F 9AM-5PM. Housed in the beautiful Art Deco-style Union Station Depot, many local jazz performances are held here. Donations.
  • Penguins on Parade. There are dozens of 6' tall penguin sculptures scattered throughout the city. It is a local art project to raise funds for the Tulsa Zoo. The fundraiser began in 2002 as a way to raise money to build a black-footed African penguin exhibit. As of 2012, you could still find more than 50 of the penguins in and around Tulsa.
  • The Philbrook Museum of Art, 2727 S Rockford Rd (1 block E of Peoria Ave at 27th Pl), ☎ +1 918 749-7941. Tu W F-Su 10AM-5PM; Th 10AM-8PM. In a former residence of local oilman Waite Phillips, has changing exhibits, a sculpture garden, art and artifacts from around the World, and a gift shop unlike anything else in Tulsa.
  • Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, 2021 E 71st St, ☎ +1 918 492-1818. M-F 10AM-5PM. The largest collection of Judaica in the American Southwest, flagship of The Fenster/Sanditen Cultural Center. As an arts education institution, and the only American Jewish museum in the region, utilizes both art and history to preserve and present Jewish culture. Adults $5.50; Seniors age 55+ $4.50; Student age 6-21 $3; free admission to teachers with school ID.
  • Tulsa Air and Space Museum, 3624 N 74th E Ave, ☎ +1 918 834-9900. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; Su 1PM-5PM. TASM Collection Highlights include a WWII German Jet Engine, An F-14 Tomcat, Two of Burt Rutan's Experimental aircraft, A locally built Gyrocopter by Spartan Aeronautics, and Art-Deco sections of the original Tulsa International Airport Terminal. TASM also has Many historical and interactive exhibits of interest to young and old alike.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Tulsa is situated near the heart of Tornado Alley and has a temperate subtropical climate with a annual average temperature of 16.0 °C and an average precipitation of 1,080 mm. As is typical of temperate zones, weather patterns vary by season with occasional extremes in temperature and rainfall. The highest temperature recorded in Tulsa was 46 °C on August 10, 1936. Primarily in the spring and early summer months, the city is subjected to severe thunderstorms containing large hail, damaging winds, and, occasionally, tornadoes, providing the area with a disproportionate share of its annual rainfall.
Temperatures over 38 °C are observed on average 11 days per annum, sometimes exceeding 41 °C from July to early September, usually accompanied by high humidity brought in by southerly winds. The autumn season is usually short, consisting of pleasant, sunny days followed by cool nights. Winter temperatures, while generally mild, occasionally experience extremes below -18 °C while annual snowfall averages about 23 centimetres.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max7.4 °C10.6 °C16.7 °C22.8 °C26.5 °C30.9 °C34.3 °C33.6 °C28.7 °C23.2 °C15.7 °C9.3 °C
Avg Min-3.9 °C-1.4 °C3.9 °C9.9 °C14.9 °C19.8 °C22.7 °C21.4 °C17.2 °C10.4 °C4.2 °C-1.7 °C
Rainfall39.1 mm50 mm87.9 mm94.5 mm142.2 mm112.8 mm78.5 mm79.2 mm119.4 mm93 mm79.5 mm54.9 mm
Rain Days4.45.46.97.68.674.75.66.55.45.35

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Getting There

By Plane

Tulsa International Airport (TUL) offers flights to/from Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Louis, Newark, Washington, D.C..

By Train

There is no passenger train service to Tulsa, however, as of 2018, service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa is being developed. The Eastern Flyer route, operated by Iowa Pacific, is expected to begin regular service.

By Car

Most Tulsans drive almost everywhere, although bus, bike, and pedestrian routes are starting to catch on. From the North/Kansas - US-75 South from Bartlesville, OK, or US-169 South from Coffeyville, KS. From the Northeast/Missouri - I-44 West, aka the "Will Rogers Turnpike." The self-proclaimed world's largest McDonalds spans the roadway near Vinita, OK. From the East/Arkansas - US-412 West, aka the "Cherokee Turnpike." From the Southeast/Arkansas - The "Muskogee Turnpike."
From the South - US-75 from Okmulgee, OK, aka the "Okmulgee Beeline." From the Southwest/Oklahoma City - I-44 East, aka the "Turner Turnpike." From the West - US-412 East, aka the "Cimarron Turnpike." For the slow scenic route from Northeast or Southwest come in on old Route 66.

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options.

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Getting Around

Thanks to urban planning, the major city streets are placed in a grid layout. Almost all major intersections are one mile from each other, and exactly in a straight line. That makes it much easier to find places than in cities where streets go every which way. The major exception is downtown, which is slanted at a 25 degree angle to the rest of the grid. This is due to the original town not facing true north and instead putting main street at a 90 degree angle to the original MKT railroad tracks.

By Car

Several freeways and bypasses can be used to easily get around the Tulsa Metro area: I-244, I-44, US 169 (Mingo Valley Expressway, "Pearl Harbor Memorial Expressway"), US 75, US 64/OK-51 (Broken Arrow Expressway, The "B.A."), and OK-364 (Creek Turnpike).

The streets and avenues are planned on a 1 mile by 1 mile grid system, with the main arterials running on each mile. In the core of the city, named avenues run north/south and are named after US cities, generally in repeating alphabetical order (for example, Winston-Yale-Allegheny-Braden). In the mid-town area the names are taken from colleges and college towns. North/South is divided by Admiral Blvd. Name streets East of Main are cities east of the Mississippi River, vice versa for name streets west of Main. In the parts of the city farther from downtown, north-south streets are numbered. It is important to recognize that the specific format of the north-south numbered street names is North/South 145th East/West Avenue.

Numbered streets run east/west with Main Street and the Arkansas River as the dividing line. Watch out for Place, Street, Avenue designation, e.g. 47th Place, 47th Street, or Florence Place, Florence Avenue. It is important to recognize that the specific format of the east-west numbered street names is West/East 71st Street North/South. In some parts of the city, numbered streets intersect, so the distinction is important. Although rare, one east-west numbered street may even intersect with a street of the same number running north-south.

Downtown streets were platted parallel to the Frisco railroad tracks. When Tulsa expanded beyond the bounds of its original plat, the expanded areas were platted in alignment with the points of the compass. Thus the "twisted" area down-town represents the original extent of Tulsa ca 1907.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Tulsa Transit provides bus service for the Tulsa Metro area. Cities served are Tulsa, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Jenks, and Broken Arrow. The central station is at 319 S. Denver (downtown). They do not run that often, especially to the outer towns like Broken Arrow. Unlike major cities in the Northeast, the city bus is not a major form of transportation in the city. It is usually a means of travel for those who are without their own motor vehicle.

By Bike

Tulsa has an extensive interconnected paved bike trail system. Rivertrail follows the Arkansas River from downtown Tulsa south to the suburbs. The Katy Trail runs west to Sand Springs. The Osage Trail is a rails-to-trails route that begins at the OSU-Tulsa campus and travels north 15 miles to Skiatook. The Creek Trail connects Rivertrail and continues east through Broken Arrow to the NSU-Broken Arrow campus. Riders accustomed to flat terrain may find Tulsa's rolling land to be a bit more challenging, particularly during the heat of summer. If you are looking for a good workout, the Creek Turnpike Trail follows the land's original contours. Rivertrail is probably be best choice for the rider seeking an easy route.

Four bike loan depots, along Rivertrail, allow riders to borrow a bike for free for up to 24 hours.

Tulsa has an active bicycling community.

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Eat

If you're looking for nicer restaurants, then the major dining corridors can be found along 15th Street South ("Cherry Street") near downtown, along 71st Street South near Woodland Hills Mall, in the Brookside district near midtown, the Blue Dome district, and in the Utica Square shopping area. However, if you want an authentic experience, then you should be looking for good barbecue and regional fast food chains like Taco Bueno. For dessert, head to Braum's for Oklahoma ice cream. This popular regional chain does farm-to-fork dairy products, and refuses to open stores more than 300 miles away from their home farm in Central Oklahoma.

  • Albert G's, 2748 S Harvard Ave. (Midtown), ☎ +1 918 747-4700. M-Sa 11AM-9PM. Tasty BBQ run out of an old gas station.
  • Elmer's BBQ, 4130 S. Peoria (Brookside), ☎ +1 918 742-6702, e-mail: feedback@elmersbbq.net. Tu-Th 11AM - 8PM, F Sa 11AM - 9PM. This barbecue place is not to be missed, seeing Bill Clinton and other celebrities among its past patrons. "It be bad."
  • Jamil's, 3823 E 51st St (Midtown), ☎ +1 918 742-9097. Tulsa's oldest steakhouse. Known for Lebanese style appetizers (Tabouli, hummus, cabbage rolls, etc.) and desserts, along with traditional steakhouse fare.
  • Rib Crib, 1601 S Harvard (Midtown), ☎ +1 918 742-2742. Remarkably successful joint from midtown. Opened in 1992, but has managed to franchise into 8 states. The original location burned down a few years back, but they rebuilt this in its place.
  • Burn Company (BurnCo), 1738 S Boston Ave. Tu-Sa 10:30AM-2:30PM. One of Tulsa's best barbecue joints. Opened in 2014, it has quickly gained a reputation good enough to cause a line out the door daily when they open. Arrive early to ensure you get the entree you desire as they only make a set amount each day.
  • Atlas Grill, 415 S Boston Ave. #20 (downtown). Great lunch.
  • The Chalkboard, 1324 S Main (in the Hotel Ambassador, just N of 15th). Fantastic bistro cuisine.
  • Daily Grill, 100 E Second St. (on the main floor of the Downtown Crowne Plaza hotel).
  • The Downtown Buffeteria (formerly Nelson's Buffeteria), 514 S Boston Ave. (Downtown). Famous for chicken-fried steak.
  • Flavors (71st, just W of Sheridan). Excellent chef-owned bistro.
  • Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, 6823 S. Yale Ave. (South Tulsa). Some of the largest and best steaks. Very upscale and some of the best food in town. A great place to take an expense account.
  • Palace Cafe, 1301 East 15th St (Northeast corner of 15th and Peoria), ☎ +1 918 582-4321. Lunch Tu-F 11AM-2PM, Dinner Tu-Sa 5PM-10PM, Sunday Brunch-made to order 9AM-2PM. Fine dining restaurant featuring freshly prepared, local cuisine.
  • The Wild Fork, 21st and Utica (inside Utica Square Shopping Center).

8 Polo Grill, 21st and Utica (Inside Utica Square Shopping Center).

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Drink

  • Arnie's Bar, 318 E 2nd St. (Blue Dome). Tulsa's Irish bar Since 1956.
  • The Max Retropub, 114-C S. Elgin Ave. (Blue Dome). 2PM-2AM. Late 1980s-early 1990s themed bar and arcade, featuring Skeeball and tons of arcade cabinets many Gen X'ers will remember from their childhood. Also featuring gourmet junkfood.
  • Kilkenny's Irish Pub, 1413 E 15th St (Cherry Street), ☎ +1 918 582-8282. Has a nice selection of beers, nice atmosphere and good food. Pours the best Guinness. A little more upscale than McNellie's.
  • McNellie's Public House, 409 E 1st St (Blue Dome). An Irish pub with over 60 beers on tap.
  • Cafe Cubana, 1328 E 15th St (Cherry Street).
  • Topeca Coffee, 115 W 5th St (At The Mayo Hotel).
  • Coffee House on Cherry Street (Cherry Street), 1502 E 15th St.
  • DoubleShot Coffee Company, 1730 S Boston Ave (18th & Boston). Local coffee roaster and barista, DoubleShot caters to Tulsa's coffee snobs and neighbourhood residents. Be sure to ask the staff about their trips to origin.
  • Gypsy Coffee House & Cyber Cafe, 303 M.L.K. Jr Blvd (Brady), ☎ +1 918 295-2181. 11AM-midnight. Tulsa only late night coffee house downtown , great desserts and the best espresso.Good deli style food Free Wi-Fi.
  • Nordaggio's Coffee, 8156 S Lewis Ave (South Tulsa), ☎ +1 918 296-5288.
  • Java Daves's, 6239 E 15th St.
  • Shades of Brown, 3302 S Peoria Ave (Brookside). Su-Th 8AM-11PM, F Sa 8AM-midnight. Offers quality coffee in a friendly environment. They feature local art on display, with a different artist every month. They also have live music in the evenings.

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Sleep

  • Microtel Inn & Suites - Admiral Place, 16518 East Admiral Pl, ☎ +1 918 234-9100.
  • Super 8 Motel - Downtown, 3211 South 79th East Ave, ☎ +1 918 660-8080.
  • Hyatt Regency Tulsa, 100 E 2nd St (Adjacent to Williams Towers and the Tulsa Performing Arts Center), ☎ +1 918 582-9000.
  • Doubletree Hotel - Downtown, 616 W 7th St, ☎ +1 918 587-8000, fax: +1 918 587-1642.
  • Doubletree Hotel - Warren Place, 6110 S Yale, ☎ +1 918 495-1000.
  • Postoak Lodge & Retreat, 5323 W. 31st St. North Tulsa, ☎ +1 918 425-2112.

Hyatt Place Tulsa-South/Medical District (Hyatt Place Tulsa Southern Hills) (7037 South Zurich Avenue Tulsa, Oklahoma 74136), ☎ +1 918 491-4010. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon.

  • Hotel Ambassador, 1324 S. Main St, ☎ +1 918 587-8200, fax: +1 918 587-8208. Also housing the excellent Chalkboard restaurant. (updated Feb 2016 | edit)
  • The Mayo Hotel, 115 West 5th St, ☎ +1 918 582-6296. Once regarded as the preeminent Tulsa luxury hotel when she opened in 1925, The Mayo Hotel has returned, more brilliant than ever. The Mayo sets a new standard of value, boasting convenient amenities, superior services and an exclusive address in the heart of downtown.
  • Wyndham Tulsa, 10918 East 41st St, ☎ +1 918 627-5000.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Tulsa

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This is version 13. Last edited at 20:53 on Sep 20, 19 by ABG123. 2 articles link to this page.

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