Bestie and I made a pilgrimage to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to check out all things Pioneer Woman and it did not disappoint. Located in Osage county in the northeastern part of the state it should be called “Pawhuska: Pretty Happy People.” The hospitality in this town was by-far the best I have ever received.
We started our 72 hour getaway with a stop in OKC to tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Musuem. We spent several hours just taking in all the powerful moments captured in the thought provoking exhibits. Honestly, I could have stayed at least another few hours, but we needed to head on to Pawhuska another three hours down the road. If you’ve never toured this memorial, it’s a must. Beautiful, reverent and inspiring.
Our next stop was for a treat at Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies. Who wouldn’t brake for fried pie dough stuffed with filling! We picked our faves — me cherry and apricot. I ate mine while Bestie tried to drive. I kept moaning “this is SOOO good!” She finally had to pull over to eat hers properly. I tucked the apricot away for another time.
We were so hungry having eaten early in the day at Sarah’s in Gainesville, Texas before we crossed into Oklahoma that we stopped in Cleveland at Hungry Eye’s for dinner. We both ordered the red beans and cornbread and I named it the best beans I have ever eaten in my entire life. Seriously. We asked “who made these beans?!” and learned the bean maker extraordinaire was Sally. So, if you see or know Sally in Cleveland be sure to tell her that her beans are legendary. For reals.
Back in the car we arrive in Pawhuska. Most everything was closed up for the night, but we stopped at the Mercantile to just peak through the windows. Like kids looking through candy shop windows we were in awe over the decorations and pretty displays. Amy, the manager, saw us through the windows and I told her through the crack in the door “don’t mind us, we’re just dreaming of a Mercantile Christmas.” She sweetly came to the door and asked us if we’d like to come in while she straightened up the store. We almost knocked her over jumping up and down with glee. Andy Williams was singing and birds were flying around putting ribbon in our hair, y’all! Ornaments, kitchen gadets and dishware, gifts, candles, toys, mugs, a wrapping paper station, Pioneer Woman Barbie, it was jaw dropping. I had to check my pulse several times.
After we were treated to such a warm welcome, we headed to check into our hotel the Historic Whiting Hotel Suites. Built in the 1920’s, the Hotel was once all efficiency apartments for newlyweds and workers in the oil field. Over the last 30 years it has been converted into individual suites each with different themes. Furnished with locally resources antiques and local memorabilia. Not only is the Hotel historic but each suite is full of history. Some rooms still have the original Murphy bed frames that have been in use since the 1920’s. Our room was the #16 the American Suite.
Within just a few blocks from the Mercantile, dining and shopping, it was a great location to retreat. After a long day we nestled into our pjs for a nice, relaxing sleep to wake up early for the next day.
7:30 a.m. breakfast at the Mercantile. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, biscuits, tomatoes, cinnamon rolls and coffee. We dined sufficiently and were treated well by Autumn, our server. Afterwards we headed over to do our shopping. I picked up some new Santa mugs for my collection, a Pioneer Woman Barbie for my little niece to enjoy when she comes for visits, and a few gifts for Christmas that I had beautifully wrapped for a nominal fee. Tip: Be sure to eat and shop early in the Mercantile because later in the day when we popped in for coffee and to pick up my wrapped gifts, it was really crowded.
While we were in the store we picked up our free tickets to tour The Lodge on Drummond Ranch and upon the advice from our server we made the drive out there as soon as we loaded our purchases in the car. It was a 30-minute drive, most of it along a gravel road. The Lodge is their family guest house, which also serves as the production location for Ree’s Food Network show.
We stood at Ree’s kitchen Island, peaked into her pantry to see her emense supply of cast iron, Le Creuset, bowls, measuring cups and racks and racks of kitchen props. In the back of The Lodge is a commercial kitchen where I am sure she does the actual cooking and preps recipes and the food for the camera. We even saw her fancy KitchenAid mixers. We enjoyed the view from the deck and then headed back to town for more shopping. Tip: Do plan to make a trip to The Lodge as soon as it opens at 9 a.m. so you miss the crowds. By the time we left alot more people (and screaming children) were arriving.
Back into town, next on our “must-see” list was Handy’s convenience store. I had read this article on Pinterest from the blog Postcard Jar for “70 Things to do in Pawhuska.” They said you “must stop in Handy’s for an icy cold drink of “pop” from the soda fountain.” Why? Because they have the best ice for drinks — your choice of cubed, pellet or if you ask they will make you shaved ice in the back! The store is run by twins Margie and Martha, almost 80 year old pieces of dynamite. Martha was running the store and greeted us immediately. We told her all about her being famous on Pinterest and would she pose for a photo with us. We chatted her up and Martha told us they sell more “pop” in their store than on the highway. That’s quite an accomplishment! We snapped a pic with her and then she told us to hightail it over to RedBud Cottage their Airbnb that her sister Margie runs. Being good tourists we did and Margie gave us a grand tour of their lovely home that you rent here. Seriously next time we go to Pawhuska we are staying there and inviting the twins over for a BBQ and to bring along some of their famous ice for margaritas. I bet they are real fun at parties!
There are a lot of cute stores and antique shops along the main street. I mentioned to Bestie that the Constantine Theatre was showing “It Happenened on 5th Avenue” and that we should see it, but alas the showtime was on Saturday evening after we would already be back in Fort Worth. I said outloud, “there has got to be someone in this town that can let us in here to watch this movie.” The next store down was The Lilac Bench and I told the owner Lisa of my unusual request to find someone to let us into the theatre to watch the movie. She said she knew just who to call. Less than five minutes later I was chatting on the phone with Gary who said he’d be happy to let us into the theatre for our own private viewing of the movie and oh, by the way did we want popcorn ready when we arrived? And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done in Smalltown, America! We agreed on a 6 p.m. showtime and headed back to our hotel for a little nap.
4 p.m. arrives and we dine at P Town Wood Fired Pizza. We split the Pizza-Ree-A a cross between a pizza and bruschetta and an order of the Caprese Salad. While we were eating, Ree’s eldest son Bryce be bopped in with his friends and we scooped him up for a picture. He’s a cutie and I am sure used to the old-lady charm.
Then we met Gary Hartness at the Constantine for our movie. He couldn’t have been nicer and so excited to share its history. The Constantine Theatre (a.k.a. Constantine Center) was originally created to be the Pawhuska House Hotel in the 1880s. It wasn’t until 1911 that C. C. Constantine purchased and remodeled the hotel into a theatre. The Constantine was remodeled in Greek Revival Style, and can hold 589 people. After many years of use, the theatre deteriorated and was finally abandoned in the 1970s. In 1986, a group of determined citizens began their efforts to restore the theatre back to its early glory. The theatre is recognized by both the National Registry of Historic Places and the National League of Historic Theatres and is one of the oldest working theatres in Oklahoma. We had our pick of any seat and settled for right in the center of the theatre. I will never be able to see this movie (one of my favorites at Christmastime) without thinking about this night. It was magical.
Saturday morning came and we dined again at the Mercantile. Johanna did a wonderful job waiting on us and sharing the stories of how they opened the restaurant in 2016. Sarah made a great Cafe Americano. And, of course, I had to have another cinnamon roll.
We headed upstairs to the coffee bar, bakery and candy counter that we had missed the day before.
We could have easily spent one more full day seeing tons more sites like the swinging bridge, the Woolaroc Museum and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, but alas it was time to head home. We left with our stomachs full and our hearts warmed by the hospitality of this sweet little town. We will definitely be back for more fun!