Oklahoma Stories

Get Your Tix on Route 66

By Alexis Mellons March 2017

Experience American heritage with movies, musicians and much more along the country’s favorite highway.

Unique to its kind, Route 66 is as much a destination as it is a journey. For almost a century, it has enchanted settlers and travelers with promises of adventure and newfound freedom. 

Today, with more drivable miles on the road than any other state, Oklahoma is home to countless attractions to entertain travelers along the way. 

National Route 66 Museum, Elk City

Museum car
National Route 66 Museum Photo By Alexis Mellons

Immerse yourself in life on the Mother Road at the National Route 66 and Transportation Museum. Located in Elk City, this complex invites travelers on a journey through American history. 

The adventure begins in the Route 66 Museum, where visitors experience the lives of those who worked and lived along the highway. Walk “the road” inside and listen to recorded commentary while viewing roadside attractions and vintage cars. 

Outside, the courtyard is a mix of original and replicated buildings that mimic early Oklahoma settlements. A general store, school house and doctor’s office are just a few of the buildings on display. 

Visitors can also sit back and enjoy a movie in the Transportation Museum, but it’s not a typical theatre experience. Enjoy classics such as “The Blob,” while resting in the back of an old Impala. 

In the Old Town Museum, find a collection of Navajo artifacts from New Mexico and a floor dedicated to the Beutler Brothers Rodeo Company.   

A trip here is only complete with a visit to the Blacksmith and the Farm and Ranch Museums, both dedicated to agricultural and domestic history in Oklahoma. 

Rich in heritage and memorabilia, the National Route 66 and Transportation Museum is a destination for history enthusiasts of all ages and interests. The complex is open Monday through Saturday, and tickets are $5 to visit all four museums. 

Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa

Musical instruments on display
Woody Guthrie Center Photo By Alexis Mellons

Open since April 2013, the Woody Guthrie Center is on a mission to educate the public about one musician’s passion for not only music, but also equality and social justice. 

Interactive and truly American, the museum highlights Guthrie’s impact on music, society and politics. A wall-sized touchscreen map of the U.S. allows visitors to click and read information about Guthrie’s life, excerpts of his writing and related U.S. history.  

The center is home to unique relics as well, including Guthrie’s collection of instruments, personal journals and the original sheet of paper on which he wrote “This Land is Your Land.” 

The center welcomes Guthrie amateurs alongside true fanatics, with new exhibitions appearing every three or four months. Past shows include Bob Dylan, The Supremes and the Kingston Trio. 

“Of course, the Beatles exhibit was probably the most popular,” says Sam Flowers, who works at the Woody Guthrie Center. “Kids, grandparents—entire families came through for that show.” 

This month, visitors can experience Brothers McCann and The Accidentals in concert (March 13 and March 20). To purchase tickets, call 918-574-2710 or visit WGC in Tulsa. 

Coleman Theatre, Miami

Coleman Theatre Photo By Alexis Mellons

When George Coleman, Sr. built the Coleman Theatre in 1929, he spared no expense. A destination for silent film and vaudeville entertainment, this Route 66 attraction dazzled audiences with gold leaf interiors and walls lined with silk panels.

Decades later, the Coleman Theatre keeps the vaudeville spirit alive. In 1989, after years of neglect, the theatre was fully restored by the city of Miami with no detail forgotten. 

“This place really has all the bells and whistles,” says Guy Carnes, a passionate tour guide at the Coleman. 

He’s referring to the theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. Built in 1928, this instrument was installed for opening night. Though Coleman lost possession of the organ for some years, it stands now in its original home and is used for shows and tours. 

Today, visitors from around the globe can experience the grandeur of this historical theatre. Plays, concerts and movie screenings are commonplace at the Coleman, but for a unique experience, visit Miami for a silent movie screening. Musician Dennis James performs here multiple times a year, playing music set to silent films. 

For more information about events and for ticket purchases, visit www.colemantheatre.org, or visit the theatre in downtown Miami. Daytime visitors are welcomed by friendly guides ready to share their knowledge about Oklahoma, Coleman and entertainment history. 

Beyond The Sooner State

Inspiration for Disney Pixar’s “Cars,” “Cars on the Route” in Galena, Kan., is a must for movie fans and the hunger-stricken alike. Visitors can enjoy a great menu and full-size copies of Cars characters. Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. 

For modern shows in a historic location, visit the Gillioz Theatre in Springfield, Mo. Renovated in 2006, this venue is home to film premieres and concerts. For tickets, tours and events, call 417-863-7843 or visit gillioztheatre.com.

With a hand in the Rock and Roll and Big Band eras, Amarillo’s Natatorium has a history of entertainment. Known as, “The Nat,” this Texan landmark now stands as an antique mall, though it continues to host live shows. For information on events, find The NAT on Facebook or visit the location in Amarillo, Texas.

Category: Oklahoma Stories
National Route 66 Museum Photo By Alexis Mellons

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