Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tulsa Places: RiverWalk Crossing

The weather in Green Country promises to be lovely this week, if not a little cloudy and prone to tornados. But, when has that ever stopped us Okies from having a little fun?

A trip to RiverWalk Crossing in Jenks, just 12 miles from downtown Tulsa, would be an upbeat-yet-relaxing way to spend one of the balmy afternoons coming our away.

It may not seem like it from the sprawling parking lot, but RiverWalk Crossing is a lot of place to explore in one afternoon. Leave it to me to distill it all to five points of interest. These activities are sure to please the kids, the wife, the snotty friends and even the in-laws you suspect might head up the fun police.

Your job is just to get to RiverWalk - that is, after you get done reading this. Get ready to let it all go, man.

1. Live Entertainment

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to head to RiverWalk Crossing, pick up some ice cream at Marble Slab Creamery or some gelato at Kaffe Bona, and mellow out to some tunes by local bands playing on the RiverWalk Ampitheater, the centerpiece of the "lifestyle center." The river lazily flowing past is a great backdrop to the entire experience.

The crowd is a mixed bag at these concerts, which are, from my experience, free to all. I've seen couples, large families, tons of little kids and groups of high school- and college-age buddies. I've even known a church group or two to meet up at RiverWalk for a concert.

A current event schedule isn't readily available by phone or Internet, but check back at the RiverWalk Crossing site to see what's up. Or, check with Urban Tulsa Weekly, the know-it-alls when it comes to what's doin' in Tulsa.

2. Shopping

When I wrote "lifestyle center" up there, what I really meant was a strip shopping center on steroids that happened to score really well on HotorNot.com.

The shops at RiverWalk are definitely on the upscale side - no mix of price levels here. Even so, my favorite browsing spots are Azur Couture (men and women's designer clothing), Stonehouse Gallery (furniture, jewelry and art) and West Southwest Territory (lots of locally made stuff).

Phase Two of RiverWalk Crossing (whenever that's gonna happen) promises to bring even more spots where river-bound shop-a-holics can dump the contents of their wallets.

3. Strolling

A (free!!!) walking path runs between RiverWalk Crossing and the river, and it's perfect for baby strolling.

Veering off the path to play is fun, too, as long as you promise not to take your hands off your children for even one second. NOT ONE.

The banks of the Arkansas River look so...Oklahoma. RiverWalk Crossing visitors definitely get their fill of the riverscape.

They can also get a great view of one of Tulsa's weird and ugly buildings.

Oh, my. Thar she blows in all her...eccentricity?

4. Eating

Though RiverWalk Crossing doesn't have the best collection of restaurants in the Tulsa area (that would be a toss-up between Brookside, Cherry Street and Utica Square), dining - which is on my top-three list of things I most love to do - can definitely be done there.

Unlike the shopping, the eats at RiverWalk fit a range of price levels, from fine dining at The Melting Pot to casual eat-and-run places like Sub Station. And, of course, Marble Slab Creamery, which happens to be the home of the $6 ice cream concoction.

Not that my regular-sized Cookies & Cake creation (birthday cake-flavored ice cream with Oreos and chocolate chip cookie dough mixed in) wasn't delicious, because it really, really was. But $6? I could buy an entire 1/2 gallon tub of ice cream at Braum's for less than that.

But I digress. And besides, I don't think Braum's has any ice cream that actually, really does taste like birthday cake.

Pricey ice cream purchase justification: my new hobby, as we all can see.

I love how kids and their families gather around the huge salt water fish tank at the new TK's 2, RiverWalk's asian fusion restaurant with its original location at Utica and Cherry Street. The hostess must be used to it. Her first question wasn't the standard, "How many?" but rather, "Would you folks like to be seated, or are you just enjoying the fish tank?" She had us pegged.

Why, of course I had to be one of the nerds taking photos of the fish tank with my point-and-shoot. I wonder if anyone ever sees me snapping shots and gawking and thinks I'm a tourist. The joke would be on them, right? Say yes.

5. Drinking

There's little else I'd rather do at the end of a Friday or Saturday night out than to sit out on the patio and have a nice cigar, and maybe a little something to drink to go with it.

The Cigar Box, then, is after my own heart. Not only is it my favorite place in town to peruse cigars, but it's also a hip little bar. Have a drink inside or have it brought out to the patio, where you can lounge and puff a cigar.

In a word: Ahhhh.

And don't forget Dirty's Sports Bar & Grill, which put one of its four locations in RiverWalk Crossing. It's the place to be for drinks, sports spectating, live entertainment and better-than-bar food. Don't be afraid to bring the fam - Dirty's even has a kids' menu.

Don't let anyone tell you that RiverWalk Crossing isn't budget friendly in these times when everyone is interested in cutting back. Say you need to come up with a low-cost date for you and your better half. Hit Los Cabos for an appetizer and a shared entree and catch a breeze and some live entertainment on your way down for some gelato (buy the smallest size - it'll be more than enough to satisfy, I promise).

That particular night out would hit your wallet for $30-$35, not counting whatever it costs for you to get to RiverWalk. I implore you to come up with a date night for the same price and get everything you're looking for - dinner, a romantic walk by the river, dessert and live music - in just one stop.

What's your favorite thing to do at RiverWalk? Have any ideas for a RiverWalk date? Leave it in the comments.


Maria said...

I try really hard not to go there. The place is too contrived for me, and I have significant issues with the poor design from an environmental and hydrological perspective. The parking lot is ON the levy. The shops are on the river side of the levy. I chose not to support their poor engineering decisions when I can help it.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

The family loves to go and stroll around the area. Its great people watching. If there is no band playing there is usually a kid or two performing on the stage.

Jeff Shaw said...

I like that wierd and ugly building. As long as you don't look at the gold mirror at the bottom. Maybe its just grown on me. I have to admit though its got the 70's all over it.

Amanda said...

I like to watch people not pick up their dog turds...and avoid banana peels. And, drip most of my small gelato all over Aubrey's neck because it's too much and I can't eat that fast.

You smoke cigars? Weirdness.

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