“You’re going where? For what?”
That’s the reaction that almost everyone had when I said I was going to Tulsa in May for Hanson Day. Because we’re in California, and vacationing in Oklahoma (which has tornadoes), when you’re already in a beautiful place (that doesn’t have tornadoes) seems silly. And Hanson? Are those guys still around?
Yes. Yes, they are.
This was my first Hanson Day (an annual event held by Hanson in their home town) and my first time in Oklahoma. Other than imagining scenes from “The Grapes of Wrath” I didn’t know what to expect from Tulsa, and maybe that’s why I was so pleasantly surprised.
Tulsa is cute. It has some fun little neighborhoods, like the Blue Dome District. They were having a festival the same weekend as Hanson Day and so after the bowling tournament (because of course there’s a Hanson bowling tournament) a few of us walked around to explore.
We stopped into Dwelling Spaces, a shop/cafe that had the brilliant idea to make Hanson lattes and hot chocolates. It was warm and humid outside, but of course we all had to get one.
In another part of town the store Ida Red was also in on the Hanson party and figured that the best way to sell candy bars would be to put pictures of the Hanson men on them.
It’s just a shame they used a picture of Zac from the photo shoot where he looks like Ally Sheedy. Don’t believe me? Here:
Closer to Hanson territory are a few restaurants in the Brady Arts District. They had two fan club dinners there for us and excellent signage for both. Caz’s Chowhouse was a favorite and I went back there for lunch with a couple of friends. Everything was tasty, their ice cream floats really hit the spot on a hot day, and the little cheesecakes weren’t bad (although they weren’t the quality of Junior’s in New York, but that’s hard to top).
Right next to 3CG is a wood-paneled cozy place called the Tavern. A few of us shared the Bacon Popcorn appetizer at the recommendation of Zac Hanson, and it was good. Difficult to eat, but tasty. The Angry Mac & Cheese got good reviews from our group, and if you don’t like spicy then you can ask for it to just be Grumpy or Mildly Annoyed.
In exploring slightly further away I was shocked – SHOCKED – to find the Philbrook Museum. It’s like someone scooped up a little piece of Italy and dropped it in Tulsa. The grounds are beautiful, the art collection is diverse, and it looked like they did a really nice Sunday brunch, although I was saving my appetite for the Hop Jam that afternoon.
What’s the Hop Jam? Oh, just a little beer and music festival that Hanson started in 2014. It’s free to the public (although you need to buy tickets to sample the beer – $2 each) and several bands played over the course of the afternoon, with Hanson as the headliner for a crowd of about 30,000 people.
There were also lots of food trucks offering Chinese Nachos and lots of other delicious things, including grilled cheese made with donuts.
I stuck with a pulled pork sandwich. Seemed less diabetes-inducing.
And if you hadn’t heard, the reason Hanson started a beer festival is because they also started a beer company. You can get your Mmmhops right here.
Other delicious things at the Hop Fest included Isaac Hanson and his special Hop Jam guitar. This man is aging incredibly well.
And despite the gross hot weather, I had to peek into Glacier Confections, just around the corner from 3CG. They do beautiful truffles in some unique flavor combinations. (The Elvis is peanut butter, banana, and bacon. Not my favorite, but something you should try at least once.) They even had a Hop Jam truffle, which I’m sorry to say I didn’t try because the one thing I learned at the Hop Jam is that I really don’t like beer. I really tried to, but it’s just not happening.
The caramel truffles were fantastic though, as long as you ate them while inside the store, before they could turn into puddles outside. You can also order from them online.
And speaking of turning into puddles, even a hungover Taylor Hanson seemed to have that effect on some people. Seriously, whose hair looks that good all the time?
My verdict on Tulsa is that it’s a fun place to spend a few days, and I didn’t even see everything I wanted to. Next year I need to go to the Guthrie Center and the Riverwalk, and maybe try that donut grilled cheese thing. Just for blogging purposes, of course.
And here’s one last photo of Zac from the Hop Jam, just because.
Where’s the love?