For two years in a row, we have traveled to Jenks, or Tulsa, Oklahoma for a national karate tournament. It’s a short road trip from Plano, Texas, about a four hour drive. Last year we stayed on the Tulsa side of the Arkansas river. But, this year we stayed on the Jenks side.
If you didn’t know it, Tulsa is on the Arkansas River. I’ve always heard it compared to Little Rock, Arkansas probably because it’s also on the Arkansas River. Having lived in Little Rock, Arkansas for more than ten years, I can see some similarities. I love a town on a river.
Our tournament venue happens to be on the Jenks side of the river, and last year we stayed on the Tulsa side of the river. It wasn’t super close to the venue and there are only certain places where you can cross the river. We found our selves in a little bit of a time crunch and traffic jam trying to get to our tournament. That’s why we chose the Jenks side of the river this year, and I’m so glad we did.
Holiday Inn Express on the Jenks Side
We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express that was right on the river. It was super close to our venue and we didn’t have to cross the river to get to it. It was right next to a great restaurant and the Oklahoma Aquarium. I recommend both.
We had a river view from our hotel and a hot breakfast, which I love. It’s so much easier to let someone else feed your kids in the mornings before you start your day. Everyone is just in a better mood and I didn’t have to make my own coffee in my room with that little coffee pot. They had coffee! I must have my morning coffee! This hotel is part of IHG and you can join their membership for points and discounted rates, which I definitely recommend doing.
After our first day of competition, we headed to the restaurant next door to our hotel, the Waterfront Grill Tulsa. We had a delicious late lunch. Then, we attempted to take some selfies by the river, but it was extremely hot and sunny!
The Oklahoma Aquarium
After lunch we scooted over to the Oklahoma Aquarium and spent about two hours. This was a great aquarium. We could have spent longer here if we had had more time, but they close at 6:00 and we got there around 4:00. It wasn’t crowded at all and we saw everything there was to see, but we could have spent more time observing. There are many big attractions, an octopus, a friendly sea turtle, a performing beaver, sting rays, and a walk through shark tank. The shark tank is probably the biggest attraction and it is all the way at the end. My advice would be to go there first, and then work your way back to the front door. If you make it to this aquarium, you will not regret it. We had lots of fun.
Another fun spot on the Jenks side of the river was their little River Walk area with Golf Suites and restaurants and scooters to ride along the river. This area did remind me of Little Rock a little bit because they have the whole River Market area on the river. It’s a super fun place to hang out, walk, eat, grab ice cream, ride a scooter, whatever you want. Super glad we found this spot.
We spent a few hot hours at Golf Suites where the husband and kids worked on their gold swings and I ate chips and dip. This is very similar to Top Golf, but apparently the ball tracking technology was different, according to the hubs. The set up was about the same, however. We got a second floor suite and golfed away. Super fun. I recommend this place as well.
The River Walk
After golf, we walked the restaurant row area and popped into Marble Slab for a little cool treat. There was a lot of life in this area. People walking and riding scooters. We came back to this spot the next day and at at Andolini’s Pizza. It was fabulous and felt a little more Italian than most pizza places. Plus, they had gelato. Everything we ordered was delicious.
I would say we had a much better time in Jenks, Oklahoma than we did when we stayed in Tulsa. So, if you find yourself headed to the UTA Grand National Taekwon Do Championship in Oklahoma, try the Jenks side of the river. I think you will like it.
For several years now, our vacations are where ever our children are competing in their sports. In fact, last year my daughter’s Trampoline and Tumbling Nationals were in Salt Lake City, Utah. I wrote a blog post if you are headed to Utah, check it out. This year for her Nationals, we are headed to Phoenix, Arizona. So, that planning is in the works.