If you’re heading to Osage County, you’ll probably find yourself in Pawhuska or at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, two of the most popular things to do in Osage County. This means you will probably pass right by (or more accurately through) Shidler, Oklahoma.
If so, take some time to explore this town, which boasts its own art and history. And of course, if you can time your visit to be here for the Shidler Annual Car Show, that’s even better! Here are some of the best things to do in Shidler (besides the car show) plus what to do nearby!
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Where to Stay Near Shidler
While you can visit Shidler as a day trip from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, or Wichita, most out-of-towners will see it when they visit somewhere nearby. There aren’t any hotels or Airbnbs *currently*in Shidler, so here are my recs for where to stay in Pawhuska.
Here are my suggestions for where to stay in each budget category, plus an Airbnb recommendation. Recs are based on listed prices at the time, but keep in mind they can fluctuate based on availability, so always double-check the linked-to website for pricing for your exact dates.
Best Budget Option (Under $100 a night)
Best Mid-Range Option ($100-200 per night)
For a stay with a cozy appeal, check into the Historic Whiting Hotel Suites, located a tenth of a mile from The Mercantile and the rest of downtown. Rooms feature private balconies, kitchenettes, and kitschy decor. See pictures and availability here.
Best Luxury Option ($200 or more per night)
For a relaxing stay, check into the Frontier Hotel Pawhuska, which offers a sophisticated take on Wild West decor without scrimping on comfort. The rooms are stunning, with a mix of modern and farmhouse style and layers of country fabrics. See pictures and availability here.
Best Airbnb Option
If you’ve always been curious about tiny house living, check into the Prairie Cottage Queen, a tiny house located steps from The Mercantile. This tiny cottage sleeps up to four and features a modern cottage-chic decor. Perfect for anyone looking to avoid a hotel or traveling in a small group. See pictures and availability here.
The Best Things to Do in Shidler, Oklahoma
In no particular order…
Get Your Instagram Fix at the Oklahoma Mural
This Oklahoma Mural right in the heart of town might be the first thing you notice driving into Shidler. It makes the perfect Shidler photo spot or Instagrammable wall – if you’re into that sort of thing, of course.
Enjoy a Hearty Meal at Mandy’s Cafe
This popular local watering hole proudly boasts that it’s the “best Ribeye in Shidler.” If you’re in town, come for the steak and potatoes, stay for the rodeo stories!
You can check their Facebook page for hours and seasonal specials.
Tour and Tibble at Prairie Rattler’s Winery
You might not think of wineries when you think of Oklahoma, but we boast quite a few!
The Prairie Rattler Winery in Shidler has been described as an “intimate little winery that produces small-batch, hand-crafted wine.”
You can plan a wine tasting and even tour the vineyard! Contact them directly for tours.
Enjoy An English Afternoon at The Bivin Garden
Celebrating forty years of beauty in Osage County, the Bivin Garden was begun in 1981 as an imitation of a traditional English garden. Today it boasts thirty-five flower beds and over forty species of roses, along with trees and objects from around the world.
This is the perfect place to stop for a picnic on the route from Pawhuska to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, or spend an afternoon here on your own!
Go Antiquing on Cosden Avenue
I love antiquing and shopping in the small towns of Oklahoma. There are always unique finds, beautiful antiques, and locally made products to choose from! You really can’t go wrong looking for Oklahoma souvenirs and local Osage county gifts while in Shidler.
In Shidler, you can shop down Cosden Avenue. You’ll find antiques at RoeIng In The Rust while there are fun second-hand goods for sale at Tender Loving Care.
Hit the Links at the Lakeview Golf Course
This 9-hole golf course overlooks Shidler lake and the Osage Wind wind farm. It’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Osage County while having a little bit of fun!
Built in 1930, this is one of the oldest golf courses in Northeast Oklahoma.
Learn the Ballad of the One Arm Bandit
John Payne, known professionally as the One Arm Bandit, is a world-famous rodeo performer based in Shidler. He owns this amazing building on Cosden Avenue, which you can read about more in this fantastic piece.
If you want to learn more about John’s story before seeing the building or, if you’re lucky, getting to see a performance, check out this interview with John on the podcast Osagin’ It.
How to Get to Shidler, Oklahoma
Shidler is a little over two hours from Oklahoma City, ninety minutes from Tulsa, and just thirty minutes from Pawhuska. There’s no public transportation option, so you will need to drive. If you don’t have your own car, I have recommendations for renting a car below.
I would recommend using a GPS, Navigation System, or your phone to navigate in this part of the state if you are unfamiliar with Northeast Oklahoma.
Tips for Renting a Car in Oklahoma
It’s awfully hard to get around Oklahoma without a car. Trust me, I’ve tried! While we went ahead and bought a car when we moved back, if you’ll only be here for a short while (or if you’re coming in from out of town), then you will want to rent a car.
I use Discover Cars when I rent cars on my travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.
Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.
5 Things to Bring to Shidler
First, bring a camera! Whether you use your phone (a lot of these pics were taken with my iPhone 12 Pro), or you can a point and shoot like my Sony ZV-1, or even if you have a DSLR or Mirrorless (I have an old Nikon D810), it doesn’t matter.
Just make sure you bring a camera (or two). The area is so photogenic, you won’t want to leave without having some of your memories.
Second, bring a phone charger! Whether you need an iPhone lightning cable or a Samsung USB-C charger, don’t leave yourself without internet access or the ability to make an emergency call from the road or if you’re out exploring on foot.
Third, bring a charging bank! Since you’ll be out of your car for long parts of the day, bring a portable charging bank so you can charge your phone on the go.
Fourth, bring a pair of sunglasses! This part of the state is windy and sunny, so you’ll be happy to have some eye protection from the glare and grime. I need prescription sunglasses (my latest pair I ordered online on Zenni), but I also love my Maui Jim’s aviators.
Finally, bring your sunscreen! You will spend a lot of your time outdoors, so prepare by having your sunscreen on before you leave and bring it with you so you can reapply as needed.
Bonus! Bring a great day bag so you can carry what you need with you (like your camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, cash, etc).
My current favorite is the Pacsafe Citysafe, which is especially great for traveling because it has many anti-theft features designed to deter pickpockets if you take it to bigger cities.
It also transitions to a night bag more easily and won’t embarrass you if you go to dinner directly after sightseeing all day.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I have used World Nomads when I travel since 2016, and I happily recommend them.
Getting coverage is important whenever you’re more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.
Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.
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Stephanie is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After living in Eastern Europe for four years, she has moved with her family back to Oklahoma to write about her favorite places growing up: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, & Route 66!