Raise your hand if you love a fun girls’ weekend? I know I do! Yet, the girls’ weekends are fewer and farther between than they were before I had children. These days it takes a lot of coordination and planning to get a girls’ trip off the ground. Don’t get me wrong; I will (and did) put in the work to make that precious time a reality.
Last fall I approached a girlfriend and asked if she was interested in taking a weekend trip to Pawhuska, Oklahoma–aka the Pioneer Woman motherland.
Pawhuska is home to Ree Drummond, Food Network sensation. Ree married a rancher, became a mama, had a knack for cooking, and started a blog. Not long after, she went from blogging sensation to Food Network star. She spends her time running the Pioneer Woman Mercantile, which includes a store, restaurant, coffee shop, and bakery. She also continues to write cookbooks, film her Food Network show, and open other shops in Pawhuska such as a pizza joint and a sweets shop.
When I initially asked my friend to join me on the weekend road trip to Oklahoma, she sounded interested. However, a few months went by without further discussion of the idea. But then, about two months after I initially asked her, she brought it back up.
“Were you really serious about going to the Pioneer Woman Mercantile?”
Yes, the answer was a resounding and enthusiastic yes.
Somehow, we pulled the trip together in about five weeks’ time. We identified a weekend that worked for both the wives and husbands, as the men would be charged with keeping things under control while we were gone. We planned to leave on a Thursday and return on Sunday. Thus began our girls’ weekend adventure to Oklahoma.
As a result, I have all the info and tips for planning a successful trip to Pawhuska to indulge in all things Pioneer Woman.
When to Go
Personal Recommendation: October-April
The staff at the Mercantile told us that May-September is busy for them. October-April is a much less busy time to visit. We visited during the off-season months and found it to be the perfect amount of people. The wait time for the restaurant was non-existent (except when we wanted to get dinner right at 5 p.m. on Saturday), and we were able to have the Mercantile store practically all to ourselves more than once. We did learn that they have a variety of techniques during the busy season to help the visitors pass time while waiting in long lines.
Another factor to consider is the weather. Depending on time of year you could be dealing with the extreme cold or the extreme heat. Keep this in mind!
Travel and Timing
Personal Recommendation: At least two full days in Pawhuska, OK
For this girl’s trip we pulled off a three-night excursion that was still a solid 8.5 hours away from our starting location. We opted to leave town around mid-day on Thursday and drive part way to stay overnight. This allowed us to get half the drive done on a shorter travel day. Then we woke up on Friday to finish the drive. In doing so, we were able to get 1.5 days in Pawhuska. We returned on Sunday and drove the entire 8.5 hours in one day. It was a long day of driving, but it was completely doable (especially without children and husbands!).
I recommend doing what we did, or even planning to go the entire way on Thursday in order to give yourself a full two days in town. Obviously, there is always the option of staying longer, but if you’re like us, you will be on a deadline and must be conscious of how many days you are out of town.
Personal Recommendation: Historic Whiting Hotel Suites
Pawhuska has limited housing options and they run the gamut in terms of fanciness. I recommend staying in Pawhuska. Otherwise, you will be forced to drive 20-30 minutes into town, and you won’t have the option to stop into your room midday to rest or drop off bags. Prices vary but remember, you will be splitting the cost with your girlfriend(s) and it makes the cost for a few nights minimal when you split it up.
The lodging options in Pawhuska include:
This is the most coveted of options as Ree and her husband Ladd spent time converting a historic building into this “eight room cowboy luxury hotel.” It is hard to secure a room in this fancy place. We overheard folks in the restaurant talking about how hotel guests get breakfast brought to their door along with specialty coffee drinks. The guests are spoiled. The boarding house is located literally next door to the Pioneer Woman Mercantile. ($169-$279/night)
This is where we stayed. It is located just a few blocks away from the Pioneer Woman Mercantile (we could see the sign from the entrance to the hotel). This unique building was built in the 1920s and all the suites were previously used as newlywed housing and for those working in the oil fields. Each room is themed, has much of the original tilework, and is modestly set-up. If you’re looking for a true hotel experience, don’t book here. BUT, if you’re looking for a unique and reasonably priced housing option IN Pawhuska, this is your place. ($108-$116/night)
This hotel is located across the street from the Pioneer Woman Mercantile. It is a five-story triangle building built in 1912 where legal business was conducted for over 60 years. Later, in 2017, it was carefully renovated and restored into the now 20-room hotel. The rooms are nice and offers a step down from the Boarding House but a step up from the Whiting Hotel Suites. ($159-$249/night)
Other lodging locations could include Bartlesville, OK (30 min from Pawhuska), Ponca City, OK (50 min from Pawhuska), and Tulsa, OK (1 hour from Pawhuska). It would also be smart to check Airbnb or VRBO for possible rental options.
What to Eat
Personal Recommendation: As much as possible! (See below.)
*Pro tip: Agree to split things with your girlfriend(s). We made this agreement and it allowed us to order a variety of foods and get a taste of SO many of the items on the menu.
Here is what we ate (no judgement!):
Lemonade: They made fresh squeezed lemonade daily. And get this, it is only 25 cents. It is so good!
Queso Dip and Chips: My friend and I STILL talk about this queso dip. It is the best I’ve ever had.
Olive Cheese Bread: Do you like olives? If so, do not skip this olive cheese bread.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts: The entire time we ate these we asked one another, “What do they put in these?” I could have licked the cast iron skillet they were served in.
Asian Noodle Salad: This was a departure from the frontier food but a departure that was worth the trip. It was flavorful and unique.
Farmer’s Breakfast: Honestly, the only reason I ordered this was because we were told we couldn’t miss the biscuits. This breakfast came with a biscuit and homemade jam. The biscuit was great! The breakfast was good but nothing to write home about.
Edna Mae’s Pancakes: The best thing about these were the flavor infused syrups that came with them. They were delicious!
Cowboy Coffee and Spicy Cowgirl Coffee Drinks: Do you like coffee drinks? Try one of these because it’s the PW’s take on frothy caffeinated beverages and they include things like sarsaparilla and cayenne. Intrigued? So were we!
Cinnamon Rolls: These are amazing. They sell them to-go in packs of 6/12/24. Don’t waste your stomach space on trying to eat these while you are there. Just get them to go. They warm up well and will be divine even if you wait to eat them at home. But don’t skip these. You will regret it.
We ate there three times and visited the bakery/coffee shop a couple times. There are other places to eat in Pawhuska (PWs pizza place, or other local establishments) but I would say that you could eat at the Mercantile for every meal and not regret your life choices.
Visiting the Drummond Ranch
Personal Recommendation: Take time to talk to the cowboy(s) hosting the lodge tours that day. You will learn all sorts of fun tidbits you would not otherwise know about.
Yes, you can visit the actual Drummond ranch and tour the Lodge where Ree Drummond films her Food Network show. Check the Pioneer Woman Mercantile website ahead of your visit to see what days the Lodge will be open. They typically post 2-3 months of dates on the website, and this gives you an opportunity to plan ahead.
Pro tip: Plan at least two hours for your lodge tour. The lodge is actually located a 30-minute drive from the Merc. You could easily spend an hour (or more) at the Lodge. This means planning at least two hours when you factor in the drive time.
It is free to tour the Lodge but you must have a ticket. Tickets can be obtained at the Mercantile and are only good for the day you picked it up. There is no limit to the number of tickets they give out on a tour date, so no worries about anything selling out. Just know that you may be there with a small crowd or a very large crowd.
Things you will see at the Lodge:
- Props from her show–past, present, and future
- Kitchen gadgets and supplies (Open all the drawers and look inside!)
- The Lodge bedrooms. You may even spot an iconic Pioneer Woman piece of clothing like the hat (below) I spotted hanging up that I’ve seen in numerous episodes of her cooking show!
- New Pioneer Woman merchandise that hasn’t made it into the stores yet
- Beautiful scenery
The lodge is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and you will likely be greeted by a friendly cowboy who will answer all your questions and make you feel right at home.
Pro Tip: Be social and initiate an introduction between you and the Lodge staff on duty. We had the pleasure of meeting Cowboy Bill who was the friendliest and most kind-spirited man. He told story after story about his time with the Drummond family and showed us things at the Lodge we wouldn’t have thought to check out!
From the Lodge you can also see the Drummond home off in the distance, and Cowboy Josh’s house just down the hill from the Lodge.
Shopping at the Merc
Personal Recommendation: Do not skip the Pioneer Woman T-Shirt! Buy it. It is the softest most lovely t-shirt and I wear it as often as possible.
The merchandise at the Mercantile is endless. There is SO much to see.
We probably looked around the Merc on four different occasions during our short stay and I saw something new every single time. I made it a point to purchase something I could use in my kitchen on a regular basis to help me remember the trip. I also purchased some practical items. I highly recommend the half sheet baking pan. I use it all. the. time. I wasn’t going to buy it and my friend told me I should, and I am so glad I did. There is also cute clothing and accessories, home décor, and more. Take your time and look around. I suggest setting a budget for how much you will allow yourself to spend at the Merc. If not, things could get crazy very quickly!
Also, don’t be afraid to talk to the staff. They know when Ree may show up, and they will usually share insider info with you. My friend overheard the cashiers talking about how Ree was on her way to sign books, asked a few questions about details from the employees, and the next thing I knew I was one of the first in line to meet her.
Other things to see/do
Personal Recommendation: Drive outside of town and catch an Oklahoma sunrise. It was breathtaking and pictures don’t do it justice.
We had no idea that Pawhuska had such a rich history and we regretted not having more time to dive into it while we were there. We also learned that the nearby towns like Bartlesville and Ponca City could have offered some other interesting things to do. However, we were immersed in Pawhuska and had limited time. If you have more time, venture away from Pawhuska to see what you can find!
Our girls’ weekend in Pawhuska was super fun and I have fond memories of that trip with my dear friend. In retrospect it makes me wonder why I don’t make more time to do trips like this. I encourage you to look at your calendar to find a time you can carve out a girls weekend with a friend or two. It doesn’t have to be fancy or far away. But it can be if you want it to be. The important part is making the time to do it!
And if it just so happens that you want to go to Pawhuska, OK like I did, now you have the ultimate guide to aid you in your girls’ weekend adventure.