“It’s always on the way.”
That’s what the greeter at the Pioneer Woman’s set (her lodge!) told me about Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re traveling to; people always tell me that it’s on the way,” he chuckled. And isn’t that the case with your favorite spots? You always make them “on the way” to wherever you’re going.
We made Pawhuska “on the way” recently after a soccer game in Tulsa, and if I’m being honest, it’s been a bucket list trip for me for a couple of years. Visiting the town where Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, hails from seemed like the bookend the Perot girls needed to close out 2020. What made it even more impressive was that the town, the store, the set, it was all dressed up for Christmas!
Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman Empire
Pawhuska may as well be renamed “Drummondville” because Ree’s touch is omnipresent. The Mercantile, her flagship store, was filled with the most charming finds, fun housewares, and branded merch. Everything from candles to cookware, t-shirts to travel mugs. We lost track of time combing through all the displays and picking up gifts for ourselves. (Hey, it was Christmas!) I still think I need the commercial size floral plastic wrap dispenser. I can’t believe I didn’t get it. We did make it home with PW coffee beans (They smell so AMAZING I don’t want to use them – I just squeeze them when I walk by the bag to get my fix.) and a couple of Mercantile mugs to feed my mug addiction, some darling melamine dishes, and plenty of other goodies.
There’s more to the Mercantile than retail therapy. There’s a charming restaurant filling the building with the most amazing smells. Get there early, though – the wait was 2 hours. Our agenda was long if we were going to get back on the road before dark and the impending snow that night, so we saved that meal for our next visit when we bring the hubs.
Pawhuska is more than just the Pioneer Woman’s store. It’s your quintessential original small town with a massive Christmas tree smack in the middle that surely came from a nearby ranch. It was draped in lights for the holidays. If you turned full-circle from where the tree stood, you would see the Drummond’s touch from every angle. Charlie’s Sweet Shop has fantastic ice cream, and when she gave me my total, I told her she forgot half our order. It turns out she didn’t. It’s just not Dallas prices there.
Ree also has a pizza restaurant called P-Town Pizza, the newly opened The Pioneer Woman Collection Store next to the Pioneer Woman Boarding House, which is her hotel. (Another experience for our next visit.) I have it on good authority that it’s as decadent as any Ritz Carlton and booked up for months as a result. If you’re interested in staying overnight, there is another hotel in town called The Frontier Hotel that was available (so tempting, I nearly booked the room but did I mention the snow that Pawhuska was supposed to get that night?) It is a renovated 5-story triangle building built in 1912. It looks amazing and completely reasonable at $179+ considering I had just slept in a $150/night soccer group rate at a totally average Tulsa Marriott off the highway.
Before we gave up our retail exploration, we stopped into LOREC Ranch Home Furnishings and I recommend you do too before you leave. It was overflowing with unique southwestern furniture and décor, and I felt obligated to give them some of my money too.
How You Can Visit the Pioneer Woman Lodge
Here’s a pro tip, when you visit “The Merc,” ask if you can visit the lodge where Ree does her filming. If it’s an off-week for her, then they’ll offer you directions on how to get there. And don’t expect this to be a “don’t touch” tour with a guide to walk you through. Nope, you’re greeted on the porch by a very welcoming friend of the Drummonds who will invite you in, share stories with you about the town and the family, and offer for you to discover their guest house however you like. Even my highly unimpressed tweenager thoroughly enjoyed this part of our get-away (it helped that there was a lot of soccer talk). She didn’t even protest when I took 1,001 photos because, I mean, we were IN The Pioneer Woman’s set, walked through her dressing room, and chatted in her kitchens. Yes, there’s more than one. And I won’t even tease you about the pantries of your dreams. Let’s just say I threw some shade at my own little closet of a pantry when I got home.
With as much as we took in, I will tell you, Pawhuska is SMALL. So small, we ran into not only someone else from our team but a friend from Frisco — just randomly on the street! So crazy. But beyond shopping, there’s plenty more to do in Pawhuska, and we were eager to take it all in.
At the recommendation of my friend Amy and in between our doses of The Pioneer Woman experience, we drove out to Tallgrass Prairie Nature Preserve, which ended up being a whole other level of amazing. (More on that in my next post.) But there’s even more that we’ll try and do on our next trip. Here’s a list of ideas.
Would I recommend a trip to Pawhuska? If you’re a fan of Pioneer Woman, I would answer a wholehearted YES. You’ll learn in about a nanosecond of arrival that she and Ladd must be as genuine as they are on TV because everyone in town seems just to adore that family. You’ll eat well; you’ll fill your trunk with some amazing finds (and no, I don’t mean the same things you’ll find in her product line at Walmart), you’ll experience incredible nature, and some wholesome Oklahoma hospitality. And once you visit, I think you’ll agree that it’s true, it’s always “on the way” as you plan for a return.
Until then, my Flickr album of our day in Pawhuska will have to be enough. Click on the image below to see the full album