Road Trip: The Pilgrimage to The Pioneer Woman

The stop in Pawhuska was part of a multi-state road trip we took in January. Don’t miss our post on our other stops in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas.

The was no way we were going to Oklahoma without stopping in the land of The Pioneer Woman. Afterall, people fly in just to visit her shop. It’s a destination for girls’ weekends, Spring Break, and the place for many men dragged there by their wives, if you read travel reviews written by men promising that it wasn’t their choice to go, but they loved every minute of it. Hey guys, you can admit you were interested. It’s okay.

Pawhuska is smaller than I expected – and we expected it to be small. There is plenty of parking on the street or in a free lot about two blocks away from The Merc. There are a few other shops, and of course the Boarding House and P-Town Pizza.

After parking, we hurried to the deli because reviews had us scared about the long wait for a table. There weren’t outside lines, as we’d read about, and the wait was only about 30-40 minutes. They take your cell phone number and call you when ready, allowing us to shop at The Mercantile, buy some treats for later at the Bakery, and relax upstairs when my phone buzzed that our table was ready. Perfect strategy on their part and it worked for us. 

Lunch was amazing. It was really, really good, totally living up to our expectations. The hardest part was not ordering everything on the menu.

What we ate:

Biscuits and homemade jam
. We inhaled this. It may have sounded like an odd addition to our lunch order, but we’re from California where good biscuits are hard to find. Our regret is not getting a second order for the road.

Cowboy Fries. Yes. Loaded and amazing. So much yes.

Ladd’s Favorite Chicken Sandwich. Really good and they double-down on the chicken. No regrets.

Turkey Bacon Club. My daughter loved this. I tried a little and liked it, but preferred Ladd’s Favorite better.

All of this was washed down with water, sweet tea (25¢!), and flavored lemonade ($1.25!). 

We didn’t order dessert because we’d bought treats at the Bakery. Really dumb move. It’s not an either-or decision.

At the Bakery, we bought: a giant sugar cookie with frosting, a chocolate chip cookie, a three-pack of cinnamon rolls, and a croissant.

Serious advice: DO NOT BUY the three pack of cinnamon rolls. Get the six-pack. We had deep regrets the next morning. If we could do it again, we’d buy multiple six packs. The frosted sugar cookie was pretty, but meh. Everything else was great. We should have bought a little more. Or a lot more.

We were lucky enough to visit on a day the Lodge was open for visits. There was no sign or mention of this in the store, yet because we’d checked the website earlier, I asked when checking out and was happily handed a paper with directions to the Drummond Ranch Lodge (hint: it’s not through the main ranch entrance). 

The shop is filled with all kinds of knick nacks and fun stuff. We were there just after Christmas, which meant sales on holiday items. We bought a few ornaments and a Christmas platter that spoke to us.

After a brief pause to visit the rope bridge a short walk away from The Mercantile, we set out for the Lodge. It’s quite a ways from downtown Pawhuska, and if not for the other cars headed there and back, I would have definitely second-guessed that we were going in the right direction. 

Parking at the Lodge was full and there were many other people there (and this is January! I can’t imagine the summer), but everyone was friendly, there’s plenty of space to take photos, and the dogs were hanging around! There isn’t a tour, but there were two people on hand to answer questions, chat people up, and ultimately watch over the place. 

My dream drawer

The Lodge is so much bigger than I imagined, with several bedrooms with closets that looked like the film crew was due back soon, and other rooms filled with props, cooking equipment, and food, not to mention a giant, commercial-sized kitchen in the back.

 It was a lot of fun to see the Lodge and ranch from that spot (and it’s free!), and it added value to the trip because there isn’t a lot to do in Pawhuska outside of The Merc. We would have gone anyway, but this made the stop more memorable. 

We’d looked into rooms at the Boarding House months ago when making plans and it was booked the day we’d be there, but had vacancies the other days around our visit. The Boarding House always seems to book quickly but following our visit we saw Ree’s surprise birthday party was that weekend, which may have accounted for the early blocking off of those dates.

In the end, I’m glad we didn’t stay in town because there isn’t much to do outside of The Merc and Lodge. If we had more time, we would have visited Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, but at best, it would have been one day of activities.

After our visit to the Lodge, we were ready to get back on the road toward Wichita. Read more about the rest of our road trip.

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