Bask in the glory of Boone Pickens Stadium
The first game of the 2011 Cowboy football season is about a month away, and I can already smell the Grillaroni's cooking at the Boone Bowl. For Cowboy fans tailgating is as big a part of the game day experience as the game itself. For most, this means a favorite parking spot, bar, or combination to waste the hours before kickoff (and get wasted). But what about those who come in from out of town? This year the Cowboys welcome to Stillwater: the University of Louisiana at Layfayette (Sept. 3), the University of Arizona (Sept. 8), the University of Kansas (Oct. 8), Baylor University (Oct. 29), Kansas State University (Nov. 5), and the University of Oklahoma (Dec. 3). This guide is intended to help those traveling fans feel welcome, and have a great time visiting God's country, Stillwater Oklahoma (and apparently God was cold this year, cause it's about 130 degrees outside). Part one (what you're reading now) will cover everything you need to know for the day(s) before the game.
There are 4 main ways to enter Stillwater, depending on where you're coming from. Stillwater sits at the intersection of highway 51 (east/west) and highway 177 (north/south). Most people from the north, south, and west will travel along Interstate 35 to exit 174 (HW 51) and then travel the 19 miles east to Stillwater. If you're arriving a day or two early, this route is fine, and you shouldn't expect much traffic until you hit town (20,000 students ensure it take 20 minutes to cross town between 8 am. and 8 pm.). If, however, you find yourself arriving the day of the game (and this especially applies to the KU, KSU, and OU fans, or any fan staying out of town) you may find yourself stuck in some pretty heavy traffic. There are, however, ways to avoid this. If you're coming from the south, consider exiting at exit 157 (highway 33). From there, drive east to Perkins OK, and then turn north on HW 177. This will avoid some of the problems that HW 51 users will have. If you're coming north you could consider exiting at Perry OK (exit 186), going east to HW 177, and then south to Stillwater. Anyone coming from the east has both HW 51 and HW 33 has options, though traffic is usually not a bad from these directions. If you're feeling lucky you can take any route you like and then get on a side road about 5 miles from time and back road it in, though I wouldn't recommend it unless you're familiar with the area, or have some form of GPS.
Now that you're in town, you'll probably need a few things, and we're going to get to those in a bit. But for now, the important road's you'll need to locate are: 6th street (which is also HW 51), Hall of Fame Avenue (runs past the stadium, though part of it is closed off on game days), Perkins Rd (also HW 177), Main Street, McElroy St, Washington St. (also known as the strip, and a great way into campus), Elm St. (Eskimo Joes, another good way to enter campus), and Duck St. (which crosses 6th, Elm, and Hall of Fame). Almost anything you could want in Stillwater can be found on or near these streets. Places to eat, sleep, see titties, and get some gas after the jump.
Yeah, they're boring, but also fairly essential to today's horseless carriage. I'm not going to list every gas station, but simply the good ones (cheap/cold beer, easy to get to, those sort of things). At the intersection of I-35 and HW 51 you'll find the Cowboy Travel Plaza (why am I not getting paid for this?). Lot's of pumps, a beer cave, average BBQ (great for a gas station though), and enough room to let Fido take a shit and not bother anyone. One thing though, they have a BBQ smoker out back, and that bastard is always going. I find that any drink (especially ones in aluminum cans) have a smell of BBQ smoke that penetrates the can and stains the beverage. Every time you take a sip you will smell that smoke. I'm not saying not to buy your favorite beverage there, but I don't. In town there are gas stations on 6th (4 of em), Main St. (4 as well), McElroy (2), Perkins (3), and a few other scattered around. Best ones you ask? I love the Conoco on 6th and Country Club (lot's of pumps, sorta out of town), the Kum n Go on Perkins by Lowes (great assortment of non-alcoholic beverages, dirty name), the Conoco on Perkins and 14th (lot's of diesel pumps, plus a Subway), and the Valero just off Washington St (easy to get to, near campus and McDonalds). Probably the most important station is the Conoco on the corner of Hall of Fame and Duck. It's about 200 feet from the stadium, has a place to piss (if you're a paying customer), and will be stocked on iced down tallboy's waiting for a consumer. Other than that everything else is pretty average, no real "rape me" gas stations in town either. Another plus is that most of these are 24 hour stations (I believe all the Conoco's are, as well as the Kum n Go). The only smoke shop I know of is off 6th in front of Charlies Chicken, so if you're a pipe man there you go.
Don't bullshit yourselves, this is the one thing you want to know about, more than food or lodging. There are a total of 11 liquor stores in Stillwater (Yeah, we love to drink. Wanna fight about it?). My personal favorites are: The Barn on the Strip (Washington Street). Do you want to drive through and pick up a keg? Do you want an owner who know's everything about every drink in his store? Do you want the only decent cigar humidor in town? Then you want the Barn. Calvin is a badass, loves OSU, and has a mighty fine liquor store (and it's walking distance from the stadium). The Barn is my personal favorite, but there are other good ones. Browns Bottle Shop on Main St. and Miller Ave. has the biggest selection of everything. This place is massive. Want a bottle of Kentucky Deluxe and a bottle of Cristal? Brown's can hook you up. Also have a pretty good assortment of kegs and a massive beer wall for all you beer snobs (I'm a PBR man myself). They also have the biggest assortment of pint's and half pints, as well as traveler's of Jim Beam, that can be placed in the front of your pants and easily enter Boone Pickens Stadium (beware though, dickface cops have UC's hidden throughout the stadium looking for people getting their party on. If they bust you you'll be given a public intox, and taken to county). If that's not enough, they have a store in the parking lot that sells fancy drinking utilities, such as wine glasses, flasks, and the like. There is a new store called Stillwater Wine and Spirits Warehouse on you're way into town on HW 51 (right next to Barry Sanders Super center, for all your Hyundai, Honda, and Dodge needs). Their prices are okay, but no personality and it's kind of a bitch to get to coming from the west (you have to go past it, make an illegal U, and then make another right). JR's on Perkins has great prices, and a pretty big wine rooms. Also, it's next to Christy's Toy Box, so that night out with the lady can turn into a sexfest back in the hotel room. Aside from those there are plenty scattered across town.
Get Your Grub On:
Stillwater has a decent selection of restaurants and fast food places. We have all the usuals: Taco Bell, McD's, Burger King, Carls Jr., Chick Fil A, Braums (for our Louisiana and Arizona friends, think of it as the Dairy Queen of Oklahoma), Arby's, Whataburger, 5 Subway's, Wendy's, Charlies Chicken, KFC, Chili's, Applebee's, Texas Roadhouse, McAlisters Deli, Red Lobster, Sonic, Pizza Hut, Mazzio's, Quizno's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Rib Crib, and IHOP. Those are all fine and whatnot, but they're all big chain's, I'm going to tell you about the other places to eat. First we have the second biggest symbol of Stillwater behind Oklahoma State, the Joes trio, Eskimo Joe's, Mexico Joe's, and Joseppi's. Eskimo Joe's is the most famous, has been recently renovated, serves a bad to the bone cheese fry, and will be packed as a motherfucker. No shit, this place is hell to get into the day before game day, and of course on game day. Show up at least an hour early (though you can start drinking as soon as you get there), and enjoy looking through Joe's Clothes or drinking across the street at George's Stables. Mexico Joe's is pretty good, I love their salsa, and they have great drink specials. Food is okay (on par with Chili's, but Mexican), but enough Coronita Margarita's and you wont care. Joeseppi's is essentially Olive Garden, but with nicer digs. The food is pretty good, service is good, and like all 3 Joe's places it will be busy. I should note that all 3 are walking distance from the stadium, though Mexico Joe's and Joseppis (who are next door to one another) are a bit of a hike (3 blocks). My favorite mexican in Stillwater is El Tapatios on either Main St or Perkins. Actual Mexican's make your food, and it has enough grease to cut through the whiskey buzz you will likely have. Louie's, on Main St. (downtown) has great bar food, and amazing drink specials. The Thai Cafe, which is hidden on 5th and Husband (near Eskimo Joes, just look at a map) has great food. Really, this is a great place to eat, even the prices are fair. Across town, off Main St. is Kyoto, which has the best sushi in Stillwater (and it's good sushi no matter where you are, it can hang with your favorite) and great steaks. Prices are fairly high, especially on the booze, but it comes strong and tastes great. Another good sushi place is The Sushi House (no shit) located downtown near Main and 9th. It's not as good as Kyoto, but it gets the job done. The best (and coincidentally most expensive) place to eat in Stillwater is The Ranchers Club, at the Atherton Hotel (which is also the best place to stay in Stillwater, and is on campus). Reservations are important, and there is a dress code for dinner. What makes it badass is that you can bursar food there (though that won't help most of you), I've ran up a $300 tab before and put that shit on my bursar. That felt good. On the strip there are two places with great drunk food, the Pita Pit and Coney Island. Both are cheap (and Coney Island is greasy as hell) and help after a hard night of boozing. The only two 24 hour places to eat are the IHOP and Shortcakes (and assorted fast food). Shortcakes is off Main St. near Browns Bottle Shop, and has huge portions for cheap. It's a true greasy spoon, if scientists took samples of that grill they'd find both the cure and the cause of cancer, AIDS, and probably a venereal disease or two . If you're one of those hippie fucks (I'm looking right at you, Arizona) there are several coffee shops around, and a Panera Bread and Starbucks, both off Hall of Fame near the stadium. For the BBQ aficionado, we have two pretty good places. Bad Brads is off 6th St., east of town about a mile. They serve Joe's style cups (check this link for info), large portions of meat, and pretty good beans. The other place is the Cherokee Strip, located off Perkins Rd. near the intersection with 3rd. It's pretty good food, but a bit overpriced (you buy meat, then sides, then dessert separate). Now that you've found a spot to grub, I'll show you where (not) to stay
Lets be really honest for a moment, and this is for everyone, Cowboys and other's alike. If you don't already have a hotel reservation in Stillwater you're probably screwed. If you want to try and make reservations but don't know how to use Google, I already did it for you, just click here. My advice if you can't find anything? Look at Guthrie, Perry, Cushing (I'm so sorry if you have to stay here), and Ponca City, which are all within an hour. If you really get desperate you can easily find a hotel in OKC or Tulsa (both a little over an hour away). I really can't tell you where to stay in Stillwater (most all hotels are decent), but I am going to tell you where not to stay. First, and most importantly, stay the hell away from the Circle D. 50% of all murders in town last year happened here. The place is a dump, rents rooms by the hour, and always has a drug deal going down or a hooker near by (though myself and Cincy call this place home), (no, actually we don't). I would also avoid the Cimmarron Best Western, which is behind Hastings. I had to stay there when my A/C went out in my apartment, and discovered a few things about that particular hotel. First, there is about an inch gap between the floor and the door, so the A/C has to run constantly, you can hear every person walking by, and if anyone decides to have a conversation by the ice machine (or in my case, bitch someone's ass out), you get to enjoy every word. Secondly, the cleaning staff needs to step it up. The shit mark in the back of the toilet was a nice touch, but the main event, so to speak, was that some poor woman lost her virginity on my sheets. And duvet. And my comforter. Gross. The Motel 6 on HW 51 coming into town will leave the light on for you, but not the ice machine. There are 3 new hotels near HW 51 and Country Club, all are pretty nice, so good luck finding a place to stay.
Yes, our golf course is nicer than yours. Deal with it.
Day and Nightlife:
Apparently if your college isn't located in Austin it sucks. Well, fuck Austin and fuck Texas. Now then having said that, you're options are fairly limited. During the day (particularly Friday before a Saturday game) most visitors enjoy hanging out a Joes or other bars and getting drunk with us Cowboys. I advise this, it always ends up being a good time. There are 5 golf courses within a 30 minute drive that are decent. In Stillwater there is Lakeside Golf Course and The Links (the Links is tighter than a virgin and the pro shop guys can be dicks, for the price play Lakeside for a better time), which are 18 hole, and the White Barn which is a 9 hole par 3. The White Barn also has mini golf for the kids, and a big play area. Ten minutes away in Perkins there is Cimarron Trails Golf Course (a great value compared to the Stilly courses). Slightly further away, at 45 minutes, there are 4 golf courses in Guthrie (2 are outstanding, 2 are average) built as two courses of two. The better of the two is Cimarron National, home to Cimarron National and Aqua Canyon. About a mile further down the road there is Cedar Valley, home to Augusta and International. I recommend Aqua Canyon and International. About the same distance away there is Cushing Country Club in yup, you guessed it, Cushing. It's okay, but they have a hell of a time keeping it green, and with the weather it's probably scalped. On the plus side, about 70% of the course is hidden from the clubhouse, so you can get drunk and do dumb shit there. There are also two disc golf courses and a bowling alley. If you like to gamble there is a casino in Perkins, (a 10 mile ride) called the Cimmarron that is okay. No live cards, just video, but a decent selection of slot machines. For the real gambler there is a casino about 20 minutes north of town on HW 177 called Paradise. I go there quite a bit, they have card tables (hold em', 7 card stud, and blackjack) and a good selection of machines. If you want high class gambling you'll have to drive to Catoosa (about 10 minutes past Tulsa) and go to the Hard Rock Hotel. If I have extra money I no longer want I go there and give it to them. There are plenty of bars (all open til 2 am.), most located on the Strip or near it. The few that are away from the Strip and worth checking out are: the Tumbleweed (off Country Club), the Harbor (off Perkins), and the Ice House (off 51, out of town a bit). The Tumbleweed is where Garth Brooks got his start, (and met his first wife) and has the biggest dance floor (for country) of all the bars around town. My favorite bars are Joe's and Murphy's, in that order. Joe's charges more for drinks, but doesn't water down their alcohol. Murphy's cuts their alcohol down to nothing, so drink beer when you go there. The reason I enjoy it is they have7 pool tables, 6 dart boards, and 4 big TV's. I usually get a few drinks a Joe's then migrate to Murphys and drink beer while I'm there. Almost every bar has a ladies night Thursday, and a drown night Friday. If titties are your thing (I know they are mine) there are two strip clubs in town. The Dragon's Lair (off Main St. besides Kyoto) and The Doll House (if it's still opened, though it's out of town a bit). The Lair has been around forever, and offer's decent girls (most of the time), cheap beer, and a decent cover. The Doll House has same quality girl, more security (because you need it, shit goes down out there) and more expensive drinks. It's also further out of town (about 3 miles) and the parking lot is dirt, so any rain and it's a pit. There is a movie theater off of Perkins, the left side of which has been remodeled and shows the new releases, the right side has not and smells like stale popcorn and asshole (perfect for sneaking booze into). There are some good hotel bars for the serious cougar hunter (where do you think I met my wife?), so I suggest calling around to find the one you want before you get here. The bar at the Holiday Inn near Country Club Rd. and HW 51 is great, (read: doesn't smell like 34 year old cig smoke yet), but they do offer karaoke (if that's your thing have at it, I can't stand that shit). If you have the scratch and a designated driver I suggest going to Bricktown In OKC to get your club on. Other than that you can try and crash a frat party (though their all assholes and their parties are lame) or a house party (if you bring booze to share try the block around Ramsey and 4th, they'll oblige you somewhere).
I'm going to go over those things you need to know, but were afraid to ask. I hope you don't need some of these services while you're visiting, but if you do here's a handy list. The hospital is located on 6th street, near Monroe St. When it's time to bail your buddy out the police station is located downtown at 7th and Lewis St. (don't be fooled by the fancy website, they will beat your ass if they feel like it). If you need a bail bondsman here is the list. (I like hot rod bail bonds). If you get a bit too rowdy and wake up in detox it's located near Kyoto, on Main St. You better hope you have cash for a taxi though, as its about a mile and a half from the nearest hotel. If you need a taxi I suggest Cowboy Country Taxi (1-405-372-8294) as I think they are the only taxi service available in town. Oh, and before I forget, the local headshop in town is Uncle Mikes, and it's located downtown, at the corner of Main St. and 9th. If you have it I suggest spending the $500 for the Ice Lift Off (if you're going to get high, do it in style). As to where to find something to load it with, you're on you own there. There are two Wal Marts (one on 6th, one on Perkins) if you need tailgate supplies, as well as a Food Pyramid at the corner of Main and Hall of Fame.
I tried to make a nice map to help everyone find everything, but that was a pain in the ass. I realized that Google maps has everything labeled anyway, so simply Click Here, and find what you need. I will include a campus map next week, to point out prime tailgating spots.
In the next installment (next Friday) we will give you the information you need to have the best game day experience possible (seeing as how your team will lose, we need the rest to be enjoyable). We will cover everything from where to park to where to smoke (cause you can't in the stadium) to where to get your tailgate on (even you Sooner fans). With features like Royal John's Top 5 Tailgating Drinks, it's going to be a good time, so I'll see you then.