Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Photo: Shane Bevel via The Pioneer Woman Boarding House

Admit it. You’re secretly obsessed with the Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond left her small town with big plans. College in Los Angeles. Law school in Chicago. Then she fell in love and returned to Oklahoma. That’s where her story really began. Her blog, about her unexpected life on a ranch, became a huge hit. Magazine features and morning television appearances caught the attention of the Food Network. Books and a television show followed. A few years ago, she opened the Mercantile—a bakery, restaurant, and store—in her adopted hometown. Last spring, she added a boutique hotel. People are flocking to Pawhuska.

Pawhuska wasn’t a tourist destination before Drummond arrived. The small town, in northern Oklahoma, is in the middle of nowhere. Tulsa is an hour to the southeast. Wichita, Kansas is two hours to the northwest. Oklahoma City and Kansas City are even farther. The Osage Nation Museum, the oldest tribal-owned museum in the country, was the biggest draw to the former oil boom town. Its economy was in desperate need of a pick-me-up.

The Pioneer Woman Boarding House is a few doors down from the Merc. Its 1920s building, which was once a department store, took nine months to renovate. It now has eight individually designed suites. Some, like the feminine Butterfly Room and the decadent Boudoir, were obviously decorated by Drummond. Others, including the horse-filled Tack Room, are more her husband’s style. While a handful of them are the perfect mix of cowboy and luxury. Those suites—the Photograph Room, with its black-and-white rural landscape gallery, and the Prairie Room, with its rustic barn wall and claw-foot bathtub—are the ones that make you want to plan a trip to Pawhuska.

The amenities have been well planned, too. Each suite offers still in-theater movies, automatic blinds, and Beekman 1802 toiletries. Coffee, served exactly the way you like it, is delivered in the morning. You don’t have to leave your suite to enjoy breakfast sandwiches and homemade cinnamon rolls from the Merc; they’ll deliver them. Lunch or dinner reservations are included there, as well. Beer and wine are offered downstairs during happy hour in the evening. Plus sweet treats have been left on your pillow when you return at the end of the day. It sounds like someone is planning a trip to Oklahoma.

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