Puzzled friends and family members asked this question about my family’s summer vacation destination. (Or they’d break into song, but I digress.) Those who’d heard of Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, knew exactly what we were going to do in Oklahoma: visit The Mercantile and the lodge at Drummond Ranch.
Ree blogs about ranch life and recipes, and her life story is compelling because she grew up in the city but married a cowboy. Her empire has grown to include a popular Food Network show (The Pioneer Woman), cookbooks, a general store, boutique hotel, and restaurants in Pawhuska that draw fans of her show.
Ree and her husband Ladd have generously opened the lodge on their ranch for tours on certain dates because the lodge is their family’s guesthouse where she films. We planned our trip around the tour dates, and you have to go to The Mercantile and get a ticket that’s good only for that day.
The drive to the ranch will take about a half an hour or so, depending on how fast you want to zip down a gravel road in a cloud of dust. You’ll spot plenty of cattle along the way. It’s worth the trip to stand on the porch and gaze out at the prairie’s vast, rolling hills.
The Drummonds’ hospitality impressed me. In the entire house I only saw one sign restricting access. Everything else—even the bathrooms—was open to the public. I’m not sure I’d be so welcoming to droves of strangers! However, after I observed the friendliness of people in Oklahoma, the Drummonds’ openness makes sense.
When we returned to Pawhuska, we waited in line for the restaurant at The Mercantile. Our timing was off by about an hour, and if we’d held out a little longer, we wouldn’t have had to stand outside in the ninety-five-degree heat. The restaurant was much less busy around four o’clock. The employees provided umbrellas, water, and cold towels free of charge, which made the wait bearable.
After eating, shopping, and buying some treats at the bakery, we looked at other shops in downtown Pawhuska. Then we drove to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to see some bison. We did, but by the time we made it all the way to the visitor center via gravel roads it was closed.
We squeezed these activities into one day, but we missed P-town Pizza. This is Ree’s restaurant that serves wood-fired pizza. After eating a late lunch, it just didn’t fit with our schedule, and staying one more day didn’t either.
Overall, Pawhuska is a fun destination, and I’m impressed with how smoothly everything runs at the bakery, store, and restaurant. If you’re a fan of The Pioneer Woman, it’s definitely a worthwhile trip to Oklahoma.