Who doesn’t love a good girls’ trip? We are lucky enough to have a new and very popular attraction that is not too far from OKC in the form of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile (“The Merc”). The Merc is a lovely little spot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma that features a restaurant full of the Food Network star’s recipes, a bakery with delicious goods you can purchase to take home, and a general store with home goods designed and/or hand-picked by Ree Drummond herself.
I had been wanting to visit The Merc for a while after I heard so many rave reviews about it. I also heard about long lines to get in, which initially deterred me. But one day I just decided to make the trip, and I’m so glad I did. Now that I have been there twice, I can share a few tips on how to get the most out of your day trip to The Merc!
1. Plan Your Drive
It takes a little over two hours to drive from OKC to Pawhuska, Oklahoma (depending on what part of the metro you live in). The drive is…a little boring. Load up your playlist with some fun songs, download a podcast or audio book, or just talk and laugh with your girlfriends the whole time! There is a gas station about halfway between OKC and Pawhuska where you turn off of I-35 onto US-60. I have stopped there each time and it’s a convenient place to grab snacks and stretch your legs if you need to. Bring your camera to take pictures of endless cows and giant windmills as you get closer!
2. Go Early
It’s true, there can be long lines. The lines are only for the restaurant (The Deli), so if you don’t plan to eat a meal, you can skip the lines entirely. Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is that the earlier you arrive, the shorter the line will be. We arrived for breakfast at 10 a.m. on a Saturday and had no wait at all. A line was starting to form as we exited close to 11 a.m. You might find yourself waiting in line an hour or more for lunch, depending on the day. If you are with a group, you can switch off browsing the general store for souvenirs while someone in your party holds your place in line. Check Google for statistics on when the busiest hours of the day are.
3. Eat the Queso
This should be self-explanatory. But seriously, do it. It was AMAZING and totally hit the spot. Queso is on the lunch menu, so if you eat at The Deli for breakfast, you will (sadly) miss out on the queso.
4. Visit The Bakery
The Bakery is my favorite part of The Merc. It is located on the second floor with a large seating area. There is so much deliciousness to be had here. You can order your very own custom box of goodies to-go. There may or may not be a line for the bakery, depending on the time of day. I waited for about twenty minutes at a very busy time of day. But this is a MUST-DO. Do not skip the bakery. Ask the bakery staff for a large to-go box when you begin ordering…you’ll need it. Even then, I still had to say “No, I’m still going to need a bigger box than that.” I wanted to try everything!
My recommendations for the best baked goods mostly include treats of the pastry variety: the cream cheese danish, cinnamon rolls (with maple icing), sticky buns, croissants, blueberry muffins, maple scones, and MORE! The cookies and other treats I sampled were also good, but I was especially blown away by the pastries.
5. Visit The Lodge
There is a little known opportunity to visit what’s called “The Lodge” which is the Drummond family’s guest home and where The Pioneer Woman show on The Food Network is filmed. Occasionally the family opens up this guest house for visitors from The Merc to come and look around. The Drummond property is about 12 miles outside of Pawhuska and you need to drive on gravel roads to get there, but it is so worth it! You need to speak with an employee at The Merc to get the super-secret directions. They’ll hand you a piece of paper with all the information you will need. The view is incredible and The Lodge is a gorgeous home and HUGE!
I was impressed at the industrial-sized kitchen prep and storage areas as well as the overall decor of the home. It really was a treat to see this place (for free!) and add something really special to our road trip. Check The Merc’s website to see upcoming dates that The Lodge will be open for touring. The dates are only posted about a month in advance, so you’ll need to keep checking back for updates.
Feel like making your girls’ trip longer than just a day trip? The Merc has posted recommendations for some adorable looking Bed & Breakfasts nearby if you’d like to stay a while and explore some of the other attractions in Osage County. I’m putting an overnight trip to Pawhuska on my bucket list for sure!
If you’ve been to The Merc, what was your favorite part and what tips do you have for others who want to visit there?