Are you looking for something to do this summer? Well, I have a great idea for you and its just north of us Texans in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Gathering Place has been named “America’s Best New Attraction” in the country by USA TODAY. And awarded the “World’s Greatest Places” by Time Magazine in 2019. And what a beautiful, creative and fun place it is!!! We have been countless times and still have not seen everything. You really need to see this new innovative and very unique FREE Park!
This brand new riverfront park was designed as an inclusive green space where residents and visitors alike can relax and engage with one another. The expansive park makes use of more than 6 million gallons of water and 80 tree species, with attractions like multi-story fireplaces, an adventure playground, boathouse, restaurants, coffee shops, sensory garden and a reading tree. There’s something here for everyone.
The amazing architectural design and use of wood is exquisite! Its mission as “A Park for All” is rooted in ideals of diversity and equality. Every child, of any size or ability, should be able to find a spot on Swing Hill, slide down some giant blue herons, or crawl through paddlefish or life-size blades of grass.
There’s even a 120 foot suspension bridge. Every adult should be able to paddle a canoe through the pond or enjoy a meal in Picnic Grove. It almost seems like someone dropped a theme park in the middle of the city. It’s truly amazing as you can sit back and relax in the luxury seating in a ski-cabin-esque lodge overlooking the 100-acre park on the banks of the Arkansas River.
As stated… everything is free including parking. The main parking lot is located along John Williams Way near Williams Lodge and ONEOK Boathouse. There is additional parking adjacent to Riverside Drive on both north and southbound lanes.
Most parking lots have parking attendants to assist you and answer any questions. The entire park is very well staffed!
The Gathering Place is centered on the east bank of the Arkansas River south of the Downtown area and immediately west of the historic Maplewood Historic District, an upscale residential area. Largely the brainchild of Tulsa multibillionaire and philanthropist, George Kaiser, “The Gathering Place” was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh. This public-private partnership covers approximately 100 acres of land and as of September 2018, has cost about $465 million to construct.
Groundbreaking on the anchor project for phase two, Discovery Lab, occurred in February of 2020. The $47 million dollar, 50,000 square foot Discovery Lab will be a hands-on museum also featuring classrooms, a café, grand plaza and 300-seat amphitheater. It is expected to be completed by the late summer of 2021. Also in the works is a new pedestrian bridge that will connect the west and east banks of the Arkansas River at 29th Street and Riverside Drive.
And if you want to bring your dog, they are allowed every Wednesday on all grassy lawns and pathways throughout the Park. Pets are allowed, leashed, on the Midland Valley and riverfront trails daily. No pets other than service animals are allowed in Park buildings and play areas unless otherwise authorized.
If you are not sure how to navigate your visit – you can download the official Gathering Place app for free access to an interactive Park map, daily activities and schedules, exclusive Park facts and much more! To view printable maps go to https://www.gatheringplace.org/faqs
The future for The Gathering Place looks very promising as the Kaiser Family Foundation also created a $100 million endowment to support maintenance of the park for the next 99 years. Every city should be so lucky!
Fortunately, our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons live here so we visit this wonderful park as often as possible and always find new things to discover. It’s definitely a park like none other. Go and see for yourself…you will be glad you did!