When we first arrived in Tulsa, we were a tad unsure what The Gathering Place was. What it turned out to be was so much more than expected. This place is part botanical garden, part giant playground, part event venue, part water park, and everything in between. If you have kids and you find yourself in Tulsa, this place is an absolute must-visit. If you don’t have kids and just want to go hang at a relaxing locale….it’s an absolute must-visit. Either way, it’s clear to see why The Gathering Place made Time Magazine’s 2019 list of World’s Greatest Places.
When you first arrive at The Gathering Place, you enter a large building called William’s Lodge that consists of a couple of floors. The design is very minimalist and relaxing; they have a ton of seating locations with wall outlets, tables, and couches, and there are a couple of nice fireplaces for when it gets chilly outside. People of all ages (mostly college kids, but families and older folks, too) are sitting around with their laptops or food and simply chatting and hanging out. Hence the name, Gathering Place. The building houses a subtle café, and the entire atmosphere is just cozy. Some people visit and simply lounge in this building to get work done or get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but it truly is just the beginning of a much larger park.
When you find yourself free of the relaxing main entrance, you step out into a massive 100-acre woods…I mean park…with multiple options to explore. One of the most immediate locations is the Chapman Adventure Playground. This is honestly where we spent the majority of our time because they have something for the babies, young kids, and teenagers to participate in. There are multiple themed play areas suitable for toddlers, some of which have foam floors and another which is like a giant sandpit. The whole area consists of various walkways that meander through trees and plants, and each pathway winds around to another area. Eventually, these paths all dump out into a massive playground that contains large three-story forts with bridges that connect each, rope ladders to climb, giant water mechanisms, and slides. There are hammocks in which to relax, and a short, low-hanging zipline that you can sit on and ride back and forth.
We didn’t get a chance to splash around, but right next to the playground is a place called Mist Mountain, which is simply a place to beat the heat. They have water cannons, water jets, and water fountains, all designed to cool you off in the summer months. Beyond that area is a more low-key, relaxing spot with a lake and small river that has boat rentals, a giant lawn, a beach, and more slides. By the time you make it to that point, you’re only halfway through the massive park,
The halfway point of the park was our stopping point, because we had so many other activities to attend to. If you go beyond where we did, however, you’ll find quite a few other fun areas to explore. They have a skate park, various ball courts, and two different gardens. Beyond that is the massive Arkansas River that flows right through the rest of Tulsa.
We easily could’ve spent an entire day at The Gathering Place. If we ever end up there again, it would be the perfect spot to work on this blog and just relax with a drink while the kids play just outside William’s Lodge. Regardless, it’s one of Tulsa’s absolute gems, and it has something for kid and adult alike. Even if you just plan on stopping by to have a picnic on the lawn or let the kids explore the playground for a bit, you won’t regret it!