Explore The Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Take a day trip to Tulsa to a larger-than-life attraction along the banks of the Arkansas River.

By Sinjin Delmore

Aug 2020

Kayak on the Arkansas River by The Gathering Place in Tulsa, OK
Photo by Shane Bevel PhotographyBoat rentals are free at the Gathering Place, and you can take your pick of canoe, kayak or paddleboat.

Explore The Gathering Place

Drive less than four hours west from Springfield, and you’ll find yourself inside the heart of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and at The Gathering Place, which was voted USA Today’s Best New Attraction in 2019.

The Gathering Place (2650 S. John Williams Way, Tulsa, 918-779-1000) is a free attraction with something for everyone, including the 5-acre Chapman Adventure Playground with its slides, climbing attractions and water features.

For the adults, The Gathering Place has many opportunities to relax. Stroll amongst towering rock formations or the wetlands garden or lounge on Willow Beach or the Great Lawn. For adventure, visit the skatepark with a BMX Pump track. Rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboat at ONEOK Boathouse, where rentals are free, and canoes feature local artwork. In fact, the park features many works of art with more to come. World-renowned artist Mark Dion created the “Cabinet of Wonder” located in the ONEOK Boathouse. The collection features more than a million artifacts that represent Tulsa.

Once you’ve worked up a sweat, visit the two dining options inside the park’s Williams Lodge. The Patio has quick service dining and outdoor seating while The Redbud Cafe offers gourmet snacks, ice cream and coffee, or house-made sweets.

Adventure Playground at The Gathering Place in Tulsa, OK
Photo by Shane Bevel PhotographyThe Gathering Place has fun for all ages including artwork like a bird statue that doubles as a slide.

Learn about Aerospace

Before leaving Tulsa, get a glimpse of aviation aerospace history at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium (3624 N. 74th E. Ave., Tulsa, 918-834-9900). Sitting on the north side of Tulsa International Airport, the museum has attracted more than 600,000 visitors. The museum has dozens of aircraft and artifacts from aerospace history, like a U.S. Air Force F-14A and a Soviet-era MiG-21. About 15 minutes from The Gathering Place, it’s the cherry on top of an action-packed day.

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Wander Around a Museum 

If aerospace isn’t your thing, visit the Philbrook Museum of Art (2727 S. Rockford Rd., Tulsa). Stroll through the garden and find all 15 tiny doors. There is art in every medium including the addition of more than 3,000 photos from Lusha Nelson, who photographed everything from Hollywood celebrities to street scenes on Coney Island.

Make a Quick Stop in Joplin

On your way back home, take a break from driving at the Route 66 Mural Park (629-621 S. Main St., Joplin) or stop by the Celebrating the Performing Arts in Joplin mural (716 S. Main St., Joplin). Take photos, explore the area and take in the sites. Before you continue on your way, refuel and stop in for dinner at the Eagle Drive-In (4224 Hearnes Blvd., Joplin) and try their signature Eagle burger topped with a fried quail egg and eagle sauce.

More Ideas for Tulsa


Tulsa has a lot more to offer. Check out our 52 Weekend Getaways story for more ideas.