Beating out nine other locations, The Gathering Place won USA Today’s national poll.
Tulsa is home to the best new attraction in the nation, according to USA Today. On Jan. 18, they released the results of their annual survey of the top 10 best new attractions in the country, with voters selecting Tulsa’s newest park, The Gathering Place, for the top spot.
Executive park director Tony Moore was excited for what the honor meant for the future of the park. Tulsa People reported him saying, “The Gathering Place being named the country’s Best New Attraction is a monumental moment for the Park, our employees, and all guests that have joined us since the grand opening in September. It has been exciting to see the community and country come together to vote for our inclusive space as a top destination in the nation.”
The award was not the subjective pick of one writer but a nationwide popularity contest. First, the editors for the 10 Best column at USA Today partnered with a group of experts to select 20 nominees for the award. Out of those 20, people were allowed to vote for the top 10. One vote per person was allowed per day for four weeks. Popular vote decided the order of the top 10.
Despite stiff competition, The Gathering Pace emerged in the top spot. Coming in right behind Tulsa’s park is the National Comedy Center located in Jamestown, New York. This museum claims to be the first one dedicated to comedy and is an immersive experience for visitors.
In third place was the Chicago Architecture Center. This museum opened only a month before The Gathering Place in August of 2018. It allows visitors to explore the varied architectural history of Chicago.
Riley Children’s Health Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, took the fourth spot. This is an interactive sports museum just for children. The Orlando Starflyer in Orlando, Florida, claimed the fifth spot. This is the world’s tallest swing ride, coming in at 450-feet tall.
In sixth place was The Gateway Arch Museum and Visitor Center in St. Louis, Missouri, a new museum next to the St. Louis Arch that explores the rich Native American and adventuring spirit of America.
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center in Niagara Falls, New York, was voted in the seventh spot. This museum celebrates the underground railroad abolitionist movement in New York during the pre-Civil War era.
A 9/11 landmark was voted into eighth place: the Tower of Voices in Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania. This monument remembers the 40 passengers and crew members of United Flight 93. The instrumental sound the monument features represents the voices and lives that were lost that day.
The Old Forester Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, too ninth place. This distilling company reopened a 70,000 square-foot facility in their original location. Visitors can tour the state-of-the-art facility, and it is listed as part of the Kentucky Bourbon trail.
Finally, in tenth place was the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. This center allows visitors to explore where their food comes from.
Out of all of these fascinating new attractions in the United States, the Gathering Place was voted first. Opened on Sept. 7, 2018 and backed by the George Kaiser Foundation, the park has free admission and is meant to be enjoyed by the entire community The park’s mission is to be an inclusive space for anyone. It has numerous attractions, including playground equipment, winding walking paths and a boathouse.
This honor shows that the Gathering Place has had a large impact on the Tulsa community. Tulsa World interviewed a recent visitor at the park, Jonathan Gaviao, who praised the Gathering Place and what it meant for Tulsa. “It’s a really great city … It has this peaceful sense here (at the park) and then, just down the road, there is the hustle and bustle of the city.”
Mayor G.T. Bynum spoke at the park when the honor was announced. Tulsa People reported him saying, “Gathering Place is truly the best city park in the world and will continue to be a place that brings people together and honors the civic pride we all have for Tulsa.”