Fun in Fayetteville: My Top 25 Things to Do in NWA
Since my daughter has a wedding coming up on May 4th (Yes, we are definitely nerds), I’ve been asked about fun things about town for visitors to see and do. The local ‘zine Fayetteville Flyer can round-out the calendar, but here is my purely subjective but absolutely correct list of the top 25+ things to check out on a visit to Fayetteville, Arkansas!! Pace yourself.
1. FAYETTEVILLE FARMER’S MARKET & UNDERGROUND ART GALLERY
Few things are prettier than the downtown Fayetteville Square on a Saturday. The Underground hosts new art exhibitions, concerts, speakers and meetings as a grassroots creative outlet for local artists and community creatives. Visitors are welcome to tour the artist studios to catch a peek at current projects. The Downtown Square also hosts the seasonal Fayetteville Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9am-1pm starting in April, which ain’t but a few short blocks from Dickson Street. While on the Square, definitely eat at the speakeasy Hugos, pint at Maxines Tap Room, and visit the World Peace Prayer Fountain. There’s also a self-guided historic tour of downtown Fayetteville and an easy map!
101 W Mountain St, Fayetteville
2. DICKSON STREET
No true college town is complete without a bustling district bursting with coffee shops, restaurants, quaint boutiques, a legendary used bookstore, brew pubs, piano bars, and hole-in-the-wall hideaways. My recommendations for must-stop-in spots would include: the cavernous Dickson Street Book Shop, Hog Haus Brewing Company, coffee at Arsagas On The Depot, Roger’s Rec Hall for cheap beer & pool, Farrell’s Lounge to catch a ballgame, and definitely the next two that warrant their own blurb. Feel free to wander a few blocks and gander at your infinite options!
Top 10 Things To Do on Dickson Street
Whether it's an Arkansas Razorback game, business or vacation that brings you to Fayetteville, you must visit…
3. GEORGES MAJESTIC LOUNGE
George’s Majestic Lounge is the oldest and longest running night club and live music venue in Arkansas, a Fayetteville legend. Some of the nation’s best known names in music have played on Dickson Street, which is a thriving district for food, arts & entertainment. The place can get pretty packed after 8pm since its one of the hottest venues in town… for dang good reasons.
519 W Dickson St, Fayetteville
4. WALTON ARTS CENTER
The Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville attracts artists and entertainers from all over the world to create unforgettable performances, plays, and music. The facility offers diversified programming, large-scale touring productions and unparalleled performing arts opportunities. Theatre Squared also hosts performances in the facilities.
5. FAYETTEVILLE ALE TRAIL
There’s been an explosion of craft beer in Arkansas, and this is a great way to sample the flavors of Fayetteville. Touring and tasting local craft beer is easier than ever with the Fayetteville Ale Trail. Start by picking up your passport and trail map at the Fayetteville Visitors Center. Get it stamped at each brewery to keep track of your travels, and then return your passport for a free prize.
21 S Block Ave, Fayetteville
6. BOTANICAL GARDEN OF THE OZARKS
The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is one of the state’s premier public garden spaces and it is a wonder to walk through. Continually evolving, the garden features nine displays showcasing the many woody, herbaceous and exotic plant and flower species that thrive in Northwest Arkansas.
4703 N Crossover Rd, Fayetteville
7. CLINTON HOUSE MUSEUM & HISTORY TOURS
Located near the University of Arkansas campus is the first home of former President Bill Clinton and wife, Hillary. In 1975, Bill Clinton took Hillary Rodham’s hand in marriage in the living room of this one-story bungalow. Now the museum displays artifacts and memorabilia of the Clintons as it tells their storied history together.
930 W. Clinton Dr, Fayetteville
There is also plenty of other historic sites to check out, including The Headquarters House Museum & Garden, The Arkansas Air Museum, the Shiloh Museum of Ozarks History, The Peel Mansion in Bentonville, and historic homes tours by appointment. My brother Stace also reminded me about the Daisy Airgun Museum in Rogers, which is cool.
8. CALL THE HOGS at the UofA
If you’re sports fans, then there’s plenty for you to do in Razorback Country. As the state’s flagship institution of higher education, the University of Arkansas is a major source of pride for both Fayetteville and the state. There are many unique traditions that run deep throughout the athletic programs, like the famous Hog Call “Woo Pig Sooie,” the live mascot Tusk, and the University of Arkansas fight song. While in Fayetteville, you can probably find a ballgame, play, or public lecture on the UofA campus that fits your fancy, just check their calendar. This virtual tour of the beautiful campus may also give you ideas!
9. RAZORBACK GREENWAY TRAIL
If you’re up for some hiking or biking, or if you’re a runner, this is a must-do. Stretching across several cities in Northwest Arkansas is the Razorback Regional Greenway, the longest system of interconnected trails in the state. The 36-mile biking and pedestrian trail begins in north Bentonville and ends in south Fayetteville, where it winds through the downtown. Dang nice to meander and maybe explore some public art!
See more bike trails here:
10. SHOPPING AND BOUTIQUES
I always get asked about places to shop around Fayetteville, which honestly ain’t my bag really, so the local CVB offers a pretty decent guide.
Northwest Arkansas Shopping | Fayetteville Boutiques
From casual to upscale, with trendy local boutiques and national chains, Fayetteville has shopping for everyone to…
Okay, now we’re gonna get pretty weird and funky with the top 10 touristy stuff outta the way. I’ll start with the kid stuff, then offer some more offbeat sites that offer funky flavor.
11. KID STUFF & FAMILY FUN
There is definitely no shortage of things to do in Fayetteville if you’re entertaining littles. Quite a few on this list would be an afternoon of their own, but sure-bets with kids would also have to include: The Macaroni Kid Guide, The Fayetteville Public Library, The Jones Center, Altitude Trampoline, Starlight Skateum roller rink, and much more! Definitely worth a stop is the Castle at Wilson Park!!
12. ARKADIA RETROCADE
If you love videogames, this fave Fayetteville destination is part museum of old classic stand-up consoles like PacMan and Donkey Kong, and another part time machine to classic games you never heard of before! For a flat entry fee that plays all day, these retro-gamers have a warehouse full of options to fill hours or maybe the whole day. Other nearby venues are Lokomotion and a wall-climb and a few other fun stops. There’s also a VR Lounge in town, and also Gator Golf and a trampoline park.
13. CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM & AMAZEUM
About a 40 minute drive North up the interstate to Bentonville is a bit of a jog, but there’s easily a full day to be spent at the amazing Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art just wandering their indoor and outdoor exhibits for FREE. That Wal-Mart money started in Bentonville, and their quaint downtown square nearby has their official museum and some surprisingly trendy restaurants. The Amazeum is a stones throw and the interactive children’s spaces will entertain kids AND their parents for hours!
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art welcomes all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power…
14. TERRA STUDIOS
About a 30 minute drive south through the breathtaking Boston Mountains, this spot is quite possibly one of the most magical places in Fayetteville. Here, artisans produce glass and pottery homewares, unique gifts, and fine art pieces. This studio is home of the famous Bluebirds of Happiness sculptures, and you can purchase them on site. Be sure to wander the natural grounds to find a rock labyrinth, adorable troll statues, large wind chimes, unique fountains and tons more just a short drive from Fayetteville and not far from the amazing Devil’s Den State Park. If you Camp or hike, stop by to hike their cavern-riddled trails amidst breathtaking Ozarks beauty!
12103 Hazel Valley, Durham AR
15. THE 112 DRIVE-IN THEATER
There ain’t many outdoor drive-in theaters left, but Fayetteville still has an operating gem! If you’ve ever wanted to watch a movie under a canopy of stars, like your parents did, the 112 Drive-In Theater still offers that piece of nostalgia with recent & classic flicks. From mid-March to mid-October, Fayetteville is home to one of the nation’s last drive-in theaters where you can buy popcorn but maybe sneak in a mini-cooler of cold beverages as you enjoy the cheap double-features on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night.
3552 AR-112, Fayetteville
16. SCENIC DRIVE ON THE “PIG TRAIL”
The “Pig Trail,” named for its use as a shortcut for University of Arkansas Razorbacks fans traveling to Fayetteville, is widely-known by motorcyclists as one of the best rides in the state, if not the entire south. The Pig Trail cuts, zigs, zags, and curves through the Ozark National Forest with just about every kind of scenery imaginable from rivers to waterfalls to Ozark Mountain views. By definition, the “Pig Trail” is just a 19-mile stretch of State Hwy 23 that passes through the Ozark National Forest, but this trip guide, starting and ending in Fayetteville via Hwy 71, makes the relatively short drive into a nice day or weekend trip. Winslow’s Ozark Folkways Museum is super fascinating, In Mountainburg, stop by the mostly-abandoned Artists Point, take some pics at the Dinosaur Park, stop in the haunted Chester House Inn, and cruise to Popeye Park in Alma.
10 Quirky Things You Can Do in Northwest Arkansas
Stephen Ironside Photography; Courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Ar Northwest Arkansas has always been a…
17. BEAVER LAKE or LAKE FAYETTEVILLE
More recreational opportunities are available to lake-loving visitors. Lake Fayetteville, a park on the city’s northern edge, has a large disc golf course, volleyball courts, three softball fields and other amenities. The small lake features a marina and launch site for everything from large boats to canoes, and fishing piers are also available. Beaver Lake is for big ballers, a short drive but worth it.
18. PRAIRIE GROVE BATTLEFIELD PARK
One of the most preserved Civil War battlefields in America, Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park is where the Union and the Confederacy fought Dec. 7, 1862, resulting in 2,700 deaths. The Battle of Prairie Grove was the last major Civil War encounter in Northwest Arkansas. A 14-stop driving tour is one many sightseeing options open to visitors through their museum, or tour the grounds restored historic buildings often used for cinematic reenactment. The small town of Prairie Grove has some neat old antique stores, too, like the wonderful Daisies & Olives.
19. THE CHANCELLOR HOTEL & SWANKY EATS
The neat thing about a college town is that it’s dive bars and local watering holes (my favorites) always juxtapositions with more elegant or refined standouts. You can score a swanky suite on the downtown Fayetteville Square at The Chancellor that puts you within walking distance of Dickson Street and the U of A campus, and their concierge can point you to the best spots to dine elegantly. For my money, best includes Bordinos, Vitro 1925, Theos, Ella’s, The Mill, or Shogun by the Mall has a helluva sunset view. My absolute favorite hidden gem is the legendary Herman’s Rib House, which is amazing, and Rick’s Iron Skillet for a breakfast or lunch buffet of down home country awesomeness.
The 10 Best Local Restaurants In Fayetteville, Arkansas
Located just a short walk from both the picturesque Lake Lucille and the beautiful Gregory Park, Rick's Bakery was…
20. TRAIN EXCURSIONS
Admiring the breathtaking Ozark Mountains scenery from your train window as you sit back and relax is a wonderful way to experience this part of the Natural State. Read about various train rides and routes, and this travel blog account, then book your ticket to ride!
21. HOGSHEAD WINE & CIDER TOURS
Want to explore Northwest Arkansas’ booming winery and craft beer scene? Hop into Hogshead Tours’ classic 1970 Volkswagen Van or their 1988 Toyota LandCruiser, and let their booze-loving tour guide take you on a wine & beer journey you’ll never forget! Hogshead Tours gets you behind-the-scenes access to the area’s best local breweries or wineries so you can see the brewing process, taste multiple samples (many only available on-site), and enjoy the company of your friends and other enthusiasts with either public tours or your own private tour. They have several to choose from!
22. EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS
Okay, sure, it’s technically about an hour drive from Fayetteville, but this hippie haven built as “The Swiss Alps of the Ozarks” is such a cool and nifty destination that it is a daytrip all it’s own. You can stay in Hobbit Homes or Tree House rentals if you so choose!
23. WAR EAGLE MILL & CAVERN
War Eagle Mill is a working gristmill in Benton County about 45 minutes from Fayetteville, but you’re stepping back in time. A mill has been located on the site as early as 1832, but was destroyed three times, and last rebuilt in 1973. The mill currently operates as an undershot gristmill, and houses a store and restaurant with a cavern tour nearby. Old timey nostalgia with festivals & craft fairs on their calendar.
Bridge to War Eagle: Stories of a Wild Stream
The Emmy-winning team of Larry Foley and Dale Carpenter have created a collection of poignant stories framed by the old…
24. THE INN AT CARNAL HALL & Haunted Fayetteville
Originally built in 1905 as a women’s dorm on the University of Arkansas campus, the Inn at Carnall Hall is now a 50-room hotel with a ritzy restaurant, Ella’s. Its founder, Ella Carnall, was an English professor who died suddenly of typhoid fever and is said to be seen floating the halls. Witnesses report a floating apparition of a woman in a ball gown, without a head or feet, patrolling the building. Additionally, witnesses have claimed to see indentations on their bed, as if someone was sitting on it, and others have shared photos taken that later show reflections of ghosts sitting on furniture or lights fixtures that turn on by themselves unbidden. If you like it classy but spooky, this historic haunt is for sure your spot, and the restaurant is worth the trip itself. I can share more stories of Haunted Fayetteville if you buy me a few beers.
In October, the leaves change color, pumpkins are carved and everyone is eager for our favorite scary holiday,…
25. FUNKY FAYETTEVILLE
Its a well-known fact that Fayetteville is funky, and it has some oddball local spots to prove it! If you like flea markets to get lost in, then go check out Fayetteville’s Funky Yardsale because its hard to explain. There’s also a lot of funky public art to check out. The 410 Vintage Market is also filled with wild throwbacks and retro-ephemera, part of this local junkers guide to vintage shops around town. My favorite is CHEAP THRILLS, just off the Downtown Fayetteville Square.
More kooky stuff close by:
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Just as a final thought: the May 4th wedding also coincides with Cinco de Mayo partying around town, which is significant, as well as Saturday May 5 being Free Comic Book Day at Rock Bottom Comics Shop and even our amazing Fayetteville Public Library. It’s also the tail end of the Bentonville Film Festival that Geena Davis started. If you’re looking for romantic getaway ideas, check here with the CVB.