Falling for Fayetteville – Our 9 Favorite Things Since Moving to Northwest Arkansas Last Month

We’ve been in our new home in Fayetteville, Arkansas for a little over a month and I have to tell you – I’m very excited about all that Northwest Arkansas has to offer. From art to nature, here are my 9 ‘first-loves’ in Fayetteville:

1. Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Making snow monsters art project at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Crystal Bridges is located in Bentonville, Arkansas. I went to Crystal Bridges on a girls road trip with my sister a few years ago and enjoyed the art and fabulous Eleven Restaurant. I couldn’t wait to take the girls to the museum for a Preschool Playdate in January which featured a musical performance, winter themed play activities and an art project. My girls are art maniacs, they color everything – even themselves! They absolutely LOVED Crystal Bridges and can’t wait to go back for the next preschool playdate in February.

2. Scott Family Amazeum

Climbing high on the Canopy at the Amazeum

The Amazeum is located right down the street from Crystal Bridges. This place is packed with interactive exhibits. I think our current favorites include the cave, climbing canopy, and homestead cabin. We had such a blast we decided to get a family membership.

Tip: We didn’t realize that the museum is closed on Tuesdays so we made the trip up to Bentonville and had to find another activity. We decided to try out the Walmart Museum which is located on the square. I treated the girls to an ice cream cone with extra sprinkles at the Spark Café Soda Fountain. (Spark Café is adorable) The girls had a little too much sugar for the ride home, so we walked down the street to Dave Peel Park which was a convenient and fun place to burn off energy.

3. The Winery at Sassafras Springs Vineyard

Sassafras Winery in Springdale, Arkansas offers a cozy space to enjoy both local and international wines. I can’t wait to go back in warm weather to enjoy the decks and patios.

4. Lake Fayetteville

Winter hike around Lake Fayetteville

My daughter and I took a 2.5 mile hike on a trail around Lake Fayetteville. The trail went through the woods with views of the lake. I was surprised that we could find such a beautiful spot without leaving the city. There was a playground in the parking area which was an added bonus!

5. Wilson Park Castle

Wilson Park Castle

My girls enjoy the great playgrounds, musical instruments and creek at Wilson Park which is conveniently located near downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. At the edge of the park, we discovered the ‘castle’ which is a magical spot for my little girls who are princesses at heart.

6. Fayetteville Downtown Square and Gardens

Holiday light display in Fayetteville Downtown Square

‘Ohhhh! Ahhh!’ exclaimed our youngest daughter as we drove into downtown Fayetteville to look at the twinkling, colorful lights that lit up the square during the holidays. The atmosphere was truly festive and our four-year-old even went on a pony ride which was her first experience riding in a saddle.

7. Fayetteville Public Library

Holiday book tree at Fayetteville Public Library

We enjoy weekly trips to check out books at Fayetteville Public Library. We like the kids story times and the roof top deck on warmer winter days. The gorgeous library is located in downtown Fayetteville which makes a fun weekly excursion. I also appreciate that there is a remote drop-off box at the Bank of Fayetteville close to my house. So handy!

8. Gorgeous Scenery

Northwest Arkansas

Windy roads and rolling hills (mountains!?) lead to our new home. We have access to the White River less than a mile away which feeds into Beaver Lake. Bike trails abound – the Razorback Greenway trail is 36 miles and connects Bella Vista, Arkansas through Fayetteville. We have no excuse to get bored with all of these outdoor activities in our backyard.

Friendly Neighbors

Nothing says welcome to the neighborhood like brownies

Arkansas seems to mix a little Midwest friendliness with Southern charm and the result is neighbors who go out of their way to make you feel welcome. For this, we are most grateful!

19 Goals in 2019

I recently shared my 19 in 2019 list on facebook and instagram and I enjoyed the reactions I got from my friends and family. It was all very encouraging. I got the idea from the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. It’s not surprising that most of my list has to do with traveling, hiking, and family.

  1. make daily green smoothies for girls and me
  2. grow veggies/herb garden and apple orchard
  3. go on new summit hike with my husband
  4. hike with my Dad and brother up Hallett
  5. celebrate Mom’s 60th birthday with a family trip
  6. girls trip to Dallas
  7. attend Dad’s football hall-of-fame induction
  8. hire 3-4 reliable babysitters
  9. join a book club
  10. take a writing or photography class
  11. do an ironic cross stitch
  12. take girls to 2 new states
  13. explore Arkansas
  14. keep 3+ house plants alive
  15. join moms group in Arkansas
  16. get girls passports
  17. take my oldest daughter (4 years old) to her first movie
  18. start family Friday night game and movie tradition
  19. get my hair cut each quarter
‘Green Smoothie’ (Goal #1)

Hike with Hike it Baby (Goal #13 and #15)

January Progress!

I’ve made progress on finding a mom’s group in Arkansas (#15) which has also helped me explore our new state (#13). I joined Hike it Baby which brings together young families who love to explore nature. The group welcomes both moms and dads, so it’s not your typical ‘moms group’, but I’m ok with that. Hike it Baby is a national organization – you can learn more at hikeitbaby.com.

Hike it Baby Blog

Hike it Baby also has a blog featuring fun and helpful articles about getting outdoors with little kids. I was excited to have a post published a few years ago called “What’s in My Pack?“. I wrote it when our oldest was a baby. I’m sure the post would be completely different if I re-wrote it now that we have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.

Hall of Fame

Last weekend I was thrilled to check #7 off my list. We attended my Dad’s induction into Missouri State University’s Sports Hall of Fame. My father received the honor for his success as a linebacker. He holds several football records for most tackles that haven’t been broken for over 35 years. Way to go Dad!


Devil’s Den Self-Guided Trail in Northwest Arkansas

Given our obvious love for Rocky Mountain National Park, many of our friends and family members were a bit surprised that we moved a couple hours further away. This winter we relocated from Kansas City, Missouri to Fayetteville, Arkansas for my husband’s job. During our ‘research trips’ we got really excited about all of the outdoor activities and attractions that Northwest Arkansas has to offer.

Views of Boston Mountains, Devil's Den State Park
Lookout over Boston Mountains

Devil’s Den State Park

Back in July we decided to spend a weekend in Fayetteville, AR to explore the area. One of the highlights of our trip was hiking in Devil’s Den State Park which is a half hour drive from Fayetteville. Devil’s Den Road, which leads into the park, is one of the most scenic and curvy roads I’ve ever been on. We stopped into the ranger station for information about the park’s trail system and decided to do the self-guided tour.

Family hiking in Northwest Arkansas

The trail is 1.5 miles and rated as moderate with several steep uphill and downhill stretches.

Caves in Devil's Den State Park
‘Do bats live in there?’

We enjoyed mountain views and were intrigued by caves and unique rock formations.

Unique rock formations in Devil's Den State Park

I was very proud of our preschooler for walking the entire trail by herself. There were some steep drop-offs, so we held her hand and kept a close eye on her.

Crossing over a wooden bridge on Self Guided Tour in Devil's Den State Park

Both girls did a great job and rocked their first hike in Arkansas. We can’t wait to explore Devil’s Den State Park again soon.

Little hikers in Northwest Arkansas
You could say they are naturals? (haha, because Arkansas is the Natural State)

Have you hiked in Northwest Arkansas? We would LOVE to get hike suggestions.

9 Hikes with Amazing Views Near Estes Park, Colorado


Through all the things my eyes have seen
The best by far is you

-Andrew McMahon

Tomorrow is my daughter’s 2nd birthday, so I’m feeling extra sentimental about everything… even this post about hikes with amazing views. I asked my husband which hikes near Estes Park, Colorado he thinks of when I say, ‘wide open views’ and he responded, ‘with kids, or without?’ I attempted to break them into two categories, but as you can see there are several hikes that overlap.

Kid-Friendly Hikes with A+ Views

Lily Lake Ridge

View from Lily Lake Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park
Evelyn got her middle name from this lake

Lily Lake is approximately six miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7. (Lily Ridge shouldn’t be confused with Lily Mountain which can be accessed a quarter mile closer to town.) We hiked up Lily Ridge in late November when Lily Lake was covered in ice. The ridge provided views of the surrounding snow covered mountains including Longs Peak. The hike around the lake is .8 miles. The ridge adds another .4 miles and 100 feet of elevation.

More Articles about Lily Lake

Lily Lake Loop on a Snowy Spring Morning

Relaxing Stroll on Lily Lake

Ute Trail

Hiking on the Ute Trail off of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

The Ute Trail is located right off of Trail Ridge Road, a scenic highway that connects Estes Park to Grand Lake. This hike through the alpine tundra begins at 11,430 ft. of elevation. It is basically flat, so our girls hiked it mostly on their own. I wrote about our adventure here, The Most Underrated Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park – Following the Historic Ute Trail

Gem Lake

Hiking up to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
We found out we were pregnant with Evy right after a hike to Gem Lake. I felt extra tired!

The hike to Gem Lake starts at the Lumpy Ridge trailhead and goes through unique rock formations like Paul Bunyan’s boot. This is a moderately strenuous hike because of the steep steps that lead up to the lake. Gem Lake is small and shallow. It is framed by a rocky, sand beach on one side and sheer rock formations on the other side. The views you see along the way are expansive. The hike is 1.8 miles each way. You can read more here, Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Gem Lake.

Deer Mountain

Deer Mountain, good spring summit hike for families in Rocky Mountains
Deer Mountain was Evy’s first summit hike

There is something very rewarding about making it to the summit of a mountain. The trailhead for this summit hike is located off of Deer Ridge Junction, a few miles west of Rocky Mountain National Park’s Beaver Meadows entrance. The summit is at 10,013 ft. of elevation. The hike is 3 miles each way.

More Articles About Deer Mountain

Deer Mountain – A Family Friendly Summit Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Deer Mountain – A Great Hiking and Horseback Riding Destination in Rocky Mountain National Park

Wild Basin from Finch Lake Trailhead

Finch Lake trailhead to calypso cascades to wild basin trailhead

Warning – I think Eric considered this hike harder than his 17 mile trek over the Continental Divide because he was carrying a preschooler on his back. A lot of this hike was uphill, so it was a good challenge for us. The Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park is located 19 miles south of Estes Park. Most hikes we enjoy in this area begin at the Wild Basin trailhead. We wanted to try something new, so we began at the Finch Lake trailhead and we were rewarded with panoramic views. Instead of going up further to Finch Lake we headed downhill towards the Wild Basin trailhead and got to stop at some of our favorite waterfalls along the way. I wrote all about it here, Sweeping Mountain Views and Waterfalls – Our New Favorite Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Wild Basin.

Advanced Level Hiking with Inspiring Views

Lily Mountain

Lily Mountain at sunrise
Eric took this picture on Lily Mountain at sunrise. I have it framed in Evy’s room.

Lily Mountain is a fun, quick summit hike with excellent 360 degree views from the top. Dogs are allowed on the trail because it is part of the Roosevelt National Forest. The trail begins relatively flat. You cross through a landside area at approximately .3 miles. After you cross, the trail climbs up steadily with a few good lookouts of the Estes Valley. The last couple hundred feet are a class 2 scramble to the summit. When Cecy was a baby we took her on this hike, but Eric generously offered to stay back with her while I hiked up the last portion. The hike is 1.8 miles each way.

Estes Cone

summit of estes cone in rocky mountain national park

We hiked to Estes Cone from the Longs Peak trailhead. It can be difficult to find parking spots during the summer, but in early October we had no issues. This was another hike that we brought our daughter on in her baby carrier, but Eric let me hike the last .7 miles on my own because we felt the trail was becoming too steep. The summit is rewarding with amazing views of Longs Peak and surrounding mountains. The hike is 3.3 miles each way. Read more about it here, Hike to Estes Cone.

Twin Sisters Peaks

View from Twin Sisters Peaks
Twin Sisters, my first hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Look at those views!

Climbing up Twin Sisters Peaks was my very first hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. My husband took me on an adventurous long-weekend trip a few months after we got married. Three years later we hiked the same trail with our baby. It’s amazing how a few years can change things! Part of the trail was wiped out from a large landslide and we learned carrying a baby up to 11,413 feet of elevation was much harder than we expected. I wouldn’t recommend bringing little ones on this hike. For us, it’s a special hike that we get to do when we have kind family members willing to babysit. This hike is 7 miles round trip. I give more details here, Twin Sisters Peaks.

Hallett

Summit of Hallet on a clear day
Summit of Hallet on a clear day. It’s on my 19 in 2019 list.

Standing at Bear Lake, I point up to Hallett Peak and I tell my girls, ‘Your mommy has climbed that.’ This year I’m going to climb it again, it’s on my list!

Evelyn Lily, we love you so much! Happy birthday to our sweet, tough, funny and smart little girl! I wish you a life time of reaching high and enjoying all of the amazing views.

Estes Park, Colorado is a family friendly vacation destination
We love Evy!