Falling for Fayetteville – The 12 Best Things From Our First Year in Northwest Arkansas

It’s difficult to believe that we have been living in Northwest Arkansas for a year! It feels like the time went by so quickly. In honor of our upcoming one year anniversary, I thought I’d share some of our favorite things about our new home town.

1. Hiking Kessler Mountain

hiking kessler mountain in fayetteville arkansas

We feel lucky to have such a diverse trail system close to our home. Kessler Mountain has 10 trails that are used for hiking and mountain biking. There is also a fun playground for the kids. Read more…

2. Playing in the Creek

best parks with creeks in northwest arkansas. playgrounds in northwest arkansas

Forget playground equipment – my girls can spend hours just throwing rocks into water. Northwest Arkansas has a lot of river banks and creeks. Some of our favorites playgrounds with creeks to explore are Parks Springs Park in Bentonville and Gulley Park in Fayetteville.

3. Savoy Tea Co.

savoy tea co. fayetteville arkansas

Located right off the historic square in downtown Fayetteville, this tea shop is one of the sweetest places I’ve ever seen. They have tea service for little ones (and adults) and they sell a wide variety of tea you can make at home. My girls enjoy the magical unicorn tea that changes color when you add lemon. They also love choosing a cookie from their beautiful display.

4. Fishing

fishing in arkansas

We are lucky to have rivers, lakes, and ponds near our home. The girls both caught their first fish this year and are proud owners of princess fishing poles.

5. Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks

botanical gardens of the ozarks

We enjoy Little Sprouts story times at the Botanical Garden. After the program, we like to explore the twelve themed gardens. Our favorite is the Children’s Garden which has a whimsical tree house and sand play area.

6. Razorback Gymnastics

razorback gymnastics

Woo Pig Sooie! Fayetteville, Arkansas is home to the University of Arkansas. It’s fun to live in a college town because there is always something going on including a variety of athletic events. I took the girls to a Razorback Gymnastics meet and we all loved it. The team was supported by local fans and by the cheerleaders and Razorback mascot.

7. Terra Studios

terra studios arkansas

Terra Studios is an art park and gallery. They are known for their Blue Birds of Happiness. We enjoyed walking around the unique art displays, grabbing a snack at the cafe, and purchasing a crystal sun catcher that lights up our playroom with little rainbows each morning.

8. State Parks

state parks in arkansas

Arkansas is called the Natural State. We are lucky to have several state parks in Northwest Arkansas. Our favorites are Devil’s Den and Hobbs State Park.

9. Biking in Northwest Arkansas

biking in northwest arkansas

Our family has dived into NWA’s biking culture. Our oldest daughter learned how to ride her bike without training wheels this summer which was very exciting. We enjoyed a family bike day at Lake Atalanta in Rogers, Arkansas and the girls loved the Bike Playground in Bentonville. My husband and I went on a lot of ‘bike and brewery’ dates on the Razorback Greenway trail which was a blast. I wrote about our favorite sections of the trail and breweries here…

10. Buffalo National River Area

hiking waterfalls national buffalo river

Although we haven’t gone floating down the famous Buffalo National River since we’ve moved here, we have enjoyed hiking around this scenic area. The waterfalls are truly amazing! We visited the remarkable Lost Valley Trail and Triple (Twin) Falls.

11. Farmland Adventures

farmland adventures in springdale arkansas

This autumn we enjoyed the pony rides, farm animals, sunflowers, pumpkins, giant hay stacks (plus more!) at Farmland Adventures in Springdale, Arkansas.

12. NWA Local Restaurants

best family-friendly restaurants in northwest arkansas

Going out to eat as a young family can be a little difficult, but we’ve found several places that our family enjoys including: The Farmer’s Table Cafe, Tiny Tim’s Pizza, Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese, Penguin Ed’s Barbecue, Wright’s BBQ, and the Bean Cafe at War Eagle Mill. We are also fans of Arsagas coffee – the girls ask for banana bread each time we visit the Fayetteville Library location.

This list is a continuation of the list I created after our first month in NWA, “Our 9 Favorite Things Since Moving to Arkansas Last Month” (#9 is what I’m most grateful for). I’m happy to look back and see how much we’ve enjoyed our first year. Let me know if I missed one of your favorites.

Riding the Razorback Trail: Biking and Breweries in Fayetteville, Arkansas

This summer I’ve rekindled a long lost love. Before marriage, home ownership, and kids, Eric and I spent many weekends racking up miles on the trails near our apartments. Our goal was to ride a two-day 150 mile bike ride. ( MS-150) It felt great when we accomplished our goal, but soon life got busy and our bikes started collecting dust.

2010 MS 150…almost 10 years ago!

Thanks to great babysitter(s), this summer we decided to tune up our bikes and hit the trails in our new home town of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fayetteville has an amazing trail system including a portion of the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway. If we wanted to, we could ride 36 paved miles (mostly without crossing a road) all the way to Lake Bella Vista, Arkansas. For now, we’ve been sticking closer to home. Here are 5 trails we’ve enjoyed so far this summer:

We purchased a Saris bike rack from local bike shop Phat Tire for our anniversary present this year.

*We tracked mileage using my husband’s gps watch, so distances given are estimates.

Kessler Mountain to Columbus house

We started at Kessler Mountain parking lot (near the playground) and jumped on the Cato Springs trail which connects Kessler Mountain to the Razorback Greenway system. The first few miles are peaceful and fast moving. Soon we crossed through Walker Park and headed into the lively downtown Fayetteville area. We continued past downtown to North Street where we took a right (East) to get to Columbus House Brewery. We sat outside and enjoyed the local beer before heading back towards Kessler Mountain.

Distance: 11.69 miles*

I highlighted the Cato Springs Trail that connects to the Razorback Trail in yellow.

Kessler Mountain to Fossil cove

We enjoyed Kessler Mountain area so much that we returned for another bike ride. We challenged ourselves to ride a little further on to Poplar Street where we took a right (East) and went to Fossil Cove Brewery. We sat outside and ordered pizza from adjacent Wicked Wood Fire Pizza.

Distance: Estimate 13.5 miles, we accidently missed our turn and ended up riding a total of 14.88 miles*

veterans memorial park – lake fayetteville loop

For a shorter ride, we took a quick evening loop around Lake Fayetteville starting at Veterans Memorial Park. Lake Fayetteville can sometimes be a pretty crowded area, but even if you have to slow down to accommodate fellow walkers and bikers, it’s worth it. I enjoy the views of waterfalls, bridges, wildflowers, wildlife, and of course the lake.

Distance: 5.27 miles*

Lake Fayetteville Loop with wildflowers

Gordon long park – lake fayetteville

We started at Gordon Long Park and rode towards Lake Fayetteville. Gordon Long trailhead has a playground, several parking spaces and a restroom facility.

My favorite part of this ride was cruising beside several creeks including Scull Creek, Mud Creek, and Clear Creek. My least favorite part was traveling through the long tunnel under Fulbright Expressway which felt a little eerie. We jumped off the trail on Lake Fayetteville Road to grab a bite to eat at the food trucks. I ate street tacos which were tasty and Eric ordered Thai food. Refueled, we finished our loop around Lake Fayetteville and headed back towards Gordon Long. This was a really fun date! To celebrate, we treated ourselves by driving across town to Crisis Brewing Company.

Distance: 12.94 miles*

Veterans memorial park – Luther george park in springdale, arkansas

We started at Veterans Memorial Park and headed towards Lake Fayetteville. We split off the loop to continue on the Razorback Greenway trail north towards Springdale. I was excited to learn about a new section, but this was my least favorite because their was less nature and more road traffic once we left the lake area. It was pretty hot, so we also noticed the lack of shade. We made it to Luther George Park, which looked like a spot my kids would love.

We headed back and continued the loop around Lake Fayetteville. This time it was less crowded and we were able to catch a breeze to cool off. On this ride we were short on time, but if we wanted to sip a local beer we could have easily stopped by Apple Blossom Brewing Company which is close to Veterans Memorial Park.

Distance: 10.5 miles*

I’m thrilled to be exploring our home town via the trail system. I know there is a lot more to enjoy. Cheers to that!