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.

Arkansas Day Trip: Hobbs State Park and War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park Visitors Center

Hobbs State Park is the biggest state park in Arkansas. It is located in Rogers, Arkansas and is known for hiking, biking, and its miles of shore line along Beaver Lake. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Hobbs State Park visitors center is filled with educational exhibits about animals and plants you may find in the area

The visitors center is filled with educational exhibits about animals and plants you may find in the area. The cave exhibit was my daughters’ favorite.

cave exhibit at Hobbs State Park visitor center

They also enjoyed the Kids Corner which is stacked with games and books about nature. I appreciated the clean restrooms and friendly staff who answered all of my questions about near by hiking trails.

mother nature story time

The center hosts a variety of family-friendly activities including a Mother Nature story time held each second Saturday of the month at 10:30 am. Mark your calendar: Upcoming 2019 story times include: ‘Bats – Not Really Scary’ on October 12; ‘It’s Turkey Time’ on November 9; and ‘Who Goes There? Footprints and Animal Signs’ on December 14.

kids corner and mother nature story time at hobbs state park

Outside of the visitors center there is a small pond and a viewing deck. This is a good place to watch wildlife.

pond hobbs state park

We spotted a snake from the deck. I convinced myself that it was a Western Pigmy Rattlesnake (because I’m terrified of snakes). However, it was most likely a nonvenomous water snake innocently enjoying the late summer sun.

snake arkansas, rattle snake?

Right outside the visitor center there are several picnic tables that rest under the shade of towering pine trees.

picnic hobbs state park

Ozark plateau trail

Beyond the picnic area, there is a half mile paved trail called the Ozark Plateau Trail. The trail is easy, well shaded, and includes several benches to rest on if little feet get tired.

OZARK PLATEAU TRAIL

We enjoyed seeing the variety of trees, mushrooms, and plants along the trail.

hobbs state park fall festival

Mark your calendar: Hobbs State Park is hosting a Fall Festival on October 6, 2019 from 1-4 pm. This free event is located at the Historic Van Winkle Hollow and includes activities such as blacksmith demonstrations, old-timey games, and music.

OZARK PLATEAU TRAIL paved trail. half mile long. short family-friendly

war eagle mill

After our fun morning at Hobbs State Park Visitor Center and hiking the Plateau Trail, we worked up an appetite. We stopped at the War Eagle Mill which is a short five-minute drive away.

The War Eagle Mill dates back to 1832. The mill is open daily for guests to purchase flours, mixes, jams, gifts, and other hand crafted items in their gift shop. Tours are available to learn more about the history of the active mill.

war eagle mill

bean palace cafe

We enjoyed lunch on the 3rd floor in the Bean Palace Cafe. Lunch is served daily from 10:30 am – 4:00 pm. There is a kids menu with prices ranging from $5-$6 per meal which include a souvenir cup. We also tasted their famous beans.

bean palace cafe at war eagle mill
Silly sisters at the Bean Palace Cafe

We were lucky to get a table that looked out over the War Eagle Creek and the one-lane bridge that crosses over it.

war eagle creek bridge

Mark your calendar: The War Eagle Mill will be hosting a Fall Craft Fair next month on Thursday, October 17 through Sunday, October 20, 2019.

Since moving to Northwest Arkansas last winter, I’m eager to explore all that our area has to offer. I appreciate that Hobbs State Park offers beautiful scenery and educational experiences so close to our new home. Our time at the War Eagle Mill felt charming, authentic, and historically relevant. I’m looking forward to our next trip!

If you have suggestions for fall day trips near Northwest Arkansas, please comment below.

The Best Way to Spend a Spring Day? Hiking Pigeon Roost Trail in Arkansas’ Hobbs State Park

Hobbs State Park is the largest state park in Arkansas. This weekend we took advantage of the sunny weather to explore the park and venture out on a new (to us) trail.

The Pigeon Roost trail is 8.4 miles long. It is broken into two loops, the Dry Creek Loop and the Huckleberry Loop. We walked a portion of the Dry Creek Loop from the trail head to the Beaver Lake Overlook which was about 1.5 miles in length each way.

Pigeon Roost trail signage
I highlighted the portion of the trail we hiked in yellow.
family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

Our 4-year-old hiked on her own (and rode on her Dad’s shoulders) while her younger sister mostly rode in an ergo carrier on my back.

spring hiking. family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

Spring is a colorful time to hike in Northwest Arkansas because white dogwood and pink and purple redbud trees bloom throughout the forest.

family friendly hiking. family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

The trail was well marked, but narrow and a bit slippery in some places with loose gravel. We had to be extra cautious as we hiked near steep hills.

We read that ticks can be bad on this trail, luckily we didn’t find any unwelcome visitors.

View of Beaver Lake. family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

After hiking through the forest and over several small bridges crossing a creek, we arrived to a spot where we could see Beaver Lake. I was amazed by the turquoise water. The color reminded me of the green waters we saw at Point Lobos Park in California which I wrote about here.

View of Beaver Lake family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

An overlook with a pair of benches can be found a little further down the trail. This is a great spot to rest and take in the view.

family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

We were thrilled to find a family-friendly trail that is close to our new home in Northwest Arkansas.

family hiking pigeon roost trail in hobbs state park - northwest arkansas

Hobbs State Park has 36 miles of trails to explore – we are excited to head back soon so we can hike more of them.