I won’t lie – I never gave Arkansas two thoughts before I moved to Fayetteville in 2014. The only time I ever heard anything about the state was from proud Arkansans, who I went to Baker University with. Ethan and Evan – take this as my official apology for not believing you when you told me Arkansas was a mini oasis in the United States. I won’t ever doubt you again!
These words only partly describe to you a sense of what the city of Fayetteville is truly like, but one thing is for sure – it has never disappointed me. The city itself is a rapidly growing college town, so it’s persona changes periodically with the seasons. In Autumn, you can feel the excitement of thousands of incoming students becoming acquainted with the city, ready to begin the fall semester. For most here, the beginning of the school year represents one thing – Arkansas football. Now if you’re geographically challenged, Arkansas is located in the South and the only thing that Southerns love more than Jesus, BBQ and sweet tea is SEC football. So if there is one piece of advice I can give any newcomer to the area during football season – DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOUSE ON A GAMEDAY. Just don’t.
In Winter, the Fayetteville Square illuminates with thousands of Christmas lights and sleigh rides. In the Spring, hikers are out in full bloom experiencing nature in the beautiful Ozarks. There is a reason that Fayetteville was recently named the 3rd best place to live in the USA by the US News and World Report. I mean – who doesn’t want to live in an active, supportive community?
For the past two years, I’ve tried to explain to my friends and family why Fayetteville holds such a vital place in my heart. I don’t think I can ever adequately describe how and why this college town turned me into the happiest I’ve ever been, but I will never stop trying to explain its Southern charm. For those of you who have expressed interest in experiencing Fayetteville for themselves, here is a list of my favorite stores, restaurants, and attractions located in the Fayetteville city limits.
Created by a former University of Arkansas graduate, Fayettechill is easily one of the most widely known brands coming out of Fayetteville. The company caters its outdoor products to the adventure junkie, vagabonding, nature-loving enthusiasts of the world. I personally love the brand because of its engagement with the community as a whole. Whether its a trip to Yellow Rock trail for sunrise yoga or a group bike ride down one of Fayetteville’s many trails, Fayettechill is always looking to spread their positive vibes across the city. You can find one of their essential t-shirts, Kammoks, or hats at the Basecamp store on Dickson Street, the Smokehouse near Mt. Kessler, or online. If you decide to follow their Instagram page, be prepared to fall in love with all of the beauty the Natural State has to offer.
Photo by: Rush Urschel
2. Arsaga’s Coffee Roasters
If you’re ever in town and looking for a local coffee shop to fulfill your needs, look no further than Arsaga’s Coffee Roasters. While the business boasts several locations around town, my favorite go-to spot is the Depot located right off the Frisco Trail and Dickson Street. This location is known for their sweet and savory crepes, live music, and thirst quenching drinks. In the mood for toast instead? Visit their newest spot at the corner of Church & Center for a taste of their homemade sourdough toast variations.
3. Dickson Street Books
Looking for a good book to read this summer? Do you enjoy spending long walks through a maze of bookshelves? Or love the smell of dusty old books? Go visit Dickson Street Books for the best and most versatile selection of used books in the heart of Fayetteville. Whether you’re a history nut, a sci-fi addict, or enjoy the Classics, this store will not disappoint. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to browse through the shelves when you stop by!
4. Fayetteville Farmer’s Market
If you’re a veggie lover like me, more than likely, your Saturday mornings will be spent at the award winning Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. Voted Favorite Large Farmers Market in 2012 and voted #5 in the nation in the 2011 American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest, this weekly event is a favorite amongst thousands of locals every April through November. If you’re a fan of fresh produce and flowers and want to support your local farmers, stop by and interact with this lively bunch.
5. Alchemy Macarons and Tea
If you have a sweet tooth while shopping around Town Square, go check out the new dessert boutique, Alchemy, for the best French macarons in town. Make sure to get there early though, this popular spot sells out of their delicious macarons quickly on a daily basis. FYI – their fine teas are as good as their sweet treats! Try the ginger peach green tea and the lemon or honey lavender macarons for a summer treat worth every penny.
6. Mount Kessler Greenways
The Fayetteville community certainly embraces living amongst the Ozark mountains through the beautiful trails located throughout the city. One of my personal favorites, based on the foliage and scenic views, runs though Mount Kessler right off MLK Boulevard. This easily accessible trail boasts more than 1,500 acres of forest within Fayetteville’s city limits. This trail in particular is a popular route for many mountain bikers and trail runners in the area. Be sure to schedule a hike up Mt Kessler in the Fall to see the beautiful leaves turn amber.
7. Lake Fayetteville
Lake Fayetteville provides local families with countless outdoor activities. Whether you’re interested in playing sand volleyball at Veterans Park, want to take a shot at Frisbee golf, or decide to challenge yourself with running or biking the 6 miles around the lake; Lake Fayetteville is a popular destination for the outdoor and fitness lovers of the community. If you’re an early bird like myself, put it on your bucket list to wake up and watch the sunrise over the lake for views that don’t disappoint.
8. Mount Sequoyah Overlook
What I can only imagine has been the location for many high school dates or the best spot for romantic marriage proposals; the overlook at Mount Sequoyah is a hidden gem that grants full views of the city. You’re not a true member of the Fayetteville community until you capture a breathtaking photo of the sun setting behind the mountains in the distance.
9. George’s Majestic Lounge
George’s Majestic Lounge is one of the longtime music venues located on Dickson Street. It’s unique charm has brought in talented musicians from the local and national stage for over 40 years. Whether it’s Dirks Bentley or Fitz and the Tantrums, there is no artist too big or small to hit their stage. As the oldest and longest-running club in Arkansas, you can always count on George’s for great live music.
10. The University of Arkansas
International Admissions Website: http://international-admissions.uark.edu/index.php
UARK International Admission Instagram: uarkintladmit
Now I might be a little biased, but the University of Arkansas is undoubtedly the main attraction in Fayetteville. Founded in 1871, the U of A continually boasts the Carnegie Foundation’s highest research classification among U.S universities. When you visit campus, be sure to snap shots of the iconic Old Main, the newly renovated Chi Omega Greek Theatre, the Fulbright Peace Fountain, and of course the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The University of Arkansas is also home to over 1,500 international students from over 113 countries. If you’re an international student looking for a place to study in the U.S, please seek out guidance from the Office of International Admissions for any questions you may have. The staff is highly knowledgeable and caters greatly to the needs of their international students.
If there is one piece of advice I can give – don’t judge any city before you get there. You never know how charming it may be.
Other notable places around town:
Hammontree’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese – http://hammontreesgourmet.com/
Savoy Tea Company – http://savoytea.com/
Riffraff – http://shopriffraff.com/
Puritan Brew Co – http://puritancoffeebeer.com/
Little Bread Company – http://www.littlebread.com/