Keeping Fayetteville Funky

 

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!

Funky.

Energizing.

Eccentric.

Fresh.

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.

1. Fayettechill

Website: http://www.fayettechill.com/

Instagram: fayettechill

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.

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Photo by: Rush Urschel

2. Arsaga’s Coffee Roasters

Website: http://arsagasdepot.com/

Instagram: arsagasdepot

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.

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3. Dickson Street Books

Website: http://www.dicksonstreetbooks.com/#dsbs-set

Instagram: dicksonstbooks

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!

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4. Fayetteville Farmer’s Market

Website: http://www.fayettevillefarmersmarket.org/

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.

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5. Alchemy Macarons and Tea

Website: http://www.alchemymacarons.com/

Instagram: alchemymacarons

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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9. George’s Majestic Lounge

Website: http://www.georgesmajesticlounge.com/

Instagram: georgesmajesticlounge

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.

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10. The University of Arkansas

Website: http://www.uark.edu

Instagram: Uarkansas

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.

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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/

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How Hiking Heals…

The cure to loneliness is learning to be content with one’s own company. At least – that’s what I’ve learned after nearly two years of living on my own, hours away from my closest friends and family. When I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in October 2014, I honestly didn’t have any intention on staying here for an extended amount of time. I longed to be in Denver, Colorado with my boyfriend, ready to start a life together. I didn’t go out of my way to make friends because I honestly didn’t feel the need to. In my mind I had already planned my escape out of Arkansas. I had found companionship with my coworkers and with those I played volleyball with and that was enough for me. I was satisfied.

It’s funny how as humans we try to plan our lives in advance, as if we know exactly how our lives will pan out. Well trust me – we don’t. The day after my 25th birthday, I removed myself from my long distance relationship that had already been deteriorating for years. It was long overdue, but unfortunately that didn’t make the heartbreak any easier. You see, that was my first legitimate relationship. My first love, and then, my first real heartbreak. So you can now see why after 25 years of not experiencing any sort of heartbreak – I was sort of a mess. In those dark moments, I sought comfort in professional help. In all honesty, I saw the woman once. She was a great listener and she suggested a really captivating book for me read (which reminds me – I should probably finish it now). And then, I met a fantastic guy. He challenged my thinking on every level (especially science). He was incredibly thoughtful (and easy on the eyes). He was well-cultured, loved to travel, enjoyed talking about politics, and loved to workout. He was literally everything I dreamed of. And best of all, he made me feel worthy of being in a relationship with. But….it was bad timing. I was still dealing with too much drama with my ex and I was honestly beyond exhausted. I couldn’t be the person I wanted and needed to be for him at the time, so we parted ways. That in itself was heartbreaking because I had finally found the comfort of a companion here in Arkansas – something that I didn’t realize I had sought.

For the first time (and because I was completely alone), I finally saw what Arkansas had to offer me (they don’t call it the Natural State for nothing). I found solace in hiking the worn out trails in the Ozark Mountains, feeling the warmth of the sun shine down my face. It was like a battery full of charge, the sun propelling me forward and giving me energy and life as I walked miles away into the wilderness. There is truly nothing more therapeutic then walking along the trails of freshly fallen amber leaves, inhaling and exhaling the clean cool air, and clearing the demons that inhabit your mind. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” And just like Fitz said, it felt like my life had started over.

Throughout the last eight months, it has been nature that has kept me sane. My weekends have often led me to the most beautiful secluded destinations, hardly touched by civilization. I’ve climbed over 2000ft to reach a 200 ft waterfall, walked along a 350 foot bluff with stunning views of the Buffalo River, and practiced yoga on overlooks surrounded by the greenest trees. I have learned how to be wildly and incandescently happy in my own company because I am in sync with nature. I have learned that with every step amongst the pines, I can also let go of any detrimental thoughts that linger within me. The negativity that once crippled me now streams steadily away, like water flowing freely down the Buffalo River.

And that is what nature does – it allows you to move freely without the constraints of the real world that are constantly tugging at you from behind. If you respect it, it will respect you back and give you 10x more than what you ever expected. I hike alone because it is a safe haven for me to escape. I can be in complete control of my actions and not have to worry about anything other than myself. Call me selfish, but after my last three years of emotional torment, I deserve it. My life isn’t always full of dandelions and butterflies – but for now, I’ll take refuge being amongst them.

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Centerpoint Trail to Goat Trail – Overlooking the Buffalo National River

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Hawksbill Crag or commonly referred to as Whitaker Point

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Yellow Rock Trail at Devil’s Den State Park

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Pigeon Roost Hiking Trail – Beaver Lake

Love,

Kayla