Glory of Spring
Any springtime visit should include a stroll along the pathways and trails through the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, an ecological oasis filled with color and scent that is one of the premier public gardens in the state. Alongside the sprawling beds of blooms, the gardens also boast a 6,000 –square-foot demonstration garden and a brand new butterfly house.
Interlocked with the garden paths are the some of the city’s 17 miles of walking and biking trails completed to date. They are part of an extensive trails system in use and expanding at the rate of two to three miles per year with a goal of a 100-mile interconnected system throughout the city. That system also includes 60 city parks ready to be explored.
Fayetteville’s trails join those in three nearby cities to create a central corridor called the Heritage Trail. It emphasizes the rich Northwest Arkansas history of the Butterfield Overland Mail route, the Trail of Tears and Civil War troop movements.
Trails range from sidewalk-based stretches that wander through the town’s historic neighborhoods to concrete multi-use tours of natural areas and wetlands or natural-surface hiking and mountain biking trails with breath-taking views along mountain bluffs or scenic lakes. Fayetteville’s trail system can accommodate all fitness levels.
Another way to enjoy nature’s bounty is to buy it.
Visit with with local farmers and artisans on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings between April and mid-November at the Fayetteville Farmers Market.
Locally grown vegetables, fruits, and flowers are available, along with crafts, artwork and live music on Fayetteville’s charming Downtown Square. You can pet a pooch from one of the local animal shelters sponsoring an adoption event, grab a seat and people watch, or wander into any of the unique shops, restaurants or galleries surrounding the historic square.
Like mixing your nature with a little recent history? Don’t miss a chance to check out how a future president and a future secretary of state started their life together. Just steps off the University of Arkansas campus is the first home owned by Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton while he was a member of the law school faculty in the mid-1970s. Memorabilia, documents and displays detail the early days of the couple’s marriage and provide insight into the making of a double political career. And, since it is spring, you can’t help but see the hundreds of daffodils hand-planted by Mrs. Clinton.
Speaking of the University of Arkansas, don’t miss an opportunity to see one of the top baseball programs in the Southeastern Conference. The Arkansas Razorbacks claim Fayetteville’s Baum Stadium as their home turf but they invite you to share a sunny spring day enjoying their hospitality.
A different type of entertainment awaits you under the stars or in front of the footlights as the sun goes down. Fayetteville has two venues for live performances that fit into the mood of the evening. First, the Arkansas Music Pavilion hosts musical acts from a variety of genres. Or you can choose to take in the latest touring Broadway musical or an intimate solo performance at the Walton Arts Center at the heart of the Fayetteville’s historic Dickson Street Entertainment District.
Afterwards, bars and restaurants offer live music almost every night of the week. Dancing, shooting pool, or sitting back on a street-side patio with a refreshing beverage and watching the people walk by are all approved activities here.
Arkansas’ largest aviation museum, the Arkansas Air Museum, displays historic aircraft at Fayetteville’s Drake Field.
Drake Field served as training ground for aviators during World War II.
Its historic hanger, one of the nation’s few remaining all-wood structures from the World War II era, houses a collection of classic aircraft in flight-service condition from the 1920s and 1930s.
Other parts of the collection include modern planes from the post-World War II era and static displays of key military aircraft from the Vietnam era.
Next door to the air museum is the Ozark Military Museum, which includes a collection of military planes and memorabilia.
Beyond a doubt don’t miss America’s newest world-class art museum just up the road from Fayetteville in Bentonville. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton’s gift to Northwest Arkansas and the world, opened last November with one of the finest collections of historic and contemporary American art including painting, sculpture and other mediums. Plan to spend the day exploring the galleries, sculpture walks, woodland trails and restaurant while you are there.
Don’t Check Out
With its wealth of inns, motels, restaurants and fun, Fayetteville makes the perfect home base for excursions into the surrounding region for even more delightful discoveries.
If you want to expand your explorations of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the battlefields of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove are just minutes away by car.
For more active fun, nearby Corp. of Engineers-created reservoir Beaver Lake offers championship fishing along with boating and swimming at numerous campgrounds, marinas and parks around its perimeter.