I’m super excited about this Really Awesome Free Trips post because we’re going to do a few of these on our road trip back to Texas (we’re in Ohio with Andy’s fam for the 4th of July)!
Hi there! It’s Sarah from Our Daily Craft here with a little glimpse into my part of the world, more specifically, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
We are outdoorsy people here in Fayetteville, a college town where the farmers’ market is the place to be on Saturday mornings (so long as there’s not a football game, anyway). We love a festival, a park, an outdoor concert, so most of the free things I automatically think of are outdoor things. But it’s beautiful here, so you’ll want to stay outside as long as possible, too.
1. The Downtown Square
As I just mentioned, the Saturday farmers’ market is the place to run into old friends, have a chat with the mayor or meet some sweet dogs from the animal shelter. The market is held seasonally on the square on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, and it’s a great place to soak in the culture and music of Fayetteville, not to mention pick up some great produce, meat, eggs, crafts, even homemade yarn.
But the square is fun the rest of the week, too, for its beautiful gardens, pretty views from the Town Center, the peace fountain and fun shopping at places like Terra Tots, Riffraff and The Mustache. You’ll also find one of the city’s painted pigs here.
Just a quick walk from the square is the Fayetteville Public Library, which really is a jewel. Named the Library of the Year by Library Journal in 2005, it’s a lovely building with beautiful views, some fun art and an excellent children’s section. Little kids can play games on the computers, and there are storytimes and other events going on almost every day.
Be sure to stop for a snack at Arsaga’s, a local coffee shop with a location in the lobby. My daughter recommends the peanut butter cookies. And lemonade.
Old Main is the icon of the university, and its huge lawn is the university’s front yard. It’s a great place to let the kids run around, to look at the trees (it’s officially an arboretum) and enjoy the shade, and to admire the campus architecture.
Around back be sure to check out the Fulbright Peace Fountain, the statue of J. William Fulbright and the sculpture dedicated to Silas Hunt, the first black student to enroll in the university’s law school.
Nearby Carnall Hall, which was the first women’s dormitory on campus and is now a hotel, is a great spot for photos and has another painted pig. It’s a great spot for a fancy dinner and/or drinks, too, if you’re not traveling with children.
This pretty man-made lake is nearly 200 acres surrounded by 458 acres of park land, trails, playgrounds and softball fields. The paved part of the trail is 4.3 miles and is easy enough to use a stroller on if you have younger kids.
Several playgrounds and plenty of green space make this a great place to get some of the kids’ energy out.
While not free, the nearby Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is lovely and includes a fun children’s garden, reading train and butterfly house. It costs $7 for adults and $4 for kids in season.
For a beautiful view of downtown and Old Main, head up to Mount Sequoyah, which is actually a Methodist retreat and conference center. It’s a pretty drive that takes you to an overlook featuring a little cross. Even if you’re not religious, it’s a pretty spot. (And a classic make-out spot, but it’s pretty tame during the day.)
Fayetteville boasts 36 parks, from large spaces to run around to little neighborhood pocket parks, and more than 40 miles of trails. There’s something for everyone, but my favorites for kids include Wilson Park, which has large playgrounds for big and little kids as well as the castle, an amazing piece of public art you can play on (there are also tennis, basketball and volleyball courts here, as well as a swimming pool); Gulley Park, complete with large green spaces to run around in, a trail, a gazebo, two playgrounds and a volleyball court; and the little-used Gordon Long Park, which is small but delightfully shady, and has a fun little creek to play in.
If you have dogs with you, check out Bryce Davis Park, which has a great playground and a 3-acre dog park.
7. Go Retro at Evelyn Hills
If all that outdoor time has got you craving some air conditioning, check out the funky shops of Evelyn Hills. One of the city’s first shopping centers, it now features fun shops like long-time tenant Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters (for camping gear and outdoor supplies), Handmade Market (a great place for gifts and foodie items) and Arkadia Retrocade (all the old video games you can play for $5). Eat at Hawaiian Brian’s or check out the deli at Ozark Natural Foods. If you have a place to cook, pick up fresh seafood at Maudie’s Seafood.
8. Beyond Fayetteville
If you’re up for a little road trip while you’re in town, check out Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, which is a fabulous, free art museum with trails, outdoor art, a restaurant and more (it’s closed on Tuesdays). Terra Studios, which has a Fayetteville address but is technically outside of town, is a spot you’ll want to explore. There’s an outdoor art park, giant chess set, a huge chalkboard visitors and invited to draw on and a labyrinth, among other treasures.
Have you ever been to Fayetville, AR? Andy and I are on a road trip right now, and thinking about stopping at a few of these on our way home from Ohio! Thanks, Sarah, for putting this awesome list together!
Psst… Here are 30+ more cities with lists of 10 fun, free things to do!