By Amanda Stone
When a friend told me I just had to come with her to Northwest Arkansas for a girls day out, I begrudgingly agreed.
Kid-free time is precious. I had misconceptions about Arkansas. Camping wasn’t in the game plan, so how fun could it be?
As it turns out, Arkansas is the new fun day trip for us folks in Southwest Missouri. Somewhere along the way, Arkansas became hip. I urge you to check it out. I have a two-day trip planned out for you, so there’s really no excuse.
Start your day by gathering your friends and heading down Interstate 49 to Bentonville. Stop at True Treasures along the way. It’s a big, fun shop full of repurposed furniture, antiques and cool crafts made by local artisans.
Head to downtown Bentonville and park near the town square where all the action is. Try not to waste too much time gawking at the pretty flowers in the landscape and the beautiful homes surrounding the square.
Your first destination is Compton Gardens, where you can take your time strolling through the beautiful native plantings. You can spend as much time as you wish there. It’s beautiful, but you may need to take a break at Crepes Paulette, which is usually my main reason for going to Northwest Arkansas. Their crepes are stuffed with gooey, melting amazingness. Part of the charm comes from knowing the guy taking your order is actually French, and the magic all happens inside a food truck. Order an iced coffee and hit the road. Time is a-wasting.
Rogers is your next destination. I hope your coffee has kicked in, because you’ll need the energy to get through Pinnacle Hills Promenade. Wear your walking shoes for some serious outdoor shopping. Pinnacle Hills Promenade has every retail store you could want, from Sephora to Dillard’s to Williams-Sonoma. There is truly something for everyone at the promenade.
Hit a couple of shops or hit them all, but definitely leave room in your budget for The Fresh Market.
If you are a self-proclaimed foodie like myself, you will love The Fresh Market. It’s a wonderland of fresh produce, organic everything, bulk coffee, grains and spices, and it has the most amazing antipasto bar I have ever seen. Since you’re on the road, take it easy on the fresh produce. You can get that at home. However, feel free to fill up a container with stuffed and pickled olives and peppers. Their bakery is pretty amazing, too. When I go home with a loaf of rosemary sea salt sourdough and a container of mixed antipasto, I am the happiest girl around. It doesn’t take much.
Springdale and Fayetteville
It should be late afternoon at this point, and time to head south toward wine country. Springdale is home of Tontitown Winery. Wind down with a winetasting. If you plan to visit on a Friday evening, there’s live music, so buy a bottle and relax.
Tontitown offers free winery tours at 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturdays. It also offers a selection of cheeses, chocolate and other snacks that will pair perfectly with your wine. Enjoy yourself on their deck, then choose a hotel from the many options on the five-mile drive to Fayetteville. You don’t want to waste any time in the morning; Fayetteville offers a staggering number of entertaining options.
Start out early in Fayetteville with breakfast at The Little Bread Co. It works with local farmers so that it’s able to use fresh, seasonal ingredients. Head to the square for one of the best farmers markets in the area. Not only can you find garden-fresh local produce and baked goods, the Saturday market, in particular, is alive with local artisans, street performers and musicians. Wander the square and make sure to pop into a few shops, my favorites being The Mustache for unique gifts, and Riff Raff for clothes and accessories that will make people ask where you found them.
You should be famished at this point, so climb back into the car for a short drive to Ye Olde King Pizza.
Joplin folks in particular will enjoy the nostalgia associated with this pizza joint, since Joplin’s beloved Pizza By Stout’s pies were modeled after this original. The only thing missing is the cinnamon rolls. Never fear, that’s just an excuse to have a treat somewhere else later in the afternoon.
There are just too many fun things to do in Fayetteville, so I’m giving you a couple of options for your afternoon.
If you feel like shopping or browsing a little more, then you need to pop into Four-Legged Bird. It’s a great little shop full of handmade stuff, vintage stuff and stuff that’s just plain awesome. Be warned — you will want everything.
Stop by Arsaga’s for coffee on the way out of town. You’ll need the boost to take you through the rest of your afternoon.
Head back north to Springdale for your last stop. Try not to get lost in Warehouse 54 Indie Market while browsing. It carries vintage everything and specializes in industrial antiques. It will be a breath of fresh air if you’re tired of shopping for dainty, girly things.
Terra Studios is a great alternative to shopping for a fun afternoon in Fayetteville. Talk your girlfriends into taking a clay sculpture class, or just wander the beautiful galleries, outdoor art park and labyrinth. It’s beautiful and inspiring. Time will fly at Terra Studios while appreciating the work of local artists, watching them create the glass bluebirds they’re famous for and enjoying coffee and a snack in the café.
Enjoy this new, hip Arkansas with your friends. Keep in mind that the fun in Northwest Arkansas is less than two hours away.
Have questions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail her c⁄o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.
10770 Arkansas 72
312 N. Main St.
213 Northeast A St.
Pinnacle Hills Promenade
2203 Promenade Boulevard No. 3200
The Fresh Market
2203 Promenade Boulevard
335 N. Barrington Road
The Little Bread Co.
116 N. Block Ave.
Fayetteville Farmers Market
Historic Downtown Fayetteville Square
101 W. Mountain Street
Ye Olde King Pizza
3162 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Arsaga’s Espresso Cafe
548 W. Dickson St.
275 S. Archibald Yell Blvd.
Warehouse 54 Indie Market
101 W. Emma Ave.
12103 Hazel Valley Road