The Ozark Mountains, which cover much of the southern half of Missouri and northern Arkansas, are one of the Midwest’s most beautiful and overlooked gems.
Located in the northwest corner of Arkansas is a funky college town named Fayetteville. The city is home to the University of Arkansas, the state’s major research and flagship institution and a proud member of the rich Southeastern Conference.
Fayetteville is the gateway to the picturesque Boston Mountains, the range that forms the southwestern and most rugged section of the Ozarks.
Anytime is the perfect time to plan a visit to Northwest Arkansas, as the annual Ozark Mountain leaf change is vibrant and incredibly scenic. Peak time for leaf change is generally from late October to around Thanksgiving. When the leaves are at their most colorful, take a drive down nearby Scenic Highway 7 or the Pig Trail Scenic Byway. Camp and float along the Buffalo National River or rent a charming 1930’s restored cabin at Devil’s Den State Park.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find that the city of Fayetteville is the ideal destination with its 4,000 acres of parkland, three beautiful lakes, and over 60 miles of trails. The Northwest Arkansas Razorback Greenway, a 36-mile-long paved, shared-use trail that connects five downtown districts from Fayetteville north to Bentonville, opened in May 2015.
For a long weekend in Fayetteville, stay at the modern downtown Chancellor Hotel or the inviting Dickson Street Inn. Blocks away, Dickson Street is the popular place for eclectic boutiques, bars, and nightlife with tons of live music venues. The Walton Arts Center, located in the heart of downtown, hosts Broadway tours, symphonies, comedians, and more.
The historic Downtown Fayetteville Square is known for its beautiful gardens and award-winning Farmers’ Market that runs three days a week beginning in April and ending in November. The square is transformed on the first Thursday each month from April to October for First Thursday Fayetteville, an outdoor art walk featuring local artisans, live music, a beer garden, and children’s entertainment.
Just 30 minutes north in Bentonville is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, boasting free admission and a permanent collection that spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell, and Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton.
Not to be outdone by the entertainment offerings, the culinary scene in Fayetteville is booming. Stop by the French Bouchée Bistro on the Downtown Square and sample their handmade chocolates and macarons, or grab a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich at Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese. Food truck aficionados will love the Shulertown food truck court on Dickson Street or the airstream trailer-filled Yacht Club on College Avenue.
For those who enjoy a quality pilsner or IPA, Northwest Arkansas is home to nine microbreweries. Pick up a free passport and collect stamps along the Fayetteville Ale Trail – Arkansas’ first craft beer tasting adventure featuring only local craft breweries.
From restaurants and entertainment on Dickson Street to mountain biking and hiking at Mount Kessler, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Fayetteville. Northwest Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains are a compelling and scenic fall destination that is not to be missed.