If you’re new to Northwest Arkansas — or if you’re a new mama navigating the neighborhoods for the first time with a baby on the hip — we thought you’d appreciate some local exploring options.
We asked some moms who were recently “new in town” themselves (thanks, new girls!) to tell us their favorite places to visit in the area. You’ll find some of their comments below. Most of these suggestions have links, so just click on the activity/location if you want to find out more.
If we leave out your favorite things to do in Northwest Arkansas, write a comment below and share them with the rest of us!
Oodles of Outdoorsy Options:
Devil’s Den State Park – It’s a beautiful park with a built-in pool, picnic tables, great bridge, swimming pool and river and boat rentals. We brought a picnic and the Frisbee and football and had a blast! If you’re adventurous, you can also go caving. There are also cabins and camping options.
Withrow Springs State Park - (Near Huntsville) Great camping area, swimming pool, playground, hiking trails, fishing and tennis. Canoes, too!
Lake Fayetteville – There’s a lovely park with a playground and picnic tables as well as volley ball nets. It’s on the south side of the park off of Zion Rd – Veteran’s Memorial Park. The bike and walking trails are great and, if you have an off road bicycle, you can ride along the Botanical Gardens. The other thing you MUST do there is a round of Frisbee golf! It’s a blast and takes you by the lake and through the park – although I find I really want to spend some time catching the Frisbee as well as throwing it once we’re done with the 18 baskets.
Speaking of Veteran’s Memorial Park, Northwest Arkansas has an abundance of small, fabulous parks with walking trails, play equipment, and picnic areas. Some of our favorites in Fayetteville are Wilson (you’ll love the rock castle, fish pond and beautiful landscaping), Gulley and Gordon Long (many trees protect the kids on hot summer days).
Lawrence Plaza, just north of the Bentonville Square (at the corner of NE A and Blake streets) features a 7,000 square-foot, multi-use facility that transforms into a splash pad in the summer and an outdoor ice rink in the winter!
Gator Golf on College Avenue offers two courses and a free game if you get a hole in one on the 18th hole. You can see a great sunset from there if you catch it right and the course offers some interesting variations.
Farmers Markets! Fayetteville, Rogers, Bentonville. We finally made it last weekend and I can’t believe we waited so long! There is something for everyone there including music, cookies and coffee, breakfast burritos and lots of amazing produce and flowers. There are even a few crafts. Just be forewarned that in Fayetteville, the animal shelter will be showing their adorable dogs that need to be adopted. It might be too much to resist. I came very close to adopting one myself.
Pea Ridge Battlefield – Walking trails and step back in time. Take a guided tour via tape/CD and hear the battle come to life.
Prairie Grove Battlefield Park – Bring your hand-held GPS, stop by the gift shop for the first set of coordinates and find answers to a sheet of clues they provide. Beautiful walking trails, stroller-ready.
Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks in Fayetteville - Lots of events for both adults and kids. The firefly festival in summer is a great kid event. They also have evening events for adults like “Chefs in the Garden” and a Holiday Farmers’ Market. While the farmers’ market continues, we like to just go on Sunday mornings and walk around when admission is free.
Fayetteville bike trails - These are great for a family outing or couples only.
Tanyard Creek trail in Bella Vista - Great walking trail with streams, a swinging bridge and a waterfall!
Terra Studios in Durham – The kids loved walking around the gardens and paths and looking at all of the strange and unique pottery creatures. You can also watch pottery and bluebirds of happiness being made. Before you leave have a snack in the coffee shop and sit in a really cool booth.
Corn mazes, pumpkin patches and u-pick! There are three corn maze-focused attractions (they all have lots more than the maze) in the area, including Ozark Corn Maze in Cave Springs, Farmland Adventures in Springdale, McGarrah Farms in Pea Ridge, Dickey Farms in Springdale, Vanzant Fruit Farms in Lowell and Lost Corn Maze in Siloam Springs.
Attend a Northwest Arkansas Naturals baseball game!
Modern Mission Outdoor Laser Tag is similar to paintball, but without the projectiles. Off Joyce Avenue in Fayetteville.
The Pinnacle Hills Promenade Mall is an outdoor mall in Rogers. Lots of shopping, restaurants and a movie theatre.
Baby, it’s cold (or hot) outside:
Ozark Bowling Lanes in Fayetteville might fool you from the outside, but they have redone the inside and it is really a very nice bowling alley. There are also pool tables if you need a little variety or for your friends who aren’t as fond of bowling as you might be. My husband and the two boys and I just went for pool one day. I even managed to hit a couple of balls in the pockets!
Fast Lane Entertainment on N. Dixieland in Lowell is also lots of fun when you’re looking for arcade games, bowling and lazer tag. They’ve got ginormous pizzas, a varied menu for adults and glow-in-the-dark bowling.
Fun City Pizza in Springdale (next to Babies ‘n Beyond) is another great place to let the kiddos play — and it’s brand new. They have arcade games, big slides and tunnels for the kids to play on, indoor mini golf, pizza and salad bar for guests. No admission fee!
The Starlight Skatium is a brand new skating rink on College Avenue in Fayetteville. It’s a great place for birthday parties and for taking the parents wayyyy back.
Arkadia Retrocade in Fayetteville (Evelyn Hills Shopping Center) is a place where parents can go way back! These video games are vintage. $5 cash admission at the door for all-day, old-school video game play. Check out the Facebook page for hours.
Jump Zone in Bentonville is the perfect place for letting the kids blow off steam on humongo inflatables. Also a great birthday place and loads of fun. They often have parents’ nights out and the kids love this place.
Books! Of course the Fayetteville Public Library is world class! It has two floors of books, materials and movies for the whole family. There is a whole section dedicated to the children and a coffee shop where mom can take a break and relax. There’s are also great libraries in Rogers, Springdale (just outside this library’s windows there’s a wonderful park and duck pond for kids to enjoy!) and Bentonville.
The Jones Center for Families in Springdale is absolutely amazing! It has a small water park and pool along with other activities like indoor ice skating, and a playground, basketball, volley ball and 9-hole disc golf. Year-round fun.
Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale – My kids would spend an hour in the museum. They love the hands-on exhibits. They also have a great history camp in the summer for kids.
Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville opened 11-11-11. There are beautiful trails to wander along, art to enjoy, a library and even a cafe. The 120-acre site of the Museum complex is located within walking distance of the Bentonville town square. Admission is free.
Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville.
Got any fun ideas we missed and you’d like to share? Click on the comment button below and let us know! For other suggestions by NWA mamas, click here to read our 5 Minutes with a Mom feature. The featured moms usually mention their favorite places to play here. Plus you might just meet a new friend!