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New in Town: Fun Ideas for Northwest Arkansas Families

northwest arkansas map

Map of Northwest Arkansas, from northwestarkansas.org

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. Click on the name of 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:

devils den state park

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. Take a picnic and the Frisbee and football and have 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 marketFarmers Markets! Fayetteville, Rogers, Bentonville. 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 often shows their adorable dogs that need to be adopted. It might be too much to resist.

Pea Ridge Battlefield – Walking trails and step back in time. Take the guided tour via 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 gardensBotanical 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:

amazeum boltScott Family Amazeum. The Amazeum features approximately 50,000 square feet of exhibit and learning spaces inside the museum to bring learning to life and enhance family involvement, while evoking a sense of curiosity and discovery through hands-on activities. So much fun!

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.

Fast Lane Entertainment on N. Dixieland in Lowell is also lots of fun when you’re looking for arcade games, bowling and laser 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 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 another 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.

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.

kid reading at library

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. Kids can spend hours in this museum.  They love the hands-on exhibits. They also have a great history camp in the summer for kids.

Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville. 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. General admission is free; special exhibits are free on Thursdays.

crystal bridges

Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville.

Arkansas Air & Military Museum. Follow the colorful history of aviation in Arkansas and American military conflicts through numerous displays of original artifacts and aviation memorabilia

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!

Summer Camp Spotlight: Modern Mission Outdoor Laser Tag/Indoor Battlefield

Editors’ note: Modern Mission is a sponsor in the featured section of our 2017 Northwest Arkansas Summer Camps & Activities Guide. This story offers additional information about the camps and contact info.

modern mission summer spotlight bannerSummer Camp name:

Modern Mission Outdoor Laser Tag/Indoor Battlefield

Age Group:

Ages 7-12

Coupon Code:

Save $25 off your summer camp price by using code mama25

modern-mission-logoWeeks camp will be in session + hours:

Week one will be June 5th-9th; week two will be June 19th-23rd; and the final week will be July 10th-14th. Choose one or all three. Each week of camps will run M-F 8 a.m. to noon.

About the camps:

Modern Mission campers will learn how to shoot a bow, outdoor survival tips (including starting a fire in wet weather, identifying edible insects, etc.) and the value of teamwork.

Modern Mission will also have special guest speakers at camp throughout the week, including Sheriff Tim Helder and local K9 unit under Officer Chris Krodell. There will be plenty of time for Archery Games, Bubble Soccer, and play on the Indoor/ Outdoor Battlefields.

When you make a reservation for your child, they will be registered for the entire week. For ages 7-12.

Click here to see read more about Modern Mission camps!

modern mission summer camp 2017


2017 Spring Break Guide: Northwest Arkansas Camps & Events for Kids

Spring Break Slider 2017

Happy Spring Break, everyone!

Featured Spring Break Camps/Activities for NWA Kids:

Community Creative Center Camp ccc

CCC’s Spring Break camps, March 20-24, will celebrate art around the world. Throughout the week students will explore art in a variety of cultures and be inspired to create beautiful works of art using paints, pastels, and clay.

Campers will make colorful Aztec rain sticks and take part in the ancient tradition of sculpting Caddo head pots out of red clay. Inspiration will also come from Japanese cherry blossoms, New Zealand koru plants, and the cave art of France. Projects are designed to maximize the fun for campers of all ages. Community Creative camps will fill quickly, so early registration is recommended.

Rogers Activity Center Camps rac building croppedSpring Break Camp at RAC will be March 20 – 24 & 27 from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. as needed.

The fee is $20/day (RAC membership is required and early registration is recommended because space is limited. For students Kindergarten-7th grade) Each day will bring new activities or field trips and each will have ample supervision. The fee includes morning and afternoon snacks as well as lunch.

RAC is a DHS licensed childcare facility and is Better Beginnings certified so you’ll feel good about your leaving your kids to have fun there.

Activities will include: Skating, Bowling, Movies, Chuck E. Cheese’s, and the UofA Agriculture Department will stop by to visit campers.

Click here for more information on the RAC camps!

Rogers Activity Center

Rogers Activity Center Spring Break Camps, all day March 20-24 & 27

Scott Family Amazeum

spring break camp, amazeumCamp Theme: Under the Big Top. The Amazeum is turning into a circus for Spring Break. From jaw-dropping acts to delicious carnival foods, ringmasters will show you the ropes as you find your place under the big top.

The week will be full of so many fun things, including a giraffe in the lobby! The Amazeum’s tinkering peeps were inspired by giraffe-momma-to-be April, so they crafted a lifesize giraffe of pool noodles. They need helping naming this new creation!

Explore the science behind this mysterious world of wonder and discover the imagination, creativity, and STEAM principles used to create a spectacular show. *Advanced registration and payment required.

Camp runs from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. March 20-24.

The Jones Center bar-logo-jones-center

Parents and kids can enjoy special events all Spring Break week in addition to the extended public hours. Ice Rink hours will run from Noon-8pm & Indoor Pool hours will be Noon-7:45pm.

Monday – Spring Break Kickoff The whole family will enjoy an afternoon of inflatables and games in the gymnasium, as well as the entire afternoon to swim and ice skate. Location: Gymnasium Cost: $3 per person beach ball

Tuesday – Beach Party Dress up in beach attire and prepare for a day in the water. Ice skating and open basketball will also coincide with the beach party. Time: Noon-8 pm Location: Pool Cost: $3 per person

Wednesday – Open gym time for toddlers with little activities Little tikes will have a chance to roam the gymnasium to explore different age-appropriate activities designed with their age-group in mind. Ice skating and open basketball will also coincide with the beach party. Time: Noon-8 pm Location: Gymnasium Cost: $3 per person

Thursday – Block Party (evening family festivities in plaza) Camp War Eagle will host an evening block party with games and activities for families with children of all ages. Ice skating, swimming, and open basketball will be open all afternoon (noon-8 pm). Time: 5-7 pm Location: Outdoor plaza Cost: Free (block party); all access wristband just $3 per person.

Friday – Frozen Friday with special guest princesses Ice skate with the princesses from the Disney favorite, Frozen. Kids can enjoy crafts, hot chocolate, and other winter-themed activities. Open swimming and gym time will coincide with the public ice session. Time: Princesses and activities from Noon-2 pm (public sessions from 12-8 pm) Time: Princesses and activities from Noon-2 pm (public sessions from 12-8 pm) Location: Ice rink Cost: $3 per person

BONUS Saturday – Pools, Gym, and Ice will all be open to the public from Noon-8, (ice and gym Noon-10 pm) with the $3 all-access wristband still in effect.

BONUS Sunday – Pools, Gym, and Ice will all be open to the public from 2:00-4:45 pm with the $3 all-access wristband still in effect.

Spring BreakFamily Movie Marathon Free Movie Screenings: Bring the entire family for a FREE movie every day beginning at 2 p.m. in the auditorium. Monday: Up; Tuesday: The Emperor’s New Groove; Wednesday: Big Hero 6; Thursday: The Lego Movie; Friday: Frozen

For more details on special activities planned, visit www.thejonescenter.net/spring-break-week or call The Jones Center information desk at 479-756-8090 ext. 2100.

Art Camps

Community Creative Center, Fayetteville (see above)

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

Art Live Theatre, Springdale

Paper & Thread Studio, Fayetteville

Terra Studios, Fayetteville

Sports Camps

Rogers Activity Center (see above)

Fayetteville Athletic Club Camp

Camp Bentonville: Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, Softball Fastpitch

Unique Camps

The Jones Center (see above)

Scott Family Amazeum (see above)

Camp Bentonville: Lego, Worlds of Amusement

Young Chefs Academy, Rogers

Ozark Climbing Gym, Springdale

Minecraft Spring Brek Camp, Springdale Recreation Center

Theatre Camps

Trike Theatre

Arts Live Theatre

Spring Break Activities/Events

Fayetteville Public Library: Movies every day at 2 p.m., March 20-24

Springdale Public Library: Monday, Friday: Crafts at 11 am, movies at 2 pm / Tuesday & Thursday: Crafts at 11 am / Wednesday: Movie at 2 pm, March 20 – 24

Springdale Public Library: Casey at the Bat! Wednesday, March 22, 11 a.m., Library Gallery. Come hear Phil Elson, “The Voice of Razorback Baseball and Women’s Basketball”, present Casey at the Bat. He’ll also answer questions and talk about the history of baseball. A simple craft project will be available.

Free Family Movies at The Jones Center. Bring the entire family for a FREE movie every day of Spring Break beginning at 2 p.m. in the auditorium. Monday: Up; Tuesday: The Emperor’s New Groove; Wednesday: Big Hero 6; Thursday: The Lego Movie; Friday: Frozen

animeRogers Public Library, Spring Break Anime Film Festival, March 18-23

112 Drive-In opening on Friday, March 17: Beauty and the Beast, Rogue One

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, daily Spring Break programs March 17-26

Spring Break Youth Lock-In, Fast Lane Entertainment, March 19

Spring Break Nerf Extravaganza, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, March 20

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Kite Festival, Eureka Springs, March 25

Local Spring Break spots to visit

Hiking, Devil’s Den

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Terra Studios

Hobbs State Park

bumblebee-flowerClick here for more information on local getaways & places to visit over Spring Break. Click here for a list of hiking trail options.


Devotion in Motion: Flea market logic

33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.   Luke 12:33 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I’ve been retired from full-time school teaching for two weeks now. I’ve had a great time, but I think I’ve been busier than when I was teaching every day.

I’ve worked two jobs for 28 years, and I feel like I’m about 15 years behind on things that I’ve stacked up to do “when I get time.” It’s nice to finally have a little time to try to get caught up.

For years I’ve had more “stuff” than I’ve needed. Susan and I have had loved ones pass away (or go to assisted living) and it’s been our job deal with their possessions. Plus, I had plenty of things that I’ve accumulated on my own. This has left me with a moral dilemma. I don’t like for my storage rooms to be crammed with clutter, but I also don’t want usable things to go to waste.

flea marketI think I’ve found a solution: I’ve rented a flea market booth.

So many of my flea market neighbors have really nice booths. They are set up like little shops and boutiques. I’m just getting started, so I just have four long tables.

My booth looks a little like an upscale rummage sale, but I sell a lot of stuff because I have great prices. I try to have the lowest prices in the building. That way if I bring a load today, a lot of it will be gone and they’ll be room for the load I bring tomorrow. So far it’s working out great.

Susan has been happy with my plan, and she’s given me a lot of her stuff to sell, too. We’re really trying to move out the merchandise, but we’ve made an agreement; if either of us misses an item, we are free to purchase a duplicate. After all, we can buy it with the bit of money that we’ve made at the flea market.

With that in mind, there’s one thing I’ve noticed. Whenever I’ve cleaned out clutter in the past, I’ve rarely ever regretted losing anything that I’ve given away. I’ve always been taught, “Things don’t make you happy.”  The older I get, the more I see that this is true. The Lord brings me joy, and the time I spend with people I love makes me happy, too.

Have a great week, and spend some time making more room for the things that are most important. In doing so, you can’t help but fill your life with joy.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (Until recently he had a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the recently-retired-schoolteacher Preacher sold a galvanized bucket for $1.00 this week.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

The Rockwood Files: Raised right

rockwood files colorWe went to dinner recently with my parents at a restaurant where you place an order at the counter and then get your own drink. Tom and I were pulling extra chairs up to a table for the seven of us when we noticed a man put a cup of water down in front of my mother. He asked if she’d like a lemon and she said “Yes, please,” so he went back to the drink station and fetched a lemon wedge for her.lemon slice

He didn’t work at the restaurant, and I didn’t recognize him. I assumed maybe he was a friend my mother knew from work or one of the many people she has met during her job as a bank teller.

“Was that one of your bank customers?” I asked after the man walked back to his own table.

“No, I don’t know him,” Mom said. “He was getting himself a drink, and the water dispenser was empty after he filled his cup. He saw that I was waiting to get some water, too, and I guess he felt bad for taking the last of it. So he asked someone behind the counter to refill the water dispenser and said I could go sit down and he would bring some water to me.”

The first thing that went through my mind was “Wow. Someone raised that guy right.” He could have taken the last glass of water and walked away, mentally filing it away in the “not my problem” category. It’s probably what most people would have done. But he was different because he was raised right.

In today’s increasingly unkind world, seeing consideration and respect in action is almost stunning. It’s moving, and no matter what anyone says, it matters.

So I’ve decided to compile an ongoing list called “Ways to know someone has been raised right.” (You’re welcome to help by emailing me and adding your own ideas to the “Raised Right Registry.”) I’ll kick things off with a few things that deserve a place on the list, (alongside people who not only deliver water to a stranger but also go back for the lemon wedge).

You say thank you and mean it – to friends, family members, co-workers, and to every single person you encounter in the service industry, including wait staff, receptionists, the person handing you a soda at the drive-through window, the person who tells you the dry cleaning will be done on Tuesday, and every other person who helps you – regardless of whether or not it’s “part of their job.” Part of our job as decent human beings is to say thank you and mean it.

You hold the door for people. This gesture has been around for a long time, but it seems like fewer people do it now because so many of us are looking down at our phones. We simply don’t notice there’s someone coming toward us or someone following close behind for whom we could hold a door. It’s a simple, silent way to say “I see you, and you count.”

You say excuse me. People who are raised right know personal space is important. And when you accidentally invade someone’s space by bumping into them, you’re supposed to say “Excuse me” – and not in the sarcastic, accusatory way some people do it.

I once watched a woman on an airplane who stood up and accidentally bumped her head on an overhead bin door that had been left open. There was no one else in her row, but she instinctively spun around and said “Oh, excuse me!” to the overhead bin before realizing she had bumped a thing and not a person.

When a person’s instinct is to immediately ask pardon for even the slightest of slights – instead of being defensive or lashing out – you know they’ve been raised right.

Here’s hoping we all notice the people around us who have been raised right, and here’s hoping we are some of those people to others.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.