Arkansas – The Natural State

Arkansas is one of those places that you never forget once you have been there. Its southern charm, scenic coves, and tucked- away villages may give visitors the impression that they are in a sleepy hamlet in Europe, and its vibrant cities and towns may give the impression of being in larger metropolitan areas. Unlike more cosmopolitan areas, the people are some of the friendliest you will ever meet. The state has many different places and personalities in which to endear a visitor. Its cities and towns are as different as day and night, but they are alike in their openness and hospitality.

Little Rock

Little Rock is the state’s capital and its largest city. Located on the Arkansas River, it is home to the Clinton Presidential Library, where visitors will see replication of the Oval Office and many articles from the president’s time in office.

After visitors have been wowed by the impressive Clinton Library, they can explore the downtown area with its many unique neighborhoods. The tree-lined streets and re-purposed historic buildings are among the factors that draw visitors and locals alike. This mixed-use area is home to trendy restaurants, business sectors, modern living, and numerous entertainment settings. Guests to the area can enjoy a beer garden and a neighborhood -style backyard barbecue. Its family-friendly museums and historic homes are worth a trip to this exciting city.

Unique shopping opportunities abound in the indoor bazaar of the River Market District. Dine at a variety of restaurants or visit one of the many museums. Another must see in the downtown area is the Quapaw Quarter, which cover nine square miles and has some of the most beautiful antebellum architecture found anywhere. This 19th century residential and business neighborhood features properties that have been historically restored to represent a glimpse of a bygone era.

Different festivals, such as the International Greek Food Festival, the Literary Festival, and the Jewish Food and Cultural Festival, all demonstrate the ethnic and cultural diversity of the state. Other events, like the various marathons, with over 10,000 participants, offer sightseers the opportunity to participate if they wish. These marathons boast the world’s largest medal for those who finish the race. That is quite a trophy to take home and share with friends and family. The St. Patrick’s Day parade speaks to the Irish culture and heritage of Arkansans. IndiaFest is another cultural event that unites cultures for a chance to experience the commonality of other customs and backgrounds.

Different festivals and parades also provide people with experiences that will not disappoint. Visitors can find something of interest anytime of the year. Cycling tours that range from 10 miles to 100 miles run through Central Arkansas and across the 4000-foot bridge known as the Big Dam Bridge. Both bicycle and pedestrian traffic are allowed on the overpass. The state fair draws 400,000 visitors every year. It features a rodeo, livestock, music, and a carnival, making it appealing to the whole family.

Delight in the charmingly lit paths of Wildwood gardens for magical evenings that will carry you away to a time when all things seemed possible. This takes place during the enchantment of the lunar New Year’s first full moon. Lively entertainment is featured throughout the Arboretum for all to enjoy.

Even more delightful are the outdoor activities that are found throughout the state. Cyclists and hikers must try the Arkansas River Trail, which traverses five different pedestrian bridges. From them, the visitor can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, as well as views of the river as they picnic or fish along the trail. Foot bridges also lead to downtown Riverfront Park, where quaint shops await spectators along with wonderful walkways and beautiful views. Different parks can be accessed along the trail fully engulfing people with the sights and sounds of the city. Biking trails, community gardens, walking trails, and areas to view wildlife proliferate.

Camping is a favorite activity for many who travel to and through the state. Travelers are likely to find accommodations from primitive to high end, suitable to fit anyone’s taste. The more rugged adventurer will appreciate the hike-in tent sites when they really want to get back to nature. Those with a more refined idea of camping will find resort-style spaces that will give them all of the luxury they desire.

Surroundings cities include Conway with a population of 64,000, Bryant – population 19,500, and Maumelle with a population of 17,000. Comparatively speaking, these are all quite sizeable. Cable is present even in these smaller cities. Dish Network, especially, gives affordable options to its customers. The TV and high-speed internet bundles make it an expedient choice because customers only have to be concerned with one convenient payment.

Fort Smith

Fort Smith is also on the Arkansas River. Interestingly, it was a military post when settlers first began coming into the area. It is the second largest city in the state, next to Little Rock, but it is no less interesting. The many different attractions include landmarks, such as the Belle Grove Historic District, which has restored 25 homes to their original splendor. The city is host to a 140,000 square foot convention center, where conventions, trade shows, and other occasions are held. It also houses the performing arts theater for the Fort Smith symphony. The weather is generally hot, humid summers and fairly mild winters, making it perfect for outdoor activities.

Not that this is anything about which to boast, but a former brothel is now Miss Laura’s Social Club, which houses the Convention and Visitors Bureau. It is a fixture on the National Register of Historic Places. A less racy occurrence is a taste of the Wild West with 10 days of the annual Old Fort Days Rodeo. One of the popular festivals in southern states is Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in this country.

The Trolley Museum, the Clayton House, and the National Historical Museum are some of the city’s locations where visitors and locals can learn information about the past. For kids and adults alike, Parrot Island Waterpark is a great place to chill out on those warm summer afternoons. Floating down a lazy river is an all-time favorite for the adults while the kids enjoy the water slides and floating animals in the pool.

The Fort Smith National Historic Site contains the remnants of two forts as well as the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. When the government forced the American Indians to leave their homes and relocate to sites they had chosen, the Indians passed through Fort Smith on their way to Oklahoma.

To remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country, visitors can stop at the Fort Smith National Cemetery. Many Civil War and Unknown soldiers are buried there as well as the “hanging Judge,” Isaac C. Parker. The Laying of the Wreaths is a very inspirational ceremony as wreaths are laid on the graves of soldiers that date back to the Mexican American War, World War II, Korean, and Vietnam.

Quite out of the ordinary is the St. Scholastica Monastery, which is still active with an order of Franciscan nuns. The chapel and the peaceful grounds are open for viewing. Visitors can observe a pond, different statues, a stony grotto, a small cemetery, and the impressive building. There is also a gift shop for the visitor who cannot pass up a keepsake wherever he or she visits. Children will be kept amused with rabbits, squirrels, and blue birds that roam the grounds. Inquire about a tour of the facility and meet the nuns.

Fort Smith metropolitan area encompasses five counties, three of which are in Arkansas and two are in Oklahoma. Van Buren and Ozark are in Arkansas while Poteau and Sallisaw are in Oklahoma.

Entertainment of every kind awaits subscribers of Dish Network. It provides a plethora of choices to whet any appetite. The On Demand library has over 20,000 TV shows and movies from which to choose, so that customers can go out and enjoy all that the city has to offer and still not miss any of their favorite programming.

Fayetteville

Located in the northwestern part of the state, Fayetteville is the third most populated city. It offers a variety of activities for every member of the family. The many different attractions include trendy boutiques, appealing nightlife, historic sites, and, of course, the Razorbacks. A flourishing arts community encompasses a diverse group of musicians, who echo their craft all over the city. This city is actually the number three destination for live music in the country.

The lifestyle is pretty laid-back, which is not unusual for a college town. Spring and summer seasons will showcase the many outdoor marvels, including the amazing blossoms and greenery that populate the Ozarks. It has over 40 miles of walking, biking and cycling trails, a haven for those who enjoy spending time communing with nature. The Razorback Regional Greenway is famous for its 36-mile walking and biking trail that goes all the way to Bella Vista, a scenic, hilly enclave north of town. The trail links art and entertainment settings, shopping areas, parks, historic sites, the University of Arkansas campus, and many others so that people can move around the city without cars.

For those who enjoy a nice cold beer, the Fayetteville Ale Trail offers self-guided tours to the many breweries for visitors to watch the craft and sample the harvest. To further enhance the experience, try Ales and Tails in April, where live music and lots of craft beer merge with a tidbit of Southern crawfish for truly Southern encounter. The rooftop patio of The Amendment will delight the visitor with wonderful bands and a full selection of craft beers.

A favorite stop is the Freckled Hen Farmhouse. It is a general store teeming with gift items, garden art, and home goods. The warm, welcoming atmosphere is reminiscent of a simpler time when people had time to chat amicably and time to browse without being pushed to purchase items. If visitors are around when the shop hosts its creative workshops, they might learn how to fashion a new craft or get some gardening tips.

Enjoy a memorable family outing in the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, where children can have a hands-on experience as they are treated to the natural beauty of 12 themed gardens and a butterfly house. The Arkadia Retrocade gives parents a chance to show off to their kids the arcade games they used to play, like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. If the arcade does not engage the kids, the Air & Military Museum will. They can view combat helicopters and planes ranging from the early days of aviation to the modern age. The 6-acre interactive art gallery, Terra Studios, encourages children to be creative and discover unique talents which they may not know they have. See glassblowers and art displays of local artists, also.

There are not many drive-in theaters left, but Fayetteville still has one. Open on the weekends, the 112 Drive-in Theater offers the rare opportunity for kids to view a movie from the car. The setting may be from the past, but the movies are not. Bringing snacks and popcorn back to the car from the concession is sure to excite the kids. During warm weather, they can sit on the hood of the car for a real retro experience.

Nature lovers, get ready for a real delight. The majestic Ozark Mountains offers outdoor adventures galore, and within the city, enjoy over 3,000 acres of pristine parks and other areas. The Razorback Regional Greenway goes all the way from the Missouri border as it passes through cities, like Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Bella Vista. It also runs past breweries, boutiques, public art, restaurants and stores. In addition, Kessler Mountain offers 11 miles of trails for hiking, running, and mountain biking.

Just outside the city limits, the visitor will find rivers, like White River, Mulberry River, Kings River and Buffalo River where visitors can fish, or float, or simply enjoy the views. Fayetteville offers picnicking in the park, bird watching, and a host of other outdoor activities that will satisfy the fussiest patron.

Of course, the University of Arkansas plays a prominent role in the city’s excitement. The Razorbacks’ rip-roaring games provide the sizzle that brings townspeople together and is one of the driving forces in the overall essence of the city, as people travel from far and near to attend.

Within close proximity to Fayetteville are Bella Vista, Van Buren, and Bentonville, the home of Walmart – the largest retailer in the country. All are within a 70 mile radius. With this cluster of nice-size cities, Dish Network has a ready market of customers. Their award winning HD/DVR technology is strong in the state with more than 200 HD channels and 24/7 sports coverage. If residents cannot make it to a Razorback game, they can view it from the comfort of their living rooms.

Springdale

Springdale, also in northwest Arkansas, is the fourth largest city in the state with a population of 80,000. Like Fayetteville, it has a number of trails, not the least of which is a portion of the famed Razorback Greenway, which runs through the city and down to Lake Springdale. Walking and biking trails are lauded throughout this part of the state because the natural vegetation is so beautiful. The trail system is in the process of expansion to include Dean’s Trail and the Pride of Springdale Trail. The Shiloh Trail is already in existence and is another route that locals and visitors can use to take some of the congestion from the Razorback Greenway. As in other cities in the region, the trails access places of interest, businesses, downtown locations, schools and parks. This concept of a network of trails intermingling to provide offshoots to adjacent communities is pretty impressive.

Along with football and soccer fields, parks, playgrounds, and picnic areas are dotted all over town. The Murphy Summer Concert Series brings live music for the enjoyment of everyone in the area. From blues to country, the shows can be experienced between June and August. The lineup changes each year, but its family and pet friendly policy draws people like a magnet. Another big attraction is the free Springdale Halloween Fest downtown. It is always the Saturday prior to Halloween and features an array of police vehicles, a pumpkin carving contest, carnival games, and a costume parade. Local businesses distribute candy to the children.

A free summer movie series is held annually at the splash pad in the C. L. and Willie George Park and the Springdale Aquatic Center. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own seats. Kids can bring their floaters and enjoy the movies while they are afloat in the water. That sounds pretty wonderful.

Downtown Springdale is a major nucleus for the passenger rail system. From it, passengers can embark upon myriad activities to enhance their leisure and relaxation. The diversity of the community provides a great sampling of various authentic foods, to which other smaller towns may not be privy. Educational, social and cultural features offer many pleasurable experiences for the entire family, including shopping, dining, or simply meeting for a quick drink with a friend. A downtown revitalization program is in progress and has already produced some interesting developments, such as the Walter Turnbow Park in the middle of downtown.

A notable advancement that is available to its citizens is the Emergency Warning Alert system in which residents can be notified about issues which directly affect them, such as approaching severe weather, road closures, neighborhood evacuations, and public hearings.

Springdale is bordered northward by Lowell, Bethel Heights, and Cave Springs, westward by Tontitown and Elm Springs, and southward by Fayetteville and Johnson.

Surprisingly, the area in and around Springdale, including Fayetteville, Winslow, Alma, Siloam Springs, Van Buren, Mulberry, Cecil, Cave Springs and Gentry have a total of 93 campgrounds. Scenic settings showcase the diverse natural splendor and its many geological interests. Mountains, lakes, primitive sites, Yurts, and sites with or without RV hookups are all available for the wonder and enjoyment of this great natural state. Hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, fishing and boating are just a few of the outdoor activities that Arkansas offers.

Arkansas has as many services as most other states. The presence of Dish Network has enhanced the state’s ability to be a part of their nationwide programming. The company is ranked number one in customer service and offers both English and Spanish programming to accommodate a larger segment of the country’s population. With its ability to satisfy the needs of its customers through On Demand, sports packages, and premium channels, which are offered free for three months to new customers, Dish Network has a large share of the cable market. One feature that is popular is the capability of pausing, rewinding and recording live TV in any room with up to 2,000 hours of recording space. The ability to pair this service with any Amazon Alexa-enabled device is remarkable.

A provision which Arkansas offers its citizens is the TAG Mobile Free Lifeline Phone Service. Qualified low income individuals and families can avail themselves of this service through discounts offered by an assisted wireless service subsidized by the government. Families, whose households are at or below 135% of the federal designated poverty level, may be eligible to receive these benefits. Eligible customers receive 1000 free voice minutes, GB data, and unlimited free texts per month. They also receive nationwide coverage, call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, and all of this with no cost to them and no contracts.

While Arkansas is a mecca for outdoor activities, it is also a hotbed for weather disasters, especially tornadoes. However, this does not deter Arkansans who love the genuine beauty of their state or those who relocate there because of all of the positive factors, such as the abundance of outdoor activities, lower cost of living, and slower pace. The natural state has its arms wide open and is singing the siren’s song, “Welcome.”