bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Three days in Fayetteville, AR–Big Bend Loop

We visited Fayetteville in January 2018 as part of our Big Bend Loop trip.

I was surprised at how much I liked Fayetteville, not having really known much about it going in. We had mostly considered it a base from which to do some hiking in the Ozarks, but in addition to that, from the world-class art to the vibrant college scene, Fayetteville has a lot to offer.


bugsy making a weird face

We chose to stay at Trailwood Mobile Home Park for its close-to-town location, and it was clean and quiet, with a friendly and helpful owner. Trailwood is a residential trailer park that’s slowly converting over to a campground site by site as residents move out, and right now there are only a few temporary camping spots. It’s a good place and we’d stay there again, but it’s expensive–$55 per night, which is close to the most we’ve ever paid for a campsite (haha 2024 me is laughing at that)–and provides none of the standard campground amenities. Location, location, location!


fayetteville square
street art in fayetteville

When we get to a new town, we typically look for a self-guided historical or architectural walk to help us get oriented (and get Bugsy some fresh air after riding in the car). This tour of Fayetteville has some far-flung points, so we drove part and walked the more central portion. We ran out of time at the end and couldn’t explore the University of Arkansas (we did the tour backward) but from what we saw, the school is gorgeous.

bentonville square
walton's 5&10, walmart museum

We spent another morning a half-hour north of Fayetteville in Bentonville, where Walmart is headquartered, and where it began in 1951 as Walton’s 5&10. The old 5&10 on Bentonville’s downtown square is now home to the Walmart museum (and a cute soda fountain); the museum has neat displays and was actually really interesting even to us people who are not super into Walmart.

crystal bridges art museum
crystal bridges art museum
button sculpture at crystal bridges art museum
maman at crystal bridges art museum
frank lloyd wright at crystal bridges bentonville

Bentonville’s real draw is the breathtaking Crystal Bridges art museum, built by a Walton daughter who is the current richest woman in America. Admission is free to see the collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and as an added bonus, there’s a Frank Lloyd Wright house on the property available to tour. And there’s a Maman (giant spider in the photo; I fell in love with its clone at the Guggenheim and didn’t know there were several others!) guarding the museum’s entrance! The only one in the US! In Bentonville, AR!


bugsy and a frozen waterfall in devil's den state park
bugsy and a frozen waterfall in devil's den state park

Devil’s Den State Park is a short 30-minute drive south of Fayetteville. We had the pretty trails all to ourselves (maybe because it was FREEZING out) and made a nice five mile loop out of the Devil’s Den and Yellow Rock trails, on the park ranger’s recommendation.

bugsy hiking hobbs state park
armadillo hiking pigeon's roost

About 45 minutes from Fayetteville lies Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, with the largest land area of Arkansas’ state parks. We hiked a leafy, relatively flat 8.5 miles on Pigeon Roost Trail and had a wonderful time. Our emotions during the hike ranged from peaceful, as we enjoyed the woods, to thrilled, when we spotted armadillos rooting around, to shocked, when we learned armadillos can carry leprosy! As far as we know, we don’t currently have leprosy, and it was pretty exciting to see such bizarre animals going about their business.



dog friendly bentonville brewing

Superstar J had so many thoughts on this topic that I moved them to their own Fayetteville breweries page in the Breweries section, like we used to do with brewery notes before we got lazy. Click here to get inspired to go drink beer in Northern Arkansas.


Puritan Coffee & Beer (slogan: “Espresso + 21 taps of craft beer. Why doesn’t this happen more often?” I AGREE) has a Wednesday night happy hour on local beer, and luckily for us “local” includes Springfield, MO, because we savored several (across two visits!) Li’l Helpers from Springfield’s Mother’s Brewing. Puritan is a laid-back, cool spot for beer or coffee or both. When we left, the bartender gave me a coffee to go, which I saved for the next morning, and it was fantastic.


live every day like it's taco tuesday

Imagine a magical place where you can eat delicious tacos, and for each meal purchased, a meal is donated to a hungry child. This place exists! Tacos 4 Life combines a taco aficionado’s love for tacos with desire for helping others, which I assume goes hand in hand with taco love. The Fayetteville location we visited was spacious and crowded, and the menu and process reminded us of our beloved White Duck but with more taco variety, and Tacos 4 Life does not serve alcohol.

theo's fayetteville happy hour

We planned on dinner at swanky Theo’s, with a pre-dinner cocktail at the bar; we so appreciated the dark and buzzing bar area and fancy and cheap happy hour menu (those are tempura avocado tacos in the photo!) so we stayed put and made a dinner of bar menu items. Drinks and food were top-notch, and everything we tried seemed like a steal at the happy hour prices.

Fayetteville has a wonderful grocery co-op, Ozark Natural Foods, the perfect place to restock your trailer before leaving town, and oh look, it’s in the same shopping center as Tacos 4 Life. Maybe you should stop there too!


2 responses to “Three days in Fayetteville, AR–Big Bend Loop”

  1. Hogan Avatar

    lauren, thank you for this post. Its very inspiring.

  2. […] 20 to May 22, 2021. This was our second visit; read about our first trip to Fayetteville (WV, not AR, that was a different trip) […]

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