12 Attractions in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Fayetteville is a thriving college town in northwest Arkansas with a population of nearly 90,000 residents. Known as the “Athens of the Ozarks,” Fayetteville has emerged as one of the most vibrant and culture-rich destinations in the state. The city’s atmosphere is infused by the presence of the University of Arkansas, which helps support a flourishing arts scene, fantastic restaurants, and an abundance of attractions and things to do.

Fayetteville seamlessly blends elements of southern charm, natural scenery, and metropolitan amenities. The lush Ozark Mountains provide a scenic backdrop throughout the city and surrounding areas. Meanwhile, Dickson Street and the Downtown Square maintain a funky and eclectic ambiance catering to college students and young professionals.

From admiring masterpieces at the world-class Crystal Bridges Museum to immersing yourself in local history at the Clinton House Museum, Fayetteville delivers distinctive attractions to pique a variety of interests. Families will appreciate the kid-friendly exhibits at the Amazeum or an afternoon splashing around Wilson Park Pool. Outdoor enthusiasts have their pick of great hiking and cycling routes winding through the Ozark hills directly from town. And visitors of all ages consistently enjoy learning about the storied past through sites like Headquarters House.

Here are 12 of the top attractions and things that should be on your Fayetteville bucket list during any visit.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art


As the flagship project of Walmart heir Alice Walton, the Crystal Bridges Museum brings world-class art to the heartland of northwest Arkansas. Since opening in 2011, Crystal Bridges has amassed a remarkable permanent collection spanning five centuries of American masterworks. Major names like Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, and Mark Rothko headline the galleries with instantly recognizable pop culture icons and influential modern art pieces.

Spanning over 200,000 square feet, the museum’s complex weaves through wooded hills and across glass-enclosed bridges over scenic ponds. Architecture fans admire designs by acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie. The spacious grounds also include walking trails, a cafe in the woods, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman Wilson House relocated from New Jersey.

Through partnerships with institutions like the Louvre and frequent rotation of traveling exhibitions, Crystal Bridges provides access to an astonishing array of art. And best of all? There is no admission fee for viewing the permanent collection thanks to generous sponsorships.

Headquarters House & Fayetteville Visitor Center


As the oldest building still standing in Fayetteville, Headquarters House offers a window into the city’s 19th century heritage and Civil War history. The two-story Georgian home was constructed in 1836 by Judge David Walker. In 1863, Union General James Blunt commandeered Headquarters House and planted cannons on the lawn during the Civil War. Soldiers camped on the property while the house served as a strategic headquarters.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Headquarters House now operates a museum filled with Civil War artifacts and antiques owned by the Walker family. Visitors can explore the historic offices, bedrooms, and dining room set up to reflect various eras. Costumed tour guides really bring the past to life. And you’ll gain great views of downtown Fayetteville and the original cannons from the widow’s walk viewing patio upstairs.

Headquarters House also houses the Fayetteville Visitor Center, making it a convenient launching point to pick up maps and gather more information for exploring everything Fayetteville has to offer.

Clinton House Museum


The Clinton House Museum stands as a National Historic Landmark for its distinction as Bill Clinton’s first political headquarters. Built in 1917, the American Craftsman-style home gained national prominence during Clinton’s early days navigating Arkansas politics. The Democratic candidate announced his run for Arkansas governor from the front steps in 1978. And visitors can still snap iconic photos recreating that moment today.

Inside, the Clinton House Museum chronicles Bill Clinton’s journey from small-town Arkansas to eventually becoming the 42nd President of the United States. See photographs, news clippings, campaign materials, and video footage highlighting pivotal career moments. You’ll also view furniture and memorabilia owned by the Clinton family during their time residing in Fayetteville.

The Clinton House Museum makes a poignant stop for reflecting on American political history spurred right from the porch steps.

Wilson Park & Pool


Encompassing over 100 acres in central Fayetteville, Wilson Park serves as the city’s premier outdoor gathering space and recreational hub. The sprawling park includes ample room for picnicking, trails for walking/jogging/biking, sports fields, a rose garden, and a popular swimming pool – easily making it a quintessential Fayetteville experience.

Kids love making a splash in Wilson Aquatic Center’s zero-depth entry pool, curvy slides, diving boards, and kiddie spray grounds. Adults relax along the pool deck or beneath shady umbrellas. The affordable entry fees invite cooling off all summer long.

Elsewhere in Wilson Park, families fly kites in grassy meadows or play a game of pickup soccer. The Fayetteville Farmer’s Market sets up every Saturday morning. And various community events like Wilson Park Festival pack in live music and food trucks throughout the year.

As Fayetteville’s “Central Park,” Wilson Park buzzes with energy and fun happenings.

The Amazeum


The Scott Family Amazeum offers 55,000 square feet of hands-on, STEAM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) exhibits for sparking kid’s creativity in northwest Arkansas. As one of the region’s top attractions geared specifically for young minds, the Amazeum lives up to its name eliciting both amazement and amusement through engaging displays and programming.

Kids can let loose in inventive play zones like the Tinkering Studio or Herschend Family Build-It Workshop to construct masterpieces out of real tools and materials. Splash fountains, magnetic walls, animated shadows and bigger-than-life bubbles in the Experience Art Studio stimulate wonder and joy. Exhibits also cultivate learning around health, wellness, finance, culture and the environment through an imaginative lens.

While children roam through eight themed galleries, parents appreciate the Amazeum’s vibrant and modern architecture as much as the kiddos. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround treehouse-inspired structures and sleek event spaces. Interactive experiences, daily camps and workshops consistently make the Amazeum a crown jewel keeping Fayetteville weird and wonderful.

Fayetteville Public Library


More than just a trove for books and resources, the Fayetteville Public Library serves as a cultural pillar and architecturally stunning landmark for the community. Designed by renowned firm Safdie Architects, the library’s award-winning facade evokes the sloping Ozark Mountains through a series of glass and concrete triangles. Inside, sunbeams wash the open and airy reading rooms in a warm glow.

Visitors admire vaulted wooden ceilings, an eye-catching glass Skybridge, and charming children’s library during self-guided tours. Rotating art pieces from the University of Arkansas fine arts program further enhance the atmosphere. Of course, the ultimate appeal remains the library’s vast literary collection with over 300,000 materials and counting.

When not getting lost in aisles of bookshelves, patrons hang out in the Maker Space, Creative Studios, or Community Room hosting regular events from foreign film screenings to adult coloring sessions. The Fayetteville Public Library clearly elevates beyond simply a repository for reading.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks


Nestled right in the heart of Fayetteville, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks transports visitors through diverse landscapes and plant life zones spanning hardiness levels across the country. Explore butterfly and wildflower gardens…wander through rose gardens, herb gardens and rock gardens alongside tranquil streams. Interactive elements like a potting shed and children’s adventure garden turn any walk through the Botanical Gardens into a multi-sensory experience centered around nature appreciation.

Seasonal displays give locals and tourists reason to return frequently with bulbs bursting into bloom each spring and holiday lights twinkling under a blanket of winter snow. Interpretive signs identify interesting aspects of featured botanicals while winding trails lead to secret garden “rooms” awaiting discovery. Concerts on the lawn, guest lecturers and family workshops further establish the Botanical Garden’s role for community enrichment.

Thanks to ongoing cultivation since 1987, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks remains one of Fayetteville’s most scenic green spaces perfect for whiling away a sunny afternoon.

Fayetteville Historic Square & Downtown District


As the cultural nexus of Fayetteville since its founding, the Downtown Historic Square provides a vibrant destination to eat, shop, stroll and soak up local flavor any day of the week. The pedestrian-friendly streets host a blend of boutiques, galleries, brewpubs and restaurants framing manicured gardens and a musical performance gazebo turned central meeting point.

Visitors browse the Saturday Fayetteville Farmer’s Market sprawling across the lush lawns or make a beeline for Dickson Street’s legendary stretch of bars and clubs synonymous with the University of Arkansas social scene since the 1960s. Historic buildings now housing hip hotels and NWA foodie hotspots further amplify the welcoming Old South character.

From casual cafes to upscale eateries…from homegrown retailers to funky artisans…Fayetteville’s Downtown Square delivers quintessential Americana anchored in Arkansas heart.

Mount Sequoyah


Perched high above downtown Fayetteville, Mount Sequoyah Retreat & Conference Center has attracted visitors seeking peace, inspiration and natural beauty since 1922. Originally constructed as Skyland Hotel for family vacations, Mount Sequoyah now oversees retreats, weddings, reunions and workshops centered around wellness on its 150 wooded acres.

Guests wander along the Labyrinth Garden path, relax at Sunrise Point overlook, or admire epic Ozarks vistas from the historic Inn balcony during personal spiritual journeys or group programming. Overnight visitors particularly bask in the seclusion removed from city sights and sounds while remaining only a few minutes’ drive away.

In addition to typical lodging amenities, Mount Sequoyah impresses guests with its commitment to sustainable practices from geothermal heating/cooling systems to providing locally-sourced cuisine from on-site gardens. Simply sipping coffee on the veranda peering between the pines feels soothing to the soul.

University of Arkansas Campus & Attractions


The University of Arkansas leaves a defining mark on Fayetteville as a flourishing college town revolving around more than 27,000 students and faculty members. Nicknamed “U of A,” the campus spreads over nearly 150 buildings infused with school pride and Tudor-style architecture. Visitors gain great glimpses into quintessential university life passing through the Chi Omega Greek Theatre or getting lost inside the five-story University of Arkansas Student Union.

The festive atmosphere becomes palpable on football game days when crowds of red & white fans roar with cheers. Spectators who can’t snag coveted stadium seats still find prime spots at sports bars lining nearby Dickson Street.

Beyond athletics, U of A museums such as the Fine Arts Center Gallery spotlight diverse exhibits throughout the year – many flaunting local talent. And the University of Arkansas Arboretum trails satisfy cravings for immersion in nature without even leaving campus limits. Wandering through and around the U of A grounds earnestly provides a well-rounded Fayetteville experience.

Historic Mill District


Once powering Fayetteville’s early 20th century economy, remnants of the city’s former mill and manufacturing industries now fuel artistic ambitions and cultural renewal. The revitalized Mill District embraces industrial-chic architecture with projects like the Fayetteville Roots headquarters inside 1913 Woolen Mills brick walls and the Steel Mill student lofts overlooking Old Spring Factory. AUTO Workshop taps into the area’s mechanical roots as a handcrafted bike shop and coffee bar.

Venturing down Center Street, old warehouses morph into the Fayetteville Underground taproom pouring Arkansas craft beers and the Eclectic Kitchen’s farm-to-table bistro dishing out delicious comfort food. The vintage buildings harbor plenty of character without losing modern amenities appreciated by residents and visitors. In fact, the Mill District continues welcoming more residential lofts, boutique stores and innovative restaurants invigorating underutilized spaces.

While clinging to historic southern charm, Fayetteville’s Mill District also keeps an eye on the future through entrepreneurial and artistic pursuits – making it one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods for exploring.

Lake Fayetteville Park


Spanning over 800 acres around a pristine reservoir, Lake Fayetteville Park presents limitless opportunities to soak up sunshine and scenery through recreational pursuits. Pedal along 9.2 miles of paved trail skirting the lake. Drop a fishing line from one of several piers in search the day’s catch. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on scenic overlooks under the shade of oak and hickory trees.

The Hugh and Molly Kincaid Interpretive Center immerses visitors into the rich geological and biological aspects defining the park through exhibits and regular programs. Kids climb the adventure playground while parents rent kayaks and paddleboards from the marina. Local runners and cyclists frequent the trail loop for training.

With a diverse array of amenities from volleyball nets to a frisbee golf course, Lake Fayetteville Park entices outdoor enthusiasts of all ages while remaining an easy escape from downtown.

Conclusion


While known as a quintessential college town, Fayetteville also emerges as an undeniably hip cultural hub in northwest Arkansas filled with lively arts and technology startups, renowned museums, chart-topping musical experiences, local shops and eateries and community spirit. The beautiful Ozark Mountains provide adventure just beyond downtown even as bikeable neighborhoods create accessibility between key attractions.

Visitors consistently fall in love with Fayetteville’s funky vibe, friendly people and balance of metropolitan conveniences coupled with small-town charm. Iconic experiences like admiring masterpieces at Crystal Bridges Museum or strolling Dickson Street on game day eve ultimately leave lasting impressions urging many to return again and again.

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