12 Things To Do in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, Fayetteville is a vibrant college town with a lively arts scene, great restaurants, and plenty of outdoor activities. As the home of the University of Arkansas, the city has a youthful energy and a progressive vibe. Fayetteville has been ranked as one of America’s best places to live thanks to its affordable cost of living, strong job market, and high quality of life.

Beyond the campus and downtown areas, Fayetteville provides easy access to the natural beauty of the Ozarks. There are dozens of great hiking trails, lakes, and parks just minutes from the city center. And thanks to its location on Interstate 49, Fayetteville also serves as an ideal home base for exploring all that northwest Arkansas has to offer.

From admiring local art to camping and canoeing, here are 12 of the best things to do in Fayetteville, Arkansas:

Explore the Fayetteville Town Center Square

As the heart of downtown, the Fayetteville Town Center Square is the perfect place to begin your exploration of the city. The plaza features an intriguing sculpture called The Center of the Universe. Supposedly, when you stand in the sculpture’s center point and make a wish, it’s guaranteed to come true.

Surrounding the square you’ll find restaurants with patio seating for prime people watching, boutiques selling handmade goods, a farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, and the beautiful old Washington County Courthouse. The courthouse now serves as an event venue and museum.

Be sure to check out the visitor’s center on the square to learn about upcoming festivals and live music performances happening right on the plaza throughout the warmer months.

Tour the University of Arkansas Campus

The University of Arkansas campus covers over 350 acres right in the center of Fayetteville. Guided tours provide an in-depth look at the university’s history, architecture, and gardens. Or, pick up a self-guided tour map and wander at your own pace.

Top attractions on campus include Old Main, the very first university building, as well as Senior Walk featuring the names of all graduates etched into concrete pathways. For another dose of school spirit, you can also visit the Razorback Stadium.

In addition to historic buildings, the campus boasts over 300 acres of botanical diversity in its gardens and arboretum. Blooms peak in spring, but the gardens invite exploration year-round.

See Exhibits at the Walton Arts Center

This premier performing arts venue hosts concerts, theater performances, and comedy shows with world class stars taking the stage. Even if you don’t catch a show, step inside to admire the Walton Art Center’s grand architecture and rotating visual arts displays.

The center’s Joy Pratt Markham Gallery hosts exhibitions featuring local artists as well as traveling displays. Mediums range from paintings and photography to ceramics, giving you a taste of the Fayetteville art scene. Interpretive discussions and artist receptions also allow you to engage more deeply with on display works.

Hike Around Beaver Lake

Just a 20-minute drive west of Fayetteville sits crystal clear Beaver Lake. Encircling the lake is over 200 miles of wooded hiking trails perfect for every ability level. Rocky Branch Trail offers a peaceful nature walk under the shade of hickory and oak trees. For panoramic views from limestone bluffs, take the rugged Eagle Rock Trail.

Pack a lunch, snacks, and water to make an adventure of your hike. Stop and swim at secluded coves along the shoreline during warmer months. Year-round, keep your eyes peeled for deer, turkey, raccoons, bobcats, and even black bears native to northwest Arkansas woodlands.

Browse the Shops on Dickson Street

As soon as students return to campus each fall, Dickson Street becomes the place to see and be seen in Fayetteville. Just off the U of A grounds, this stretch of blocks packs in boutiques, restaurants, bars, and cafes buzzing with college kids and locals alike.

By day, duck into art galleries and used bookstores tucked between funky clothing shops and gear outfitters. Stop for a scoop of artisanal ice cream or a cup of pour over coffee to refuel between stores. Once the sun goes down, flashing neon lights advertise Dickson Street’s legendary nightlife.

Sample Local Beer on a Brewery Tour

Thanks to pure mountain water and high quality grains grown nearby, Fayetteville has emerged as a major craft beer destination. You could easily spend a long weekend touring the dozens of breweries and taprooms now found both downtown and throughout the northwest Arkansas region.

Must visit sudsy spots in Fayetteville include Fossil Cove’s taproom pouring unique brews like their pink guava gose sour. At Ozark Beer Company, slide up to the bar for Arkansas amber ales and lagers with home brewer charm. And don’t miss Saddlebock Brewery’s beautiful views of the Boston Mountains as you sip award-winning jet black stouts or marionberry wheat beers on their outdoor patio.

See the Collection at the Amazeum Children’s Museum

The Scott Family Amazeum offers 50,000 square feet of interactive exhibits designed to spark kids’ creativity and curiosity. Hands-on highlights at this acclaimed museum include an inventor’s workshop, nutrition-themed grocery store, animal medical lab, and front loader construction zone.

Kids can also perform experiments in a physics lab to learn about concepts like gravity, electricity, and spatial reasoning in an engaging way. Exhibits continue outside in the Alice in Wonderland-inspired sculpture garden and Let’s Get Growing Village.

With dozens of themed areas to explore, plan to spend at least half a day discovering something new around every corner at the Scott Family Amazeum. It’s often rated one of the country’s best museums for families.

Take in a Show at the Arkansas Music Pavilion

During warmer months, music lovers flock to this open air amphitheater perched on a hillside just minutes from downtown. The Arkansas Music Pavilion, known locally as the AMP, accommodates over 10,000 fans for concerts under the stars.

National touring acts like Tim McGraw and The Avett Brothers take the stage alongside indie bands and EDM DJs. Patrons bring blankets for the sloped lawn or set up camp in reserved seats for an intimate live music experience surrounded by the natural tranquility of the Ozarks.

Beyond scheduled concerts, the AMP also hosts outdoor movies, beer and wine tastings, 5K charity runs, and events like the Fayetteville Roots Festival.

Test Your Courage at Cosmic Caverns

After entering the mouth of the cavern, choose either easy walking tour routes or more narrow crawling options – if you dare. As you navigate nearly a mile inside this subterranean world, guides will point out fascinating rock formations with names like Dracula’s Finger and the Witch’s Arm.

Kids love scoping out the rare cave bacon growing on the walls beside Pure Imagination, an albino cave salamander who has lived here for over 50 years. Remember to look up at the Dracula formation to spot sleeping bats tucked into crevices.

The deeper you adventure into the cavern, the more you’ll understand how appropriate the name “Cosmic Caverns” really feels thanks to the Milky Way-like wonderland hidden under the quiet hills of Arkansas.

Shop for Antiques and Art in Downtown

Fayetteville scattered among Dickson Street’s rowdy bars and campus gear stores, you’ll also discover quite a few gems for vintage shopping in downtown Fayetteville.

Stepping into well-curated stores like Arrow in the Ozarks, The Junk Ranch, and Revive Vintage will make you feel worlds away thanks to their treasures spanning multiple eras. Beyond the expected antique prints, jewelry, and china sets, keep an eye out for vintage band tee shirts, cowboy boots, vinyl records, and even the occasional taxidermy squirrel or bobcat mount.

Along the way, peek in local artists’ studios and galleries like Organic Arts, Nomadz Gallery, and the collective Truck Yard to find paintings, metal works, textile art, and pottery crafted by talented regional creators.

Paddle and Fish along the Upper Buffalo River

A National Scenic River and popular recreation area sits practically within Fayetteville city limits. The headwaters section of the Upper Buffalo River offers family-friendly floating and fishing with crystal clear pools for swimming.

Several liveries and outfitters based around Fayetteville provide kayak, canoe, raft, SUP, and tube rentals complete with shuttle transportation to put-in spots along the river. Pack a picnic plus your fishing gear to make it an all-day adventure. With luck, you’ll hook smallmouth bass, catfish, bream, or trout from the Buffalo’s unspoiled waters.

Along this gentle stretch of river, views include dramatic limestone and sandstone bluffs draped in lush forests. Keep your eyes peeled for hawks, herons, turtles, and other wildlife found streamside. The fun continues when you reach your take-out point as outfitters often host live music performances beside the river.

Camp and Climb at Devil’s Den State Park

Devil’s Den State Park covers over 2,500 acres of Ozark Mountain beauty just a 15-minute drive south of Fayetteville. The park’s extensive trail system allows day hikers to admire quartz sandstone crevices, waterfalls, and rock formations left behind by the ocean nearly 500 million years ago. But don’t stop at hiking here!

Devil’s Den also features Arkansas’s first modern campground specifically designed to support tent camping. Pick a primitive or electric site, then enjoy amenities ranging from hot showers to a stellar stargazing field at night.

Thrill seekers will love the park’s rock climbing routes too. Beginner to moderate options like Yellow Rose Dome and Batman Rock deliver exciting vertical challenges equipped with anchors and bolts. No matter your age or ability level, a park like this lets you experience everything the Ozarks’ natural playground has to offer just minutes from downtown Fayetteville.

Conclusion

Already renowned for its thriving music scene and outdoor attractions nearby, Fayetteville continues to emerge as one of Arkansas’s most appealing destinations for urban and rural adventures alike.

Foodies, culture mavens, and nature lovers will all find plenty to keep them busy in this progressive college town set amid stunning Ozark scenery. Whether you’re up for an artful afternoon followed by handcrafted cocktails or a rugged hike rounded out by local craft beers, Fayetteville delivers memorable experiences matching any interest or pace.

Leave a Comment