From college life to wildlife, this area has it all.

Ozark Natural Beauty in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Credit: Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

College towns are always full of culture and character, and Fayetteville, home to the University of Arkansas, is no exception. The city’s streets are lined with funky restaurants and dive bars, as well as eateries and boutiques that fill up on football and parents weekends. There is also plenty of life beyond the collegiate crowds: Beautiful wooded landscapes and economic draws—Wal-Mart headquarters are just 30 minutes away in Bentonville—also attract long term residents. After a weekend that starts off at the Saturday farmers’ market and ends with Ozark sunsets, it’s easy to see why.

Downtown Farmers’ Market

Streets are blocked off on Saturdays for the 150-stall Farmers’ Market, selling everything from artisanal cheeses and jams to watercolors and beeswax candles.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

There are 12 themed gardens and a butterfly house on these landscaped grounds where four seasons of native flora and fauna thrive. Check the calendar for events such as garden cocktail parties, Little Sprouts kid programs, and outdoor evening concerts.

Hugo’s Restaurant

This downstairs dive with blue checkered tables is a favorite among college students for its burgers—spice lovers should try the jalapeno burger made topped pepper jack cheese—and inventive sandwiches such as the veggie Ruben, made with mushrooms, sprouts, sauerkraut and onion.

Chancellor Hotel

Pop colors like yellow, red, and teal dress up rooms and suites with city views at this downtown (and pet-friendly) hotel. There’s also a gym and indoor/outdoor swimming pool, as well as free WiFi.