Awesome Arkansas Adventures for a six year old
February 12, 2013 5:39 AM   Subscribe

What are a dozen (or more) fun adventures for a six year old in and around Fayetteville?

Good friends of mine are moving to Arkansas at the end of next month. While the parents are excited, their eldest boy isn't, and I'd like to create an adventure book for a six year old filled with a dozen (or more) things to go do or see around their new home and then report back on. The goal is to help make the transition a bit more fun and help the family with a suggested itinerary for exploring their new home town.

I've never been to Arkansas, and assume they haven't either. Suggestions for kid/family attractions for me to include, as well as anything offbeat that the parents might enjoy too. Also, if you have any suggestions on puzzles or clues (vs. straight directions) that a six year could figure out on their own (or with parental help) are especially awesome (e.g. find Fayetteville's tallest building. Take the elevator to the observation deck, look north, take a picture and what do you see? I'm making this up obviously...I don't know what the tallest building is with an observation deck or if there's a cool view from there.) My idea is to make a book for the boy that he can carry around, write his answers in it as he solves the puzzles, paste tickets from places visited, draw in, etc. and to make the first spring/summer in a new place more fun.

Oh, yeah, assume they have a car and will travel up to an hour to see stuff.

posted by dismitree to Travel & Transportation around Fayetteville, AR (5 answers total)
Best answer: One thing you can do in Arkansas is mine for crystals and jewels. Here's a link to the Arkansas tourist site, you'll find lots of stuff there.

Rogers, AK isn't too far away and it's home of the first Wal-Mart Store! The address is 719 Walnut Ave. Rogers, Arkansas.

My aunt lives in Rogers and I remember visiting it in 1977. It was just a five and dime back then. It's not a Wal-Mart now, but it could be interesting to check it out.

Fayetteville is a college town, so lots of Razorback stuff. Here's the site for Fayetteville.

Tons of goofy museums and stuff. Miniature golf!

Your idea is awesome!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:07 AM on February 12, 2013

Best answer: For U of A stuff, perhaps something like, "Find the oldest building on campus and go to the fourth floor. What do you see there? Then, go out the east door to find the first graduating class on Senior Walk. Do a pencil rubbing of one of the names." Also...something about the Center for Excellence in Poultry Science? (Just because I find it amusing.)

What kinds of things is the kid interested in? Outdoors? Trivia? Sports? History? A bit of everything? That could help focus the hunt.
posted by pitrified at 6:42 AM on February 12, 2013

Best answer: Fayetteville resident here, father of four who is constantly trying to figure out new things for his kids to do. Moved there from New Orleans a little over three years ago.

The good news is, they are moving up in spring, meaning they will be able to easily get outdoors and have more options for things to do. The Farmer's Market on the square will soon be getting going again. It is a terrific place to hang out on Saturday mornings.

The Fayetteville Public Library (not too far off the downtown square) is an absolute gem. Their is a local coffee house in the lobby and the place is incredible for both kids and adults.

pitrified has a great recommendation along the lines of what you are looking for. The building referenced is Old Main, the iconic oldest structure of the University of Arkansas. The university campus is a fun place to just walk and hang out; its a physically lovely place although undergoing extensive construction at the moment. Stop by the student union for snacks, coffee, etc.

Another place that warrants repeat visits is Crystal Bridges museum in in Bentonville. Its about a twenty to thirty minute drive to the north. Again, I am stunned that something like this exists in northwest Arkansas. The grounds are criss-crossed with trails that run through hilly forests, and the museum itself is an architectural beauty with a great collection.

Your friends should regularly check the calendar at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. There are frequently lots of shows and programs for kids. Right now I have two kids there doing drawing and painting classes, and they are loving it.

After a nice spring rainstorm, I like to get my kids to make little boats and we go to float them in the creeks at Wilson Park and Gulley Park. These are both great hang-out spots.

The Botanical Gardens will soon be in full bloom. You could send them there with photography assignments. It is not a big place but a lovely place to meander and spend some time.

I'm sure there are tons of things I'm forgetting at the moment. You've kind of given me an inspiration to do something similar for my own kids, a sort of scavenger hunt / workbook for local interest items .... Anyhow, feel free to MeMail me and I'd be happy to share some more thoughts or even reach out to your friends.
posted by chicxulub at 6:59 AM on February 12, 2013

Best answer: Arkansas is AR, by the way. Alaska is AK. Arkansas: We put the AR! in Kansas. (I made that up. Sorry that it's lame.)

Crater of Diamonds state park is pretty far away. I always wanted to go as a kid but never have. People still find diamonds there and you can keep whatever you find, so that's kind of cool.

Crystal Bridges is in Rogers as well. (Believe it or not, we have one of the finest American art museums in the world here in redneckland.) He might be a little young for the art, but it is a beautiful building and outdoor space. The parents should certainly enjoy it. And it's free. Alice Walton (one of the Wal-Mart children) has a strong philanthropy streak.

Razorback sports, as mentioned, are a big deal around here. The football team was surprisingly lame this year because of a coaching loss (long story - look up Bobby Petrino if you have any interest). Razorback basketball seems to be doing a bit better this year.

Eureka Springs is nearby. It's a charming historic hillside town that used to be in the Guinness book of world records for having only 2 streets. Lots of quirky shops and restaurants.

There's the Gentry Zoo (which I like to call the Redneck Zoo). It's surprisingly awesome. I have a 3 year old and we took him this past summer (he was 2 and a half). A 6 year old would probably really love it. It's basically a drive-through zoo. I was shocked at how fun it was - thought it would be far more lame.

Fayetteville is actually a pretty decent food town. There are lots of interesting places to eat. In particular, they should check out Hugos, which is a sort of Fayetteville tradition - located in a basement near the square.

As for tall buildings with observation decks - not so much. We just passed a height limit 3-4 years ago (ridiculous, in my opinion, but I was not yet a planning commissioner back then so I didn't have any say in the matter).

They will likely discover Dickson Street on their own (this is sort of turning into something more for the parents than the child at this point - I'll try to get back on track). It's the entertainment district.

UA campus is pretty nice and as a historic arboretum which is worth checking out.

There's a little castle at Wilson park which I absolutely loved when I was 6. There is also some weird thing they do at the Wilson park pool where they show movies at the pool in the summer. I haven't been. They also have swimming lessons there in the summer. We took my son last year and probably will again this year.

For some reason right now we have all these giant brightly painted pig sculptures around town. They remind me of the cows that were around Chicago several years ago. He could see if he can find all of those and photograph them.

Walmart HQ is in Bentonville. Tyson Foods HQ is in Springdale. I live in Fayetteville and teach high school in Springdale. All three towns are within 30 minutes of each other.

There are all sorts of places to camp and hike. There are some cool caves at Devil's Den state park which is about 30 minutes south of Fayetteville. There are also some great trails there that have amazing views.

If they like Sushi, they could try the restaurant my wife designed (she designed the building, not the food concept).

It's very hot in the summer, so I take my son to Boingo Bounce sometimes then. I don't know if a 6 year old would still enjoy that kind of thing or not.

NWA Deal Piggy is like a local living social they can use for deals on some of the things I have mentioned above.

We have an absolutely incredible Trail System which they should try and see all of. That could be a checklist item.

In the summer, there are kids music concerts at Gulley Park. They can look on the Fayetteville page that Ruthless Bunny posted for details on that.

The Walton Arts Center often has good concerts and even fairly large broadway-type plays and performances throughout the year. I saw Stomp there and one of the Blue-Man groups has been there.

If they're here early enough they should try and go to Springfest if it still happens. I haven't been in a while. Also, in the fall we have the 3rd largest biker festival in the country - Bikes, Blues and Barbecue. For residents it's mostly an annoyance, what with all the really loud bikes, but it's fun once or twice.
posted by Yellowbeard at 7:22 AM on February 12, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you for four great answers! Super helpful, and I'm going to start on creating the adventure book this weekend.
posted by dismitree at 7:46 PM on February 19, 2013

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