LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Las Vegas is a place unlike any other. And to be honest, I don’t know that it’s my favorite. I’m sure Las Vegas outside of the strip is a wonderful place. I would actually love the opportunity to explore outside of the strip – go hiking, explore Seven Magic Mountains, go to the Grand Canyon, etc. But unfortunately, when I am in Las Vegas for work, I am surrounded by convention center walls, recycled air conditioning, the smell of casino smoke, and the “bing bing bing” of slot machines.

So far, I’ve stayed at two of the hotels on the Las Vegas strip. The Bellagio and The Cosmopolitan. I had a different experience at each hotel.

When you walk into The Bellagio, you are greeted with grandeur and a Chihuly art piece on the ceiling. The shops at the hotel are exquisite, expensive brands like Chanel, Dior, Fendi, etc. along with trendy smoothie shops and patisseries (with just as outrageous prices). Just to the right of the entry to the hotel is the casino, wafting the smell of smoke into the lobby. The rooms were a little less than overwhelming, with an outdated feel. The path to the hotel rooms themselves was long, through “construction” (the hotel was updating their seasonal decor), across patches of carpet – which is difficult to push luggage over, and through intoxicated or discombobulated crowds.

The Cosmopolitan presents a completely different atmosphere. When you walk in, the lobby feels young and vibrant. There are screens around the lobby that give off a nightclub vibe, without being overwhelming. The lines were quite long waiting to check-in, but once you get your keys, you can turn halfway around and walk straight into the elevators. (And if you choose to go to the left, which leads to the casino, there is a slight barrier so the smell doesn’t escape the area.) The rooms were impressive. My first room was simple but still glamorous. Even the closets and bathrooms had glam touches in just the right places. Fortunately for me, my first room needed something improved, so I received an (amazing) two-tier, complimentary upgrade. This new room had a stunning walk-in shower, a giant jetted tub, double vanities, a full living area with an L-shaped couch and large TV, a desk area, a beautiful (and very comfortable king bed) with an additional TV, and wait for it – a balcony with a couch and chair. That balcony was probably my favorite part of my room and served as my mini escape from the hustle and bustle of the work week. It was above the lights, above the smell of smoke and alcohol, and it was as quiet as quiet is in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Strip is bright, and constantly busy. It is incredible how a world exists in a little piece of the desert. The casinos are endless and the people continue partying for hours. But it’s incredible how this little strip in the middle of the Nevada desert brings in so much revenue, brings people together, and makes me more lost inside of a building than I thought was possible.

I did actually get to experience a few fun things in Las Vegas – at least enough to share a few recommendations. And I still have a few places left to be seen, knowing that I’ll be going back there again with this job soon enough.

RECOMMEND

A few places that I visited…

Welcome to Vegas Sign: Built and installed in 1959, this 25 ft. sign stands tall welcoming all to Las Vegas, Nevada. As of 2013, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and attracts visitors from all over every day. While I was there, I had the unique opportunity of witnessing a wedding.

The Neon Museum: A non-profit, 501(c)3 organization founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts, and cultural enrichment. The main collection showcases more than 200 unrestored signs, as well as some restored signs which are lit all the time.

Bucket List…

Seven Magic Mountains: A colorful, large-scale piece of public artwork called Seven Magic Mountains is a two-year exhibition, created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, located in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Rondinone says that the location is “physically and symbolically mid-way between the natural and the artificial: the natural is expressed by the mountain ranges, desert, and Jean Dry Lake backdrop, and the artificial is expressed by the highway and the constant flow of traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas”. (And it also would make a pretty cool Instagram picture.)

The Grand Canyon: I’ve always wanted to explore The Grand Canyon and I can’t wait to go back and do this one day. The beauty of the combinations of color within the erosion, decorates the 277 river miles long, 18 miles wide, and 1 mile deep canyon. Because there are so many opportunities to explore the canyon in different ways, until I do some exploring for myself I don’t feel that I would be the best at explaining what to do. But always go prepared and research your plans before you leave!

XO – MC

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

When I was younger, on a family vacation to Colorado, we stopped through a beautiful town called Colorado Springs. We didn’t stay at The Broadmoor Hotel, but we pulled in the circle drive to take a peek. Well, my dad took a peek. When we pulled up to the hotel, we didn’t realize that you had to be staying at the hotel to get close. There’s someone standing at the entrance to the drive, who asks for your name and which building you are in as you pass. I don’t remember how my dad convinced security to let us through, but they did.

My dad tried to get us all to get out of the car and explore The Broadmoor Hotel property, but I remember that I was too nervous, so I stayed in the car with my mom. I remember thinking to myself, that one day, I would stay there on my own. This was before I was old enough to work, before I chose hospitality as my degree, and before I had started my new job.

In July, I found out that I would keep this promise to myself. I would spend a little over a week at this beautiful, historic property.

Though I was in Colorado Springs for work, I was able to explore a little bit too. On top of learning a great deal from my co-workers, and making new friends, I had the incredible opportunity to take our guests zip lining in the mountains. Soaring Adventures features 2 courses or a combination of the two, with one of the zips being 1,800 ft. long at speeds of 45 miles per hour, at approximately 500 feet above the canyon.

On our final day of the program, a few from the team were able to take a step outside for an afternoon hike. Just on the outskirts of the Broadmoor property, there is a place called Seven Falls. It’s a steep hike up a few flights of stairs, and then a semi-mild hike up the mountain, but the reward at the top is worth it. We also had the opportunity to go to a beautiful park called Garden of the Gods. Though not a difficult hike, the registered National Natural Landmark features 300-foot towering sandstone rock formations with Pikes Peak and beautiful blue skies not far away.

I extended my time in Colorado by an extra day, spending time with a friend of mine from grade school / high school. She just moved to Denver with her husband for his job, and drove to Colorado Springs to meet me. She and I spent the day in Manitou Springs, stopped by the Air Force Base, and then drove back to Denver for the night as it was her husband’s birthday! It was nice to relax after a bit of a long week, and see a good friend.

Colorado Springs was great. I experienced new things, ate at new restaurants, made new friends, met a rescued wolf named Spirit, and explored when I could. I lived that dream I set for myself so long ago, and I stayed in the main building too! It is inspiring how moments like this come full circle, and I am forever grateful for this opportunity. Until the next dream…

RECOMMEND

A few places that I visited…

Manitou Springs: “Not just a mountain town”, Manitou Springs features 8 naturally-carbonated mineral springs, a walkable downtown, wonderful local shops, and a fun penny arcade. It also features the Manitou Incline which is at the base of Pikes Peak, a shortcut to part of the hike but at almost a vertical incline. (Disclaimer: I did not climb the Manitou Incline, but I would like to go back and do this!)

Garden of the Gods: The founder of Colorado Springs, General William Jackson Palmer, asked his friend, Charles Elliot Perkins, to establish a home in Garden of the Gods in 1879 with the hopes that he would build his railroad from Chicago to Colorado Springs. Though the Burlington Railroad never quite reached Colorado Springs, Perkins purchased 240 acres in Garden of the Gods that year for a summer home, later adding to the property as he preferred to leave his wonderland for the public. Following his death, his children turned over his 480 acres to the City of Colorado Springs, forever known as Garden of the Gods, where it “shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.” Overall, it’s a beautiful place to walk around and be overwhelmed by natural beauty.

Seven Falls: Located in a 1,250 ft. wall box canyon between the towering Pillars of Hercules lies a magnificent series of waterfalls. Surrounding the falls are 224 challenging steps to the hiking trails and banks of streams the feed the falls themselves and its 181 ft. drop.

The Golden Bee: My favorite place to eat all week was this amazing gastropub on The Broadmoor property. The pub was actually transferred to The Broadmoor panel by panel, directly from the UK. There is nightly piano entertainment, with song-books provided. My favorite meal that I had was the Shepherd’s Pie and I would order it seven times more. The coolest part of The Golden Bee experience is that they throw bees at you. Yes, you heard that right. The servers throw bees at you! They’re sticky bees, and the server’s goal is to get them on your clothing – and they’re very good at it too!

Air Force Base: I had the unique opportunity to see the Air Force Base Cadet Chapel before it began renovations. It was beautiful. Many religions celebrate their services in this Chapel, with the Catholic chapel being on the lower level. That was just as beautiful.

Bucket List…

Pikes Peak: With several ways to get to the top (drive, bike, hike, or jeep tour), Pikes Peak is absolutely something that I would like to do one day. With 14,115 ft. in total elevation, the hike itself is a 7,500 ft. elevation gain. Local guides suggest spending a few days in Colorado before making the hike so to acclimate before the additional elevation gain. Bring plenty of water, as there are no places to refill up the mountain. Costs and what to bring vary depending on what you want to do, but either way you’re in for beautiful views and an unforgettable experience.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the only zoo located on the side of the mountain. Their mission is to share the wonders of the natural world with kids of all ages and providing memories for a lifetime. They were named the 6th Best Zoo in North America by USAToday’s 10 Best Zoos (falling behind my home (St. Louis) zoo in 3rd. This zoo homes more than 30 species of endangered animals and feature a live giraffe cam! My guests enjoyed this zoo, and I can’t wait to go back to enjoy it myself.

XO – MC

SUNRIVER, OREGON

On my very first day of my brand-new job, I learned that I would be going to “Sunriver”. A quick google search told me that Sunriver was a resort community in Central Oregon, near Bend and the Cascade Range. I honestly had never thought of Oregon as a “destination”, and I really didn’t know much about what to expect from the terrain or weather in Oregon. I thankfully had a co-worker send me some pieces of advice about what to pack, and soon enough, I was on my way. I was too excited to once again be in the air that I couldn’t rest on the plane. Plus, I had a window seat, so I spent most of my flight staring out into the sky. My layover was in Salt Lake City, and the views from the sky were incredible. And they only got better as the trip continued.

I was upgraded on my flight from Salt Lake City to Redmond, Oregon. It wasn’t first class, but I felt very blessed to have that happen on my very first trip, which I knew wouldn’t happen all the time. When I landed in Redmond, I deplaned on the tarmac and headed inside to baggage claim. The airport was very small, with no physical gates, and I was most definitely overdressed in my business casual. After baggage claim, my coworker picked me up, and we began the drive towards Sunriver.

Wow, did I underestimate Sunriver, Oregon. On the drive, I began to see parts of the Cascade Range appearing in the distance. My coworker taught me about the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor, which are actually volcanic mountains located at the boundary of the Deschutes National Forest. Over the course of the 2 weeks that I was in Sunriver, I learned a lot about these significant peaks, and even explored a few of them.

When I first arrived to the hotel, I was upgraded (just for the night) into the Presidential Suite to accommodate some of their other guests, and I felt like a VIP. The view from the room was incredible, a huge balcony with rocking chairs, I had a double sided fireplace, a rainfall shower, and a beautiful jetted tub. To be completely honest, I was so exhausted from the day of travel, and even a little nervous for my first day “on the road”, that I didn’t enjoy the room as much as I could have. I fell asleep right away.

The next morning, I moved into a different room. It still had a fireplace, a porch out the back door, my own rocking chairs, and a clear view of Mt. Bachelor. Over the next two weeks, it would become my peaceful getaway. The overall programs went very well. I learned a lot about my new job, and had a great teacher. On the small moments of free time that we had while in Central Oregon, we were able to drive to neighboring areas to Sunriver, mostly in a town called Bend.

Bend, Oregon is not far from Sunriver, and according to locals, it has really flourished in recent years. It is home to Mt. Bachelor, and the Cascade range, but even more so is filled with lakes, the Deschutes River, skiing, and more. Bend hosts a significant number of tourists throughout the seasons, and with all there is to do and explore, I can see why. I constantly saw locals paddle boarding, kayaking, biking, hiking, and I even saw some in ski gear. Bend is also home to the newly trendy Hydroflask and Deschutes Brewery, the 8th largest craft brewery in the nation. On one of our free afternoons, we were able to experience Bite of Bend, which was going on in the downtown Bend area in the midst of a marathon. To be honest, Bend reminded me a lot of Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was very local-driven, very proud of its small-town feel while also being proud of its growth. Though Fayetteville doesn’t quite have the scenery that the Cascade Range gives Central Oregon, I feel that Northwest Arkansans would fall in love with Bend and vice versa.

I am very grateful that my first trip with work was to Central Oregon. It was unexpected and beautiful, and it’s a trip that I don’t know if I would have taken on my own. The Pacific Northwest is even more beautiful than I’ve heard, and I can’t wait to go back and explore more of Oregon’s beautiful state.

RECOMMEND

A few places that I visited…

Sparks Lake: 25 miles west of Bend, Sparks Lake is approximately 370-acres of lake wetland, surrounded by 360-acres of meadow, marsh, or stream wetlands. Breathtaking views of South Sister, Broken Top, and Bachelor butte surround the lake, and trails. The lake was formed about 10,000 years ago, when lavas from the Mt. Bachelor Volcanic Chain blocked the upper Deschutes River. There are small streams (also known as “beaver highways”) throughout the area that are freezing cold, and very slick, so watch where you step! You will need a day pass or forestry pass to park and explore for the day!

Devil’s Lake: 30 miles southwest of Bend, Devil’s Lake is a shallow 23-acre shallow lake with turquoise color and scenic views. The trailhead is located just off the lake, and travels into the Three Sisters Wilderness. You do need to have the $5 Day Pass or a pass off their approved list online, in addition to the free, self-issue permit required Memorial Day – October 31st. This hike was moderate, and after about a mile turned into 4-6 ft. of packed snow.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument: Including 54,000+ acres of lakes, lava flows, and geologic features, this monument was created to view the lava lands of Central Oregon. The highest point in the monument is Paulina Peak (pronounced pawl-eye-nah), at a summit of 7,985 ft. Unfortunately, there was too much snow on Paulina Peak during our visit, but we made the most of it by checking out the Big Obsidian Flow and Paulina Lake. At 1,300 years old, the Big Obsidian Flow is the youngest lava flow in Oregon.  A one-mile trail leads through this astounding lava flow of obsidian (black glass) and pumice to overlook Paulina Lake. While not a difficult hike, this path gives history on the Big Obsidian Flow and Newberry National Volcanic Monument as well. Covering an area of 1,531-acres, Paulina Lake is the larger of the 2 twin lakes in the Newberry Caldera. Both Paulina and East Lakes rely solely on rain, snowmelt, and hot springs for water. Paulina Creek drains Paulina Lake, creating a remarkable waterfall by way of a chiseled, narrow gorge through the caldera’s west wall. The hot springs at Paulina Lake are a little more difficult to find than then ones at East Lake, but just as cool. After bathing in the hot springs, it’s a tradition to then plunge into the freezing lake. You will need a day pass or forestry pass to park and explore for the day!

Sunriver Brewing Company: This is actually where I watched the Blues win the 2018-2019 season Stanley Cup. They have great beers and ciders on draft, good food, and a great atmosphere. It’s a seasonal menu, but if they have the Baked Mac ‘n Cheese or the Moroccan Bowl on the menu, those were hard to beat!

The Last Blockbuster: The very last Blockbuster exists in Bend, Oregon and is still functioning as a real Blockbuster today. When I stepped inside, I was filled with nostalgia for going to my own local store and picking out a movie with my parents. I picked up a sticker on my way out, and definitely took a picture inside.

Pilot Butte: A scenic viewpoint located just east of Bend, this butte allows for 360 views of the Cascade Range and more. You can drive, hike, or bike up to the top, just be careful – the roads are windy!

St. Francis School: This 1936 Catholic schoolhouse was transformed in 2004 to a hotel complete with classrooms-turned-lodging rooms, a pump, brewery, a movie theater, private meeting/event space, live music bookings, and a fantastic soaking pool. McMenamins is a hospitality company that is considered a neighborhood gathering spot throughout Oregon and Washington since 1983. Not only do they honor each property’s former life through photos and memorabilia, they create custom artwork, furniture, and light fixtures to honor the history as well.

Bucket List…

Mt. Bachelor: I would love to hike around Mt. Bachelor in the summer, or ski during the winter!

Crater Lake: Though not particularly in Bend or Sunriver, this is definitely a place I want to visit. 7,700 years ago, a violent eruption triggered the collapse of a tall peak, forming Crater Lake. Fed by rain and snow, it is the deepest lake in the United States, and one of the most pristine on earth.

XO – MC

KEEP FAYETTEVILLE FUNKY

Have you ever heard of Fayetteville, Arkansas? It’s a beautiful oasis in the middle of Northwest Arkansas’ Ozark mountains and deserves to be recognized for all of its beauty. It has become a tourist destination, it is home to the Arkansas Razorbacks, and it is consistently named as one of the “Best Places to Live” (No. 3 in 2016, No. 5 in 2017, No. 5 in 2018, and No. 4 in 2019). It is well known for annual events in motorcycling, music, art, and film.

Fayetteville has a place in my personal heart too. It’s a place where moved when I was an 18 year old freshman at the University of Arkansas. It’s a place where I studied, made lifelong friends, became 21, became a “dog-mom”, graduated college, and entered into the hospitality world as a “real adult”. I’ve been in Northwest Arkansas since 2011, and in those eight years, I’ve made those memories, but I’ve also made up my mind about my favorite things about some of my favorite local hot-spots.

BITE + DRINK

Theo’s: I believe this is the best upscale-casual Happy Hour in Fayetteville. In the lounge, there is centrally arranged comfortable furniture, with TV’s at the bar (perfect for watching the Razorbacks, or my favorite – the St. Louis Blues, play). There are a few booths and high-top tables on the perimeter if the group is a little smaller and more intimate – whereas the lounge furniture allows for more socialization and meeting new people. If the weather is nice, there is also prime seating on their patio facing Dickson Street.

MC’s Pick: Trina’s Ginger Peach (vodka, peach, ginger syrup, lemon) + Charcuterie Board (two meats, two cheeses, accompaniments)

Bordino’s: This restaurant has been around for almost 2 decades. The atmosphere is a little less lounge, and a little more restaurant, as they do not have any TV’s in the bar area, but their cocktails and wine list do not disappoint.

MC’s Pick: Baker’s Blues (house-infused lavender & blueberry vodka, lavender simple syrup, fresh lemon juice) + Triple Threat (grana padano, roasted garlic, balsamic vinegar)

LOCAL LUNCH + DINNER

Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese: With a variety of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to choose from, most guests can find something that they like at this restaurant. A very casual atmosphere off Dickson Street, Hammontrees is a perfect spot to grab a bite to eat after some mid-morning weekend shopping or after a long day at work.

MC’s Picks: Sweet Potato Fries (with avocado ranch dipping sauce) + Cheebacca Grilled Cheese (sharp white cheddar, house cheese, bacon, pulled pork, onions, and garlic cilantro sauce on sourdough) P.S. I prefer no onions on my Cheebacca Grilled Cheese, and I add the house BBQ sauce!

Hugo’s: In business since 1977, Hugo’s is a Fayetteville staple, consistently ranking in the top 1-3 restaurants on websites like TripAdvisor.  It’s located in Downtown Historic Fayetteville, in the basement of an original building. It encompasses Fayetteville with the art and historical pieces around the restaurant, and even locals continue to go back. If you plan to stop by on a weekend evening, there might be a bit of a wait, so be prepared to arrive early! There’s not much of a waiting area, but most people just wait outside and get to know one another while they wait for a great meal.

MC’s Picks: Ace Pineapple Cider (Sebastopol, CA) + cheeseburger with ketchup, pickles, and cheese + Grasshopper Crepe (mint chocolate chip ice cream inside of crepes with hot fudge drizzle)

Sassy’s: Sassy’s BBQ sauce and spices are from a family recipe developed by Sassy Jones’ grandfather, Jasper Jones, in 1885. The sauce has been said to be good on pork, beef, chicken, dove, quail, duck, goat, lamb, rabbit, squirrel, deer, coon, possum, shrimp, catfish, crawfish, oysters, armadillo, rattlesnake, and just about anything else. Their menu has a little bit of everything, and they want their guests to enjoy and stay awhile by having TV’s with TV’s with the game on, porches for warm days, and the best part – good food.

MC’s Picks: Homemade Fried Pickles + Pulled Pork Sandwich Combo, with (2) sides: sweet potato tots and mustard potato salad

Farmer’s Table Cafe: With the motto, “where locals meet and eat,” Farmer’s Table Cafe is built for the locals of Fayetteville, and even those coming through town. It is a tiny house within Fayetteville, where patrons can enjoy a wonderful meal from local vendors, and meet others within their community.

MC’s Picks: Benny on a Biscuit (Ozarks version of the egg’s benedict: 2 poached eggs, Bansley’s farm ham, Dripping Springs Garden kale,  atop a handmade biscuit with hollandaise) or Pickled + Deviled Plate (deviled local eggs, pickled local vegetables, Great Ferments okra, Ozark All Seasons greens) + Chicken Salad (roasted chicken, dried cranberries, almonds, dill, celery, on Stone Mill Bakery sourdough)

Catfish Hole: In 1993, the owners of Catfish Hole opened their first location in Alma, AR. Not soon after, they added a location in Fayetteville, which has become a popular spot for locals and tourists. Most people rave about hushpuppies, but they’re especially known for their catfish – as it is a common catch in the Northwest Arkansas area.

MC’s Picks: Regular Catch of Catfish Filets, served with french fries + fixin’s (fixings include: hushpuppies, coleslaw, pickles, onions, lemons and green tomato relish)

Woodstone: A recent add in 2014 to the Fayetteville restaurant scene, Woodstone Pizza + Bar features wood fired, artisan pizza with a scratch kitchen, locally sourced ingredients, local craft beers and cocktails.

MC’s Picks: Lavender Gimlet (sub with Tito’s vodka instead of gin), + Queen Margherita (house red sauce, fresh mozzarella, local basil, herb oil)

A Taste of Thai: Since 2000, Taste of Thai has been established in the Downtown Historic Fayetteville Square. With a small patio, off a quaint and traditional dining room, this restaurant encompasses Thai culture, while also serving delicious food. Larger parties may need to notify the restaurant of their arrival, and guests can even order ahead for takeout.

MC’s Picks: A-7 Chicken Pot Stickers (grilled marinated chicken wrapped, served with homemade plum sauce) + 17. Pad Thai, national dish of Thailand (stir-fried thin rice noodles w/egg, bean sprouts, green onions, topped w/ground peanuts)

COCKTAIL

Maxine’s Tap Room: Named one of the Best Bars in America, 2019 by Esquire Magazine, Maxine’s Tap Room is an almost 70-year-old bar located on Block Avenue, in the heart of Fayetteville’s Historic Downtown Square. 24-year-old Maxine Miller borrowed $10,000 from her parents and with the ownership of her bar, became a surrogate mother to generation of college students missing their own mothers. After Maxine passed, management passed on to a team of local shop-owners and they thoughtfully remodeled the Tap Room with a payphone that still has the recording of Maxine’s last call: “May I have your attention, please! You have ten minutes to drink, then get the hell out!” One of my favorite facts about the bar is that it only has one window, exactly 8.5″x40″, in the front, which was the minimum size allowed by the building codes at the time of its being built.

MC’s Picks: Maxine’s Tap Room changes the menu seasonally, but one of my favorites is a simple cocktail with vodka, lavender syrup, and soda water, sometimes with a splash of lemonade. They have the best retro/classic cocktails, and the seasoned popcorn will keep you there for awhile.

Vault: This fairly new bar is a former bank vault that combines warm palettes of concrete, wood, steel, and leather, inspired by the idea of distillation. Their focus is on bourbon, and they pride themselves in having the best bourbon selection in the state of Arkansas.

MC’s Picks: EJ Highball (bourbon, tea syrup, lemon, house ginger beer)

Cannibal + Craft: Named after a beach bar in the Caribbean, Cannibal & Craft is a dual-bar with one side drawing inspiration from this island vibe, and the other side featuring a warm, earthy, American vibe. The island side focuses on fishbowl cocktails, while the other side features classic cocktails. If you’re a true local, you know that within Cannibal + Craft lies a secret bar called, Ben’s Apartment. Similar to a speakeasy from the 1920’s, this bar is exclusive and not open to just anyone. This secret bar requires a membership and a minimum monthly spend, but each guest is allotted 3 additional guests at no additional charge. But well worth the membership, this bar is for those who want an atypical Fayetteville bar experience.

MC’s Picks: Moscow Mule Fishbowl (or Bee’s Knees at Ben’s Apartment)

Fayetteville Ale Trail: Experience Fayetteville (my old parent-company!) launched the Fayetteville Ale Trail in August 2013. This self-guided tour gives both visitors and locals a glimpse into the unique craft brewery and cidery culture of Northwest Arkansas (it extends past Fayetteville!). More than 35,000 passports have been printed, and after 5 years, the Ale Trail has been recognized nationally and even locals still continue to enjoy it. Passports can be picked up at any of the breweries on the Ale Trail, via mail, or at Experience Fayetteville (Visitor’s Center) on the Downtown Square, located at 21 S. Block Ave.

Featured Breweries: Apple Blossom Brewing Co., Bentonville Brewing Co., Bike Rack Brewing Co., Black Apple Crossing Cidery, Columbus House Brewery, Core Brewing and Distilling Co., Crisis Brewing Company, Fossil Cove Brewing Co., Hawk Moth Brewery, Ivory Bill Brewing, JJ’s Beer Garden & Brewing, New Providence Brewing Co., Ozark Beer Company, Saddlebock Brewery, and West Mountain Brewing Co.

SWEET

Rick’s Bakery: Opened in 1980, Rick’s has become a staple in Northwest Arkansas. From their classic personal cakes (perfect for birthdays, big-little reveals, congratulation-moments, and more, to their decorative cookies (some even featuring frosting shaped Razorbacks, their baked goods are worth every bite.

MC’s Picks: tie-dye cookies + monogrammed petit fours

Smudgies: Taking a spin on sweets, Smudgies combines donuts, cereal, sweet treats, and more with ice cream. They are most famous for the smudgie itself, a donut stuffed with your choice of ice cream combination from the menu – or a creation of your own!

MC’s Picks: Salty Dog Sludgie (essentially a concrete with vanilla bean ice cream, salted caramel drizzle, + crushed pretzels)

Burton’s Creamery: Opened in June 2014, Burton’s Creamery provides premium (better than just everyday) soft serve to the residents of Fayetteville. Originally served out of a food truck, they now have an additional location in the Uptown Apartments + Shops. Their food truck is still located off Dickson Street in an area called Shulertown – a popular destination after the bars close.

MC’s Picks: Butterfinger Soft Serve on a Waffle Cone

Shop

RiffRaff: Kirsten Blowers, a native Fayetteville local, opened Riffraff in February of 2009 at the age of 21. Originally selling refurbished and hand-painted furniture, she quickly expanded to include clothing and small gifts.  By 2012, due to popularity and growth of the business from in-store to Facebook, Kirsten took the business online – launching an instant success. Nestled in the Historic Downtown Fayetteville Square, Riffraff believes in shopping local (while still reaching shoppers nationwide). Their style is always touching on the newest trends, and their social media presence (mostly Instagram) is very strong: @shopriffraff + @riffrafffayetteville + @riffraffhq.

Impressions: Built off the power of a first impression, Impressions offers a wide range of apparel to fit any woman’s unique sense of style. Between their physical location in Fayetteville or their online boutique, they are always following the latest fashions to keep their customers leaving lasting impressions.

Maude: The current location is Maude’s second location, but Maude has been in business since 2007. The store prides itself on excellent customer service,  and they enjoy the fun within fashion. They believe in fashion speaking to their customers and help their customers feel their dreams come true while being confident in the clothes they sell. They also have the cutest backdrop for photos (you can search #maudewall on Instagram).

The Mustache Goods + Wears: The owner of this store wanted to open a shop where he lived and worked (Historic Downtown Fayetteville), but he wanted it to be and look different than any other store, carrying products that shoppers don’t normally find. Their passion feeds off how the community loves their store, always finding a fun, friendly, and unique shopping experience.

E.Leigh’s: Erin Leigh Hohnbaum opened the shop in 2011 at the age of 26, with the goal to create a space where women felt strong, empowered, and better leaving than when they came in the doors. She is passionate about making customers and visitors feel good, even if they don’t purchase anything – so experience is everything to her. Located on Dickson Street, it’s close to restaurants and other shops in the Fayetteville area.

EXPERIENCE

First Thursday: On the first Thursday of each month May through October from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Fayetteville’s Historic Downtown Square transforms into an outdoor arts district featuring more than 40 visual artists who create items in a variety of mediums. The event also includes live music, street performances, children’s activities, food trucks, a craft beer garden, and more. This event is hosted and promoted by Experience Fayetteville, and parking is available at Fayetteville Town Center.

George’s Majestic Lounge: Opened in 1927 by George Pappas, George’s was originally a restaurant, lounge, and general store. George’s saw many owners in its day, some of which shared their first dates at the bar, but regardless of ownership, it is the oldest and longest running bar in the Fayetteville area. It was also the first to integrate and the first to have color TV in its time. Its current owners, Brian + Day Crowne bought the building and eventually the land – serving as the regions premier showcase venue for concerts since 2004.

Walton Arts Center: In the late 1980s, the Walton family, the University of Arkansas, and the City of Fayetteville each individually realized the need for a venue that could accommodate major touring shows, local and regional performing acts, and even corporate meetings. Located off Dickson Street in Fayetteville, this recently updated venue houses these shows, events, and even more.

Theatre Squared: Reaching 45,000 patrons each year with 230 annual performances, Theatre Squared attracts varying shows by hosting them in an intimate space. In 2011, TheatreSquared was recognized by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, as one of the nation’s ten most promising emerging theatres. Its audience includes more than 18,000 students and their teachers. They believe that all students should have access to live performances and leading arts-based learning tools. Theatre Squared is also Arkansas’ home for professional playwrights, developing scripts through the Arkansas New Play Festival in Fayetteville and Bentonville, producing new works and world premiers each year.

Donald W. Reynolds Stadium: Serving as the home field for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, Donald W. Reynolds Stadium is an American football stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas, originally opened in 1938. In 2001, it was renamed from Razorback Stadium to its current name, in honor of Reynold’s being a wonderful businessman and philanthropist. The playing field is named for Frank Boyles, the former head football coach and athletic director.

Mount Sequoyah Overlook: A beautiful spot for visitors to relax, watch the sunset, or picnic, Mt. Sequoyah overlooks Fayetteville with a large cross illuminating the area. Locals go there on dates, to see how wonderful Fayetteville looks at night, or say a prayer. The area is a church and retreat center, surrounded by homes with beautiful views.

Razorback Regional Greenway: A project years in the making, the Razorback Regional Greenway has been a goal of regional planners, cities, and residents of Northwest Arkansas for more than two decades. With a lot of planning, the Greenway became a reality stretching 36 miles from Bella Vista to South Fayetteville. It connects 6 downtowns, 3 hospitals, 23 schools, arts and entertainment venues, the University of Arkansas campus, corporate headquarters, historic sites, parks and playgrounds, restaurants, shopping areas, and more.

OUTSIDE FAY

Crystal Bridges: Founded in 2005 by philanthropist and arts patron, Alice Walton,  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art began as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. The building was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie and opened to the public on 11-11-11. Their mission is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Its name comes from a nearby natural spring and the bridge that has been incorporated into the structure of the building.  Meeting spaces and galleries surrounds two spring-fed ponds, including a glass-enclosed gathering hall. The museum also features a beautiful restaurant, a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material, and trails that link the 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Walmart Museum: Sam Walton and his family moved to the Northwest Arkansas area in 1950, to satisfy his wife Helen’s desire for small-town living. According to Helen, this also allowed them to be within a short distance from Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, so Sam could enjoy the different seasons, satisfying his passion for quail hunting. With this move, Sam purchased Luther Harrison’s Variety Store. Located in the Downtown Bentonville square, Walton’s 5&10 was the second store opened by Sam Walton, but the first to bear his name. The original ceiling tiles from Harrison’s Variety Store are still seen in the museum today, as are the original red and green tiles that Sam laid down prior to the famous remodeling sale. Some of the tile colors didn’t match; Sam accepted them “as is” for a better price – and this is worth mentioning because it is a part of the foundation for Walmart today. See, Sam was a frugal man, but according to history, not for the sake of frugality. “Sam knew that his customers wouldn’t be looking at his floor – or even care – as long as his prices were low and his shelves were well-stocked. He knew that saving money on expenses meant he could charge lower prices, saving his customers money so they could live better.” And this was the beginning of Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Scott Family Amazeum: Featuring approximately 50,000 square feet of exhibit and learning spaces, Scott Family Amazeum is built to bring families together, inspire curiosity, and bring learning to life using hands-on exhibits. Many of the interactive exhibits are focused on the industries and people who built the Arkansas culture and sustain it today – exhibitors including the 3M Tinkering Hub, General Mills Lift, Load and Haul, Market Sponsored by Walmart, Nature Valley Water Amazements, Nickelodeon Play Lab, Hershey’s Lab, and more. Possibly the coolest activity that Scott Family Amazeum does is at the end of the day, they have a “parade to leave” so the kids can “enjoy” the exhibits having to close.

The Peel Mansion Museum + Heritage Gardens: Built in 1875 by Colonel Samuel West Peel, it is a beautiful model of Italianate Villa Style furnished with authentic antiquities and artifacts. It his home to public and private events for the Northwest Arkansas area from bridal shows to weddings to cocktail parties to charity events.

Slaughter Pen Trail: Attracting visitors from around the country, this Bentonville mountain bike trail hosts one of the top bike events in the state. Featuring over 20 miles, with an easy trail connection via Lake Bella Vista to Blowing Springs mountain bike trail system, this is something that the avid biker does not want to miss.

STAY

The Inn at Carnall Hall: Built in 1905, Carnall Hall was the first girl’s dorm in Arkansas, named after Ella Howison Carnall, a beloved English professor. In 1967, it became a fraternity for 10 years, and in 1982, it was placed on the National Register for Historic Places, when it housed classrooms and faculty offices. In 2001, it was saved from demolition, thanks to private and public efforts. 2 years later, it reopened as The Inn at Carnall Hall, with restorations made to the staircase and front porch. In 2004, it was added to the Historic Hotels of America. Most recently in 2018, the Inn had a face lift, with contemporary elements complimenting the history of the building. Perhaps the most significant moment of this hotel’s history to me, is when I had the pleasure of working there. I started my career transition at Inn at Carnall Hall, and I am grateful for my experience there.

21c Museum: Located on the Downtown Bentonville Square, and within a short walk to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville is an 104-room boutique hotel, contemporary art museum, cultural center, and home to The Hive  restaurant. They are well-known for the iconic Green Penguin, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post.

The Crescent Hotel: Opened in 1886, The Crescent Hotel was built to be a resort for the rich and famous, designed by architect Isaac S. Taylor from St. Louis, MO. Only open for a short time before it became unmanageable, it was reopened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women from 1908-1924. It opened again from 1930-1934 as a junior college. By 1937, Norman G. Baker, converted the building into a hospital and health resort. This is when the history gets a little interesting. Baker was a millionaire inventory and radio personality, but he also presented himself as a doctor (with absolutely no medical training). He claimed to have “cures” for ailments, including cancer. Baker eventually went to jail, and The Crescent Hotel bounced between a few owners, almost being burned to the ground in 1967. Currently, it has been titled, “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places as of 2016. Tourists and guests can go on ghost tours, and even stay overnight experiencing the supposed supernatural.

As I say goodbye to Fayetteville today, I felt that I could best say goodbye by paying tribute to the wonderful places I came to love during my time in Northwest Arkansas. I hope if you have a chance to visit, you can visit a few of these places and grow to love them too.

XO – MC