City Cheat Sheet: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Kirsten Blowers Morman, owner of the Fayetteville, Arkansas-based women’s boutique Riffraff and the beloved T-shirt lines Friday + Saturday and Charlie Southern, travels all over the country for her business (almost 600 boutiques in the nation carry her T-shirts, after all). But every time she comes home, she’s grateful. Fayetteville is an energetic, eclectic, and creative town full of bold business owners like Kirsten who are turning their passions and talents into local enterprises and enriching the community in the process. Here, Kirsten shares how to experience the Fayetteville she calls home, discussing everything from hotel picks to public art displays to how to enjoy a Razorback game like a local.
Where to Stay
For travelers enjoying a weekend away in her city, Kirsten recommends booking a room at one of the two fantastic hotels on the square right in the heart of town. The Chancellor Hotel (70 North East Avenue) is a four-star hotel with locally influenced decor and beautiful views overlooking the University of Arkansas campus and Mount Sequoyah. Not only is this hotel known for its Bloody Mary bar and good game day vibes, but it’s also one of the only dog-friendly hotels in town. “I recently ran into a golden-doodle sporting one of my shop’s Razorback bandanas in the lobby who was heading out to dinner with his owners,” Kirsten says. The chef even offers a special K-9 menu for four-legged guests.
The other option is The Dickson Street Inn (301 West Dickson Street), a smaller bed and breakfast perfect for those seeking a cozy place to stay in an ideal location. In fact, the adjacent Dickson Street Pub’s rooftop patio offers some of the most spectacular views in the city. Plan to enjoy your cocktail hour around sunset so you can sip your drink while overlooking Old Main, the stately historical building on the University of Arkansas campus.
What to See
“If you’re coming to Fayetteville for the first time, start your weekend at our Historic Downtown Square and then meander down Block Avenue,” Kirsten recommends. If you’re in town on a Saturday between April and November, then you will begin at the Farmers Market on the Square. This is not just your average Farmers Market, Kirsten notes—it’s one of the most renowned in the nation. “There’s live music on almost every corner, and the wildflower bouquets are gorgeous in every season,” she says.
Fayetteville also happens to be known for its public art scene, and visitors can tour the impressive murals by taking a few detours off Dickson Street. “Artists come from all over to paint art in our city, transforming our Entertainment District and creating countless Instagram backdrops,” Kirsten says. “My personal favorite is the ‘Shop Local’ mural on Archibald Yelle Boulevard, south of the Square.”
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can take in the whole city by following the Razorback Regional Greenway right off the Square. The beautiful, paved trail connects all of Northwestern Arkansas’s cities and is famous among biking enthusiasts. Or, consider exploring the Fayetteville Ale Trail, which connects the city’s craft breweries. Pick up a map and your “passport” at the Fayetteville Visitors Center, and then follow a self-guided tour of 11 of Northwest Arkansas’s best craft breweries (even better: Pinnacle Car Services offers an option to have the tour chauffeured!).
A Guide to Game Day
“No Razorback fan can, in good conscience, talk about Fayetteville without mentioning game day,” Kirsten says. “If you’re in town for a home football game at the University of Arkansas, you’re in for a treat.”
When preparing for game day, first thing’s first: wear red. “Everywhere you look in Fayetteville on game day you’ll see highly styled ensembles featuring red T-shirts,” she says. (If you experience a Saturday in football season in Fayetteville, you’ll realize quickly why Riffraff’s Game Day line is their most popular merchandise.)
For some pre-game excitement, “The Pit” is the place to go for tailgating. “This is the big parking lot right outside of the stadium on campus; you can’t miss it,” says Kirsten. Once you’ve made your way in, be on the lookout for a couple of traditions. “Very rarely will you find a tailgate that does not have cheese dip—not to be confused with queso from Texas,” Kirsten says. “There are literally hundreds of varieties. Sample as many as you can!” Then look out for Tusk, the University of Arkansas mascot. “He’s a wild hog who has his own mobile home and gets driven through the streets with the Spirit Squad,” says Kirsten.
Finally, you’ll need to learn to “Call the Hogs.” That means participating in the Razorback chant, which is based on an old hog hunting call. You’ll find detailed instructions for how to properly perform the “Hog Call” on the University of Arkansas website.
Where to Eat and Drink
If you’re in the mood for a casual dinner, Kirsten says to look no further than Doe’s Eat Place (316 West Dickson Street), which has “The best tamales you’ll ever taste.” For a more formal evening out, Kirsten recommends booking a table at Theo’s (318 Campbell Avenue), where she never misses a chance to order the oysters. After dinner, grab a cocktail at 21st Amendment (406 West Dickson Street), which serves as a de facto Dickson Street meetinghouse. “Be careful because time sort of slows down here,” Kirsten says. “Four hours can go by, and you won’t even realize!”
For breakfast, you can’t go wrong with Arsaga’s Depot (548 West Dickson Street), where Kirsten orders The Brezinski, an incredible spread with avocado, tomatoes, potatoes, sourdough toast, and bacon. Located inside the old Fayetteville train station, Arsaga’s specializes in coffee, but they also have killer morning cocktails.
If you’re looking for a casual lunch spot while strolling the Square, Kirsten recommends popping into Little Bread Co. (116 North Block Avenue) for a sandwich or a salad and a cup of coffee. Another great lunch option is Feltner Brothers (2768 North College Avenue), which she says serves the best burgers in town.
When it’s time for happy hour, Dickson Street has a lively bar scene, where you can find a spot to catch a game on one of the big-screen TVs or enjoy a craft cocktail. Kirsten’s personal favorite is the hidden gem, Maxine’s Tap Room (107 North Block Avenue). “I always order their Killer Bees Knees cocktail with tequila,” she says.
Where to Shop
“Every single person I talk to, I send straight to Mae’s Emporium (352 North West Avenue),” Kirsten says of her frequent shopping recommendation, a small storefront that specializes in curated vintage jewelry. “The pieces and price points are amazing, ranging from a truly unique $10 gift to a $400 piece.” Nearby, you will find Lola and The Independent (339 North West Avenue). Situated together in one spot, this two-store destination offers chic apparel and accessories for men and women.
For a store that has a little bit of everything, from clothing to home goods, pay a visit to Mom and Pop Shoppe (300 West Mountain Street). “It’s the most wonderful tiny shop that my dear friends just opened. They specialize in items handmade in the USA using organic materials,” Kirsten says.
Kirsten’s store Riffraff (15 South Block Avenue) is a must for on-trend casual wear and hip Fayetteville-themed attire, and right around the corner is not-to-be-missed Shindig Paperie (100 West Center Street). “It’s a lovely little place to pick up a one-of-a-kind gift or some unique stationery,” says Kirsten.
If you’re in need of a hostess gift, Kirsten recommends a trip to PIGMINT (100 East Joyce Boulevard) where, she says, the arrangements are some of the best in town and the staff is always ready to help. Be sure to stop into PIGMINT’s nearby sister shop, Garden Living (160 East Joyce Boulevard), which offers an array of garden-inspired décor and has a standalone coffee shop called The Grounds inside.
Photography by Meredith Mashburn.