“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
By: Jennifer Mullen
When my husband and I decided to I would stay-at-home, we knew extravagant vacations would not be an option. However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money and travel miles away to go on an adventure. Almost every weekend we choose an activity and make a day of it. You just need to have a mindset that “Life is Good” and you should “Enjoy the Little Things”. We have found that no matter what you do together, your children will love it. My 4-year-old wakes up saying, “It’s the weekend! What are we going to do?” And my 19 month old says, “Shoes? Go, go, go?”
Of course we enjoy the seasonal activities like strawberry picking, going to the splash pad, farmers markets, going to the pumpkin patch or corn maze, and looking at Christmas lights. And there are the obvious destinations like Crystal Bridges and Arvest Ballpark. I wanted to highlight my family’s favorite activities that you might not have thought of yet.
I know that not all of our readers are from Northwest Arkansas, but don’t let the title turn you off. You can find fun activities wherever you live. I encourage you to explore your local area.
1) Visit Nearby Towns : Eureka Springs is our family’s number one favorite! It is not for everyone as the sidewalks are not stroller friendly and there aren’t any playgrounds for the kids to let their energy out. My husband and I fell in love in Eureka and got married there as well. Our kids have grown to love it too, because they have been going since they were babies as pictured to the left.
About every two months we will pack a cooler and head to Eureka for the day. We eat at a little pizzeria called Geraldi’s or Casa Colina’s Mexican Grill and get dessert at Peace, Love, and Cheesecake. What we don’t eat, we put in our cooler for the trip home. Every time we go, we learn something new about this mysterious town.
One of our favorite activities in Eureka is to ride the train. We buy tickets for the passenger train and get popcorn for the kids to enjoy while they walk up and down the aisle. Click here to see schedule and prices.
2) Go to the Zoo or in Our Area-Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari: This is one of my least favorites, but my husband LOVES it. He grew up going to this safari with his Grandparents. I don’t enjoy it because I am a germ-a-phobe. When we went a few weeks ago, I finally went into the petting zoo. I must say, unlike most zoos, I have been able to make my dream come true and I got to pet some baby tigers there a few years ago! Last time we went, I also rode a camel. That was a first for me. The things you do for your kids! I told my husband that if something ever happens to me, that he does not have permission to buy the Gentry Safari (for all you fans of We Bought A Zoo)! Click here for schedule and prices. If you want a more sterile experience, the Tulsa Zoo is only a two-hour drive and makes for a great day trip as well. 🙂
3) State Parks: Our family has two state parks that we enjoy.
Picture Source: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com
First is Devil’s Den, which is about 20 miles south of Fayetteville. When we visited a few weeks ago, we packed a picnic and extra clothes. When we got there we enjoyed lunch and then waded in the stream. Our 19 month old boy LOVED throwing rocks into the water. Then we changed into our hiking shoes, strapped our baby in a carrier, and went on a mile and a half self guided tour. Our four-year old is a huge fan of the TV series Franklin and has seen lots of episodes about hiking in the woods. She LOVED this adventure!
The second state park we enjoy is Hobbs State Park. You must stop in at the brand new 17,000 sq ft. visitor’s center with interactive kiosks, kid’s reading area, classroom space, and a retail sales area. There are some great walking trails in this park as well. On our way out to the park we stop at the War Eagle Mill to feed the geese, to learn about the mill, and to have lunch.
4) Explore Your Historical Museums and Downtown: I have been a part of the Rogers community for 10 years now and just within the past two months visited the Rogers Historical Museum for the first time. I was thoroughly impressed! Whether you have lived here your whole life or are new to the area there is something there for you. The curators did a fabulous job telling the history of Rogers through pictures, artifacts, and replicas. There are so many hands-on activities for the kids. They even have a home that is open for tours that has been preserved in the turn of the century style so that one might could imagine what life would have been like in the early 1900’s. They have age appropriate scavenger hunts to keep the children focused. As you leave you can pick up another scavenger hunt to use while walking around downtown to learn about the architecture of the city. We love downtown Rogers! Between Chicago Dogs, The Rail, and Kirby’s Kupcakes we NEVER go hungry. It is great to support these local businesses.
5) The Drive-In: This has become a Mullen Family tradition as well. This is more of an evening trip, but it lasts for several hours. The 112 Drive-In is located in Fayetteville. We stop on our way to get a pizza or two and take a cooler of drinks and snacks. The kids take their pj’s and fall asleep in the back of the car during the double feature. As you can see from the picture, we like to get there PLENTY early! There is a playground that the kids can play on before the movie starts. We like to get them worn out so that we can enjoy the second movie.
Hope you try some of these activities with your family, and when you do let me know what you think. If you have any great day trip ideas, please share! I would love to add them into our rotation!