Today we celebrate National Arkansas Day, which recognizes a state known for abundant park and wilderness areas, with terrain encompassing mountains, caves, rivers and hot springs.
It was the 25th state to join the union on June 15th, 1836 and has been growing ever since!
Read below to learn more about some of the amazing cities that call “The Natural State” home!
Located in the Northwest corner, this little pocket of creativity + entertainment is our original Pack Up + Go destination in the great state of Arkansas. Originally, the city came to prominence as a manufacturing + apple producing hub, but in recent years has seen a shift away from that, thanks in large part to the Walton family...yes, that Walton family.
In 1950, Sam Walton bought the Harrison Variety Store on the Bentonville town square. He fully remodeled the building and opened "Walton’s 5 and 10 Variety Store" on March 18, 1951. This single store eventually led to the creation of Walmart, the world's largest retailer, which still strongly influences the community today. Today, the store still stands as it was in 1951 - with a couple of modern day improvements - and visitors may tour the facility turned museum.
The increase in tourism and entertainment over the past several years has been focused on the natural setting + outdoor opportunities of the area as well as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which opened in 2011. The museum is a stunning architectural structure and has a permanent collection that spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. After you stroll around the inside, you can step out to enjoy the grounds, which includes sculpture and walking trails that link the museum's 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. A culmination of factors has made Bentonville the fastest growing city in Arkansas and the larger Northwest Arkansas area one of the fastest growing in the United States.
Another Pack Up + Go destination city is Fayetteville. The third largest city in the state, it is perhaps most commonly remembered as home to the University of Arkansas, the state's largest university. The large population of the university causes huge fluctuations in the number of residents occupying the city. As a result, the underlying culture of Fayetteville is a combination of a Southern city, college town, and the surrounding Northwest Arkansas metro. The city derives its identity from the University of Arkansas, exhibiting many trademarks of a college town such as a prominent arts and music scene, emphasis on local businesses, college-oriented bar/restaurant entertainment district, progressive residents and a focus on environmental sustainability. Perhaps this is why it is consistently found on lists of “best places to live” or “best places to retire”
Outside of college life, visitors can also find culture + history throughout the city. Given its proximity to the original home of Walmart, the Walton’s bestowed the Walton Arts Center on the outskirts of the University of Arkansas’ campus. This massive facility has multiple venues for varying audience sizes and types of events - including indoor + outdoor options. The Historic Fayetteville Square has been the center of Fayetteville since the county's first courthouse was located there in 1829. The area is surrounded by wide sidewalks, landscaped gardens, and one-way streets. The Square plays host to a variety of events and Fayetteville Farmers Market, and like most cities is a beautiful combination of historic structures + new constructions.
Not yet on the Pack Up + Go destination city list, is the state capital, and most populous city, Little Rock. The city derives its name from a rock formation along the river, named the "Little Rock" (French: La Petite Roche) by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe in the 1720s. Little Rock is a cultural, economic, government, and transportation center within Arkansas and the South with several cultural institutions such as Arkansas Arts Center, William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the hiking, boating, and other outdoor recreational opportunities. Little Rock's history is available through history museums, historic districts or neighborhoods like the Quapaw Quarter, which is the oldest district of the city and named for the Native Americans who first lived in the region.
Think you’ve never heard of Little Rock before? All three of the famous Clintons, Hilary, Bill, and Chelsea were born here. There is some quite famous civil rights history from here as well. The Little Rock Nine, a group of nine African American students who were enrolled in 1957 in Little Rock Central High School, were initially prevented by the state government from entering the racially segregated school. The group was ultimately allowed to attend after the federal government (+ armed troops) intervened. The experience of these students provided stunning visuals of armed soldiers outside of the high school to the rest of the country and helped to sway public support for the desegregation of schools.