Date: February 8, 2021 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Molly Anne Sandefur |
Shops, restaurants, and attractions in Fort Smith innovate with an appreciation for the city’s past | A Special At Home in Arkansas Promotion
On the westernmost edge of the state, Fort Smith—the second-largest city in Arkansas—is a place that embraces the juxtaposition of old and new. Just look at some of its most popular hangouts, such as The Bakery District (bakeryfs.com), which has repurposed a former baking facility into a new multi-use space. Opened in summer 2020, this gathering place allows the bones of its past life to shine while creating a new venue to meet, study, work, and support local businesses.
Another such example is Waite & Co. (waiteandco.shop). Here, designer/contractor Jo Waite has transformed an old service station into not only a must-stop shop for local gifts and fresh home décor, but also a headquarters for her design business. It makes you wonder: If this is what Jo can do with a service station, how might she be able to transform a home? If you want to find out, check out the fabric samples, idea books, and more housed in her studio that can inspire your next project.
To feel like you’ve truly stepped back in time, head to Ed Walker’s Drive-in (edwalkersdrivein.org) for a classic American diner experience. Founded in 1943, Ed Walker’s evolved over time from a gas station with a burger stand into the drive-up diner you see today. The menu claims to have the only curbside beer service in Arkansas, as well as the state’s only 5-pound burger, though it also boasts an array of diner favorites—including blue plate specials, patty melts, onion rings, and milkshakes. For this and more, the restaurant was inducted into the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame in 2020.
Just a block from Ed Walker’s is Wasted Repurpose Marketplace (@wastedrepurposemarketplace), a must-stop for vintage lovers. Angie Littleton’s shop is packed with wares seeing a resurgence in current trends, including midcentury pieces, wicker, and ’70s furniture and décor. If nosing around curated antiques is up your alley, Remember When Antique Mall (@rememberwhenar), about a 15-minute drive south of downtown, is worth the trip, too. Ready to visit a place that embraces history while looking toward the future? It might be time to plan a trip to Fort Smith.
Read on for more of our favorite places to shop, dine, and visit.
For the latest looks in women’s apparel and accessories, don’t miss Clothologie (shopclothologie.com). Visit the flagship store of Bookish (bookishfs.com) at Brunwick Place to peruse an array of new and used titles. And
The Gallery on Garrison (thegalleryongarrison.com) is the perfect place to check out works by local artists.
Steak, tapas, and an extensive wine list are on the menu at Uncork’d (uncorkthefort.com). Speaking of wine: Fort Smith’s very own winery, JKC Cellars (jkccellars.com), offers tasting flights in addition to wine by the glass. If you’re deciding where to go for authentic Vietnamese food while in the Fort, Pho Vietnam (479.782.3227) is a favorite among locals.
To fully appreciate the city’s role in state and national history, plan a visit to the Fort Smith Museum of History (fortsmithmuseum.org). At the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum (fsram.org), the exhibit “Exploring Mindscapes: An Artist’s Reflection” is open through May 16. And, since 2015, one of the best ways to explore Fort Smith has been through a walking tour of The Unexpected (unexpectedfs.com), the world-class collection of murals gracing walls across the city.