Date: July 14, 2022 | Styling: Steph Smith | Producer: Stephanie Maxwell Newton |
The sun is shining, the kids are out of school, and you’re ready to get out of the house. What to do? Get ready—we have more than enough ideas to help make this season one to remember
Jump in the lake
The lake is a quintessential Arkansas summer backdrop. Where better to get in some time on the water—whether boating, fishing, or simply relaxing on the shore—than Lake Ouachita? Book a stay at Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa (mountainharborresort.com) and choose from luxury cabin options with breathtaking views of the lake and the mountains beyond. Don’t forget to visit their first-class Turtle Cove Spa during your stay.
Catch a big one
The White River is a year-round destination for trout fishing. At Gaston’s White River Resort (gastons.com), you can either book a guided fishing trip or take to the waters on your own. For a change of pace, the 400-acre property also has a tennis court, playground, and nature trails for even more ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
Hit the trails
Northwest Arkansas has become a veritable mecca for cyclists over the past decade—particularly with the opening of the Razorback Regional Greenway, a 36-mile trail connecting the downtown areas of Bentonville, Fayetteville, and everywhere in between. Check OZ Trails (oztrails.com) for the latest information from the region’s cycling community, including new routes and current trail conditions.
Play to win
OK, this one is technically inside—but if you’re looking to get active while taking a break from the sun, an indoor pickleball court is the place to be. If you’ve been practicing with the paddle for some time, you might be ready for the Spa City Classic Indoor Pickleball Championships (facebook.com/spacityclassic) July 7-10 at the Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs. Registration ends July 3.
Upgrade Your Patio Style
Get your backyard barbecue-ready with these must-haves for a snazzy outdoor atmosphere
1 Tuuci “Ocean Master M1” cantilever umbrella. Antique Brick Outdoors, Little Rock, antiquebrickoutdoors.com
2 Houe “Click” outdoor sunrocker. Ken Rash’s Arkansas, kenrashsoutdoorfurniture.com
3 20-foot bistro light string with LED Edison bulbs. Lumber One Home Center, lumber1.com
4 100% polypropylene indoor/outdoor rug from Loloi’s “Cole” collection. Cantrell Furniture Design Center, cantrellfurniture.com
5 The original PK Grill & Smoker. PK Grills, pkgrills.com
Beat the Heat
Learn a little history
Housed inside the former Atkinson-Williams Warehouse, the location of the Fort Smith Museum of History (fortsmithmuseum.org) is itself a historic artifact preserved for future generations. Visit the educational center and take in the frontier city’s history through exhibits outlining the region’s intriguing past—and don’t leave without a milkshake from the museum’s 1920s-era soda fountain!
Visit the ‘Dirty South’
In March, “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse” opened at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (crystalbridges.org) to explore how Black culture has influenced the wider Southern identity through the past century. The exhibit, which features sculptures, paintings, mixed media, music, videos, and more, is on view through July 25.
Get your hands muddy
You don’t have to be an experienced ceramics artist to throw pottery on the wheel: that’s the founding premise behind The Muddy Pig (muddypigstudio.com), a do-it-yourself clay studio in Little Rock. Whether you sign up for a one-time “try it” night or 8-week beginner’s class, you’ll receive hands-on instruction for transforming a lump of clay into something unique and beautiful.
Find a New Favorite
Go ahead, judge a book by its cover—and throw these in the bag for your next weekend by the water
1 Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cranor
2 Book Lovers by Emily Henry
3 Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle by Jody Rosen
4 The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager
5 Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
6 Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe
Take the Kids
Enjoy the show
It’s just not summertime without a Fourth of July fireworks display! Settle in on the lawn of the Walmart AMP (waltonartscenter.org/AMP) on July 4 for the Fireworks Spectacular accompanied by music from the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. The music begins at 7:30 p.m. with fireworks to start at 9:15 p.m.
Splash and play
In El Dorado, there’s nowhere kids like to be more than the MAD Playscape at the Murphy Arts District (eldomad.com). The two-acre playground offers boundless opportunities for imaginative play, including slides, ropes, ladders, tunnels, and—our favorite—the seasonal splash pad. This free, fun experience is open Memorial Day through the summer. Find hours at eldomad.com/madplayscape.
Celebrate the season
Fresh, seasonal fruits are a few more of the many reasons to love Arkansas in the summer, and these two communities go all in on their favorite produce. Join the Clarksville Peach Festival (jocopeachfest.com) July 20-23 for live music, a peach-eating contest, and peach cobbler bake-off. The next weekend, July 28-30, visit the Cave City Watermelon Festival (cavecitywatermelonfestival.com) to participate in the Melon Dash 5K and feast on as much fresh watermelon as possible. Both fests are family friendly and free to the public.
Grab the popcorn
Take a step back in time with movie night at the drive-in. 112 Drive-in Theatre (112driveintheatre.com) in Fayetteville screens movies at sundown Thursday through Sunday evenings, allowing you to take in the big screen from the comfort of your car. This is one Arkansas bucket list item you won’t want to put off; recent rezoning of the surrounding property has led to concern that the drive-in’s 32nd season might be one of its last.
Stock Local Suds
Pack the cooler with these Arkansas-based brands, perfect for summer sipping
1 Lake House Haze / Ozark Beer Company, Rogers
2 Teeny Tiny Umbrella Tropical Pineapple Ale / Lost Forty Brewing, Little Rock
3 Dirt Surfer IPA / Lost Forty Brewing, Little Rock
4 Larry’s Lager / Core Brewing & Distilling Co., Springdale
5 Session IPA / Fossil Cove Brewing Co., Fayetteville
6 Little Red Strawberry Lager / Diamond Bear Brewing Co., North Little Rock
7 Scarlet Letter Spiked Seltzer / Core Brewing & Distilling Co., Springdale
Book a Babysitter
Mix it up
Plan a date night for July 23 and join the Mixology 101: Great Summer Cocktails class at Wilson Cafe & Tavern (wilsonarkansas.com). This is part of a monthly series that offers hands-on experience crafting cocktails, practical advice on stocking your bar, and a chance to taste your creations, too.
Catch some culture
A Northwest Arkansas-based concert series called City Sessions expands its reach across the state with Local Festival (citysessions.org/jonesboro), an arts and music festival July 16-17 in downtown Jonesboro.
Listen to the music
This year’s Opera in the Ozarks (opera.org) season features three operas—Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” Puccini’s “La Rondine,” and Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte”—as well as a night of chamber music and two cabaret shows. The 22 opera performances are at Inspiration Point in Eureka Springs, an iconic landmark with views of the White River Valley.
Kaitlin Garcia-Maestas, Bentonville
Kaitlin moved to Bentonville in 2018 to join The Momentary as a curator two years before the museum opened. “It’s super exciting to know I get to help shape something new, which is not an opportunity a lot of contemporary art curators have today,” she says. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she appreciates how her new home is evolving while staying true to its Natural State roots. Here’s how she’s living her best Arkansas summer.
FAVORITE EATS Bar Cleeta. As a curator I’m always taking artists to dinner, so it’s nice to have a restaurant that changes their menu seasonally and reflects the region.
ON HER PLAYLIST Coming from the West and now living in the South, I do a lot of driving. I love listening to Waxahatchee because she’s an incredible songwriter with a truly modern Americana sound. What’s more Americana than a cross-country road trip?
FAVORITE WAY TO GET OUTDOORS My fiancé and I both own canoes so we do quite a bit of canoeing. We love to go to Beaver Lake and other lakes around Fayetteville.
BEST WAY TO BEAT THE HEAT The Bentonville public pool. I love to go there on Sundays because it’s not as busy; I joke that it’s my church!
CURRENT CULTURAL TO-DO LIST Live music at The Momentary. I’m definitely biased, but our spaces are so unique—no matter the size of the audience, you have a close connection to the artist performing.
FAVORITE HAPPY HOUR The Meteor. They have amazing natural wine and happy hour specials, and they’ve got a nice patio. It’s cool because most people who go there are walking or on bikes. It’s very Bentonville.
GO-TO ROAD TRIP Kansas City. I love to go see the museums there, and it’s an easy 2.5 hour drive from here.
THIS SUMMER, YOU’LL FIND HER… Outside at The Momentary. Half of our current exhibit is outdoors, and the artist, Esteban Cabeza de Baca, has a site-specific living sculpture titled “Host” that’s both an artwork and vessel for Arkansas native plants. Over the next several months the plants will grow and evolve along with the seasons. My whole team has been obsessed with these monarch cocoons, and there’s milkweed and strawberries growing in other parts of the sculpture.
“Esteban Cabeza de Baca: Let Earth Breathe” is on view at The Momentary through September 25. Find out more at themomentary.org.
Mike Morris, Maumelle
Photographer Mike Morris’s passion for his craft was born around age 19 when he volunteered to take some photos for his cousin, a budding musical artist. Looking back at those images today, he laughs, but it doesn’t matter—he was hooked. Now Mike photographs professionally, both in his studio in downtown Little Rock and across the country. “If it needs a camera, I can capture it,” he says. Here’s how he’s living his best Arkansas summer.
FAVORITE EATS Heights Taco & Tamale and The Fold
GO-TO DRINK ON A 100-DEGREE DAY A mule of some sort, or a simple gin and tonic.
ON HIS PLAYLIST Spotify’s summer mixes, which consist of a lot of great house music. I always discover an artist I’m not familiar with in those mixes. Right now what’s playing is a song by Rolipso called “Back in Love.”
BEST SUMMER MEMORIES Trips to Lake Ouachita. My dad would rent a cabin during the summers, and we had a flat bottom that we’d go out on and fish. Other than that, our neighborhood was filled with kids, so it was nonstop basketball, bike riding, days at Wild River Country, and nights at the original Maumelle Pizza Hut.
BEST WAY TO BEAT THE HEAT Under a big shade tree or in the pool or sprinkler with my daughter and niece.
ARKANSAS INSPIRATIONS Markia Herron of Herron Hats for the time and effort she puts into every beautiful hat she crafts by hand. Also fellow photographer Stephanie Parsley, for all she’s accomplished since she hit the ground running.
FAVORITE SHOOT LOCATION I love shooting downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods. Taking a fashion concept somewhere rugged and shooting from up high both give a great aesthetic.
THIS SUMMER, YOU’LL FIND HIM… Enjoying life with family and friends. If you see me, say what’s up!
Follow Mike on Instagram (@mikemorrisinc).
Marisa Del Rio, Little Rock
As the owner of secondhand fashion boutique Wild Rio, Marisa is doing her part to help the environment, one piece of on-trend women’s clothing at a time. Through a consignment model, she’s able to offer competitive prices while also helping shoppers develop more sustainable closets. She opened Wild Rio’s brick-and-mortar last year in Hillcrest. “It’s one of the few neighborhoods where everything you need is within walking distance, and I also love the eclectic vibe.” Here’s how she’s living her best Arkansas summer.
BEST SUMMER MEMORIES Searching for honeysuckle! The YMCA summer program was definitely my stomping ground, too, with memories of ice cream sandwiches, Capture the Flag, and splashing in creeks.
BEST DATE NIGHT The Pantry and Local Lime.
GO-TO SUMMER OUTFIT Hair clips, big earrings, and midi dresses.
BEST ROAD TRIP We venture to Northwest Arkansas multiple times a year. My family loves the beautiful 3-hour drive, exploring the art museums, shopping at local small businesses, and finding yummy restaurants.
BEST WAY TO BE OUTDOORS A shaded patio with a nice glass of wine and good music.
BEST WAY TO BEAT THE HEAT WITH KIDS The Racquet Club pool.
BEST WAY TO BEAT THE HEAT WITHOUT KIDS Bowling! My husband and I love a good competitive game.
BEST SUMMER SWEET TREAT Snow cones, hands down.
Visit Wild Rio at 800 N. Spruce St. in Little Rock or online at shopwildrio.com.