By Grant Stewart and Garrett Howard
Fall break offers students a reprieve from schoolwork to take a three-day weekend trip to local tourist traps. Whether you enjoy hiking, eating or sightseeing (or maybe all three), there are a variety of memorable stops for those who could use a break from Searcy scenery.
Roughly three hours northwest of Searcy, the town of Fayetteville offers beautiful hiking opportunities around the Kingfisher or Rookery trails, tasty local cuisine destinations (like Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese or Catfish Hole) and Arkansas Razorback football games almost every Saturday in the fall. If the Hogs are not playing, be sure to attend the farmers market located in downtown Fayetteville. While you are there, go see some of the quaint little shops that decorate the town, or check out the massive Walmart headquarters in Bentonville. You can stay in Bentonville and visit the Crystal Bridges Art Museum, or, if you feel brave enough, stay at the haunted hotel in Eureka Springs.
If you need to escape the catfish and country of Arkansas towns, Tennessee’s historic city of Memphis is known for its barbecue and blues. This culture-rich city provides jazzy music on Beale Street, great southern cooking, and a fascinating history. Go check out the Civil Rights Museum on the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and discover more about the Civil Rights movement. Embrace your inner animal lover and observe more than 3,500 animals at the award winning Memphis Zoo, ranked No. 4 among zoos in the U.S according to USA Today. You can also walk along a replica of the Mississippi River at Mud Island, or behold the might of the actual river from the top of the Bass Pro Shop at the iconic Memphis Pyramid.
Clocking in at about three hours from Searcy, Missouri’s bustling city of Branson is the farthest away, but it should not be much trouble for a fuel-efficient car. Branson is located deep in the Ozark Mountains and contains entertainment on many different fronts. Sit back and relax at one of the various music shows available, or seek pulse-pounding thrills at amusement parks such as Silver Dollar City. Don’t forget to stop by the Krispy Kreme shop when the hot fresh light is on. You may be able to snag a few free doughnuts.
Overall, a road trip is what you make of it, because even trips to small Arkansas towns can bring you to adventures you may not have considered. Venture to Mount Magazine State Park and climb the tallest mountain in the state of Arkansas, head to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro to dig up a real diamond, or travel to Parker Homestead in Harrison, Arkansas, where you can take a trip back in time to a simpler era (and be sure to grab some kettle corn while you are there).