Spring Break Ideas Close to Home
by Madelyn McConnell
March 19, 2018
Our winter hasn’t quite measured up to winters past in terms of snowfall or ice so you might not be desperate for a getaway during Spring Break this year. Fortunately, there are more than enough ways to enjoy a “staycation” right here at home. With a little creative planning, and some adventurous thinking, your family can make all the memories you need without the travel hassle.
In Northwest Arkansas, the easy-access Razorback Greenway makes getting from one town to another not only a great way to get fit but also to get to know your community a bit better. The Greenway map is available online, so spend a little time with the family planning a few days during the week that include cycling and/or walking. You might discover new parks, activities, and places to fuel up you didn’t know about before.
If you’re interested in some activities that are not so… well, active, a visit to your local library might be what you’re looking for. Many libraries plan family-friendly activities during spring break week to keep kids and their parents entertained. And, checking out a few new books and movies will provide some entertainment at home as well.
Experiencing a trip through the Boston Mountains by train is definitely a memory-maker! If you have a Saturday free during spring break week, hop aboard the Arkansas-Missouri Railroad from their departure point in Springdale and spend the day riding the rails to Van Buren and back. There are refreshments available during the ride, but you’ll have a three-hour layover in Van Buren to enjoy some sightseeing and grab a bite there.
Take a short drive east from Fayetteville and spend a few hours in a world of creativity at Terra Studios. Home of the “Bluebird of Happiness”, this unique spot features a viewing window where, from 11:30 – 4:30 p.m. daily, you can watch the famous glass birds being created today just as they have been for decades. You’re guaranteed to find lots of opportunities to capture fun photos to share, so walk the Labyrinth, visit the art walk, and explore the art gallery and gift shop at your leisure. On Sundays, you can kick back and enjoy some local music and locally-made baked treats in their on-site café.
Did you know one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country is located in Northwest Arkansas? The 112 Drive-In has been entertaining folks with weekend double features for generations, and they’re opening for the 2018 season on March 16 with a showing of Black Panther and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Check their website for all the pertinent information, then load up the kids (and maybe a few blankets) and go watch movies like your parents, or maybe grandparents used to.
If you haven’t made it to Fort Smith to see their fast-growing collection of public murals, Spring Break is a great time to go. If you already live there, all the better! The Unexpected project has been bringing internationally-known artists and muralists to the city annually since 2015, and their colorful additions to blank exterior walls downtown and along the main corridor of Garrison Avenue have created a unique reason to visit and linger a while. You’ll find plenty of other things to do while you’re there as well, including visiting the Old Fort National Park site where kids can sign up to earn badges and become a Junior Ranger.
In Northeast Oklahoma, Grand Lake is a popular spot for all kinds of summertime activities, but spring is also a great time to do some lake camping. Be sure to take your binoculars, because star-gazing during the week of spring break will be ideal. Cooler nights mean less moisture in the air and clearer viewing. And, you’ll be able to see more heavenly bodies because the new moon won’t be lighting up the sky. Here’s some information about the night sky in March to help create a family-friendly astronomy scavenger hunt.
While you’re headed to Grand Lake, you should well plan to visit Har-Ber Village Museum. It’s a pioneer-era village and history museum where you can experience the area’s history and ecology through self-guided tours. Interesting exhibits of antiques and reproductions at the museum represent items in use by early settlers of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas from the 1800s into the early 1900s. The museum is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so plan accordingly, and check the website
Have you ever heard of geocaching? It’s a global treasure hunt that’s fun for the whole family and only requires comfortable shoes and a mobile GPS. There are millions of geocaches around the world, including Northeast Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas. In fact, all of the dots on the map in the image above are geocaches! If you’re making plans to get outside during your spring break to do some hiking or cycling, you should definitely add searching for a geocache to your itinerary.
Pack a picnic lunch and spend a day at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma for a one-of-a-kind educational experience. In addition to extensive artifacts collections and a museum gift store, you can visit Diligwa, an authentic recreation of a 1710 Cherokee Village, on the historic grounds of the Center. The outdoor living exhibit provides an enhanced experience of authentic Cherokee life and history with live demonstrations of traditional Cherokee culture like flintknapping, dugout canoe-making, and basket weaving. (In Northwest Arkansas, visit the Museum of Native American History for more educational memory-making.)
Whatever you plan for your spring break, be safe, and make some memories. And remember, life is GRAND!