#8. Fayetteville AR
This charming city in northwest Arkansas is home to the University of Arkansas and approximately 86,000 residents. Families who live in Fayetteville can take advantage of 37 city parks, 84 miles of trails, 15 natural areas and tons of other places to play outside (plus, it’s a quick 40-minute drive to Ozark National Forest).
The city also has a thriving arts scene, plus lots of fun traditions that all generations can appreciate at University of Arkansas sporting events (like the “Woo Pig Sooie” hog call). On top of that, the Fayetteville metropolitan area has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.5 percent.
Best Way to Keep Everyone Entertained on a Saturday Afternoon: Sign up for a class or an event as a family at Terra Studios, a combination art gallery, cafe and studio where anyone can learn a new skill, such as how to make a fairy house or dye silk scarves.
Kid-Friendly Restaurant: Catfish Hole, where kids under the age of four eat free and everyone can chow down on catfish, shrimp and hush puppies.
Best Date Night Spot (for frazzled parents): In the summer, catch a movie in the car at 112 Drive-In, where you can snack on popcorn and other concession stand-style foods. The audio for the movies plays through your car radio.
Where to Score the Sweet Stuff: Rick’s Bakery, which has been around since 1980 and has colorful display cases full of decadent pastries, donuts, cakes, cookies and more goodies than you or your little ones could ever dream of.
Dog-Friendly Hangout Spot (because they’re part of the family too!): Take a leisurely, leashed stroll together through Fayetteville’s Downtown Square and Gardens (which lots of people call a hidden gem), where you’ll also find the long-running farmers market three days a week during the warmer months.