What does a mom want for Mother’s Day? Flowers, reservations at a nice restaurant, and other gifts are appreciated. But the real gift she is looking for is time with the family that gave her the title of Mom in the first place.
Here are six ideas for spending time with your mom this Mother’s Day weekend in the Ozarks and River Valley:
1. Bentonville. Park near the square and take a walk around the Farmer’s Market, open 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy an early lunch at one of the fabulous downtown restaurants. Some of my favorites are: Table Mesa, Tusk & Trotter, The Hive Restaurant @ 21C Museum Hotel, and Flying Fish. You can also visit some shops or tour the Walmart Visitor Center while you’re there.
Walk off your lunch with a leisurely stroll from the downtown to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The art trail gives you plenty of sculpture and beautiful plants too look at along your way. You can easily spend a couple hours here. Don’t miss the gift shop. You could also eat here at the Eleven Restaurant at the museum.
Walk back to the square and stop in at 21C Museum Hotel for even more art – quite unusual modern creations. Then relax over a drink in the bar before calling it a day.
2. River Valley Wine Country. Arkansas is the largest and oldest wine-producing state in the South. Six wineries in the Altus area offer tours and tasting rooms, and many a mom would enjoy you driving them around on a little wine country tour. Most have some great wine-related gift items too.
In Altus, you’ll find Chateau Aux Arc Vineyards and Winery, Mount Bethel Winery, and Post Familie Vineyards. Nearby Paris is home to Cowie Wine Cellars and Vineyards and the Arkansas Historic Wine Museum. Wiederkehr Village has Neumeier Winery and Wiederkehr Wine Cellars. Take mom to eat at Weinkeller Restaurant at Wiederkehr’s. The food and the ambiance are outstanding. Click here for a list of other wineries and breweries around the state.
3. Visit an Arkansas State Park. Hike, have a picnic, fish, rent a boat, take family photos, go camping. Parks can be found on mountain peaks and historic grounds preserving Civil War sites. Click here for a list of state parks to find the one nearest you, or the one your mom might most like experiencing.
4. The Buffalo National River offers beauty that can only be rivaled by, well…your mother. The nation’s first national river meanders through the Ozarks for almost 135 miles. The upper, middle and lower sections are different in scenery and in regard to rapids. The upper is best in spring time for white water action and the middle and lower offer more leisurely floats. Pick a section depending on your adventure meter and experience.
You’ll find plenty of canoe and kayak outfitters, campsites, hiking and horseback riding trails, and cabin rentals. The towering limestone bluffs are a sight to behold.
As a mom, some of my favorite things to do are hike Lost Valley, watch the elk in Boxley Valley, eat and rummage through antique and art galleries on the square in Jasper (don’t miss the ice cream at Ozark Café), and visit the elk education centers in Jasper and Ponca.
5. Eureka Springs. Spas. Shopping. Fabulous restaurants. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Thorncrown Chapel. Beautiful architecture. Historic hotels. Bed and Breakfast Inns. Art galleries. Zip lines. Trolleys. The list goes on and on.
6. Fort Smith and Van Buren are fun for history, shopping and train rides. Book a trip on the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad from the Van Buren depot for some great sightseeing. The downtown is great for walking and shopping. In Fort Smith, don’t miss the National Historic Site, which documents the Wild West significance of the town. The electric trolley, the Fort Smith Museum of History and the Regional Art Museum are worth your time as well.
7. Mountain View is hard to beat as a treat for mom’s who like Ozark roots music, culinary skills and arts. At Ozark Folk Center State Park you can see crafts made, eat the buffet, catch a concert and shop for gifts. Blanchard Springs Caverns will take your breath away. That alone is worth the trip. You’ll also find nice shops around the square, and musicians gathering for impromptu jam sessions. Sit a spell and take it all in.
No matter what you choose to do with your mom this weekend, don’t forget to tell her how much she means to you and why.