Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Californian's Perspective on Fayetteville, Arkansas

Each year in the LL.M. Program, we attract a geographically diverse group of attorneys to study with us in Fayetteville.  While there are always a few Arkansans in the class, the majority come from out of state.  For example, this year's class includes Lauren Bernadett, a recent graduate of UCLA Law School.  Lauren moved to Fayetteville from Los Angeles, California. I asked her to write a post about moving to Fayetteville and what she found here -  

Here's Lauren's post: 

In-person attendance will continue to be an important and invaluable component of the Agriculture and Food Law LL.M. Program, even as we develop a distance learning program for those who cannot relocate to Fayetteville.  Even once future students have the choice between in-person attendance and distance learning, students should still strongly consider in-person attendance even if that means relocating.

The thought of relocating (even if just temporarily) to Fayetteville can be intimidating for many reasons. One reason may be that Fayetteville is a new town, or Arkansas is a new state for you.  For some previous students, moving to Fayetteville for the LL.M. Program was their first time living outside of their home state.  We hope that fear of a new town would not dissuade any future students from attending the LL.M. Program in person.  In fact, many students find Fayetteville to be one of the best places they have ever lived.  We would like to share with future students some aspects of living in Fayetteville that make it a great place to live, even if  just for one academic year.


Especially if you are moving from a bigger city, you will be pleasantly surprised by the housing and rental prices in Fayetteville.  Many students find that they pay much less here than in their previous city.  And the accommodations will be appropriate for people of all tastes and lifestyles – you will be able to find housing as luxurious or as cheap as you like.  Fortunately, there seems to be plenty of housing available in Fayetteville so the housing search can be less of a rat race than you may have experienced in bigger cities.

Many students chose to live close to campus for ease of access.  Students have lived in apartments rented out by property management companies including Pierce Properties, Sweetzer Properties, and Lindsey Management, to name a few of the bigger companies with reasonably priced rentals close to campus.  Previous students have also found apartments on Craigslist and through private renters.  Other students live further away from campus, especially those looking to live in a house or away from the campus scene.


Naturally, many people interested in the LL.M. Program will also be interested in the local food scene in Fayetteville.  In addition to grocery chains such as Harp’s and Walmart, the Ozark Natural Foods Co-op is less than two miles from campus and is a favorite of many LL.M. students.

Fayetteville also boasts one of the best farmers’ markets in the country.  It has been in operation since 1973 and was voted American Farmland Trust’s Favorite Large Farmers’ Market in 2012. Located less than a mile and a half from campus in the Historic Fayetteville Square, shoppers can find fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, honey, jams,
baked goods, crafts, art, and adoptable dogs at the farmers’ market on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings.  The farmers’ market currently runs April through November, but they are hoping to start a winter market soon!  Other farmers’ markets, as well as local fruit and vegetable stands, also operate in Fayetteville and other nearby towns.

Fayetteville restaurants offer common Southern fare such as barbecue, catfish, and deep fried everything, so if that’s an incentive to move to the South, you won’t find it lacking in Fayetteville!

But our vegetarian and health-conscience students are usually pleasantly surprised by the amount of restaurants offering alternative food choices.  Fayetteville also has its share of crave-worthy Thai, Japanese, and Korean restaurants.  If you’re looking for Indian food, nearby Bentonville has a large selection of Indian restaurants.

The grassroots food movement is also flourishing in Fayetteville, giving LL.M. students the opportunity to participate in this new culture.  Tri-Cycle Farms, a local sustainable farm, is just down the street from campus, hosts various community events, and has an ongoing relationship with the LL.M. Program.

Feed Fayetteville is alleviating hunger by promoting a local and sustainable food system. Edible Ozarkansas is a magazine dedicated to the local food culture in the Ozarks.

All these groups and more add to the food culture and community of Fayetteville, making this city so much deeper than just the food companies for which it is famous.

Fortunately for LL.M. students, being in Arkansas allows us to take advantage of the diverse offerings and perspectives of both large, international food companies and small, grassroots food groups.


Fayetteville is not lacking in activities to keep LL.M. students busy, ranging from the outdoors to the arts.  There are a few nearby favorites:

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – Crystal Bridges Museum is home to pieces of American art from throughout the ages, as well as temporary exhibits and community events.  It is located on 120 acres of beautiful forest in Bentonville.  Visitors can explore the museum’s acreage via the multiple walking trails throughout the premises.  The architecture of the museum alone is a thing to behold.  Designed by world-famous Moshe Safdie, the museum forms a bridge over two lakes made from a natural stream.  Best of all, general admission is free!

Devil’s Den State Park – located just south of Fayetteville along highway 540, Devil’s Den is a beautiful place to spend a day hiking and enjoying the beautiful surroundings of Northwest Arkansas.  Plenty of beginner-level trails make this a fun place to take family and friends.

Bike Paths – the many bike paths that span throughout Fayetteville and nearby-Springdale provide an excellent place to bike or run.  One of the trails runs along the east side of campus.  The various paths meet up with each other so you won’t get bored from having to ride along the same trail.  Most of the paths are off the street so bikers and runners don’t have to battle with cars.  The paths are well-maintained and some parts are even lit at night.

Prairie Grove Civil War Battlefield – this is one for the history buffs.  Prairie Grove is one of the most intact civil war battlefields.  There is a walking trail, a driving tour, and guided tours.  On even numbered years in December, the battlefield hosts the largest battle reenactment in Arkansas.

Dickson Street – this is the street near the campus that makes Fayetteville a college town.  The many restaurants and bars along this street are great places to grab a bite or a drink, especially because of its close proximity to campus.  This year’s LL.M. class joined each other for many dinners and happy hours on and near Dickson Street.

Dickson Street Bookshop – anyone interested in historic or out-of-print books will be able to spend hours in this fascinating bookstore.  The walls are lined with unique books of all themes and ages.

Bikers, Blues, and BBQ – if you love motorcycles, stick around for this annual festival.  It is the third biggest biker rally in the nation.

Arkansas Music Pavilion – the “AMP” attracts many well-known bands and musicians, including Alabama Shakes and Lynyrd Skynyrd, just to name a couple 2013 appearances.  It is set to expand into a bigger location in Rogers (just north of Fayetteville) to attract even more big-name groups starting in summer 2014.

Of course, there are many other things to do in and around Fayetteville.  Many online resources have plenty of other suggestions for activities in the area.  Professors and recent LL.M. grads can also be good sources for the must-see attractions of the area.

Getting In and Out

The closest airport to campus is the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) in Bentonville, thirty minutes north of campus.  XNA has direct flights to cities such as Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.

Students sometimes find that it is cheaper to fly out of the Tulsa International Airport, which is less than a two hour drive from Fayetteville and has a wider selection of airlines.

The ease of access to these airports makes life easier for students who undertake regular personal travel throughout the academic year.  Both airports have reasonable economy parking rates, currently at $5 or $6 per day.


Fayetteville has a noticeably slower pace of life than big cities on the coasts.  This is a welcome relief for many.  However, there is enough happening in the city and area and enough professionals and big companies that it does not feel too slow.  Instead, Fayetteville hits a very nice, livable medium.

Students from out of town will notice the southern hospitality in Fayetteville.  Especially coming from a big city, the people of Fayetteville seem relaxed and genuinely kind.  People have time to answer your questions and chat, and they wave or say “Hi” when you run by each other on the bike path.

As a pleasant relief for students moving from big cities, there is comparatively little to no traffic here (locals will call it traffic, but it doesn’t compare to traffic in a big city) and parking around town is usually abundant, free, and unrestricted.  Some students who live further away from campus avoid the cost of a campus parking permit by parking in nearby neighborhoods and walking a short distance to campus.  There are usually no parking restrictions and you’ll never have to move your car for street sweeping.


Northwest Arkansas has four seasons.  Not surprisingly, your perception of Fayetteville weather will depend on where you have lived before.  The summers and winters in Northwest Arkansas are milder than some places in the country and harsher than other places in the country, but it is bearable even for those of us who moved from southern California.  If you’re concerned about the weather, get a better apartment with newer windows, well-insulated walls, and central air/heat.  Fall in Fayetteville is beautiful, and there is no shortage of trees in the area to show off the beautiful colors of the season.

Fayetteville and the Northwest Arkansas area are growing, and it is easy to see why – it has the amenities of a big town, but has a small town feel.  The surroundings are beautiful, and there is plenty to do.  Our students, even the ones who were hesitant about moving to Arkansas, are usually very happy to have had the chance to experience Northwest Arkansas, even if just for one year.  As we modernize our program to add the distance learning component, we hope that many future students will still opt for the in-person program so that they have the chance to experience the charm of Fayetteville!

(Author’s Note: I moved to Fayetteville from Los Angeles for the 2013-14 school year.  I am happy to answer any questions about my moving and/or Fayetteville experience from a Californian/big city perspective.  I can be reached at

No comments: