Destination: Siloam Springs
Get off the highway and be surprised
Get off the highway and be surprised
By Robby Edwards
Photos by Abby Trinidad and Kate Crafton
We are featuring stories on the downtown areas of our region’s major cities. We did this in 2015, but we’re back to let you know what’s still there and what’s new. We hope this provides some insight, history, highlights and ideas of things to do and see in each area. Consider a day trip and let this be an insider’s guide for you. This month, we look at Siloam Springs. Next month, we head to Bentonville.
Want to get out of town for several hours of fun without spending a lot of time on the road? About 35 miles west of Fayetteville and a few blocks off Hwy. 412, downtown Siloam Springs may surprise you with public art, a walkable pub crawl, food inspired from around the world, a scenic creek, open green spaces and many locally owned shops.
“Once visitors realize how easy it is to come to our quaint and historic downtown Siloam Springs, they will keep coming back for memorable outings,” says Kelsey Howard, executive director of Main Street Siloam Springs. “You can turn off the highway and drive a couple miles down East Main Streetor Mt. Olive Street. Picture this: hundred-year-old buildings, a winding creek with fountains, parks and trails for the whole family, and plenty of local gems for dining and shopping. It’s no wonder everyone in Siloam Springs agrees downtown is the heartbeat of our whole community.”
Founded in the 1880s as a tourist destination based on perceived medicinal qualities of freshwater springs, railway access and the establishment of what is now John Brown University helped draw residents in the early 1900s.
The downtown district is now thriving with small businesses, historic sites, and outdoor recreation and adventure, including the recently completed City Lake area.
Before going anywhere, you have to know there’s food, right? Just a few options include 28 Springs, Back Forty, Barnett’s Dairyette, Café on Broadway, Callahan’s Steak House, Cathy’s Corner, Fratelli’s Wood-Fired Pizzeria, Taqueria El Rancho, Hawg City Grill, Thai Café, Pour Jons Coffee, The Park House Kitchen+Bar, Tinto’s and Tapas, and Ziggywurst.
For an upscale, American-style meal and lively trivia night, try 28 Springs, named for the number of springs found in the area. Back Forty offers steak and seafood. Go to Barnett’s for old-fashioned burgers and hand-mixed shakes or Café on Broadway for pastries and people-watching. Ivory Bill Brewing routinely releases new craft beers and hosts weekly events. Cathy’s Corner specializes in breakfast and the “Big Al” burger, and Pour Jons roasts coffee beans on-site while actually “spinning” music on vinyl. Hawg City Grill offers barbecue, Tinto’s and Tapas serves Colombian coffee and food, and Ziggywurst — where a secret tip is to request “Granny’s mustard” — is German-inspired food and more.
At the heart of the community are local shops, including 2 Gals Junk where you can search for nostalgic treasures. Ash & Ember is a tobacconist and gentlemen’s shop, and Burlap & Lace and Sassafras offer antiques. C by M Creative features handcrafted products made from local wood, Creative Corner on Broadway focuses on scrapbooking, and Dogwood Junction and Phat Tire are bike shops. Heart of the Home specializes in farmhouse and unique décor, Madison Avenue is a women’s boutique, Occasions is a gift shop, Right Choice Outdoor Products sells power equipment, and Cari’s Closet and The Nitche Boutique and Bride are formal wear and boutique clothing shops.
Siloam Springs 6 Movie Theater features six screens, and Community Bowl offers bowling, an arcade and beer on tap. The newly renovated Siloam Springs Museum highlights Native American culture, pioneer life, medicine and other elements of local history.
For overnight accommodations, rooms are available at The Park House downtown, as well as at Budget Inn, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Quality Inn and Super 8.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
The paved Dogwood Springs Trail is the primary trail in the city, but for adventure, head down Fisher Ford Road to the Kayak Park. Along the Illinois River, the family-friendly park features a section of engineered river for experts and beginners alike. Other features are a designed riverbank, climbing boulder and swimming hole with riverside seating.
For more thrills, the Sager Creek Mountain Bike Trail is a five-mile soft-surface track running along Sager Creek and adjacent to John Brown University. There’s also the South Loop Trail (1.8 miles, intermediate), North Loop Trail (3.3 miles, beginner) and the Strider Trail (1.1 miles, children).
Other fresh-air options are The Course at Sager’s Crossing, a nine-hole golf course; the Family Aquatic Center, a community pool with a beach entry, diving board, baby pool and water slides; and City Lake, the most recent addition, featuring six-plus miles of beginner and intermediate multi-use soft surface trails, mountain biking, raised-bed hiking, and a bicycle skills course and pump track.
For a slower stroll, browse downtown with views of Sager Creek, green spaces and fountain-filled creek beds; or wander the campus of John Brown University and its futsal (smaller, hard-surfaced soccer) court, art gallery and the Cathedral of the Ozarks.
Public art, in the form of sculptures and murals, are on full display. Along Broadway Street downtown, spaces are reserved for temporary sculptures. The four current pieces are seven-foot metal silhouettes of local scenes by Dave Andrus. Sculptures are replaced annually; four designs by a different artist will be in place by September.
Several buildings feature murals of wildlife, including three herons, a deer, an otter, a family of ducks and more.
“It could be a really fun family activity or date during the day to find all of our wildlife murals,” says Howard. “If you start at Ziggywurst and [going south] end at the Siloam Springs Public Library, you should find them all – if you have a sharp eye.”
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