By Logan Ward
July 16, 2020
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Wesley Hitt

Like other retirees who moved to Fayetteville, Barbara and Jackie Clements discovered the city’s charms when their two daughters attended the University of Arkansas. Jackie still remembers the first time he spied the school’s white buildings while driving up from the south. “It looks like a city on a hill,” says the former shoe designer who spends his free time painting and writing fiction. “I’ve seen that view many times, and it’s still striking.” 

Nestled among seven hills in the ancient Ozark Mountains, Fayetteville provides a Goldilocks climate, not too hot and not too cold, with the mountains blocking many of winter’s arctic blasts—and easy access to both culture and nature. Beaver Lake, about an hour’s drive to the northeast, is a clear-water reservoir with limestone bluffs and nearly 500 miles of shoreline.

Wesley Hitt

As for culture, this area has benefited from the largess of the Walton family, founders of Walmart, based in nearby Bentonville. The world-class Walton Arts Center in downtown Fayetteville exists in large part to make the arts accessible by offering many free or reduced-price tickets to events. Opened in 2011, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (founded by Alice Walton and located 25 miles north in Bentonville) presents art intertwined with nature through a compound of buildings designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie. 

Jackie, an artist, is a regular visitor to Crystal Bridges. Fayetteville is a barbecue town, largely inspired by Memphis-style ’cue, and that makes him feel at home, because he spent half of his childhood in Memphis. “The quality of life here comes from so many aspects, from the topography to the arts,” he says. “It’s a great place to live.”