This post is sponsored by Visit Rogers, who indulged me and some blogging friends in a much-needed weekend getaway last month. They also sent me home with a $100 gift card to indulge a lucky reader. Scroll on for details and some inspiration on where to spend it. Update: Congratulations, Sheryl, lucky commenter #3!
Back at the beginning of the summer, the boys and I took a day trip to a sleepy little town in Northwest Arkansas, and were amazed to discover it was buzzing with big city culture. When I was invited to return to the area for a tour of the neighboring town of Rogers, I knew better than to assume anything about sleepy little towns in Northwest Arkansas, so I went with an open mind.
But Rogers still surprised me.
For starters, BACON JAM. We could just end this post right here. Note to the Visitors and Convention Bureau: put up billboards with BACON JAM and arrows pointing to Rogers. You’re set.
Bacon jam is a sweet-smoky-salty delight that’s like a spreadable red-eye gravy. We had it as part of a special mezze tasting menu at the Heirloom Café. The chef served us her own recipe, but was kind enough to point me toward this version as a departure point for at-home experimentation.
Here’s what happens when you invite bloggers to lunch:
Instagramming food is the new grace before meals.
We also had some terrific Latin American fare at Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante. Mojitos and margaritas were consumed with gusto. If you would like to sponsor my and Sarabeth’s worldwide “Mo and Marg” mom blogger tour, please get in touch with our people.
In some ways, Rogers is that sleepy little town of my imagination. With its cobbled streets, wide front porches, and 1920s storefronts, it’s a quintessential slice of Americana.
Rogers clearly benefits from being near the Walmart corporate epicenter, but it has its own distinct character and history. For one thing, it owes its name to an effort to flatter the head of a railroad company. It worked, and Captain Rogers brought the Frisco line to town.
For another, years before the world’s first true “Wal-mart” store opened in Rogers in 1962, Daisy Rifles was headquartered there. You know I’m not a gun person, but the Daisy Air Gun Museum is wonderful. Of course, there is a whole exhibit devoted to the legendary Red Ryder BB gun of “Christmas Story” fame. I’ll definitely be taking the boys there. I almost brought home BB shot slingshots, before I came to my senses and realized that eyes would most definitely get shot out.
As with Bentonville, it was startling to discover big city style and culture in the middle of a small rural town.
We enjoyed excellent Sidecar cocktails at a neat little speakeasy, Club Frisco, where any urban hipster would feel completely at home. Also, some guy claiming to be the TOWN MAYOR came out and had a drink with us. Allyson, our weekend guide, said it was for real, but I looked it up on Foursquare the next morning, and it was definitely not that dude. ;-)
We toured the gallery of an internationally recognized art photographer, Ed Cooley, who paints with light and a camera lens, and whose un-retouched work has to be seen to be believed.
And naturally, we shopped. The upscale shopping promenade, Pinnacle Hills, had stores I’ve never seen in Little Rock, a metropolitan area many times the size of Rogers.
It was the first time I’d ever seen the clothing store Altar’d State, and I loved it so much, I made our entire group late for the next itinerary stop. Sorry, gang, it was worth it.
I needed this orange dress. To balance my chakras. And two others. Just because.
As you can tell, the itinerary was packed. The hour we spent sailing on Beaver Lake with Kerry & Bobbie Jensen of Jensen Boat Works was a blissful time-out, and a reminder that we were actually out in the country, as was our tour of historic War Eagle Mill, where we watched organic grains being stoneground.
It’s hard to complain about being shown too much of a good time, but our hosts thought of everything, and arranged spa treatments at Spa Botanica for the last morning of our stay. I can’t speak for all the women in our group, but I don’t think Sarabeth would mind me saying that facials and massages are not on our weekly or even monthly agendas. I think the last spa facial I had was in 1992.
We hardly knew how to act. Also, it was no small treat for us moms to each have a room of our own at the Embassy Suites. Not that I would have minded sharing with any or all of the women in our group.
The thing about getaways is that the destination is only as good as the company.
Huge thanks to Visit Rogers, who were incredible hosts. And thanks for letting me share our fun Arkansas weekend getaway, and my pride in this state’s many charms. I can’t wait to discover more.
To enter to win a $100 prepaid shopping card, just leave a comment on this post. A winner will be randomly drawn this Friday, September 6 at noon CST. Good luck!