Story: Paulette Pearson |
For a fun and food-filled weekend with your closest friends, tap into Conway’s distinctive shops, charming antique stores, cozy cafes and locally owned restaurants.
Start your weekend with some creative inspiration and plan a ladies’ pottery painting party at Doodles for You (931-B Locust St., 501-205-2415, www.doodlesforyoustudio.com). They’ll stay open after hours by appointment so you and the girls can design and paint pottery to your hearts’ content. Even better, you get to bring along your own food and drinks.
Get dolled up for dinner and make an appearance at Mike’s Place (808 Front St., 501-269-6453, www.mikesplaceconway.com), celebrating New Orleans cuisine with the highest quality shrimp, fish and shellfish from the Gulf shores. On the menu? Chesapeake Bay crab cakes, homemade gumbo, shrimp scampi, seafood crepes and much more. Space fills up quickly so call ahead to reserve a table. Another local favorite is Pia’s Italian Restaurant (915 Front St., 501-513-9944), offering traditional Italian favorites made with fresh ingredients. Stay and chat a while over coffee and cheesecake. For a place to lay your head, check into one of Conway’s many convenient chain hotels or treat yourself to an elegant stay at The Ward Mansion Bed & Breakfast (1912 Caldwell St., 501-499-1400, www.wardmansionbandb.com).
Hop on over to Stoby’s Restaurant (805 Donaghey Ave., 501-327-5447, www.stobys.com) for an award-winning breakfast. Pick and choose from a variety of breakfast specialties including homemade biscuits and gravy, eggs benedict and syrup-drenched French toast. Pass around your plates and try them all.
Walk off that French toast with a stroll through the Saturday morning farmers market located on Front Street and open ‘til noon. Then head to store-lined Oak Street for some serious impulse shopping. Something Blue Paperie (1014 Oak St., 501-327-4258, www.somethingbluepaperie.com) delights with stationery, thank you notes, custom frames, bags and totes, monogram gifts and much more. A few doors down, Bevy’s (1022 Oak St., 501-329-4530) offers custom draperies, monograms and positively darling gift items. Model a new outfit and accessories at Mary’s Boutique (1110 Oak St., 501-329-5600). And Blue Ribbon Antiques (1012 Oak St., 501-764-1242) is a treasure trove of antique fabric and vintage linens.
Scurry across the street into That Bookstore at Mountebanq Place (1107 Oak St., 501-327-8900) located in a fully restored historic building, where you can sit a spell and enjoy sifting through a large collection of children’s literature (which we never tire of reading) and Arkansas-related books. While you’re there, order a refreshing drink or yummy treat at That Café located in back.
Then be prepared to work up your appetite again while wading through antiques, gifts and décor galore in Jenifer’s Antiques (1003 Oak St., 501-764-1311). Located inside Jenifer’s, Cross Creek Sandwich Shop (501-764-1811) is open weekdays. We love the homemade desserts and the Cross Creek Special—chicken salad scooped into a jumbo pasta shell and served with fresh fruit and a bowl of sensational strawberry chiller soup.
Other morning stops on Oak Street include Fletcher Smith’s Jewelers (1115 Oak St., 501-329-2842, www.fletchersmithjewelers.com), Lefler’s (1114 Oak St., 501-329-3424), known for classic and contemporary clothing and accessories, and PK’s (830 Front St., 501-329-3722), our go-to source for designer brand names and accessories.
Perfect for lunch, Stromboli’s (2665 Donaghey Ave., Ste. 101, 501-327-3700) is a locally owned Conway favorite that serves authentic brick oven and hand-tossed pizza New York style. Watch them toss your dough and follow up your savory pies with some gelato—smooth and delicious Italian ice cream.
After the lunch hour, freshen up and make the short drive to Walk This Way (920 Locust St., Ste. 101, 501-32SHOES, www.wtwshoes.com) to play dress up. Fabulous shoes and accessories are this boutique’s specialty, but they also have current women’s fashions. Then turn the attention to your home with a visit to The Kitchen Store (704 Locust St., 501-327-2182), where whipping up great ideas is the specialty. They have everything you’d ever need to make your kitchen top-notch and offer complimentary gift-wrapping. When you’ve had your fill, head slightly further afield to Just T’s-N (2850 Prince St., Ste. 3, 501-450-7155, http://just-tsn.com) to marvel at several rooms full of unique and personalized gifts, jewelry and so much more—your tween daughters will love it! Around the corner, stock up on homemade cookies at Conway’s famous Maggie’s Original Cookie Company (2850 Prince St., Ste. 17, 501-336-9600) for the drive home on Sunday.
Before heading back for dinner, you can’t miss out on a trip to The Plant Outlet (827 Hogan Ln., 501-513-0080, www.arkansasplantoutlet.com). The grounds are inspiring and the friendly staff is brimming with ideas for home landscaping and design. And your own garden will love you when you return home with new accessories, a beautiful new fountain or a piece of wrought-iron furniture from Fountains, Pots, Plants & More (1120 Hogan Ln., 501-339-5000) located right down the street.
There’s no better way to decompress from a day of shopping than with a relaxing dinner at Michelangelo’s Italian Ristorante (1117 Oak St., 501-329-7278, http://michelangelosconway.com). The impressive menu goes on for pages, featuring antipasti, fresh salads, pizzas and panini. Traditional and baked pasta, chicken and beef dishes, and fish and seafood round out the deliciously world-class fare. As for dessert, order some cannoli and call it a meal well done. Remember to make reservations ahead of time.
Conclude the evening with an event sponsored by University of Central Arkansas Public Appearances (http://www.uca.edu/publicappearances). Kevin Eubanks, formerly of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, will be in town on September 19. You can also check out the schedule at Hendrix College (www.hendrix.edu/events) for more events available to the public throughout the year.
Sleep in a bit and then greet the new day in a big way with brunch at Something Brewing (1156 Front St., 501-327-5517). The menu tempts with coffee drinks ranging from lattes and black forest mochas to caramel and double fudge frappes. Smoothies in flavors like piña colada, peach, strawberry and banana are also available. Baked goods include chocolate chunk muffins and cream cheese Danishes, or go all out and end the weekend with cinnamon raisin or cranberry walnut pancakes.
So what are you waiting for? Follow our lead and mark your calendars for a trip to Conway you won’t soon forget. See you on the road!