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Thinking outside this Black Friday 

Looking for an "outside the big-box" option for the Thanksgiving weekend? We've got you covered.

click to enlarge ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
  • Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The holiday season is upon us and with it, comes a chance to spend quality time with family and friends. Traditionally held the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping spree, with sales taking place at many major retailers. However, for those on the lookout for other options to embark on during this timeframe, alternatives include shopping local and spending time outdoors.

Small Business Saturday, which falls on November 26, is picking up steam as a day where people can show their support to communities across the state by checking out their small shops and locally owned restaurants. Many main streets and downtowns will be decorated for the holiday season as well, adding a festive atmosphere for those who want to stroll the streets while they shop.

There are also many opportunities across the state to ‘opt outside’, which is centered on the concept of spending time outdoors on Black Friday. Across the state, picturesque lakes, rivers, forests, mountains, and state parks pay homage to the state’s natural beauty. Some of the many outdoor offerings you can do on this day include:

Visiting a state park: Arkansas’s 52 state parks are located in every area of the state and feature a complete range of scenic destinations. ‘Green Friday’ is set to take place November 25 at state parks across Arkansas. The events are a green alternative to Black Friday with special programs, hikes and other options available. Information about these events can be found at arkansasstateparks.com/events.

Giving back: On November 25, the Arkansas Canoe Club and Saline River Canoes are teaming up to host a Black Friday Clean Up on the Saline River. The event, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is a project of ACC BOATR, an informal off-shoot from the Arkansas Canoe Club, whose acronym stands for Black Ops Advanced Trash Removal. Those interested can meet at Lyle Park in Benton at 26 River Crest Circle. Volunteers are encouraged to join this waterway cleanup event. You can bring a boat if you have one, but if you don’t, there may be a few loaner canoes available too and a ride to cleanup locations can be provided. Lunch will be provided for volunteers as well. For more information, contact Event Coordinator Cowper Chadbourn at cchadbourn@conwaycorp.net or visit their Facebook Event Page here.

Trekking a trail: Arkansas has a wealth of hiking trails to choose from that course through a variety of landscapes including mountain terrain, fragrant pine forests, alongside rivers and streams, and bottomlands perfect for birding and wildlife viewing. There are many standout routes in the state, including the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, which has around 45 miles of trails along the southern shore of Lake Ouachita. The route was designed for all levels and attracts a wide range of users. Parts of the trail are handicapped accessible and groups ranging from hikers to mountain bikers make use of the varied terrain. There are a range of routes you can head to, be it at an urban trail, a city or national park, or one of the many trails found in the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. You can also check in with your local hiking club to see if they are leading an organized group venture on that day or weekend.

Hitting the water: Grab your rod and reel and head to a body of water to get outside and recharge.The Natural State is home to year-round fishing and there is a variety of fishable streams and rivers and numerous lakes, bayous and creeks to explore.

Going on a ride: Celebrate the day by riding at one of the many scenic cycling spots across the state. The Arkansas River Trail in Central Arkansas has bridges that link parks around Little Rock and North Little Rock, including the famous Big Dam Bridge. The 36-mile Razorback Regional Greenway in Northwest Arkansas takes you from the square in Bentonville to downtown Fayetteville. Or you can enjoy views of the Mississippi River from the newly opened Big River Crossing in West Memphis. At nearly a mile long, this is the country’s longest active bike-pedestrian rail bridge and serves as a corridor between West Memphis, Arkansas and downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Or you can ride one of the state’s five Epic Rides, as designated by the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Those who want to share photos of Black Friday outdoor adventures or Small Business Saturday shopping and dining can do so at facebook.com/ArkansasStateTourism, twitter.com/artourism and instagram.com/Arkansas and use #GreenFriday and #ShopSmall. For more outdoor ideas, check out Arkansas.com/outdoors or ArkansasStateParks.com. More information about shopping options across the state can be found at Arkansas.com/shopping-spas/shopping.


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