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DestinationFAY: Downtown & Around


By Kim Hasty

ROBERT VAN GEONS HAS ONE OF THE BEST VIEWS IN TOWN. From the balcony of his fourth floor office as CEO and president of the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, he can see the heart of a bustling downtown that is often one of the first stops for first-time visitors.

“I can see the stadium,” he said, referring to Segra Stadium, home of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers baseball team. “I can smell the food
cooking in the restaurants. I can hear the people on the streets and feel that energy.

“I can look out and see the mix of second-floor residences and wave to our tech friends across the street,” he said. “It’s a vibrant city. It’s a reminder of the innovation, the reinvestment, the redevelopment and the best of what we can be.” It wasn’t always that way. That wasn’t always the view. Downtown Fayetteville has come a long way since the days when seedy bars and strip clubs lined the streets and many of the buildings were in disrepair. The entrance plaza to Segra Stadium, where the Woodpeckers played their inaugural season in 2019, is named for the late mayor Bill Hurley, one of the leaders in the downtown revitalization effort. He was joined by a legion of other visionaries who believed in a thriving downtown. Besides the stadium, the majestic Airborne & Special Operations Museum now towers over Hay Street, and beautiful, tree-lined Cross Creek Linear Park winds its way along the downtown border, featuring bike paths, fountains, water views and bridges. Festival Park, a 14-acre community hallmark, features an events stage, grass lawn seating and pedestrian walkways.

In between are thriving restaurants, many that offer outdoor seating, and the Cameo Art House Theatre, which screens art, independent, foreign and classic films in a cozy and comfortable setting. Shops beckon browsers with a variety of wares, including wine, caramel lattes, tea-infused cocktails, fresh flowers, homemade pimento cheese, trendy
clothing, scented candles, collectible books and antiques. Downtown is home to the Dogwood Festival, the International Folk Festival and Dickens Holiday, all of
which draw thousands of people for live music, food and fun. Venues like SkyView on Hay, the Metropolitan Room and Studio 215 offer beautiful
spaces for your special events, as does Segra Stadium.

One of the best activities to do in downtown is free: walking. Whether new to town or a lifelong resident, taking a stroll downtown will mean something different for nearly everyone. Here is just one possible itinerary, but you’re certain to find other stops you’ll enjoy just as much as these.

You can easily get your recommended 10,000 daily steps in by starting on the Maiden Lane portion of Cross Creek Linear Park. Walk across Green Street and head past the fountain. You can follow the trail across tree-lined bridges, then loop back toward Hay Street.