With only a couple of days left in 2015, it’s time for Arkansas to plan for the year ahead. Get excited, Natural State, there’s a lot of awesomeness for us to explore in the year ahead! Plans in 2016 for better health, increased activity, travel and furthering skills are high priorities on the mind of many Arkansas residents as the New Year is at the threshold.
10. Support local businesses
With great growth comes great responsibility. As Arkansas towns continue to build and cities expand, the influx of chain restaurants and brand-name retail stores inevitably arrive as well. It's important to prioritize and give business to local establishments that work hard to provide their fellow Arkansans with excellent service.
9. Visit a vibrant town
There are big things happening in towns all around Arkansas. Main streets that were once virtually devoid of shoppers 15 years ago are now filled with restaurants and plenty of retail businesses. Siloam Springs, Jonesboro, El Dorado, and Blytheville are great examples of downtown areas that have been revitalized over the past decade. These towns and more are worth a visit in the next year if you haven't been around in a while!
8. Learn something new
It's never too late or too soon to pick up a new skill. Several classes are offered around Arkansas where you can perfect your woodworking talents or learn how to use a pottery wheel to create beautiful ceramics. If you prefer to skill yourself in more physical activities, everything from dance classes to archery classes are also plentiful here in the Natural State.
7. Stay healthy
It's a safe bet that numerous Arkansans got a 10 Fitness membership for Christmas. Don't let it go to waste, and don't let the holidays go to your waist! The year ahead of us brings an excellent opportunity to reach fitness goals or maintain our current health. Regular exercise and proper eating habits in 2016 will hopefully take Arkansas off of the top of America's obesity list.
6. Drive safely
The year 2015 was a bad year on Arkansas roads. Numerous vehicle crashes resulted in fatalities, many being related to wet weather, fog, or speeding. Traveling in the Natural State can be hazardous with the long and winding roads we have here. Let's make it a priority to stay safe on the road in 2016 and drive carefully.
5. See a Razorback game
Football, basketball, or baseball? War Memorial Stadium, Baum Stadium, or Razorback Stadium? The choices are all up to you, sports fans. You'll be satisfied wherever you go to see the mighty Razorbacks play ball. Get out to a Razorback game in 2016!
4. Eat BBQ at a historic location
Arkansas does barbecue right, and there are several excellent locations where you can fill up on the best smoked meats you'll ever taste. Historic barbecue joints like McClard's in Hot Springs and Jones' BBQ in Marianna are especially worth a visit, having been featured in national publications and other media as two of the best places to get barbecue in America.
3. Spend a weekend at the lake
Whether it's Lake Ouachita or any of the other 2,339 named lakes here in Arkansas, you should definitely have plans to spend time on the waterfront in 2016. For maximum diversion, take a few days off during the week when it's not so crowded (Arkansas lakes are popular with tourists) and enjoy a relaxing trip by the water.
2. Climb a mountain
Fitness is always a major goal for most people whenever the New Year rolls around, but there are just some of us who prefer to get exercise while out and about in the great outdoors. The entire state of Arkansas doubles as one big gymnasium. Make it your goal to climb a mountain here in the Natural State. If you're especially motivated, make plans to hike to several summits.
The year ahead will be filled with political drama, solicitous television and radio advertisements, and lots of bluster concerning which direction America is headed. The easiest way to make your voice heard above the din is to get out there and vote, Arkansas. Be sure you're 100% sure about the voting precinct where you're registered--because you don't want to have to drive all the way back to Conway to vote after you've moved to Little Rock or Fayetteville if you've moved in the past few years.
We’ll try our best to hold to every New Year’s Resolution we make, but the goals and plans listed above should be taken in great consideration. In addition to the usual personal benchmarks you set, add one of these to your list and feel even better about living in awesome Arkansas!