Excursion: Conway Glory Daze
There is so much to do in this booming central Arkansas city. From shops and restaurants downtown to festivals and other community events, there is always something to fill your calendar.
Kings Dueling Pianos offers conversation areas with booths and flat screen TVs.
Photography by Ashlee Nobel
Toad Suck Daze, May 4 through 6, is one of Conway’s most successful annual events, drawing more than 150,000 people each year. This free, three-day festival is packed with great food, arts and crafts, family fun, live entertainment and more on the streets of downtown. Look for the popular Todal Kids Zone; a carnival; petting zoo; 5K and 10K runs; golf tournament; a three-on-three basketball tournament; the World Championship Toad Races; and Stuck on a Truck. Admission to the festival is free, and proceeds go to support higher education in Faulkner County. Toad Suck Daze has supported more than 200 students in scholarships totaling more than $1 million since its inception.
Shopping in downtown Conway is some of the best in the state. There are a number of great local boutiques to choose from including HipSway, a modern, chic clothing and shoe store. There, find a collection of the latest fashions for women from casual to dressy as well as a small selection of menswear, shoes and accessories. HipSway has a good selection of TOMs shoes, including a variety of the popular ballet flats, traditional style, lace up and wedges.
Next door, shoppers will find a wonderful shop for mothers-to-be with a small, but unique selection of children’s clothes and shoes. Mommie 2 B has everything you’ll need as an expecting mother — from swimwear to clothes, undergarments and more.
Pizzazz! — a women’s clothing and accessory boutique also downtown — specializes in American-made clothing with brands, such as Alternative Apparel, that range in style from casual and sporty to after-five dresses. Also, find one-of-a-kind accessories made by local artisans.
For fine Italian food, excellent desserts, drinks and rooftop fun, try the elegant Michelangelo’s Italian Ristorante. This eatery, by the owners of the famed Mike’s Place on Front Street, features upscale, yet affordable Italian fare. This restaurant is perfect for an intimate dinner for two or a quick, affordable weekday lunch with their endless pasta, soup and salad special.
Montebanque Place on Oak Street is the place to be for those afflicted with a sweet tooth. Cakes by Caite is a new specialty cake shop that opened last year. Here, find the city’s best in custom-designed cakes for any occasion including wedding, anniversary, baby showers, birthdays and more. Stop in to place your order, or grab a seat and enjoy a cup of coffee and a freshly-baked dessert from the display case.
Also in Montebanque Place is the delightfully-sweet Occasions Candy & Gifts. This candy store/gift shop carries a wide variety of sweet treats. Grab a sack and fill up on your favorite candies from gummies to specialty gumballs and pay by the pound. The boutique also offers the use of its party rental equipment including cotton candy, popcorn and snow cone machines. They even provide custom-designed “candy buffets,” which are all the rage for wedding receptions.
Dining is great at Oak Street Bistro, now in a bigger and better location near Oak Street and I-40, and with an extended menu. Stop in for a memorable, casual-upscale dining experience for lunch or dinner and try favorites like the restaurant’s signature White Cheddar Cheese and Dill soup and spinach artichoke dip, salads, sandwiches and wraps. For dinner, we recommend fried chicken and waffles; the bone-in rib eye; shrimp and grits; lobster mac and cheese; and more. An extensive wine menu and patio seating is also available.
You can’t visit Conway without stopping in to the city’s most famous restaurant — Stoby’s. This humble bistro serves delicious, homestyle breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees, ranging from hearty eggs Benedict to burgers, quesadillas, salads, blackened chicken and more. Their melty, delicious cheese dip is famous; try some at the restaurant or pick up a tub at your local grocery store.
Kings Dueling Pianos is the latest addition to Conway nightlife. Kings is the city’s first piano bar, located in a lofty and completely renovated space on Front Street. Enjoy live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday along with a full bar and delicious appetizers menu. This two-level nightclub offers ample seating in the piano area as well as many conversation areas with booths, flat screen TVs, and chic lighting and artwork to set the mood. Try the bar’s signature drink, the Kings Jester Bucket, which comes in a plastic bucket with as many straws as you need to share with friends.
The shopping, dining and entertainment options are endless in Conway. With increased walkability downtown and new businesses setting up shop, there are many things to do and see.
For more information on activity in Conway, visit the Conway Chamber of Commerce website, conwayarkcc.org.