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article imageVisiting America’s ‘10th Best Small City for Families’ Special

By Kay Mathews     Jul 15, 2010 in Travel
Rogers, AR - The vibrant history of this city is part of its charm and contributes to its growth, family-friendly amenities, and current top ten ranking by Money Magazine.
Money Magazine recently announced its list of America's best small cities. The magazine ranked Rogers, Arkansas as the “10th Best Small City for Families.” Money reviewed cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000 and narrowed down the field based upon factors such as low crime, plenty of jobs, health care, good education, charm and lots to do.
These, and other, features “make a town great for raising a family,” states Money. And, with regard to Rogers, Money says, “If you're inclined to dismiss a small city in Arkansas as a backwater, you're making a big mistake.”
Rogers borders my hometown of Bentonville, and while I do not "dismiss" Rogers, this 2010 ranking suggested to me that I may not fully appreciate or truly see all that it has to offer. Thus, with Money's ranking in mind, a visit to Rogers was called for.
When Rogers was founded in 1881, it had a population of 600. The city is named after C.W. Rogers who was the Vice President and General Manager of the Frisco Railroad during the 1880s. Rogers made a deal with a local landowner in 1881 that would send the St. Louis and San Francisco (Frisco) Railroad line through the area. Residents then named the town in his honor.
The downtown area of Rogers is quite historic, and, in fact, the designated Rogers Commercial Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A drive down Walnut Street takes you passed the "Golden Rule" and "H.L. Stroud" buildings, among others, which remain beautiful due to their architectual intricacies.
Downtown Rogers historic district.  Rogers  Arkansas.
Downtown Rogers historic district. Rogers, Arkansas.
The downtown area is where the Farmers’ Market and Frisco Festival are held. The Frisco Festival is held in August and honors the city’s railroad heritage and features free rides, entertainment, and street dances. A new butterfly and hummingbird park is also located in the historic downtown area.
The population of Rogers is currently 57,000, and Money touts its “cosmopolitan feel” and “top-notch” outdoor activities.
Among the outdoor activities in Rogers are the area lakes and city parks. One of the many parks in Rogers is Lake Atalanta, which was built in 1936 and is the city’s second oldest park. At the park, visitors will find families having picnics, swimming in the pool, and playing in the creek.
Children crossing the creek at Lake Atalanta Park.  Rogers  Arkansas.
Children crossing the creek at Lake Atalanta Park. Rogers, Arkansas.
A business established in the 1930s remains a favorite today. Founded in 1934, the House of Webster makes jellies, preserves, salsas and syrups in their manufacturing facility. The goal of House of Webster "is to provide you with a complete line of distinctive and unique gifts that fits any budget and complements any occasion, large or small."
The House of Webster.  Rogers  Arkansas.
The House of Webster. Rogers, Arkansas.
At their log barn retail shop, I picked up a few jars of cherry preseves, blackberry jelly, black bean & corn salsa, and peach chipotle salsa. Each treat is packaged in their unique, old-fashioned mason jars.
Gift baskets at House of Webster.  Rogers  Arkansas.
Gift baskets at House of Webster. Rogers, Arkansas.
The City of Rogers boasts many other destinations that offer activities for kids including the Rogers Public Library, Daisy Airgun Museum, and the Rogers Historical Museum. Hobbs State Park and War Eagle Mill are also close by. Another popular venue is the community volunteer-led Rogers Little Theater, which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary Season this year with performances such as “Nunsense,” “The Odd Couple,” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”
If you’re 50 or above, the Rogers Adult Wellness Center is for you. It features swimming pools, exercise facilities, and a variety of programs and classes such as line dancing, bridge, scrapbooking, and painting.
Newer additions to Rogers are the Pinnacle Hills Promenade mall and Scottsdale Center. Pinnacle Hills Promenade is a place where you can experience “exciting shopping, dining, and entertainment.” Known here as “restaurant row,” the Scottsdale Center features dining establishments such as Copeland’s of New Orleans, Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant and Dixie Café. Both venues offer movie theaters, bookstores, and a variety of other retail stores.
As reported by KFSM News, residents of Rogers were not surprised by the city's high ranking by Money. And, KFSM News quotes Rogers Mayor Steve Womack as saying, "Well it's a big honor for the city. We've worked very hard to create the quality of life here that our residents can take pride in and enjoy."
I may not be a resident of Rogers, but this new look at my neighboring city has made me take pride in the recognition it has received and I plan to enjoy what Rogers has to offer more often. And, should you visit Rogers, Arkansas, you will understand why it is America’s ‘10th Best Small City for Families.’
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