Does a trip somewhere with incredible outdoor adventures, historic sites, and gorgeous quaint cities to explore sound like your kind of vacation? Well, “The Natural State” is that place!
Continue reading to discover the best things to do in Arkansas and plan your next adventurous getaway.
Things To Do in Arkansas: Outdoor and Indoor Attractions
1. Crater of Diamonds State Park
Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of Arkansas's coolest places. It is a unique state park and extra special because the park is one of the only diamond-bearing sites accessible to the public worldwide.
Visitors can explore this 37-acre volcanic crater and mine for diamonds, garnets, agate, quartz, jasper, and other minerals and gemstones.
All you need to do is rent equipment or bring your own; you get to keep anything you find!
2. Wegner Quartz Crystal Mines
Are you loving the idea of finding treasure in Arkansas? The Wegner Quartz Crystal Mines is another great spot if you love mining.
Treasure hunters can dig for beautiful quartz crystals, which are so pretty when you clean them. It is a fun activity for the whole family.
3. Garvan Woodland Gardens
Garvan Woodland Gardens is home to impressive botanical gardens lush with vibrant colors and flourishing growth. Walk the grounds to explore on foot or ride in a golf cart.
Not only is Garvan famous for its spectacular gardens, but it is also home to whimsical treehouses and the Anthony Chapel.
4. Hot Springs National Park
Soak up the beauty of one of America’s oldest national parks at Hot Springs National Park.
Tour the historic buildings along Bathhouse Row, walk the Grand Promenade, and wander the trails to see thermal springs pouring out of the mountainside. While there are no outdoor springs visitors can soak in at the park, visitors can enjoy soaking indoors at spas along Bathhouse Row.
5. Hot Springs Mountain Tower
There are so many great things to do in Hot Springs. While visiting, drive to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, a 216-foot lattice steel tower on Hot Springs Mountain. This sprawling tower provides unforgettable panoramic views of the Diamond Lake Region, Hot Springs National Park, and the Ouachita Mountains.
6. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a unique attraction for families and animal lovers traveling to Arkansas. Located in Eureka Springs, the refuge is home to big cats such as lions, leopards, tigers, cougars, bobcats, and other species that have been rescued. Take a guided tour to learn about the animals and support the cause.
7. Petit Jean State Park
Spend time in nature and enjoy Arkansas’s first state park, Petit Jean State Park. Known for incredible hikes, overlooks with spectacular views, and geology, visitors can fish, boat, and swim while taking in the scenery.
See the impressive natural wonders, such as the Rock House Cave, Bear Cave trail, Lake Bailey, Cedar Creek Canyon, Petit Jean Mountain, and Cedar Falls.
8. Devil's Den State Park
This park is located in northwest Arkansas and is a natural area great for camping and exploring. Devil's Den State Park is known for its unique rock formations, caverns, and trails. The park also helped create a famous mountain biking scene in Arkansas.
9. Mount Magazine State Park
Mount Magazine has the highest point in Arkansas, reaching 2,753 feet. Enjoy hiking, camping, or staying in the beautiful lodge. Hike the Signal Hill trail to the tallest point in Arkansas and enjoy impressive views of the Ouachita Mountains.
10. Buffalo National River
The outdoor fun continues at Buffalo National River, one of the last undammed rivers in the U.S. Popular activities for this national park include kayaking or canoeing along the Buffalo River, hiking, and camping.
The river flows over 130 miles through the Ozark Mountains. The park has some of the wildest and most rugged countryside in mid-America. An adventure along the Buffalo National River is one of the best things to do in Arkansas!
11. Blanchard Springs Caverns
Take a guided tour at Blanchard Springs Caverns outside Mountain View, Arkansas. If you visit in the summer, you will get a break from the heat; the caverns are usually about 58 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Reservations are required and can be made on recreation.gov.
12. Mammoth Spring State Park
Another great spot to visit in Arkansas is Mammoth Spring State Park. The park is known to be one of the largest natural springs in the world. The Spring River that forms below the lake is known for its excellent floating conditions and trout fishing.
13. Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park is another fun stop for vacationing with kids in Hot Springs, Arkansas. There are rollercoasters, waterslides, and so much more to explore for an adrenaline-filled adventure that will surely put a smile on everyone's face!
14. Big River Crossing
Another great spot to stop on an Arkansas road trip is the Big River Crossing, where you can walk or bike across the Mississippi River. It is the longest pedestrian bridge in the country at nearly one mile. The bridge is lit up at night; it's a neat attraction if you’re on the Arkansas-Tennessee border near Memphis.
15. Pinnacle Mountain State Park
With over 50 state parks in Arkansas, Pinnacle Mountain is at the center, towering 1,000 feet over the valley near Little Rock. Take the opportunity to hike the trails and see this beautiful historical park. It is also a Trail of Tears historical site.
16. Christ of The Ozarks
This 67-foot monument is an iconic landmark in the state, standing tall on Magnetic Mountain in Eureka Springs. It is one of Arkansas's most popular tourist sites. The statue of Jesus has a 65-foot arm span!
17. Whitaker Point Trail
If you enjoy hiking, Whitaker Point trail should be on your list of places to stop because it is one of the most spectacular hikes in Arkansas. It is a 3-mile trek with a waterfall and amazing views of the iconic Hawksbill Crag.
Leashed pets are welcome to join, and the trail is open year-round inside the Ozark National Forest.
18. Lake Ouachita State Park
This beautiful park protects a 40,000-acre lake known for its crystal-clear waters within the Ouachita National Forest. There is so much to do and see.
Spend your time swimming, fishing, kayaking, boating, camping, and more. It is the ultimate summer destination, and visiting will be an instant family favorite!
19. Riverfront Park
In Downtown Little Rock, Riverfront Park has many attractions and historical locations, making it a unique place to visit. Check out the historical pavilion, play in a splash park, visit a sculpture garden, and more. There is something to see and do for the whole family.
20. Lake Catherine State Park
Lake Catherine State Park is a serene location for camping in an RV, tent, or cabin, and it's a great way to enjoy nature for a few nights. Enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, and hiking. Plan a nature trip and spend quality time with your loved ones in this beautiful location.
21. Crystal Bridges Museum
Are you an art lover? If the answer is yes, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Bentonville, is a crucial spot on an Arkansas trip itinerary. Their mission is to celebrate America by pairing nature and art, showcasing their best qualities. It even has one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in the U.S. with unique architecture.
22. Thorncrown Chapel
You will find Thorncrown Chapel in the Ozark Forest outside of Eureka Springs. It is made of over 6,000 square feet of glass across 425 windows and a wooden structure. This serene sanctuary has a reputation for being one of the most inspiring and beautiful chapels in the world.
23. Old State House Museum
Learn about Arkansas's history in the original capitol building in Little Rock's Old State House Museum. It has been designated as the oldest standing capitol building west of the Mississippi River.
Admission is free, and you can learn about the complicated history of Arkansas, the 25th state, through the educational exhibits and artifacts there.
24. The Old Mill
Are you looking for an opportunity to be sent back in time? While exploring Little Rock, stop at this historic recreation of an 1880s mill.
There is one more exciting detail for movie fans visiting this historic site: the location is featured in the 1939 cinematic hit Gone With the Wind. Visiting this picturesque mill is one of the best romantic getaways in Arkansas.
25. The Walmart Museum
In 1962, the first Walmart opened in Rogers, Arkansas. The start of this led Sam Walton to become one of the wealthiest men in America. Located next to Walton's 5&10, the second store Sam Walton ever purchased, lies the Walmart Museum.
Note: It is temporarily closed for renovations until the spring of 2024.
26. See Where Johnny Cash Lived as a Child
When he was only a few years old, Johnny Cash moved to Dyess, Arkansas, with his family. The family cabin was restored, and a visitor center was built at this historic site. See how Johnny Cash's music was influenced by living here.
27. Crescent Hotel & Spa
Built in 1886, the Crescent Hotel & Spa has a reputation for being the most haunted hotel in America. It has been featured on many shows and has a ghost tour that supernatural enthusiasts love.
The hotel and spa in Eureka Springs have excellent services and lavish spa treatments along with its mysterious allure. So get spooked, then relax at the spa!
28. Downtown Eureka Springs
Downtown Eureka Springs has spectacular Romanesque, Victorian, and Queen Anne architecture. Restaurants, local shops, and art galleries are tucked into the Ozarks. It is a neat town to tour.
29. Museum of Native American History
Take a trip back in time to see what life was like for the indigenous people in the Americas back in the Paleo Period. Head to Bentonville to explore this museum. Inside, you will see more than 10,000 artifacts spanning five time periods.
30. Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center
If you are a Hemingway fan, you will want to make this stop as you travel through Arkansas. Walking through the property, you will see the barn where Hemingway wrote parts of A Farewell to Arms and some of his other short stories.
31. Arkansas Air and Military Museum
This is an excellent spot if you are interested in aviation history. The museum has items from the Vietnam War, including world-famous racing planes, Vietnam War-era helicopters, and more. It is a unique collection because many of the airplanes are still functioning.
It is a must-see if you are interested in old air crafts.
32. William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
Learn about President Bill Clinton's life, presidency, and other temporary and permanent exhibits with over 100,000 works of art and historical items. It is a great way to explore recent history and learn more about a past president.
33. Castel Rougue's Manor
This spot is unique because it is an old 15,000-square-foot castle on 20 acres. It's on a limestone cliff overlooking Table Rock Lake and the White River. Castel Rougue is a spectacular medieval manor that took over 20 years to build; it is a fascinating look back in time.
34. Fayetteville Downtown Square & Gardens
Fayetteville, Arkansas, is home to the University of Arkansas. It's a great town with historic buildings, unique shops, and beautiful botanical gardens.
Take time to explore this trendy college town and try to visit around the holidays so you can see the Lights of the Ozarks Festival. It's a terrific place to wander and explore.
35. Rush Historic District
Rush Historic District was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. It is a 13,000-acre zinc mining town that was operational from the mid-1880s to the mid-1930s. It is known for its significant involvement in the region's mining history.
Rush is also known as a gold rush ghost town. The hiking trails have educational facts and exhibits posted as you explore and enjoy this brush with history.
36. Peppersauce Ghost Town
This once-thriving trading post from the 1800s is an abandoned settlement that had a transient population. It was abandoned in the 1960s.
The town had a reputation for its historically dubious population, which still stands today. It is now a tourist attraction, but locals enjoy visiting for a unique look into a past life.
The buildings are privately owned, but you are welcome to take a look from the outside as you walk around town.
37. Ozark Folk Center State Park
The Ozark Folk Center hosts cultural, music, art, and craft shows. Learn more about life and history in the Ozarks. In this unique park, where artisans create, demonstrate, and sell their items and services. You can also taste authentic southern food here.
Have Fun in Arkansas
No matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something fun to see and do in Arkansas. From exploring the state’s natural beauty to indulging in its rich cultural heritage, you’ll be awed traveling through “The Natural State.” So, get ready for an adventure – these are just a few of the best things to do in Arkansas!
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking. You can read more about them at thehappinessfxn.com.