Amongst the borders of Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana lies the state of Arkansas. Filled with breathtaking views, Arkansas is no less than nature’s painting. There are diverse natural and historic places to visit in Arkansas making it among the touristy places.
The word Arkansas came from the Quapaw Indians who were known as the ‘people who lived downstream’.
With over 52 state parks and 7 national park services, Arkansas is a beautiful destination for adventurers from all over the world.
Also known as the natural state, it makes its place among the perfect spots for outdoor enthusiasts. If you are a nature lover or are looking forward to busting out some stress, here are some of the best places to visit in Arkansas.
1. Famous Places to Visit in Arkansas
Arkansas is home to picturesque sceneries filled with mountains, lakes, hot springs, and historic sites. Every natural location is equipped with hiking trails and hosts outdoor activities like mountain biking.
Initially named ‘The Bear State‘, Arkansas has later nicknamed the ‘natural state’ with an effort to boost tourism. The invention of the famous cheese dip was in Arkansas.
This state is most known for its diamond mining, especially in the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Major attractions are the Buffalo River, Ozark Mountains, Hot Springs Mountains, and many other tourist attractions.
1.1. Little Rock
Little Rock is the Arkansas state capitol located on the south of the Arkansas river. The name is derived from the French explorer who named a rock formation ‘la Petite Roche‘.
Being the main capital city of Arkansas, it is filled with the hustle-bustle of daily life. It happens to be the most visited town in Arkansas and a lively one for sure. It lies as the main hub of museums, restaurants, theme parks, and art galleries.
North little rock has a rich diversity of culture and is famous for the Little Rock Central High School Museum. The major attractions and famous places to visit in Arkansas locate in this city.
1.2. Hot Springs
‘Hot Springs‘ is surprisingly a city in Arkansas named after its natural thermal springs. These hot springs are long used as a means of healing and are believed to have various healing properties.
A visit to Hot springs would be best in the warmer seasons so that one can take a dip in the springs without the fear of catching a cold.
With many attractions, there are countless things to do in Hot Springs. This city is a central hub for music festivals, art exhibits, and bathtub races.
1.3. Eureka Springs
A small city in northwest Arkansas, Eureka springs is amongst the most sought places to visit in Arkansas. Lying in the Ozark mountains, it is a small and affordable town.
The best time to visit Eureka springs is during the spring season. This eminent city has made its place in the national register as a national historic landmark.
You can take a walk downtown or spot wildlife at the Turpentine Creek wildlife refuge. With the pleasant weather and eye-catching sceneries, Eureka springs is also known as the ‘Little Switzerland of America‘. It bags a spot among the most scenic places to visit in Arkansas.
Home to the Arkansas Air and Military Museum, Fayetteville is a city in Arkansas. It is the third largest city and also the prime location of the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville is an amazing spot for foodies and a hub for clubs and bars. Forests, rivers, and the Ozark mountain range surround the city of Fayetteville.
The Clinton presidential centre situated here conducts exhibitions that display the replicas of the Cabinet room and Oval Office of the White House.
It is a thriving city lying to the south of Bentonville. Dickson Street is famous for its live entertainment and the Georges Majestical Lounge is the oldest musical venue. This city has something unique to offer everybody. From scenic sights to energising musical performances, Fayetteville is a must-visit in Arkansas.
Places to Visit in Fayetteville
- Gillis Hill Farm
- Veterans Park
- Airborne and Special Operations museum
- Cape Fear Botanical Garden
- Segra Stadium
- Fayetteville Farmers’ Market
1.5. Fort Smith
Fort smith is famous for its historic sites and tells a tale of Native American history. It is the third largest city in Arkansas home to historic places and the present economic developments.
Fort Smith lies on the Arkansas-Oklahoma state border and was used as a western frontier post in the 1800s. Among the historic places to visit in Arkansas, Fort Smith is a top location to spot ancient sculptures and artefacts.
1.6. Hot Springs National Park
A perfect location for families, the Hot Springs National Park has a combination of both indoor and outdoor adventures. Initially known as the Hot Springs Reservation, it was later established as a national park service which is now among the Arkansas tourist attractions.
Hot Springs National Park is the oldest in Arkansas with 47 thermal springs flowing from the beautiful Ouachita mountains.
The ancient bathhouses are amongst the ones where one can experience a surreal hot spring bath or just take a dip in the therapeutic public pools. The ‘Fordyce Bathhouse‘ is a historic site and also serves as the park’s visitor center.
You can choose to go hiking trails, mountain biking, horseback riding or indulge in the relaxing spas amongst the Ouachita mountains. Hot springs mountain tower is definitely amongst the best places to visit in Arkansas.
1.7. Buffalo National River
Located in northern Arkansas, the Buffalo national river is no less than a national treasure. This national river boasts a unique species of animals and birds ranging from whitetail deer to bears and beavers. Buffalo national river was the first designated national river and is famous for its upper buffalo wilderness.
The serene atmosphere of the Buffalo river is surrounded by chirping birds and sounds like a treat to nature lovers. One can enjoy recreational activities like canoeing, kayaking, boating, or swimming.
The free-flowing Buffalo river which makes its way through the Ozark mountains has a stunning diversity of flora and fauna.
Hundreds of trails are organised for visitors to walk through the forest and explore the natural beauty of the Buffalo national river. It is amongst the best places to visit in Arkansas.
1.8. Ozark National Forest
The Ozark National Forest, located in northwest Arkansas is divided into the St. Francis national forest and the Ozark national forest. You can adventure through stunning trails and witness the diverse wildlife of Arkansas.
Pine forests are abundant here and it is the perfect spot to witness the forest ecosystem. This forest provides various camping sites and one can study nature, go for a hike or just enjoy the solitude of the deep dark meadows.
Ozark National Forest is located in the ancient Ozark mountains. The top scenic trails are:
- Whitaker point trail
- Kings River falls trail
- Glory hole waterfall trail
1.9. State Parks
There are many state parks and recreational places to visit in Arkansas. Each one has its speciality.
1.9.1. Crater of Diamonds State Park
The Diamonds State Park is one of a kind tourist attraction where one can find real, uncut diamonds in their pure form. Also, known as the Crater of Diamonds State Park, the crater is used for diamond extraction.
It is no less than a treasure hunt where one gets to find elusive diamond bits and get to keep them! The largest diamond in the US was found in the Crater of Diamonds, named ‘Uncle Sam‘ after the finder.
The major trails are:
- Little Missouri River trail
- Prospector trail
- Wildlife Observation Blind trail
1.9.2. Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean State Park is an archaeological site in Morrilton with numerous adventures like swimming, hiking trails, and boating.
The overlooks are another stunning sites where you can spot the Arkansas River Valley. The hiking trails overlook and picnic sites are free of cost. Petit Jean mountain is famous for Lake Bailey.
Famous trails in Petit jean state park:
- Cedar Falls trail
- Seven Hollows trail
- Rock House and Lookout trail
- CCC Hike and Bike trail
1.9.3. Mount Magazine State Park
Mount Magazine is located within the Ozark-St. Francis national forest with a breathtaking mountain view. It is just a few hours away from the Arkansas state capitol, Little rock.
Mount Magazine State Park offers rock climbing and other fun exploration activities for nature lovers. Make sure to hike up to the highest peak ‘Signal hill’ for a relaxing getaway.
Being the highest point in Arkansas, Mount Magazine stands 2,753 feet tall. The Mount Magazine State Park, Petit Jean State Park, and Mount Nebo State Park together form the ‘Tri Peaks‘.
While the other attractions and sightseeing are free, one can book accommodation in lodges or cabins for a wonderful stay at Mount Magazine state park.
Some famous trails of Mount Magazine are:
- Mount Magazine Scenic Byway
- Cove Lake trail
- Bare Hollow trail
- Will Apple’s road trail
1.9.4. Lake Catherine State Park
Lake Catherine State Park lies in the Ouachita mountain range, known for its clean waters and campsites. ‘Falls Creek’ is a tributary of Lake Catherine state park.
One can rent cabins or lodges for a stay or just enjoy the picnic sites. The best trails are:
- Falls Branch trail
- Dam Mountain trail
- Horseshoe Mountain trail
- Slunger Creek Nature trail
1.9.5. Pinnacle Mountain State Park
The Pinnacle Mountain State Park established between the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle rivers has hiking trails that stretch over 22 miles.
The park serves as a preservation centre apart from recreational activities. The famous trails in these rocky peaks are:
- Pinnacle Mountain west summit trail
- Rock Valley trail
- Ouachita National forest recreation trail
- Arkansas Arboretum trail
1.9.6. Devil’s Den State Park
The Devil’s Den State Park started in the year 1933, famous for its crevice caves. The sandstone is believed to have seeped into Lee Creek leading to the formation of crevices.
The Devil’s Den State Park in northwest Arkansas has numerous ancient structures and fossils. There are over 60 crevice caves with remarkable geology. Best trails in this park:
- Devil’s Den trail
- Yellow Rock trail
- Butterfield hiking trail
- Lee Creek trail
1.9.7. Julius Breckling Riverfront Park
In the city of Little Rock, Julius Breckling Riverfront Park behold a fascinating view of the Arkansas river. It is one of the perfect places to visit in Arkansas for kids to enjoy.
The riverfront park has exhibits of historic sculptures and the annual ‘River Celebration’ takes place here. Some famous trails:
- The Little Rock river trail
- Julius Breckling park and Sculpture Garden loop
1.9.8. Mammoth Spring State Park
The headwater area of the Spring river showcases a beautiful view of the flowing water. The Mammoth Spring State Park is home to the world’s largest spring and gives an insight into some historic artefacts.
One can spot a train depot and a cannon along the way through the famous Mammoth Interpretive Loop trail. Numerous picnic sites are available for free access while open pavilions can be rented. Mammoth Spring Interpretive loop is a famous trail in the park.
1.10.1. Walmart Museum
The Walmart Museum, earlier known as the Walmart visitors centre is found in Bentonville. It is free to explore inside and has an exhibit of Sam Walton’s office.
There is a funny corner where you can find the returned items at Walmart. The objects are displayed with the customer complaints written beside them.
Customers complained about ‘thermometers which did not tell the right time‘ and ‘fishing poles which did not catch the fish‘.
It has a fascinating array of native American history and art galleries that devour the past. Bentonville is also the birthplace of Sam Walton. Apart from these, there are numerous cultural places to visit in Arkansas.
1.10.2. Crystal Bridges Museum
Designed by Moshe Safdie, the Crystal Bridges Museum is an appreciation of American art and culture. The exhibitions are displayed masterpieces and convey every artist’s message.
The museum has actual bridges and the most interesting part is the architecture. It is designed with a unique combination of modern architecture and is one of the best places to visit in Arkansas.
1.11. Garvan Woodland Gardens
Filled with stretches of blooming flowers, the Garvan Woodland Gardens is a botanical garden situated at the University of Arkansas. Among the places to visit in Arkansas, these gardens have the best floral blooms.
It is pretty near the hot springs in the southwest of the natural state of Arkansas. Apart from being a recreation site, study and research in the field of flora and fauna are conducted here. Well-known researchers and botanists work towards the preservation techniques of our plants.
With the vibrant flora and the stretches of tulips, this garden would make your day a magical one. If you are lucky enough, you can spot peacocks too!
The main points to visit are the Garden of the Pine Wind and the Anthony Chapel Complex. If you would want to know why Arkansas is called the natural state, Garvan Woodland Gardens are among the best places to visit in Arkansas.
1.12. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge, situated in Eureka springs is a refuge for abandoned big cats like tigers, leopards, and lions. Among the places to visit in Arkansas, it is the best location to spot wilderness and the majestic cat family.
It is one of the largest accredited cat sanctuaries in the US, with exotic species of big cats. The Eureka Springs refuge houses over 100 animals.
1.13. Lake Bailey
Lake Bailey stands on top of the Petit Jean mountain near the visitor’s centre.
Situated in Arkansas’s first state park, this lake offers various activities like canoeing, boating, and more.
1.14. Blue Mountain Lake
Located between the Ozark and Ouachita national forests, Blue Mountain Lake offers mesmerizing scenery of the calm waters and a pretty sunset.
It is near Mount magazine and has various water activities. You can find venturesome camping grounds throughout the lake and has the best sceneries among the places to visit in Arkansas.
1.15. Blanchard Springs Caverns
Situated in the Ozark national forest, the Blanchard Springs Caverns are one of the most beautiful caves in North America.
Visitors are welcomed by a huge welcome board. The visitor centre is the main point for making reservations for the trip.
A guide welcomes the tourists and information about the caverns is displayed. An elevator takes them down to the entrance of the cavern.
Amongst the places to visit in Arkansas, the Blanchard springs caverns are fascinating geological sites with interesting cave patterns. The caves are believed to be made by the springs pouring into them and hence the name.
The 250 feet deep cave systems are lined by trails making it easier for people to walk through.
Due to the flowing springs, it constantly changes its shape and this feature makes it among the famous tourist attractions in the natural state of Arkansas. Among the places to visit in Arkansas, Blanchard Springs Cavern is a must-see.
2. Some Other Beautiful Places to Visit in Arkansas
- Bowers Hollow Falls
- Little Missouri Falls
- Thorncrown Chapel
- Cossatot River State park
- Roark’s Bluff
- Clinton Presidential Centre
- Arkansas Air Museum
- Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Centre
- Arkansas Arts Centre
- The Old Mill Park in Little Rock
- Mount Nebo
- Magnolia Falls
- Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls
3. Top 3 Things to Do in Arkansas
If you are looking for places to visit in Arkansas, make sure to spend most of the time out because that is where you can immerse yourself in the real beauty.
3.1. Go for a Trail Along the Nature
Adventurous miles of trails are organised in all the tourist attractions for a fun and safer experience. Dive into the deep caverns or follow the mountains for stunning views. Whitaker Point Trail and the 95-foot Cedar Falls are some of the famous ones.
3.2. Immerse in the Hot Springs
Your trip would not be complete without visiting the natural hot springs of this state. Heated by the earth’s interior, there are 47 hot springs located at the centre. The 4,000-year-old spring waters are believed to have poured as rain on the Ouachita Mountains.
3.3. Learn About the Rich History and Culture
With numerous historical places to visit in Arkansas, you can enrich yourself with native American history. Earlier known as the Arkansas territory, this state has one the greatest diamond mines which was first discovered in 1906.
3. Best Time to Visit Arkansas
While Arkansas has calm and peaceful weather, the summers can be hot and humid. So make sure to look for the best time to spend your day in this vibrant state.
Spring might be the best time while mild winters can be pleasant too. Arkansas receives around an average of 4 inches of snowfall annually with an average precipitation of 40 inches. The month of October has many tourists visiting this state as the summers come to an end.
4. Where to Stay?
4.1. Top Resorts in Arkansas
Arkansas has a variety of resorts to choose from. You can book a lakeside resort or a mountain view location. Try finding resorts in the main cities so that you can discover most of the places to visit in Arkansas.
- The Capital Hotel – Little Rock
- Lookout Point Lakeside Inn – Hot Springs
- Wharf Resort – Hot Springs
- Mountain Harbour Resort and Spa– Ouachita Mountain Range
- Sugar Ridge Resort – Eureka Springs
- Beaver Lakefront Cabins – Eureka Springs
4.2. Top Airbnbs in Arkansas
- Millis Davis house – Little rock
- The Magnolia – Fayetteville
- The Emerald Gypsie Skoolie – Mountain view
- Whispering Pine Treehouse – Hot Springs
- Cabin Blue – Rogers
- English Cottage in the Ozarks – Harrison
- Rosete Family Farms – Garfield
5. Top Shopping Areas in Arkansas
- Pinnacle Hills Promenade – Rogers
- The Promenade at Chenal Shopping Centre – Little Rock
- Ozark Center Point Place – Springdale
- Hot Springs Mall – Hot springs
- Outlets of Little Rock
- Northwest Arkansas Mall – Fayetteville
- Shops at Brick City
Immerse Yourself in Nature’s Painting – Arkansas Conclusion
Be it the historic sites or the natural beauty, Arkansas is a dream destination for all. There are countless places to visit in Arkansas. It is a perfect stress buster and an exploration city offering the most thrilling places for outdoor enthusiasts.
Buffalo national river and Arkansas river valley are some of the places to visit in Arkansas for natural sightseeing.
While the Blanchard springs caverns and the Diamonds state park speak about the city’s rich culture and discoveries. Make sure to be careful while trailing or choosing your campsite, especially in extreme weather.
The winding cobbled streets of Little Rock or the fascinating Ozark Mountains, each one is a refreshing experience here. So get your checklist ready and note down the most stunning places to visit in Arkansas.
Arkansas tourist attractions are gaining popularity each year. Every scene here speaks of the rich past and conveys a beautiful future.
Also read: “Best Places to visit in Utah”