There are thousands of reasons visitors flock to Arkansas every year, and no matter what you’re into, the Natural State is certain to have something you’ll love. Here are five reasons we think you should add visiting Arkansas to your bucket list:
1. Quaint Small Towns
With a statewide population smaller than most major U.S. cities, Arkansas is comprised of a lot of rural areas and quaint small towns. In fact, the largest metropolitan area in the state, Little Rock, boasts a little less than 200,000 people, which to most urban dwellers wouldn’t qualify as a city at all. If you’re looking for a big city escape, away from the smog and traffic, look no further than Arkansas. Its Mayberry-like towns have it all: brick buildings, tree-lined avenues, cozy bed and breakfasts, antique shops, and local diners offering apple pie a la mode. To read more about Arkansas’ best small towns, click here.
2. The Outdoor Experiences
Arkansas is after all the Natural State, so it’s no wonder that so many outdoor enthusiasts flock here for its ample hiking, biking, kayaking, and fishing opportunities. With 52 state parks and two national forest areas, the options for getting your outdoor fix seem endless. Dubbed the flagship of the state park system, the Petit Jean State Park, which sits about an hour and a half northwest of Little Rock, may be the best place to start your outdoor adventures. This expansive 3400-acre park has lots to explore and do, including 21 miles of hiking trails, fishing on Lakes Bailey and Roosevelt, incredible lookouts over the Arkansas River Valley, and accommodations at the historic Mather Lodge. Make sure you hike the Seven Hollows Trail, which was named the best hiking trail in the state by Arkansas Outside.
3. Hot Springs
Bubbling up from the ground at a toasty 143 degrees, Arkansas’ natural hot springs first attracted visitors who came to bathe in their healing and therapeutic waters over 200 years ago. Eventually, luxurious and ornate bath houses were built to house the thousands of vacationers who descended on the area between the late 19th and early 20th century. Today Bathhouse Row is preserved as the focal point of Hot Springs National Park, the nation’s smallest National Park where visitors can stroll through the old bathhouses and even take a dip in the curative waters themselves.
Whether you’re a granola crunchy tent-lover or more of the Tiffin luxury motorhome type, Arkansas has plenty of places for camping that get you a front-row view of nature. Just one of many incredible options, Buffalo River Trail is a popular path for backpackers, with bluff-top campsites that offer jaw-dropping views which are particularly stunning during the peak of fall foliage. For the RV enthusiast, we of course must recommend our own accommodations right in the middle of the Ozark mountains. Our lakefront camping area has full hookups and gorgeous new facilities for the use of our guests. One look and you’ll see why RV dealers from all over the country are recommending Arkansas as a top RV travel destination for 2016.
Arkansas boasts some of the finest small arts towns in the country. Chief among them is Bentonville, home to the stunning Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which was funded by the Walton Family Foundation (the family behind Walmart). This must-see art museum not only boasts works from well-known American artists including Andy Warhol, Normal Rockwell, and Georgia O’Keefe, but the building and grounds are art in and of themselves. If you plan to visit, do note that the museum is closed on Tuesdays and on the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. In addition to this world-class museum, Arkansas’ Eureka Springs and Hot Springs are both well-known art areas. Both have a number of art galleries containing works from local artisans. Each May, Eureka Springs hosts a Festival of the Arts, with exhibits the craftsmanship of artists along with delicious local cuisine, music, and special events.