Arkansas attracts travelers drawn by its abundant opportunities for outdoor adventures and to its natural beauty, as seen in the state's waterfalls, forested mountain trails and scenic drives. However, there are numerous attractions that make The Natural State a must see destination.
Amenities such as art galleries, live theater, irresistible restaurants, microbreweries and a variety of lodging options are available. For some, The Natural State offers charming small towns as a restful reprieve from the hurried pace of modern life.
Live music entertains visitors at festivals, in clubs, bistros and performance theaters. Arkansas spas include the thermal waters of Hot Springs National Park. Delightful boutiques, specialty shops, antique stores and quilt shops offer opportunities for finding one-of-a-kind souvenirs and treasures.
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Arkansas is a great place to be anytime of the year, but some destinations have peak seasons. Look for these icons to know the best season to visit a location.
Spring and Summer
Fall and Winter
The Great Passion Play, Eureka Springs
The Great Passion Play is America's number one attended outdoor drama, according to the Institute of Outdoor Drama of East Carolina University at Chapel Hill, and is located in historic Eureka Springs, Ark. Experience "the greatest story ever told" high in the Ozark Mountains.
Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights
The Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights has been making spirits bright for nearly two decades, with more than 60 communities participating in lighting ceremonies, parades, pageants and breathtaking light displays. Season times vary year to year, but typically run from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day. Visit Arkansas.com/trailoflights to see a video and learn more!
The Old Mill at T. R. Pugh Memorial Park
This picturesque and historic water-powered grist mill is famous for its role in the opening scenes of "Gone With The Wind," and can be found nestled in North Little Rock. Surrounded by beautiful plants and water, the mill also features sculptures by Dionicio Rodriguez.
Bill Clark Presidential Park Wetlands
Walk along winding pedestrian trails or over bridges that allow for amazing views of wildlife and the Arkansas River. Thirteen acres of wetlands offer a unique preservation of an ecosystem and a haven for small wild animals, and neighbor the famous Clinton Presidential Center.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Experience breathtaking art and inspiring architecture with a visit to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, where you'll find pieces by Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper and numerous other famous American artists. Just outside lie the beautiful Compton Gardens, designed by world-renowned Arkansas landscape designer P. Allen Smith.
Arkansas Diamond Country
Explore diamond and crystal mines in southwest Arkansas where you can keep what you find! When you finish digging for diamonds, remember that the area also boasts sparkling lakes and an exciting urban experience in nearby Hot Springs.
Esse Purse Museum and Store
As one of Little Rock's newest attractions, Esse Purse Museum offers more than just a fashion history. Exhibits feature a unique and insightful glimpse into the evolution of the 20th-century woman through her handbags and their contents.
Escape to the mountainous forests of northwest Arkansas, where you'll find a majestic glass chapel with arches that shoot skyward through the trees. Thorncrown Chapel, located near historic Eureka Springs, has won numerous architectural awards and has welcomed more than six million visitors since its opening in 1980.
Jones' Bar-B-Q Diner
James Beard award-winning Jones' Bar-B-Q Diner is known for delicious cuisine that reflects the character of its local community. It is also one of the nation's oldest African-American-owned restaurants.
Historic Washington State Park
The 19th-century town, which was a popular stop along the Old Southwest Trail, includes a print museum, steam-powered cotton gin and the Williams Tavern Restaurant. The 1874 courthouse serves as the visitor center for Historic Washington State Park. The park also houses the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives. The 1836 county courthouse became the Confederate State Capitol after Union forces captured Little Rock in September 1863. It is believed Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and Jim Bowie all stopped here on the way to the Alamo. Surrey tours are available.
El Dorado Downtown Historic District
The El Dorado Commercial Historic District, dating from 1879 through 1953, consists of 69 buildings and one monument surrounding the four-story Classical Revival-style Union County Courthouse. Six buildings and a monument in the district are individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Union County Courthouse and the Confederate Monument, Exchange Bank, Bank of Commerce, Masonic Hall, Griffin Auto Company Building and Rialto Theatre.
President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
Bill Clinton, the nation's 42nd President, was born in the southwestern Arkansas town of Hope. He lived his first four years with his maternal grandparents in a house at 117 S. Hervey Street. Today, the two-and-one-half-story, wood-frame structure, built in 1917 in an American Foursquare design, is the centerpiece of the Clinton Center.
Arkansas Wine Country
In 1880, two European families settled in the Arkansas River Valley. Jacob Post and Johann Wiederkehr, reminded of the wine-making regions of Germany and Switzerland, each established a vineyard. Today, fourth and fifth generations of these two families, plus Robert Cowie and Audrey House, have contributed to making Arkansas the largest and oldest wine-producing state in the South.
Belle Grove Historic District
A 22-block area of Fort Smith featuring restored homes and buildings showcasing Romanesque Revival, Queen Anne, Eastlake Victorian Renaissance, Gothic Revival and Neoclassical.
The Lodge at Mount Magazine
Gracing the south bluff of Arkansas's high point, the Lodge at Mount Magazine offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in The Natural State. With its sweeping views of the Petit Jean River Valley and distant Blue Mountain Lake, this resort mountain lodge combines a majestic natural setting with first-class amenities. The modern, rustic-style lodge offers 60 guest rooms, a hearth room lobby, delicious Southern fare in the Skycrest Restaurant, a conference center, business center, indoor swimming pool, fitness center and gift shop.
War Eagle Mill
War Eagle Mill is a working water-powered grist mill. Educational tours explain how it operates and the process of grinding. The gift shop offers organic products including salsas, flours, meals, cereals, whole grain mixes, jams, jellies, preserves, salad dressing, bread mixes and soup starters. There is also a restaurant on site.
Fayetteville Farmers' Market
Rub elbows with area farmers and artisans on Fayetteville's downtown square every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning from April through October. The unique market is centered around the historic downtown square featuring award-winning landscaped terraces with an abundance of perennials and annuals. Home-grown, organic and non-organic food items are available at the Fayetteville Farmer's Market, along with a wide variety of crafts.
Eureka Springs Historic Downtown
Secluded and peaceful with winding mountainside streets, Eureka Springs has a flair like no other town. In fact, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named it one of its "Dozen Distinctive Destinations." Streets are lined with Victorian homes hugging cliffsides, and its entire downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Compton Gardens at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Located at the former home of Dr. Neil Compton, who spearheaded the effort to protect the Buffalo River, Compton Gardens showcase the work of P. Allen Smith on 6.5 acres of native woodland plants, walking trails and prairie. There is a pedestrian access point for the new Crystal Bridges Trail leading to the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Blanchard Springs Caverns
Blanchard Springs offers guided walking tours through an active cavern system featuring sparkling calcite formations, stalactites, stalagmites and columns. Two different trails are available for viewing.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
Garvan Woodland Gardens features 210 acres of floral landscapes, streams, waterfalls and architectural structures in natural woodland settings. It is home to hundreds of natural and exotic plants and animals. Arkansas native architect E. Fay Jones-designed gazebo. A Jones-inspired Anthony Chapel is available for weddings. Chipmunk Café offers specials, sandwiches and salads.
Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs
Named a National Historic Landmark in 1987, Bathhouse Row consists of eight bathhouses built between 1911 and 1923. The Fordyce serves as the national park visitor center and museum of the bathing industry. The Buckstaff has operated continuously since 1912. The Quapaw has been renovated into a modern day spa. The Ozark now houses the Museum of Contemporary Art of Hot Springs.
Birding the Byways
A pristine natural environment for birding exists in this 15-county region known as Arkansas Delta Byways because of its links to two national scenic byways. These routes act as major spines through the region with numerous loops and spurs to venture even farther off the beaten path.
This historic site near Lake Village is owned by Arkansas State University. The late 1850s modified Greek Revival home built by Lycurgus Johnson is an official project of the Save America's Treasures program through the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Lakeport Plantation is the last remaining antebellum house on the Mississippi River in Arkansas that hasn't been extensively altered. It has been restored as a museum focusing on the land's transition from slavery to tenant farming.
King Biscuit Blues Festival
One of the most iconic blues festivals in the place where it all began. This mega-festival routinely draws tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Spanning six city blocks, the King Biscuit Blues Festival includes five stages, more than 40 acts from blues legends to up-and-coming artists, buskers, arts and crafts, and food galore. Some of the featured acts have included B.B. King, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Delbert McClinton, and Keb' Mo'.
Originally the Dortch family farm, the stately Greek Revival structure sits on the shores of Bearskin Lake. Marlsgate is open for group tours and special events, and features front porch Ionic columns over 40 feet tall, huge pecan trees that dot the lawn as well as landscaping by P. Allen Smith.
Little Rock River Market Entertainment District
This area of downtown Little Rock is filled with restaurants, shops, art galleries, museums, the main library, bars and a seasonal farmers market. The Ottenheimer Market Hall has more than 17 permanent merchants who offer market specialties year-round. From right-from-the-oven pastries, hand-roasted coffee and succulent barbecue to fresh cut flowers and gourmet foods, there is a wide selection at the River Market.
Hardin Farms and Market
Hardin Farms and Market features fresh produce grown on the family farm, gourmet food products, jams, jellies, cookbooks, gifts, ready-made entrees, sandwiches, barbecue, daily specials, and meat and cheese by the pound.
The Clinton Presidential Center
The Clinton Presidential Center features an interactive museum, including an authentic replica of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room, the Presidential Library and Archives, and adaptive reuse of historic Choctaw Station, built in 1899, as home of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. It contains the largest collection of presidential papers and artifacts in U.S. history. Forty-Two, the on-site restaurant, gets its name from Clinton's place in line of U.S. Presidents.
The Arkansas Arts Center
The Arkansas Arts Center is Arkansas's leading cultural institution. Located in historic MacArthur Park, the center offers fascinating exhibitions, live theater and art classes, along with the Museum Shop and Best Impressions Restaurant.
Argenta Arts District
View landscaping by P. Allen Smith in the Argenta Arts District set in the historic heart of downtown North Little Rock. The district is filled with art galleries, artist studios, an arts foundation, a community theater, chef-driven restaurants, a farmers market, neighborhood grocery, eclectic shopping, pocket parks and more to relax and rejuvenate.