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Travel Guide to Arkansas, USA – 10 Best Attractions, Where to Dine and Where to Stay

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor March 10th, 2019 Posted in Destination, North America Travel Blog, Travel Blog, Travel Guides No comments

Arkansas is an extraordinary travel destination in the United States. Arkansas attractions range from the state’s vast natural beauty to a variety of historical and cultural landmarks. In fact, it has something to offer to every member of the family. Arkansas features many attractions that will satisfy every member of your family. The “Natural State” is probably best known for being blessed with abundant natural resources, including lakes, clear streams, forests, wildlife, rich farmlands, and scenic vistas.

Arkansas attractions draw millions of visitors to the state each year. From scenic byways, wildlife preserves, and family theme parks to big city attractions like the Clinton Library and the Little Rock Zoo, Arkansas offers something for everyone. However, when it comes to planning vacations, Arkansas tends to fly under the radar because so many people don’t have a clue about the wide variety of activities available there or the incredible affordability to do them.

If you’re feeling bored and want to take a break from daily routine life then pack your bags and plan a trip to Arkansas. As a matter of fact, you and your family will have lots of attractions to visit and several things to do in Arkansas. Let me tell you about the top 10 attractions in Arkansas.

1. Hot Springs National Park

Photo by Ken Lund CC BY-SA 2.0

This site sits on the top because it is known to be a healing place by American Indians. This aspect makes this site a real site of interest for Americans and tourists. The park was developed in 1921 but tourists have been visiting this place for much longer. It is also known as ‘The American Spa’. Drive through scenic roads and have a lovely picnic by the Gulpha Creek. In the Buckstaff Bath House, you can enjoy a warm, wonderful and relaxing bath. The park also features several hiking tracks and an observation tower.

Price: $30 for camping, free entry

Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM

Location: 101 Reserve St, Hot Springs, AR 71901-4195

Phone: 501-620-6715

2. Heber Springs

It is like a heaven for nature lovers. You can visit a lake and river here: Little Red River and Greers Ferry Lake. Both of these water bodies attract anglers from all over the USA. Along the lake and river, several renowned hotels and restaurants are located which are famous throughout the state. Fishing is the main purpose for many visitors, however, you can participate in other activities such as hiking nature trails, enjoy camping and playing championship golf courses. Heber Springs’ historic downtown area hosts a wealth of art galleries, antique stores, and other unique shops, along with picturesque Spring Park.

Price: Free

Hours: Access hours

Location: Heber Springs, Arkansas

3. El Dorado

This attraction is located on the border of Louisiana in southern Arkansas. This rich cultural heritage site is a popular entertainment hub in the state. It hosts famous events such as the Southern Folk Festival and the Southern Food & Wine Festival. Here you can visit the South Arkansas Arboretum. These 13 acres of the botanical garden include scenic walking trails and brilliant plant life. This site also features the South Arkansas Arts Center. In addition to that, you can also come across a fantastic and vibrant nightlife. If you’re planning a trip, El Dorado is among the best 10 places to visit in Arkansas.

Price: Free

Hours: Access hours

Location: El Dorado, Arkansas

4. Arkansas Air Museum

It is a perfect place for anybody who is crazy about flying. Apart from the history of civilian air travel and military aviation, you can see the 1920s and 30s biplanes and racing planes. The building that houses the museum is a 1940s-era aircraft hangar. The great thing is that many of the planes at the museum are in flying condition. In addition to the massive collection of planes, this site hosts various exhibitions featuring artifacts from the Golden Age of air racing and a large collection of military ground vehicles. You will also find a tribute to the second-most famous American female pilot, Louise McPhetridge.

Price: $10

Hours: 11 AM to 4.30 PM

Location: U.S. Highway 71, Drake Field, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Phone: 479-521-4947

5. Buffalo National River

Photo by Buffalo Outdoor Center CC BY-ND 2.0

It is a free-flowing, unpolluted river. Across the river, there are three designated areas within its boundaries. It runs through the Ozark Mountains. It is a naturally protected site for wild animals including bobcats, deer, and other various wild lives. You can do a number of things here. These include canoes, while kayaks, horseback riding, camping, and hiking. During the shoulder-season months and summer, you’ll see tubes floating all over the river. You can get information about the local area from the Tyler Bend Visitor Center. Visiting this site is among the best things to do in Arkansas.

Price: Free

Hours: 8.30 AM to 4.30 PM

Location: St Joe, Arkansas

Phone: 870-439-2502

6. William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum

Photo by Ron Gilbert CC BY-ND 2.0

This site is ideally located on the edge of Arkansas River. The Clinton Presidential Center is surrounded by a 28 acres public park. Apart from hosting the local events it also serves as a presidential library and museum. It features various attractions including photos, artifacts, a replica of the oval office and much more. It also hosts various exhibitions throwing light on the life of 42nd presidents of the USA and his family. The structure of the building is similar to a bridge showing a replica of the six bridges over the Arkansas River. Metaphorically, it stands as a bridge between the past and future.

Price: $8

Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM

Location: River Market District, 1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas

Phone: 501-374-4242

7. Blanchard Springs Caverns

Photo by Jacob Cook CC BY-ND 2.0

Within the Ozark-St, this site is situated in northern Arkansas. It is an amazing example of the underground natural water system. The caverns themselves have been growing and changing for thousands of years, and visitors today can witness moving water still carving its way through the cave. The only way to explore Blanchard Springs Cavern is through one of three ranger-led tours, including the popular 1.2-mile Discovery Trail. The other area is also interesting to explore and offers various activities to the tourists.

Price: Free

Hours: 9.30 AM to 6 PM

Location: 704 Blanchard Springs Rd, Fifty-Six, Arkansas

Phone: 870-757-2211

8. Little Rock Zoo

Photo by AGB in AR CC BY 2.0

It is an ideal place where you can explore and interact with animals in their natural habitat. Animals from all the parts of the world are brought to this zoo. Lions are the major attraction for visitors. In addition to that, you can also check the alligators moving around in the lake-like area. Here you’ll also get a chance to feed them. You should never miss this site if you’re visiting top 10 best places in Arkansas.

Price: $12.95

Hours: 9 AM to 4 PM

Location: 1 Zoo Dr, Little Rock, AR 72205-5401

Phone: 501-661-7200

9. Mount Magazine State Park

Photo by Ken Lund CC BY-SA 2.0

This site is situated on the highest mountain range of the state and it features both the indoor and outdoor activities for the visitors. It constitutes a picnic area, hiking trails, campground and much more. Apart from that, you can find various exhibitions, gift shops and the Skycrest Restaurant complete with large bay windows that look outside. At the visitor center, you can learn about the history of the local area and the fauna and flora of the region. It is also a great place for extreme sports lovers. To boost up your adrenaline and rush of blood, you can participate in activities such as horse riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hand glides.

Price: Free

Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM

Location: 16878 Highways 309 South, Paris, AR 72855

Phone: 479-963-8502

10. Thorncrown Chapel

Photo by Clinton Steeds CC BY 2.0

It is beautifully located in the forest. It is designed of wood and glass. The high glass walls look out on the surrounding forest, giving the feeling of being right in the woods. It has more than 6,000 square feet of glass and its height is 48 feet. One winter service is held at 11 AM while during the summer, two services are held, one at 9 AM and the second at 11 AM. You can visit it during the operating hours and the good thing is that its entry is totally free.

Price: Free

Hours: 9 AM to 3.30 PM

Location: 12968 Highway 62 W, Eureka Springs, AR 72632-9301

Phone: 479-253-7401

Where to Dine in Arkansas?

Local Flavor

If you love spicy food, it’s a place made for you. Also, you can get great Mexican dishes, the specialty of this restaurant. It’s always worth making the trip to this restaurant.

Hours: 11 AM to 11 PM

Location:  Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Phone: 501-448-2226

Damgoode Pies

It is the best place for Italian food lovers; however, there is also a wide range of local cuisine. For an extra treat, try one of their special sauces on your pizza instead of the typical marinara, with options like pesto cream, pink sauce, and a spicy white.

Hours: 11 AM to 11 PM

Location:  Little Rock, Arkansas

Phone: 501-0 664-2239

The Farmer’s Table Café

This restaurant is purely based on the local cuisine. The menu is full of farm fresh food and vegetables. Just make sure you don’t leave without trying the house potatoes.

Hours: 7 AM to 3 PM

Location:  Fayetteville, Arkansas

Phone: 479-966-4125

Where to Stay in Arkansas?

The Wanderoo lodge

If you’re looking for some cheap option, you must select this hotel. It’s economical but you’ll find all the necessary facilities. For best deals, you can check Agoda.

Price: $54-60

Hours: Open access

Style: Modern

Star: 4 star

Location: 216 West Van Buren Highway, Eureka Springs, AR 72632, United States of America

Phone: 479-363-6755

The Burgundy Hotel an Ascend Hotel Collection Member

Apart from the hotel, the property hosts various facilities including the 10 Fitness gym, a small fitness center, Table 28 restaurant and 4,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting spaces. You’ll surely love staying here. For best rates, please check booking.com.

Price: $109-115

Hours: Open access

Style: Traditional

Star: 4 star

Location: 1501 Merrill Drive, Little Rock, AR 72211, USA

Phone: 501-224-8051

The Palace Hotel and Bath House Spa

This property consists of comfortable and luxurious guest rooms. All the rooms are equipped with world class facilities. In addition to that, it’s ideally located in the city center so you could do some shopping. For the best prices, you can visit Agoda, one of the best sites to book affordable hotel room accommodation.

Price: $200-250

Hours: Open access

Style: Traditional

Star: 4star

Location: 135 Spring Street, Eureka Springs, AR 72632, United States of America

Phone: 479-253-7474

Frequently asked questions about Arkansas

1. List of major cities in Arkansas?

Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Bentonville, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, Benton, Sherwood, Texarkana, Russellville, Jacksonville, Paragould, Cabot, West Memphis, Searcy

2. What is the best time of the year to visit Arkansas?

Since the state is located in the south, the climatic conditions are normally moderate. You’ll experience uniform weather throughout the year except you visit the high altitude mountains. During the winter season, the average temperature is about 50F while during the hot summer, it escalates to 90F. Arkansas is known for its volatile weather, with thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, and snowstorms regular features of the annual climate.

During the summer, due to the humidity and moisture, it’s a bit tough to enjoy your tour so winter and springs are preferred by the tourists. During the fall, the trees turn beautiful colors and the skies are often brilliantly blue.

3. Write the best months and what to do depending on the season?

Fall colors begin to appear in the Ozarks and other northern sections of the state by the second week in October and continue slowly southward. So October is considered the best month to visit the state. However, you can also visit during the months of March and April before the summer set in.

4. What is Arkansas popular for?

The Arkansas diamond mine is known beyond the state boundaries. In the middle of the state, you will find the world’s minnow suppliers and the world’s largest supplier of triploid bass. You can find lots of bears in the north of Clinton city. You can also hunt elk and deer in the state. In addition to that, Lake Catherine attracts tourists looking to chill in fresh water.

5. How can you go to Arkansas? 

As far as the buses are concerned, there are good options like a greyhound, trail ways, Jefferson Lines etc. this easy, efficient and comfort mean of transportation is always a top priority of several tourists. You can get a direct booking of buses to all the major cities of the state. Again, the Amtrak offers train service the major parts of the state. Tickets are also economical and you can get a discount on advance booking. Lastly, if you want to travel by air, American Airlines, Delta, United etc offer various flights to the major airports of the state.

6. What are the major airports in Arkansas?

  • Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport
  • Fort Smith Regional Airport
  • Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport
  • Texarkana Regional Airport
  • South Arkansas Regional Airport
  • Boone County Airport
  • Carroll County Airport
  • Arkansas International Airport
  • Boone County Airport
  • Dexter B. Florence Memorial Field

7. What’s the best souvenir to buy in Arkansas?

  • Apparels – Like all states of the USA, you can buy the best attires and garment pieces from Arkansas. In fact, you can but all types of stuff for any family member including your children.
  • Arkansas State Flag Rectangle Magnet – Apparently looks a quite small gift but it will remind you of your Arkansas visit. The flag of the state has significant respect and love in the hearts of local residents.
  • Toad Suck (AR) Arkansas Tees Baseball Cap – Basketball has great importance in the entire United States and if you want to take some good memories with you, it’s the best thing to buy from Arkansas.
  • Jewelry – The state is also known for its exotic jewelry and if you’re a woman, you can’t resist yourself buying some beautiful pieces. Designed and materials are unique and you will not find a similar piece in the rest of the USA.
  • Ornaments – You can also buy ornaments. There are various options to buy these pieces both online and offline.

8. What are the popular holidays or festivals in Arkansas?

The festivals come fast and thick in fun-loving Arkansas. During the month of May, you can enjoy Riverfest Arts and Music Festival, in mid-June, there is a Native American Wildlife Festival and Powwow. In the month of September, you can have fun at Cleburne County Fair and in the month of October, tourists enjoy the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival.  The month of October also hosts the festivals like Bikes, Blues and BBQ and Ozark Folk Festival.

9. What are the top 5 popular destinations in Arkansas?

  • Fort Smith, AR 72901
  • Petit Jean State Park, Morrilton, AR 72110-9361
  • Ozark Mountain Ziplines, Eureka Springs, AR 72632-3649
  • Mystic Caverns, Dr, Harrison, AR 72601-4987
  • Theatre Squared 505 W Springs St, Fayetteville, AR 72701-5027

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]