Arkansas, though lesser-known for its beauty than other states in the country, is a hub for nature, history, art, music, and great food. Road trip through this state in the summer, autumn, winter, or spring – you won’t be disappointed. Here are the ten best towns to visit:
In the early 1800s, Batesville was settled around the edges of the White River. It is the oldest city in Arkansas, making it a great spot to visit for history enthusiasts. Every year, Batesville holds the Arkansas Scottish Festival at Lyon College. There are plenty of cafes, craft shops, and boutiques throughout the main street and its nearby Pocket Park is home to many beautiful mosaic installations.
El Dorado is a small town north of Louisiana that boomed during the 1920s. It is currently being revitalized as young people are moving there in droves. In 2009, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named it America’s Best Downtown. Experience local art and culture through the Southern Folk Festival and Southern Food & Wine Festival as well as the South Arkansas Arts Center and the South Arkansas Arboretum.
This town was founded in 1879 as a spa town. Many of the buildings that line the main street are the original buildings, and they offer the town a unique charm that is difficult to replicate elsewhere. It has been listed on American Style Magazine’s top 25 small cities for art for 4 years running. It is home to the annual Opera in the Ozarks festival, and is a hub for talented local artists. In 1970, Eureka Springs was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. While you’re there, visit the most haunted hotel in Arkansas: the Crescent Hotel and Spa.
Home to the University of Arkansas, this town has plenty to offer for visitors to do and see. On the weekends, you can attend the farmer’s market in the town square. In that same square, there are plenty of boutiques and restaurants to drop in and out of during your visit. There is plenty of hiking nearby including Hawskbill Crag, one of the most iconic views in Arkansas. Go in the fall to catch a football game and watch the leaves change colors.
In the northwest corner of Arkansas, you will find a tiny but beautiful town called Jasper. Nestled in the middle of what is informally called “the Green Grand Canyon,” this town is surrounded by natural beauty.
While you’re there, the Cliff House Inn is the best place to stay for both the views and the food. Watch the sunrise over a canyon of rolling green hills from your room’s porch then head upstairs to the inn’s restaurant for some home-cooked biscuits. In the downtown of Jasper, you can find antique stores like Emma’s Museum of Junk and historical spots like the Arkansas House Inn which opened in 1934.
Founded in 1855, this town has a quite charming and unique feel. After exploring the historic downtown, you can enjoy Logoly State Park by hiking, biking, camping, swimming, horseback riding, and canoeing. Every year, they host the Magnolia Blossom Festival and the World Championship Steak Cook-Off.
This town is incredibly peaceful – it is a popular vacation and retirement spot in Arkansas. The Norfork Lake and the Bull Shoals Lake make this a great spot to go rest, swim, and take in the natural beauty unique to the Arkansas Ozarks. On top of the lakes, Mountain Home also has a charming downtown with historic buildings such as the Case-Shiras-Dearmore House which was built in the 1870s. There are plenty of restaurants to eat and shops to explore in the downtown.
Known as the folk music capital of the world, this town is known to constantly host impromptu folk concerts on the porch its music store. Drive a bit north and you’ll find the White River and Blanchard Springs Caverns, making it the perfect town for enjoying the Ozarks. In town, you can find the Ozark Folk Center, a museum dedicated to preserving Ozark culture complete with a group of craft and gift shops.
Just across the border from Oklahoma, Siloam Springs is a town founded in the early 1880s. It, like Eureka Springs, has a beautiful historic downtown. Smithsonian Magazine named it one of the best small towns in America in 2012. There are plenty of fun boutiques and tasty restaurants to choose from while you’re in this cute town as well as outdoor activities.
Go kayaking in the Siloam Springs Kayak Park, visit the farmers market in the town, or you can even go through the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari for a more hands-on version of going to the zoo.
Nestled on the banks of the Arkansas River, the town of Van Buren was founded in 1842. It was an important river port city in the pre-Civil War era. Because of this, you can learn a lot about the history of that time while visiting Van Buren. The King Opera House and the Crawford County Courthouse, both built in the 1800s, are still preserved and can be enjoyed by the public. You will also find plenty of galleries, restaurants, and shops along the downtown area.