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Authored by Anirudh Singh 

From natural hot springs to beautiful art museums that aptly describe the cultural history of the state, Arkansas is the perfect choice for a much needed rejuvenating getaway.

And whether you’re interested in an active vacation that allows you to reconnect with nature, or visiting one of a kind small towns, there are plenty of things to do in this hidden gem of a State.

Often an overlooked destination, Arkansas is exceptionally blessed. It has a range of natural and musical landmarks, well presented State and National Parks, more than a dozen scenic byways, and historic mountain towns.

While the list of must see places is endless, the following are our five favorite things to do.

Top 5 Things to do in Arkansas

The Best Hiking in the USA

Hiking RF

With so much access to nature, Arkansas has some of the best hiking in the USA.

Of particular note, walk through the wild side of the state through the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. This that comes with ample opportunities in terms of day hikes, woodland walks, and excursions through the jungles.

Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail is another great hike; a 258-mile hiking and backpacking trail through some of the most scenic areas in Arkansas.

The route winds east-west through the wilderness of the Ozark Mountains from Lake Fort Smith State Park to the Buffalo National River and offers plenty of geographic diversity along the way.

You can also opt for a hike towards the Cedar Falls starting from the Petit Jean State Park.

Dive into Rich Culture & History

Music RF

While Arkansas may be known for it’s natural attractions, it also boasts a rich history; one of civil war, and a music heritage that gave birth to folk, jazz, and blues.

There are many heritage trails throughout Arkansas, and you can choose between four routes that lead you towards the rich history of the state. The routes include Civil War Trails, Butterfield Trail, Southwest Trail, and lastly Trail of Tears.

Each trail incorporates places of historic significance, like the Pea Ridge National Military Park; a site that was witness to biggest battle of the Civil War held at the western area of Mississippi.

And there are cultural attractions along each route too; the Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock Central High School, Old State House Museum.

In terms of music, “the Delta blues tradition – and the much-boasted-about fact that Johnny Cash was born here – is alive and well, especially Helena and Little Rock. Hear folk music on the banjo and fiddle, country blues played in the original style or tour Cash’s boyhood home.”

Spot Wildlife

Black Bear RF

If you love to see fauna thriving at its natural habitat, Arkansas brings with it the chance to spot 70 + species of mammals along with 300 varieties of birds that dominate the state with their heavenly beauty.

Look for armadillos or black bears at State parks like Lake Chicot or Cane Creek. Wild Elk can be seen during a drive via Boxley Valley located at upper district region of Buffalo National River.

And make sure you drop at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge located near the Eureka Springs. This is one of the largest animal refuges in the world, and primarily focuses on saving big cats.

Water All Around

White water rafting RF

Arkansas is overrun with places that provide excellent scope for fishing, paddling, floating, and playing in the water. The state has 600,000+ acres of beautiful lakes along with 9,700 miles of water streams.

The Arkansas River extends to a length of 300 miles, and there are a range of paddle sports (kayaking, canoeing, SUP), as well as adrenaline pumping white water rafting, like the Class IV rapids of the Cossatot Falls in the wild Cossatot River.

If you’re a bit apprehensive about natural watersports, make sure you check out the water parks in Arkansas for some man made fun.

52 State and National Parks

Mill Wheel Hot Spiring RF

Arkansas is known as the Nature State, and in terms of access to nature, it has 52 State and (7) National parks.

Take a walk through Mount Magazine State Park, home to tallest mountain in Arkansas standing at a height of 2,735 feet. People come here for the sweeping views, and the extreme adventure, with mountain biking, horseback riding, and ATV riding all among the things you can do.

Try camping, golf, and even horseback riding when visiting the DeGray Lake Resort State Park, or dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park. But perhaps the State’s most famous is Hot Springs National Park.

Hot Springs National Park is different than any other park you will visit because the town of Hot Springs forms part of the park. The historic bathhouses have been turned into a gallery, a brewery, a gift shop, and a visitor’s center.

People come here to bath in the soothing thermal waters, and to see a thriving city built up around the hot springs.

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Anirudh Singh is a passionate Blogger from India and the man behind Nerd’s Travel and Amazing India Blog.

He writes about wide range of topics in travel niche but loves to write about unusual places around the world and the facts behind them. Connect with him on Facebook to join 100,000 other fans.

    16 Comments

  1. The caves are nice. 🙂

    • Sounds great! Where in Arkansas are there caves? 🙂

  2. The first thing that comes to my mind is – leave! Nah- there are few interesting places to visit.

    • Haha I think you definitely have to be a nature enthusiast to really fall in love with the State 🙂

  3. 🙂 Nice to see you covering the state we live in!!

    • An awesome State to call your backyard for sure!

  4. Where is Arkansas?

  5. SUCH a beautiful state!

  6. My family of four (including two boys 10, 13) are planning a summer vacation in Arkansas. We have never been there and don’t know a whole lot about the state.

    We love the outdoors – hiking, fishing, rafting, etc. and quaint little towns.

    We plan to go to Eureka Springs, Hot Springs, possibly Degray’s Lake, diamond or quartz mining and want to see the Buffalo National River.

    What are we missing? Where is the best mountain scenery? Any other towns/cities recommended?

    I appreciate any advice!!

  7. Of all the places I’ve been hiking, I think Mt. Nebo has the prettiest views. There are several hiking trails. One of the hikes has a lot of rim hiking for best views. You drive up Mount Nebo to the visitor center/store. The hikes are from their back door. They have trail maps for you to use. Many brochures can be picked up there for other places to visit in Arkansas. Mount Magazine is nice too.

  8. Hot Springs is a great place to visit!

  9. My kids always have fun on the Buffalo Point to Rush leg. Rush is an old ghost town and the abandoned houses and zinc mines are still there. Petit Jean has always been a favorite of the kids as well.

  10. Great suggestions, one of my favorite places. Re museums, like him or not, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock is among the best of its kind in the country.

  11. We love Arknasas. Here is a quick shot at our top 10:

    1. Clinton Library

    2. (after November) Crystal Bridges

    3. Buffalo River

    4, Central High Museum

    5. Crater of Diamonds/Crystal mining

    6. Eureka Springs visit

    7. Trio of Arkansas River Valley State Parks – Petit Jean/Mt Nedo/Mt Magazine

    8. Hot Springs Bath House

    9. Mountain View Courthouse Square music

    10. Arkansas Razorbacks game

  12. Oh wow you got so close to that black bear!!! I hope you had a good zoom :O!!

  13. Thank you so much, this is exactly what I was looking for! We can’t wait to explore a new state (we have been to almost every one but have only passed through Arkansas quickly on our way back from South Dakota).

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