25 Fun Things To Do In Arkansas: Places To Visit 2022
Arkansas is packed with a moderate climate, lush terrain, mountains, and lakes and rivers needed for an outdoor vacation.
Arkansas is also an affordable destination, with thousands of free events offered throughout the year, including festivals, art shows, and craft fairs in Eureka Springs, Fayetteville, and Hot Springs.
From concerts in Little Rock, art walks, and galleries at night to delicious local dishes and historic buildings, Arkansas offers many activities for lovers of culture, history, and nature.
1. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art celebrates the American spirit in a setting that unites art and nature.
Designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Crystal Bridges consists of galleries, meeting rooms, and a glass-enclosed meeting room grouped around two ponds.
The museum’s collection includes representative American works from five centuries, including significant works by Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, and James Turrel.
The 120 acres on which the museum is located offer visitors a unique opportunity to appreciate the local Ozarks landscape, with more than 3.5 miles of trails.
Crystal Bridges features programming for all ages, including lectures, presentations, and continuing education.
Address: 600 Museum Way, Bentonville AR, 72712
2. Chapel of the Crown of Thorns
A 48-foot-tall wooden chapel featuring not only 425 windows but over 6,000 square feet of glass, Rush Thorncrown Chapel is a structure of simple design in a beautiful forest setting.
More than six million people have visited the chapel since it opened in 1980, and it has been a favorite of the architectural world, winning numerous prestigious awards.
Tour groups can give a short presentation about the chapel before exploring it and its surroundings. The chapel is available to rent for ceremonies and offers unparalleled acoustics for listening to music on a particular day.
Address: 12968 Hwy 62 West, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
3. Garvan Woodland Gardens
Functioning as the University of Arkansas Botanical Gardens, Garvan Woodland Gardens allows visitors to sample flora and fauna of the Ouachita Mountains in southwestern Arkansas.
Located along 4.5 miles of forested shoreline, the gardens’ mission is to preserve and protect the natural environment of the mountains while providing natural resources that promote learning, research, and culture.
Reservations are required for groups of 20 or more when reserving two weeks in advance.
Visitors can also take a self-guided tour of the gardens’ 210 acres, while groups of 10 or more can join docent-led tours. The recommended time to tour the gardens is a minimum of 2.5 hours.
Address: 550 Arkridge Road, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71913
4. Native American History Museum
The Museum of Native History tells the story of America’s first peoples. The museum contains sections devoted to the Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian, Prehistoric, and Columbian periods.
With artifacts dating back more than 14,000 years, the museum’s exhibits include cultural items from its permanent collection, such as tools, weapons, household objects, and crafts, to tell the story of Native Americans through the millennia.
This collection offers a unique opportunity to learn about America’s first peoples on the continent long before Old World explorers landed on American shores.
Address: 202 SW ‘O’ Street, Bentonville, AR 72712
5. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Located in the Ozarks, TCWR’s 459 acres are home to big cats, including tigers, lions, hares, leopards, cougars, servals, and bobcats, as well as bears and four other animal species.
Tours begin at the Welcome Center, where visitors learn about TCWR’s mission before embarking on a one-mile guided walking tour. Tours start at 10:00 am daily and run on the hour up to one hour before animal feeding time.
Tours are led by an in-house biologist or zoologist who discusses each animal while visitors get to see the animal in its natural habitat. Twenty-minute surveillance chats are held on weekends and allow for questions and answers with facility staff.
Address: 239 Turpentine Creek Lane, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
6. Fordyce Bathhouse
Filled with marble and stained glass, visitors can revel in the luxury that made the Fordyce Bathhouse the finest bathhouse in the region. In operation as a bathhouse from 1915 to 1962, Fordyce began its new role as a visitor center for Hot Springs National Park in 1989.
Watch a 9-minute movie about the bathhouse during its operation. Take a self-guided tour by the locker rooms, the men’s massage room, the music room, the stateroom, the original elevator, the bowling alley, etc.
That makes up the bathhouse and peruses the bookstore’s offerings on the history of bathhouses and the national park.
Address: 369 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901
7. Little Rock Central High School
Little Rock Central High School was the site of a pivotal moment in the desegregation of American public schools. In 1957, nine African-American students attended an all-white high school despite being teased and hated.
The controversial nature of the nine students’ attendance showed the deep-rooted southern challenge against desegregation. The students were called the Little Rock Nine, while the controversy was the Little Rock Crisis.
This seminal event is chronicled in 1-hour guided tours, which are available by appointment at 9:00 am and 1:00 pm on weekdays during the school year.
Address: 2120 W Daisy L Gatson Bates Dr., Little Rock, AR 72205
8. The Old Mill
Completed in 1933, the Old Mill is a replica of an abandoned 1880 hydroelectric gristmill located in T. R. Pugh Memorial Park.
A National Register of Historic Places site, this piece of American history has been featured in Hollywood movies, including the classic Gone with the Wind, and contains sculptures by Mexican naturalist artist Dionicio Rodríguez.
Rodríguez also worked on the details that make each piece of concrete represent wood, iron, or stone. The mill contains many historical artifacts, including the mill itself. Thirty-minute guided tours are offered for groups of 10 or more with prior reservations.
Address: 3800 Lakeshore Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
9. Fort Smith National Historic Site
The Fort Smith National Historic Site contains exhibits covering the fort’s history from 1817 to 1896 when its jurisdiction over the territory ended.
Exhibits tell of life on the edge of the land from the perspective of soldiers and the law and the Cherokee perspective of the Trail of Tears. The site contains jails, a courtroom, a warehouse, barracks, gallows, and a bookstore.
Exhibits focus on sheriff’s deputies, military men, outlaws, and the Trail of Tears. Visitors can participate in ranger-led programming, including a walking tour of the building and grounds. Children can earn junior ranger badges by using educational books.
Address: 301 Parker Ave, Fort Smith, AR 72901
10. Square Theater
TheaterSquared entertains approximately 40,000 annually and is the only professional theater in Northwest Arkansas to put on 220 productions throughout the year.
Located in a 175-seat space in the Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios, TheatreSquared’s clients engage students through school programming to enable youth exposure to arts-based learning.
TheaterSquared was recognized in 2011 as one of the top ten emerging American theater groups.
Home to professional playwrights, TheaterSquared produces newly developed scripts that the company presents in world premieres and the Arkansas New Play Festival. Because of his dedication to making professional theater available to everyone.
Address: 505 W Spring St, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
11. William J Clinton Library and Museum
The William J. Clinton Library and Museum is the presidential library for the 42nd President Bill Clinton. Located in Little Rock on 17 acres next to the Arkansas River, the 68,698-square-foot library and archives are the largest of the 13 presidential libraries.
The museum includes artifacts from Clinton’s time in office, such as his Cadillac One and his saxophone, as well as scale replicas of his Oval Office and Cabinet.
An eight-panel timeline in the main gallery covers his presidency, along with the display of state gifts and other items, while gaps in 14 focus on specific events.
The museum also houses an orientation theater. The archives contain several million photos, documents, emails, and additional artifacts.
Address: 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, AR 72201
12. Hot Springs Mountain Tower
Hot Springs Mountain Tower is a 216-foot-tall observation tower on High Springs Mountain. Constructed of lattice steel, the structure is the third building on the mountain and opened to the public in 1983.
Visitors can enjoy a 140-mile panoramic view of Hot Springs National Park, the Ouachita Mountains, the Diamond Lake region, and other natural landmarks.
A gift shop is located at ground level, as is a grab-and-go area where visitors can purchase snacks and sandwiches. The tower is open all year round from 9:00 am; Closing hours vary from 5:00 pm during the low season from November to February, between 6:30 pm and 9:00 pm from March to November.
Address: 401 Hot Springs Mountain Dr., Hot Springs, AR 71901
13. The Walmart Museum
The Walmart Museum opened in 1990 as the Walmart Visitor Center. The museum’s mission is to educate visitors about Walmart in an engaging and inspiring way and serve the community.
The museum includes a fully functional 5 and 10 store, a gallery, and a café. With a soda fountain, Walton’s 5 & 10 is where Walmart started, while interactive exhibits in the gallery provide a glimpse into the company’s history.
Visitors can even watch a video of founder Sam Walton doing the hula hoop. The Spark Cafe? Soda Fountain is an actual small-town soda fountain shop, complete with ’50s music and sodas and reminiscent of Sam’s love of ice cream.
Museum tours are usually self-guided, but guided group tours are available with advance notice.
Address: 105 N. Main Street, Bentonville, AR 72712
14. Old State House Museum
The Old State House Museum is located in the Arkansas Old State House. It commemorates the house’s history, including its role as the location of such historical events as Arkansas’s entry into the Union and incorporation into the Confederacy.
The Old State House remained in operation as a government building until 1911, when the current State House was completed.
Visitors can view the museum’s permanent and circulating exhibits through a self-guided tour assisted with a tourist map or cell phone guide, or an hourly guided tour. Hourly tours are offered every hour during museum hours and last 50 minutes.
Address: 300 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72201
15. Birthplace of President William Jefferson Clinton
The Birthplace of President William Jefferson Clinton is a National Historic Site dedicated to preserving the birthplace of the 42nd President of the United States.
The house is where William Jefferson Blythe III spent the first four years with his mother and maternal grandparents. Clinton continued to visit his grandparents in the home until 1956, when his grandfather passed away, and he attests to the many life lessons while living in the house.
The visitor center features exhibits on the President’s early life, including photos and video, and guided tours are available.
Address: 117 South Hervey St., Hope, AR 71801
16. Clinton House Museum
The Clinton House Museum is dedicated to preserving an early period in the career of the 42nd President Bill Clinton. A one-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot home nestled in the Ozarks was the first home shared by Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham.
Clinton and Rodham were married in the house’s living room, and the museum contains memorabilia from Clinton’s early campaigns, including some of her early political speeches and television ads, as well as personal items such as Rodham’s wedding dress.
A timeline of the couple’s time in Fayetteville provides additional context. The house is available for private events, including meetings, weddings, and tours. We are closed on Wednesdays.
Address: 930 West Clinton Drive, Fayetteville, AR 72701
17. Arkansas Governor’s Mansion
The Arkansas Governor’s Mansion is located on 8.5 acres in the historic neighborhood of Little Rock. The mansion has been the First Family dinner and celebration venue since January 10, 1950.
Forty-five governors have lived in the mansion, and every aspect of the estate and its grounds speaks of their time here. Tours of the villas are available by reservation.
Tours allow visitors to see the mansion’s formal living room, state dining room, library, grand foyer, atrium, lower atrium, and great room and admire the artwork and furnishings on display, such as porcelain personalized with the state seal.
Address: 1800 Center Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
18. Magic Springs Water and Theme Park
Magic Springs Water and Theme Park have been rated one of the top three family amusement parks by Better Homes and Housekeeping. The amusement park has five roller coasters, five thrill rides, four family rides, and eight kiddie rides.
The water park area (Crystal Falls) includes a children’s area and splash zone, four thrill rides including boogie boarding and slides, as well as eight family rides. Cabin rentals are available at additional cost.
The Timberwood Amphitheater is home to concerts every Saturday, and the park hosts annual events throughout the year. The park is open on weekends from April to October and every day from late May to mid-August.
Address: 1701 E. Grand Ave., Hot Springs, AR 71901
19. Arkansas Points of Interest: South Arkansas Arboretum
South Arkansas Arboretum is a 12-acre site featuring native and rare flora and fauna of the western Gulf Coastal Plain.
The nursery is dedicated to preserving the region’s natural beauty for educational purposes. The site serves that purpose for students of all ages and the public.
The nursery includes an active use area popular with walkers and joggers, a transition zone where the natural area begins with ponds and a stream, and a butterfly garden blooms from May through August.
The nursery has paved trails with signage restrooms and parking. A pavilion and gazebo are available for rent, and the nursery can be scheduled for private events.
Address: Mt Holly Rd, El Dorado, AR 71730
20. Hampton Museum
The Hampson Museum features exhibits that interpret the agricultural lifestyle of the Upper Nodena site, a 15-acre town that existed between 1400 and 1650 AD. The museum’s collection results from the excavation and preservation of the Nodena site by James K. Hampson and his family.
The collection of archaeological artifacts is nationally recognized and provides insight into this late Mississippian civilization, including its religion, trade network, and arts and crafts.
Half-hour guided tours are available at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, although walk-ins are generally welcome. The museum also hosts special programming and operates a gift shop.
Address: 2 Lake Dr, Wilson, AR 72395
21. Arkansas Points of Interest: Compton Gardens
Compton Gardens is a 6.5-acre wooded garden that includes native flora and fauna. The gardens are located in the home of Dr. Neil Campton, who dedicated himself to protecting the region’s biodiversity.
The trail system? -Mile of the Gardens is intended to operate as an accessible green space and function as an access point to the Crystal Bridges Trail.
Each plant in the gardens is carefully marked for educational purposes, and the collection includes two Arkansas Champion trees. The parks also operate as a non-profit and private event venue and host various events throughout the year. Open daily from dawn to dusk.
Address: 312 N. Main St., Bentonville, AR 72712
22. Rogue’s Manor Castle
Castle Rogue’s Manor is perched on Tablerock Lake and covers 20 acres in the Ozark forest. In addition to enjoying its panoramic views, visitors can take part in a private guided tour of the mansion (by appointment only).
As an example of the craftsmanship and majesty that define the mansion, the medieval fireplace was built from 7,000 pounds of stone and included fire-breathing bronze dragons.
After appearing on HGTV’s Home Strange Home in 2007, the mansion has primarily functioned as a premier event and wedding venue.
Event packages include indoor seating and catering for guests up to 120, exquisite place settings (tableware, glassware, and cutlery), and a dedicated entertainment stage.
Address: Arkansas 187, Beaver, Arkansas
23. Rush Historic District (Rush Ghost Town)
The Rush Historic District preserves a 1,300-acre zinc mining town that operated from the mid-1880s to the mid-1930s. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, Rush is considered essential to the history of mining in the region.
The district is a Gold Rush Ghost Town and includes (steep) trails with educational displays and signage. I am viewing the site while driving is also an option.
While entry to the district’s three mines is strictly prohibited, visitors can peruse the Taylor-Medley Store, Barn Site, Smelter, Smithy, my Level, Processing Mill, Tailings, the Hicks store Boiling Springs, New Town, the 1960s mining exhibit, and Ore Wagon Road.
Address: Buffalo National River, Yellville, AR 72687
24. Arkansas Air Museum
The Arkansas Air Museum features static displays of aviation artifacts and memorabilia in an authentic 1943 aircraft hangar. The museum features two aircraft that are still in working order and vintage aircraft such as pre-World War II racers.
Other notable items in the collection include 15 military vehicles twelve static aircraft. And relics such as a Civil War field stove, WWII household items, and WWII German weapons.
The museum’s specific aircraft is the only American aircraft of a given model, while others are replicas of famous pieces. Cutaway engine displays allow visitors to see the inner workings of the aircraft.
Address: 4290 South School Avenue, Fayetteville, AR 72701
25. Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center is a converted barn that served as a study for Ernest Hemingway in the family home of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.
The studio was where Hemingway wrote several short stories and parts of A Farewell to Arms. The museum and educational center focused on educating the world about Arkansas life in the 1920s and 1930s, including literature, world events, family relationships, and the New Deal-era development of Northeast Arkansas.
The museum operates a museum store, which sells items related to Hemingway and Arkansas during the 1920s and 1930s.
Address: 1021 West Cherry Street, Piggott, Arkansas 72454
Frequently Asked Questions: Fun Things To Do In Arkansas
What’s Arkansas famous for?
Where is the coolest place in Arkansas?
Gilbert is literally the coldest town in Arkansas as well as one of the coolest! This small town is a perfect to your big adventures, especially if they involve the Buffalo National River.
Why should I visit Arkansas?
Arkansas is called The Natural State for a reason. If your family loves the outdoors, Arkansas is definitely a state you will love to visit. Not only is it the home of the first national park, it boasts many natural beautiful waterfalls, trails, and golf courses giving everyone something to enjoy.
Are there alligators in Arkansas?
The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) has been a component of Arkansas’s native fauna for thousands of years. Alligator populations have since recoverred in Arkansas through state and federal protection and restocking efforts.
Is the Ozarks in Arkansas?
The Ozarks (also referred to as the Ozark Mountains or Ozark plateau) extend across five states: Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Illinois. The majority of the region falls in Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas.
What is Little Rock known for?
Little Rock is best known around the world for the crucial role it played in American Civil Rights history, after nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957 but were denied entry causing a national crisis.
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