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Learn More About the Natural State With This Arkansas Travel Guide

Aug 31, 2023|

As one of the West South-Central states, Arkansas offers both extensive wilderness areas as well as small and mid-sized cities with amenities that rival those of bigger cities. Explore miles of hiking trails in numerous state parks, take a river trip down the Father of Waters, or discover more about art, architecture, science, and the Civil Rights Movement at the state's many top-notch museums.

If you live in the center of the state in or near Little Rock, you're in prime position for exploring as it's no more than a few hours' drive from here to each of the state's corners. Find out more with this guide to Arkansas tourism.

Arkansas wilderness at twilight

National and state parks

Arkansas’ nickname of The Natural State is well-fit: the state boasts one national park, 52 state parks, and numerous other forested and mountainous areas. The Ozark Mountains cover much of the northern part of the state. The Mississippi River—on which visitors can go paddling and canoeing or take a river cruise—forms the eastern boundary of the state. Take a scenic drive in the Ouachita National Forest in the western part of the state.

Arkansas contains an endless wilderness where you can seek out solitude and get away from the rush of everyday life.

Hot Springs National Park

Established by Congress in 1832 (more than eight decades before there was a National Park Service), Hot Springs National Park preserves the hot springs that flow down from Hot Springs Mountain. The town of Hot Springs also features Bathhouse Row, a series of bathhouses and other structures located along Central Avenue that offer mineral baths and other hydrotherapy services. The temperature in the baths here exceeds 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Book a reservation for one of the bathhouses to experience its spa-like services.

Hot Springs National Park also offers unique activities. Hike the West Mountain trails in the park's more remote forested section for some peace and quiet. Bring your binoculars, and try to spot the several bird species that call the park home. Depending on the season, you may see herons, falcons, owls, hummingbirds, wrens, and starlings. Take a two-wheeled trip on your bike on the paved roads in the North Mountain or West Mountain sections.

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Crater of Diamonds State Park

In Pike County in Southwest Arkansas, Crater of Diamonds State Park offers a diamond mine where you can search for, then keep, diamonds and other gemstones like amethyst and jasper.

Lake Catherine State Park

Located near Hot Springs in the south-central part of the state, Lake Catherine State Park offers over 2,000 acres of recreation where you can take a boat out on manmade Lake Catherine, rent a cabin, take a horseback ride, or hike on 10 miles' worth of trails.

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area

Located in the far northwest corner of the state, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area offers hiking and biking trails, a shooting range, and primitive campsites.


Arkansas has many world-class museums. Admire amazing art, learn about President Bill Clinton, and discover more about the history of the country's largest private employer.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville incorporates the natural surroundings of the Ozarks into its stunning design. The museum offers a permanent art collection as well as rotating exhibits focusing on photography and architecture, among other disciplines. You can also walk the grounds on several easy trails that offer everything from outdoor sculptures, flowers, plants, and natural springs. There's no cost for general admission to the museum.

Outdoor flowers in Northwest Arkansas

The Walmart Museum

Also in Bentonville, The Walmart Museum provides a history of the retail giant from its official founding in 1962 to the present day. Note that as of September 2023, the museum remains closed for renovations, with a planned reopening sometime in the spring of 2024. Check the museum's website for updates.

William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum

In Little Rock, the state's capital and largest city, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum features three floors of exhibits dedicated to telling the history of America's 42nd president. See the presidential limousine, and check out a replica of the White House's Oval Office. The library's location in the Clinton Presidential Center and Park complex has great views of the Arkansas River.

Annual events in Arkansas

From folk and other music festivals to rodeos and barbecues, Arkansas has many annual events that offer good times, great food, and family fun.

Hope Watermelon Festival

Held in Hope each year in August, the Hope Watermelon Festival celebrates the town's favorite fruit through races, tournaments, concerts, and a watermelon eating contest.

Watermelons in a watermelon field

Arkansas Folk Festival

The town of Mountain View hosts the Arkansas Folk Festival each April. Come listen to live music, check out the antique cars on display, and help yourself to good eats from various food vendors.

Bikes, Blues and BBQ Festival

Hop on your Harley and head to Fayetteville for the Bikes, Blues and BBQ Festival, held each fall. The festival is not just an excuse to hang out among fellow bikers, listen to great music, and feast on delicious barbecue; the event raises money each year for needy families in Northwest Arkansas. Come out to the rally to have fun and also support a great cause.

Cheer on the Hogs

Arkansas does not have any teams in any of the four major professional sports leagues. However, the University of Arkansas Razorbacks are the state's de facto rooting interest. As an NCAA Division I school that's part of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the university offers a variety of athletic programs, with football by far the most popular. Home football games held at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville in the fall routinely sell out, but you can call the school's Ticket Center or check online for single-game tickets.

Tailgating before each home game is a time-honored tradition. Afterward, try to head into the stadium a little early to witness "Running through the A" when the school's marching band forms a giant "A" on the field, which the players then run through. Once the gridiron action starts, participate in the "Calling of the Hogs" and cheer on the Razorbacks as they face off against heated rivals like Ole Miss and Alabama.

Get peace of mind with Vivint

While you're out exploring Arkansas, you can relax knowing Vivint has you covered with a security and automation system. With a Smart Lighting system, you can turn your home's lights on while you're away, making it seem like someone's there. While you are visiting areas like Little Rock and Fayetteville, use the Vivint app to control all our smart home features from your phone.

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