Whether you're coming from out of state or just looking for something pretty to do in Arkansas you should start or end your trip with the Talimena Scenic Drive. It stretches from Talihina, Oklahoma to Mena, Arkansas this 54-mile stretch is one of the prettiest in the country, you will not be sorry your went out of your way to experience it.
1. Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs
Screenshot from @fer.nanda.ruiz on Instagram
The Hot Spring reservation was put into act by the United States Congress on April 20, 1832. This was done before National Parks existed, this was the first piece of the land to be set aside for future use. The hot springs water is believed to hold medicinal properties that numerous Native American tribes used to heal pretty much anything. Still to this day people that go to the hot springs say that after their experience they feel changed for the better.
2. Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs
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This is a free walking garden for everyone to enjoy. Hike around the 210 acre plot to experience wonderful hiking trails, rolling mountains, native landscaping, and natural waterfalls. Not to mention the pristine Japanese garden with over 200 different plant varieties to gander at.
3. Crater of Diamonds State Park in Pike County
Screenshots from @bison.entomologist @passionandprospect on Instagram
This is the home of the world's ONLY diamond-bearing site accessible to the public. You can spend the day or however long you like at their RV park enjoying hiking trails and all the other facilities they have to offer. Find your diamonds on an ancient volcanic crater all you find you get to keep with an admission fee of $10 for adults & $6 children 6-12, children 6 and under are free.
4. Crystal Bridges Art Museum in Bentonville
Screenshot from @crystalbridgesmuseum @jalgophoto on Instagram
Free admission to the general exhibits that are always on view. They also have exhibits that change yearly like the All Things Being Equal series for an additional charge of $8 or less. Along with changing exhibits crystal bridges sits on 120 acres complete with walking trails that feature outdoor art exhibits from handmade blown glass to a giant wind-chime you can play. This museum will easily take up your whole day if you experience everything.
5. Whitaker Point Trailhead in Newton County
Screenshot from @dylemas on Instagram
Make your way to the beautiful overhanging cliff for a picture perfect moment. It is about a 3 mile hike to the famous spot that is known for its soul searching, mountainous questions, and simply feeling alive. In Arkansas this is the "peoples place" and I understand why. Take this hike at sunrise or sunset if you're confident you can make it back, for an unforgettable view and feeling that you can do anything.
6. Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville
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They have wonderful themed gardens, tours of the grounds, workshops, and summer camps for all to enjoy. Admission fee is $7 for adults, $4 children 5-12, and free for kids 4-below. There are countless species of native and imported flowers, trees, shrubs, and other fascinating vegetation.
7. Mount Nebo near Dardanelle
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This state park sits at the top of the 1,350 foot Mount Nebo. In the 1930's there were many hiking + biking trails, cabins, bridges, pavilions, and campsites that overlook the beautiful valley below. Of course the cabins have been redone since then and are an absolute treat to stay in on your weekend away. Prices range from $130-$300 a night for a cabin and camp sites with water + electric start around $20-$50 a night.
8. Lost Valley Trail in Ponca
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This lovely trail is accessible ~free~ year round and gets pretty heavy foot traffic. It is known for its awestruck views, pretty birds, and simple waterfalls.
9. The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs
Screenshots from @kevincaronart @crescent1886 on Instagram
If you're into haunted things you've definitely heard of this place. The story goes that a man by the name of Norman Baker bought the hotel and turned it into a hospital to treat cancer patients. However, he lacked any medical training and as a result almost all of his patients died. The current owners of the hotel have had mediums come out and scan the property and they reported that there is 'a portal to the other side.' But this beautiful estate is more than just a pretty place, it's a hotel, spa, and beauty shop. Many people get married here or have their wedding photos taken on the grounds.
10. Zipline Tour in Hot Springs
There are three different tours you can take ranging from $80-$30. Float amongst the trees on an afternoon adventure.
11. Blanchard Springs Caverns in Fifty-Six
Screenshots from @arkansas @glide_arkansas on Instagram
12. City Quest Scavenger Hunt in Little Rock
This $10 scavenger hunt could take you all day! With more than 140 things for you to find you'll probably want to stop for a bite to eat + drink. And the next stop on the list is just the place!
13. Rebel Kettle Brewing Company in Little Rock
Screenshot from @volsdawg10 on Instagram
This place is known for its legendary craft-brewed beers that you can't get anywhere else. And even though they love a good beer, they love going to bed at a decent time and close at 10 pm on Fridays + Saturdays and 9 pm every other day. If a good beer isn't a good enough reason to come check this place out the atmosphere of 3 guys owning a killer bar should do it.
14. A & M Railroad Excursions in Fort Smith, Springdale, or Van Buren
Screenshot from @am_railroad on Instagram
The Arkansas + Missouri Railroad has a few different destinations in both states for you to take as a little excursion. Enjoy a meal and some beautiful scenery. Tickets start at $25 and go up to $100 and is well worth the price.
15. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock
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This is the site of the first forced desegregation in public schools. Not only is this an amazing piece of history, but the high school is built beautifully. You can take guided tours or tour the grounds on your own.
16. Magic Springs Water and Theme Park in Hot Springs
Screenshots from @pcssdschools @hotsprings_diamondlakes @ccstudentmin on Instagram
This is an amusement and water park all in one, and even better, you can stay at the property! Tickets are fairly cheap for admission to all rides starting at $24 and you can add on some additional packages as you please.
17. Cedar Falls Trail near Morrilton
Screenshots from @__brookeashley_ @annette.outdoors on Instagram
Cedar Falls trail is a beautiful 2 mile hike that is worth its mild difficulty. On the trail you can see the states biggest waterfall measuring in at 95 feet tall, it is not something you can miss.
18. H B's Barbecue in Little Rock
H B's is a little hole in the wall place that is raved about by the locals, which means it's great!
19. Jacksonport State Park
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Jacksonport is an old court house established in 1852 and has since been restored to a museum. Showcasing the story of this historic river port. The state park is 164.7 acres of land that is full of hiking trails you can walk, bike, or you can go horseback or on atv's there are also rivers for you to kayak down. If that wasn't enough there are places to camp with water + electric hookups for $29 a night.
20. Compton Gardens in Bentonville
Screenshots from @bentonvillelife @miranda.crabb @fortunehorseudio on Instagram
Named after a beloved Bentonville doctor, this quaint 11 acre plot of land packs in as much vegetation as possible. They have a lot to offer besides just pretty things to look at, you can enjoy yoga, water-color painting classes, learn how to mountain bike, and even learn how to grow your own great plants.