Since moving back to the US from Europe, I’ve been obsessed with visiting small towns, both those in Oklahoma and those a little further afield. Basically, if a small town is cute and less than four hours from OKC, I want to see it in person. These adorable smalls towns in Arkansas are the stuff my Arkansas weekend getaway dreams are made of.
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How to Get to the Best Arkansas Small Towns
If you are new to this part of the world, you might be shocked at just how hard it is to get around with out a car. If you are flying in to Arkansas, I have tips for renting a car below. Getting almost anywhere out of Little Rock without wheels is very difficult.
Driving in Arkansas is pretty easy. Roads are well marked and maintained other than in very rural areas. I get skittish driving in the mountains in winter, but that might just be me.
Google Maps and other navigations apps work great in this part of the country, though navigation systems in cars can miss some major landmarks if they haven’t been updated.
Tips for Renting a Car in Arkansas
It’s awfully hard to get around Arkansas without a car. Whenever I don’t drive my own car over from Oklahoma, I will pick up a rental car at whichever airport I fly into when I get to Arkansas.
If you’re also looking to rent a car, I use Discover Cars when I rent cars on my travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.
Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.
The Best Small Towns in Arkansas
In no particular order…
This charming town, better known as a shopper’s paradise, has incredible Victorian architecture comprising numerous shops and galleries.
Founded on July 4th of 1879, Eureka Springs is in Carroll County, northwest Arkansas, in the Ozark mountains. The town is renowned for its preserved historic architecture, all built around the city’s natural hot springs.
Nature enthusiasts will love Eureka Springs. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is home to bears and rehabilitating big cats.
Hot Springs is a city known for its naturally heated springs, found in the north, particularly those in Hot Springs National Park, the most famous of the national parks in Arkansas.
The region was established in the mid-1500s by the early Spanish and French settlers, with Hernando de Soto being the first European to visit the springs in 1541. Located in Garland County in Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs is home to vintage bathhouses dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries.
This small rural town in Arkansas is known for preserving the German-Swiss Immigrants’ cultural heritage and the home to the art of winemaking. There’s even an annual Grape Festival celebrating this part of the town’s culture.
Its famous downtown has a coal mining history that currently offers visitors a one-of-a-kind dining and shopping experience in a classic downtown square setting.
Founded in 1875, Altus is located in Franklin County, Arkansas. Tourists can visit Mount Magazine State Park, Lake Fort Smith State Park, and Artist Point for breathtaking scenery.
Bella Vista is a thriving recreational city with nearly 30,000 people. The city also offers an ideal outdoor activity-based lifestyle both for residents and also visitors. Nowadays, it’s popularly known as a mountain biking destination.
Established in 1917, Bella Vista initially was a summer resort destination, though it has evolved and redesigned itself over the years. Located in Benton County, Arkansas, it has various amenities such as several lakes, RV parks, walking trails, golf courses, tennis courts, and camping grounds.
This small charming town is famous for its steamboats, trains, and passageways, which are now part of the Arkansas Heritage Trail systems.
Van Buren was founded in 1838 and later developed as a trading post and fitting-out center for settlers that headed to the west. Van Buren was incorporated on January 4th, 1845.
The town is in the southwest corner of Crawford County and is known today for its art galleries, restaurants, and entertainment stops, among other delights.
This particular town is the most populous in Independent County. Batesville is also known for its aquatic parks that are an attraction for both tourists and locals.
Batesville was founded in 1812 by John Reed, who initially built a trading post at Poke’s Heart (Polk) Bayou. Located in the northeastern part of the state, Batesville is surrounded by some of the most amazing natural landscapes. The city is also home to the popular NASCAR Museum.
Murfreesboro is a small town renowned for its fascinating geological diversity and the lovely Crater of Diamonds State Park. This specific park is special because it’s the only diamond site in the nation open to the public.
Murfreesboro Town was founded in 1906 when John Wesley Huddleston, a farmer, found two gems. Located in Pike County, the town holds the largest diamond ever unearthed in US history.
Other attractions near Murfreesboro include Daisy State Park and Lake Greeson.
Magnolia was founded in 1853 and was named after a southern magnolia or laurel tree. It started as a cotton town that later transformed into what it is today.
The town is in Columbia County, Arkansas, and is famous for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Magnolia also has a 3000-acre lake which is one of the largest in Arkansas.
Today Magnolia is home to the world’s largest charcoal grill and the world championship steak cookoff. So if you’re looking for ideas for the best Arkansas cuisine, start here!
Heber Springs town is famous for its underground mineral water that keeps drawing visitors from across the country. Initially called Sugarloaf, Heber Springs was founded in 1881 by Max Frauenthal.
When you’re in town, you can go paddleboarding, fishing, or sailing across the beautiful lake. Those who don’t want to get their feet wet can visit the museums or spend some time playing golf.
Stuttgart is famous for its duck hunting and one of Arkansas’s main rice farming regions. This small town began as a German immigrant colony, hence its German name.
The town was founded by Reverend Adam Burkle, who had immigrated from Germany in the nineteenth century. He moved to the US in 1852 and, in 1880, opened the first post office.
Stuttgart is in the county seat of the northern district of Arkansas County. There are numerous interesting places to visit while in town, such as the Museum of the Grand Prairie and the Bayou Meto State Game Area.
The town of Ozark is famous for its food, natural landscapes, and a lake that provides a great fishing spot. This particular region also has one of the largest areas rugged topography between the Appalachians and the Rockies.
Established in 1836, Ozark is among the oldest cities in the states. Its located at the northern end of the Arkansas River through the southern boundary of the city. This small town is in Franklin County, Arkansas, and has parks ideal for camping.
In Arkansas, the town of Paris is renowned for its thriving historic district with modern restaurants, antique shops, and boutiques, among other amenities.
The city was incorporated in 1879, and the following year, a red brick courthouse was built, followed by a central railway in 1897.
Paris is in Logan County, Arkansas, and has many registered historical sites. One of them is the famous photo op at the replica twenty-five-foot Eiffel Tower.
Known as a winery destination, Morrilton town has about six thousand people, but a tourism reputation that belies its small size.
Established in the 1820s, it started as a small settlement near the Arkansas riverbank. It wasn’t until fifty years later that the regional railroad was built that led to the growth of Morrilton.
Located in southern Conway County, Arkansas, this small town has the famous Petit Jean State Park and an automobile museum for vintage car enthusiasts.
This small town is renowned for its 40,000 acres stocked lake ideal for fishing, boating, and water skiing.
Fairfield Bay was established and incorporated on July 29th, 1993 and is located in Van Buren County.
This small town has a resort with a fully operational marina, and golf lovers are in for a treat as there are usually Golf PGA tournaments and championship golf courses to watch during the season.
The town was founded in 1870 and is in Lee County, Arkansas, and is home to eight officially registered national historic sites, including the Marianna Commercial Historic District.
This small Arkansas town sits on over 22,000 acres and has one of the smallest national forests in the region. This makes Mariana a great place for outdoor activities such as fishing and hiking.
The town of Mountainburg is famous for its scenic hills and valleys which make up its terrain. The region also has lakes and streams that flow along the landscape, making the town great for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts.
This particular town was established in 1883 when the St. Louis San Francisco Railway was constructed. The town is located in Crawford County, Arkansas. The Mountainburg region has amazing national parks ideal for fishing, hiking, and camping. This Arkansas town has various ranches, lodgings, and cabins that will make your stay worthwhile.
The town of Mountain Home is famous for canoeing and warm water fishing. It’s also one of the first state water resort and retirement regions.
This small Arkansas town, which currently has a population of 12,448, was incorporated in 1888 and is located in Baxter County.
Russellville is famous for its bass fishing and state park ideal for outdoor activities. This small town is also home to Arkansas’s only nuclear power plant.
The city overlooks a 34,000-acre lake and the Arkansas River. Founded in the 1840s, although not incorporated until 1870, it’s considered the largest city in Pope County.
Russellville is also ideal for many fun activities as there is a park, a recreational facility with a breathtaking view.
Bentonville is renowned for preserving its history. This small town in Arkansas is no longer known just as the corporate headquarters for Walmart as it has quite a lot to admire.
Established in 1873, the town was named after Thomas Hart Benton, a former U.S senator from Missouri. This particular town is in Benton County and is the ninth-largest city in Arkansas, making it one of the largest towns on this list.
However, Bentonville is replete with small-town charm, and you’d be remiss not to schedule a weekend getaway here some time!
Bentonville is also renowned for having one of the finest art, food, history, music, and outdoor activities.
North Little Rock
This small town is located…not surprisingly…to the north of Little Rock, just across the river. I spent time here growing up with my cousin, aunt, and uncle since my uncle worked here during the weeks. Yes, Oklahoma City to North Little Rock is quite a weekly commute!
North Little Rock might not be the spring break destination of your dreams, but there is quite a lot to do here! Plus you can use it as a base to explore more of Central Arkansas and of course, the capital city of Little Rock.
The town is ideal for travelers who enjoy cycling and hiking on the picturesque trails along the Arkansas River.
Siloam Springs is renowned for its downtown historic art galleries, such as the Sager Creek Arts Center and the JBU Art Gallery.
A summer resort town, it was established in 1881. The railroad that ran through town, helping maintain its importance in the early days.
This small town is in Benton County, Arkansas. The town of Siloam Springs is ideal for sightseeing as it has beautiful parks with stately trees and a scenic sager creek having its wall-lined banks flowing through downtown.
Rogers is home to national historical places, shopping malls, and numerous spectacular landmarks. It’s also home to some of the largest sports parks, neighborhood parks, cavern systems, and largest lakes in Arkansas. In short, there’s a little bit of something for everyone in Rogers.
The town was founded in 1881, around the launch of the Frisco railway line. Rogers city is in Benton County, Arkansas, in the Ozarks. This small town is ideal for outdoor adventure and also sightseeing.
The town of El Dorado was once named the Queen City of South Arkansas, and also the Arkansas original boomtown. El Dorado was established in the 1920s when there was a huge oil demand in the US.
This city is in Union County, on the southern Arkansas border with Louisiana. When you’re in town, you can always visit one of the lakes or the south Arkansas Arboretum Park with many accessible trails.
The town of Wilson is renowned for its fertile land, which historically was used to produce cotton. Founded in the late 1800s, Wilson initially started as a cotton empire and later grew to become a modern small town. There is both beautiful and dark history here to learn.
Wilson is in Mississippi County, Arkansas, and has a plethora of gardens around the town offering beautiful scenery. The town is known for having some of the best eateries, parks, and museums in the region.
Dardanelle, a transportation and business hub, was also famous for its gin, rum, and cotton. This small town with a population of 4,745 as per the 2010 census is one of the state’s oldest small towns.
It was officially established in 1855, where it was initially a river town and one of the 19th century and one of the most important transportation points in Arkansas.
Dardanelle is located in Yell County, Arkansas, and is home to some great parks and lakes ideal for outdoor lovers.
Dyess is culturally rich and full of natural resources. The town was established in 1934 as an agricultural rehabilitation and relief program, which was part of the Roosevelt Administration.
Dyess is situated in Mississippi County, Arkansas. The city has a national park that offers spectacular landscapes on the wild waters of the Buffalo River, as well as the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. It’s also famous as the birthplace of music legend Johnny Cash.
The town of Mountain View is renowned for its preservation of the old folkways of the state and the region’s traditional music.
Founded in the 1870s, this Arkansas town became known for its folk festival that was established in the 1960s.
Mountain View is in Stone County, Arkansas. Besides the popular park, this small Arkansas town is also home to the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area.
What to Pack for Arkansas
A camera so you can take photos of the special moments from your trip. Whether you bring a point-and-shoot like my Sony ZV-1 or rely on your cell phone like my iPhone 12 Pro, make sure you have at least one camera (though I always travel with two)!
Arkansas Travel Resources
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Heading out on the road?
Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I have used World Nomads when I travel since 2016, and I happily recommend them.
Getting coverage is important whenever you’re more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.
Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.
Pin this Guide to the Best Arkansas Small Towns for Your Adventures!
Stephanie is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After living in Eastern Europe for four years, she has moved with her family back to Oklahoma to write about her favorite places growing up: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, & Route 66!