Conway, Arkansas is known for being one of the best Arkansas college towns. With three different universities within the city limits, there are a wide variety of personalities and age groups present year-round. This means there are things to do in Conway for everyone from families to couples to college kids.
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A Little Bit About Conway, Arkansas
Located in the heart of Arkansas, with bustling cities like Little Rock only a 40-minute drive on the interstate away and the Ouachita mountains creating adventures all around the region, Conway is a popular Arkansas getaway that offers a variety of adventures for anyone and everyone.
Arcades, art exhibits, locally-owned restaurants and shops, and outdoor escapes fill Conway with the opportunity to explore to your heart’s content.
Where to Stay in Conway, Arkansas
While you can visit Conway as a day trip from Little Rock, there’s enough to do here that you can stay overnight or on a long weekend and really dig into all that the city has to offer.
Here are my suggestions for where to stay in each budget category, plus an Airbnb recommendation. Recs are based on listed prices at the time, but keep in mind they can fluctuate based on availability, so always double-check the linked-to website for pricing for your exact dates.
Best Budget Option (Under $75 a Night)
If you’re trying to pinch your pennies, I’ve spent many lovely nights at a Motel 6, a chain that’s worked very hard over the years updating their motels to modern amenities without increasing their prices. What I love the most, though, is that they are pet-friendly! You can see prices and availability here.
Best Mid-Range Option ($75-100 a Night)
If you want to stay somewhere a step up, you can’t go wrong with the Holiday Inn Express, which is just ten minutes from the Unviersity of Central Arkansas. Still easy on the pocketbook, it has a few nice perks like buffets and an indoor pool Check out pricing and availability here.
Best Luxury Option ($100 a Night or More)
If you’re looking for more creature comforts, check out the Home2 Suites by Hilton, which pulls off being both modern and cozy at the same time. Boasting great reviews along with a popular location and a beautiful indoor swimming pool, you might want to stay longer than just a night or two! Check out pricing and availability here.
Best Airbnb Option
If you want more privacy, check out The Professor’s Home, a private home that sleeps six guests and boasts two bathrooms. If you want to be able to cook for yourself and spread out, this is the place for you! Check out pricing and availability here.
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 Things to Do in Conway, Arkansas
In no particular order…
Faulkner County Museum
The Faulkner County Museum’s mission is to, “…educate the public regarding the natural and cultural prehistory and history of the geographic region which today is known as Faulkner County.”
The museum began in 1992 to preserve the history of the area and serve as a place the public could go to learn more of the history of the area. Individuals are encouraged to make use of the archives when researching family history from the area.
The museum features six different collections for visitors to explore: archival and documentary materials, art by Faulkner County artists, a teaching collection, an image collection, a research and reference collection, and a collection of historic and prehistoric objects.
Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre
Conway is home to Arkansas’ only professional Shakespeare Company. The Arkansas Shakespeare Theater features a company of professional Shakespeare actors every summer in a festival to celebrate and engage visitors with performance.
The company also serves the goal of creating a more accessible means of a professional Shakespearean experience in an area and state that does not have as much opportunity to experience these educational opportunities.
Pickles Gap Village
Pickles Gap Village, or more commonly known as Ozark Foothills Village, got its unique name from the urban legend of a German immigrant who overturned his load of pickles into the water as he was attempting to cross the creek.
Now it is a popular little shopping area where visitors can go to the Pickle Barrel Fudge Factory, flea markets, knife shop, and a print shop. It is a unique little shopping center to find little treasures to bring home from your adventures.
Kings is known for being one of the best places in Conway for live music and good drinks. While they have a few different food items on their menu, most visitors are not coming to eat a five-course dinner.
The live performances are what draw people to Kings. Kings is a top choice for locals as a bar to go to for a night of entertainment and fun.
Cadron Settlement Park
Cadron Settlement Park is a nationally recognized historical site because of its roots as a French trading post. The park also is part of the Trail of Tears, with an exhibit at the park talking about the historical event.
The park is on the Arkansas River, where the Butterfield Overland Mail Route would stop to port. The Cadron Settlement Park serves as a location full of Arkansas history.
Beaverfork Lake Park
Beaverfork Lake Park is an easy area to go to spend a day on the water and enjoy nature. The park features a swimming area, boating, fishing, disc golf course, and volleyball courts to name a few amenities.
The 25-acre park is located on the 964-acre lake. The beautiful scenery makes it a popular location for a day adventure and gatherings. The Beaverfork Lake Park also features a firework show every year out on the water for the Fourth of July.
Lake Conway is the largest man-made Game and Fish Commission lake in the country. The lake is a whopping 6,700 acres and a popular site for catfish, bass, and bream fishing.
Lake Conway is a popular place for sportfishing, with numerous visitors coming to set out on the waters. The lake also features a nursery pond next to it to help raise new fish and maintain the population of the lake.
The inspiration for Mike’s Place comes from the style and flair of New Orleans. Featuring high-quality shrimp, fish, shellfish, and beef cuts, Mike’s Place upholds a standard to give customers a quality dining experience that will leave them wanting more.
Their staff is well trained and carries pride with them throughout your entire visit. Guests from all over come to try the fine food and enjoy the ambiance.
David’s Burgers is family-owned and operated in central Arkansas and renowned for hand cutting their own chuck and ground beef for that day’s use. Their friends are also hand cut and made fresh throughout the day.
David’s Burgers was created as a tribute to David Bubbus’ father, David Bubbus Sr, who was a master butcher in central Arkansas and helped establish several restaurants in the area. David’s Burgers is known for its quality food and inviting family-friendly atmosphere.
Market Place Grill
The Market Place Grill was established in 1995 with the goal of recreating the energy and vibrance a marketplace would have had back in the day. A place that was the center of the community, filled with commerce and socialization.
The Market Place Grill aims to be a place where others can come together and engage in business and socialization and tap into the energy of a simpler time. It also helps that the Market Place Grill only uses the freshest ingredients and provides an excellent dining experience in a time where we are constantly on the move and eating prepackaged foods.
Whole Hog Café
The Whole Hog Café started as a hobby when Mike Davis, Ron Blasingame, and Steve Lucchi entered their rib recipe in the 2000 Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Contest. After winning the BBQ contest, the men started to wonder if others would be interested in their recipe and opened a small concession trailer in Little Rock.
From there, the restaurant caught on in popularity quickly and has grown to be a central Arkansas staple. Their southern classics pull customers in from all over to try their famous barbecue recipes. The Whole Hog Café is a must-stop restaurant when in the Conway area.
Escape Mystery Room
Escape rooms are a big trend currently, and a lot of tourist towns will have at least one. Escape rooms are a great way to spend time with your friends playing a live-action board game, basically.
Escape Mystery Rooms in Conway is no exception. Get a group of two to six people together for an hour, pick from one of the three different rooms, and work together to solve puzzles and riddles to escape the room.
Jack’s Ultra Sports Paintball and Laser Tag
Indoor paintball, laser tag, arcade, escape rooms, and indoor archery. Jack’s Ultra Sports has an option for everyone. The indoor paintball includes a smaller paintball that causes less sting and does not stain clothes, and they include all the equipment you will need.
There are two different escape rooms to choose from with a 15-minute time limit, making this a great option if you have any smaller children or anyone who would not do well with a larger escape room.
The indoor archery wars include foam-tipped arrows used to tag your opponents or knockdown opponent’s targets to win. The variety offered at Jack’s means that the entire family will find something they enjoy.
Ozark Escape Conway
Ozark Escape Rooms prides themselves in being an immersive escape room. Taking you from your everyday life and fully submerging you into the strange world of the story of the room.
There are five different room options ranging from easy to hard difficulty with complete backstories on what you are about to experience. The stories range from being trapped in the deadly game of a serial killer to training to be a field agent to being the apprentice for a powerful wizard. The stories will create a unique experience for all players.
Urban Air Adventure Zone
Urban Air is a trampoline park and much, much more. With virtual reality gaming, bumper cars that send you flipping upside down in your seat, rope courses, rock walls, Ninja Warrior obstacle courses, traditional tube playground, a trampoline just for flipping, dodgeball, and many other trampoline areas to bounce around, you are sure to be coming back for a second visit just to experience it all.
Conway Family Bowl
There is something nostalgic about a simple bowling alley and arcade. In a world where most places have a little bit of everything inside to give everyone an option, they will love, there is something wonderfully simple about a bowling alley.
The Conway Family Bowl includes 24 lanes, an arcade, leagues, and tournaments. There are weekly deals and specials you can find online. The family is sure to enjoy a night of bowling fun.
Thunder Alley Grand Prix
The Thunder Alley Grand Prix is your classic go kart track and arcade. Again, this is another nostalgic place to enjoy the simple thrills of driving a go-kart extremely fast around the sharp curves of a racetrack.
Whether you are racing your cousins, parents, or best friends, or just riding sidecar, you will feel the excitement and the energy from the experience. Then when you are done racing, you can enjoy classic arcade games and win prizes. It is a great way to spend the afternoon with the entire family.
Share the Love Kids Club
The Share the Love Kids Club is a place where children can come for the day to play and explore in a safe, interactive, and creative space while parents take a moment to themselves to sit and just be.
The Kids Club encourages sensory play and exploration of all that a child can do while parents can enjoy a cup of coffee and a comfy seat during a much-needed break. The Kids Club also works to spread awareness and make an impact on children in foster care.
The Imagination Station is an indoor facility that encourages kids of all abilities and all backgrounds to come together to interact and play. Children are taught to take turns and embrace the uniqueness of everyone.
The Imagination Station is a multi-sensory experience created through embracing nature and the outdoors in a safe, controlled environment. The Imagination Station does not have televisions or video games. Children are encouraged to use their imagination as they run about and play with one another.
Baum Gallery at UCA
The Baum Gallery on the campus of UCA states that its mission is to be, “…an educational art museum for UCA students, faculty and staff, and the central Arkansas community.”
Open to the public free of charge when classes are in session, the Baum Gallery works to create unique exhibits and events that will encourage all who visit to engage in a deeper discussion of what the works mean on a literal level, as well as on a historical and philosophical level.
Conway Dinner Theatre
Conway Dinner Theatre is your place to go to enjoy a fine meal while watching award-winning plays, Broadway musicals, and operas. The cast is comprised of Faulkner Academy of Arts students, residents, and professional actors.
Guests will enjoy a fine meal while being immersed into the show. It is a wonderful way to enjoy an evening with friends and loved ones while seeing an excellent show.
Conway Symphony Orchestra
Debuting in 1984, the Conway Symphony Orchestra was originally a joint project between the music departments of UCA and Hendrix. Two-thirds of the musicians are pre-professionals, and the other third are professional musicians from the area.
The Conway Symphony Orchestra works to provide a professional music experience and educational opportunities to the members of the central Arkansas community. The orchestra works with many groups in the area to provide outreach and education to the youth, but the support of businesses provides the opportunity for tickets to remain affordable for the public to experience performances.
Downtown is where you can find the heart of what a town was in its early days. Downtown Conway features small diners and shops, but Jenifer’s Antiques is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.
The shop contains a variety of items that are sure to pique the interest of any visitor. Jenifer’s Antiques has quality items that are unique and truly vintage that cause customers to come back time and time again to see what the adventure through the aisles will bring them on the next visit. This is a must-stop shop in downtown Conway.
Arkansas Travel Resources
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)!
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.
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Kirsten Hazlewood is from Paragould, AR and graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR. She still remains in Paragould with her husband, two stepchildren, and their clowder of cats and raccoons.