Everyone knows about Hot Springs National Park and President Bill Clinton’s hometown of Hope, but the state is positively chock full of Arkansas hidden gems that you may not have heard of.
This list of the best must-see hidden treasures just scratches the surface of things to do and places to see in the Natural State. So dive in and get ready to explore Arkansas off the beaten path!
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The Best Arkansas Hidden Gems
In no particular order…
Pinnacle Mountain State Park sits right outside Little Rock city limits, making it the perfect spot for a quick day hike.
There are two different trails leading up to the mountain’s summit – the West-Summit which is more heavily trafficked and an overall easier hike, and the East-Summit which is a bit rockier and less busy. Both trails are about 1.5 miles and lead up to a beautiful view of the entire city.
Chaffee Crossing Historic District
Fort Chaffee is in Western Arkansas, right outside of Fort Smith. Here you can walk around the historic military base and visit unique attractions such as the Elvis Barbershop Museum, the Fort Chaffee Barracks Museum, and the Vietnam Veteran’s Museum.
Around Halloween, Fort Chaffee hosts several seriously eerie haunted houses within its old buildings, a must-do if you’re looking for some festive fun in The Fort!
Pickles Gap Village
Pickles Gap Village is a small shopping village located right off of Interstate 40 in Conway, Arkansas. It is a destination just as quaint and quirky as its name suggests! A perfect stop for picking up some delicious fudge or feeding some chickens and goats!
Woolly Hollow State Park
Woolly Hollow was one of my favorite destinations for getting out of town while attending college in Conway. It is in Greenbrier, Arkansas and is a great park for camping, hiking, mountain biking, or swimming in the lake!
You can also rent pedal boats, canoes, or kayaks for exploring the small, picturesque lake.
Crescent Hotel & Spa
Fans of the supernatural rejoice! The Crescent Hotel is a beautiful hotel and spa built in 1886, and is lauded as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel.”
Nestled in the Ozark Mountains in charming Eureka Springs, the Crescent is the perfect spot for a luxurious getaway – or for dabbling in the paranormal. Explore the gorgeous 15-acre landscape, book a spa service, or tag along on a ghost tour!
Downtown Eureka Springs
Eureka Springs is one of my all-time favorite places in Arkansas! A beautiful Ozark Mountain town with a well-preserved Historic District featuring charming Victorian buildings, Eureka is the absolute perfect place for a weekend trip.
Downtown Eureka Springs offers visitors the chance to explore an abundance of artsy local shops, beautifully preserved historic buildings, and picture-perfect views.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Truly an Arkansas treasure, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is where Arkansans go for culture. Situated on 120 acres of absolutely gorgeous landscaping in Bentonville, Crystal Bridges offers beauty inside and out.
With world-renowned pieces of art, trails to explore, and even the Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman-Wilson House to tour, Crystal Bridges offers a full day’s worth of excitement.
Mount Magazine State Park
Home to the highest point in the state, Mount Magazine State Park is one of Arkansas’s most beloved state parks. Hike the many trails, snap photos at the overlooks, try your hand at horseback riding, or book a stay at the beautiful iconic lodge. Mount Magazine State Park is full of adventures to be had!
Pig Trail Scenic Byway
The Pig Trail Scenic Byway is an Arkansas classic. This north-south state highway runs 129.88 miles and is perfect for cruising on a sunny day. The Pig Trail takes you through the Ozark National Forest and offers views of some of Arkansas’s most glorious scenery.
A favorite of motorcyclists, but just as great in a car, the Pig Trail Scenic Byway is a must-see.
Hop off of Interstate-40 in North Little Rock to take a load off and take in the beauty of the Arkansas River. Emerald Park offers plenty of walking and biking trails and overlooks with views of the river and Big Rock Quarry Park. This park is the perfect place for a quick break from driving, getting out of the city, or a picnic with a view!
Two Rivers Park
Two Rivers Park in Little Rock is a 1000-acre park where the Arkansas River meets the Little Maumelle River. A favorite of Little Rock natives, Two Rivers is the perfect place to slow down, take a walk or bike ride along its trails, walk over the new pedestrian bridge, or just take in the sights and sounds of nature.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park
A favorite childhood destination of mine, Queen Wilhelmina State Park is the perfect place for a family getaway. This state park is in Polk County in the Ouachita National Forest and is accurately nicknamed “Arkansas’s Castle in the Clouds.”
Stay in the luxurious lodge and ride the Glory Train for a family-fun way to get a panoramic view of the park!
Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean State Park is Central Arkansas’s most beloved park. This park offers a wonderful lodge, charming cabins, plenty of trails for hiking, a magnificent waterfall, a 100-acre lake for fishing and watersports, pavilions, picnic areas, and two swimming pools.
An absolute gem with an excess of things to do and see, it’s no wonder Petit Jean is a crowd favorite!
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Strike gold – er, diamonds – in Murfreesboro, Arkansas! Crater of Diamonds State Park is the world’s only public diamond mining site.
Bring the kids along, rent diamond mining tools at the park, and get digging! Once you’ve found your treasure, utilize the park’s walking trails, picnic spots, or Diamond Springs Water Park.
In Van Buren, Arkansas you can visit one of my favorite swimming holes in the state. See the historic Lee Creek Bridge, hike the abundance of trails, or take a dip in this 65-mile river.
Make it a day trip or bring your camping gear! Lee Creek is a local treasure filled with natural beauty and outdoor fun.
Buffalo National River
The Buffalo National River is America’s first national river and is one of Arkansas natives’ most cherished sites. This 135-mile, undammed river is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and swimming. There are many hiking trails and camping sites around the river, and the view is unforgettable.
It’s one of the eight Arkansas national parks overseen by the National Park Service.
Big Dam Bridge
Big Dam Bridge is the longest pedestrian and biking bridge in North America, located in Little Rock, Arkansas. Take a break from exploring the city to walk this 4,226-foot bridge with an awesome view of the Arkansas River. Big Dam Bridge is a central Arkansas favorite and is a positively iconic spot.
Heifer Ranch is a fully operational farm located in Perryville, Arkansas. It has 1,200 acres of farmland and operates as a training facility for sustainable agriculture practices.
Visit the Heifer Ranch to attend a farming workshop or training, or volunteer at the ranch for an opportunity to learn first-hand and interact with the farm animals!
Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park
If you’re looking for an educational experience in the Natural State, visit Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park in Scott, Arkansas.
This park is home to the largest, most complex mound site – ceremonial sites constructed by prehistoric native peoples – in Arkansas. A short drive from Little Rock, you can visit this park to see the mounds and learn about the history of Mound Builders!
Devil’s Den State Park
One of the state’s most popular state parks is Devil’s Den State Park! With caverns, trails, cabins, and a lake, there is something for everyone at this park. A beautiful Ozark oasis in West Fork, Arkansas, Devil’s Den is a wickedly fun destination!
One of my favorite spots for a summer float trip is the Mulberry River! Starting in the lush Ozarks, this 55-mile rushing river is perfect for renting canoes or kayaks, and swimming when the river level is lower. A beautiful place to camp, hike, float, or fish, the Mulberry River can be accessed near Ozark, Arkansas, and is just a short divergence from Interstate 40.
Another floater’s paradise, the Spring River is another one of Arkansas’s dearest destinations. Go fishing, floating, or rafting along this 57-mile river. There are plenty of places along the river to put-in, camp, and hike!
William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
While you’re visiting the state’s capital city of Little Rock, don’t miss out on visiting the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum located downtown. Visit informative exhibits and learn about Arkansas’s First Family, the Clintons, and visit the historical archives. This beautiful building is bursting with information and is a perfect stop on your tour of Little Rock.
Fort Smith Gallows
Located within the Fort Smith National Historic Site, the Fort Smith gallows are a somber historical day trip. Adjacent to Fort Smith’s historic downtown and the beautiful Arkansas River, the gallows were the site of eighty-six hangings between 1873 and 1896.
Seventy-nine of these were ordered by the infamous True Grit judge, Isaac Parker. Explore the gallows, read the informational placards, and explore historic Fort Smith!
If you’re in the mood for a beach day but are bummed about being landlocked, check out Heber Springs! Heber Springs is located in Cleburne County and features a lovely 31,500-acre lake complete with a beach! Sandy Beach is the place to get some sun and sand without having to travel to the ocean.
Fayetteville Downtown Square and Gardens
Northwest Arkansas has exploded into a hip mecca in recent years. Fayetteville, the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks, is no exception. Downtown Fayetteville is a charming square bursting with shops, restaurants, gorgeous gardens, and historic buildings.
You’ll also find the extraordinary year-round farmer’s market here on Saturdays! Take a break from walking the hills, calling the hogs, and partying on Dickson to slow down in fabulous Downtown Fayetteville.
Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
See the boyhood home of the Man in Black in Dyess, Arkansas! Visit the Dyess Colony Visitor Center to view a short film, tour exhibits, peruse the gift shop, and purchase tickets to tour the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home.
Visit the museum next to the visitor center to learn about what life is like in Dyess and how this small Arkansas town shaped one of country music’s greatest legends. Then, take a shuttle from the visitor center to the house where Johnny Cash grew up!
Arkansas Wine Trail
If you’re not from Arkansas then you may not know that Arkansas has a flourishing wine country! There are four wineries in Altus, Arkansas – Post Winery, Mount Bethel Winery, Dionysus Wine & Brew, and Château Aux Arc – as well as two wineries located in Wiederkehr Village – Wiederkehr Wine Cellars and Neumeier Winery. Stroll the beautiful vineyards and sip Arkansas-grown vino along the Arkansas Wine Trail.
Little Rock River Market
The Little Rock River Market is a popular spot situated on the Arkansas River in Little Rock. With a great farmer’s market on the weekends, a food court featuring a wide array of international cuisines, and a booming entertainment scene.
There are always exciting seasonal activities happening at the River Market, and pleasant views of the river are just the icing on the cake.
Get the best view of the city of Fort Smith from the McClure Amphitheater. If you’re not from the Fort Smith area you’ve likely never even heard of the McClure Amphitheater, but this restored amphitheater near Fort Chaffee offers the best views in town, as well as the perfect spot to catch a sunset.
The Old Mill in North Little Rock
The Old Mill is an 1880s water-powered grist mill located in T.R. Pugh Memorial Park in North Little Rock. This iconic piece of history can be seen in the opening credits of the monumental film Gone With the Wind. The Old Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and displays gorgeous sculptures by Senor Dionicio Rodriguez.
Ozark Folk Center State Park
The Ozark Folk Center State Park is in Mountain View, Arkansas. This state park offers visitors the opportunity to see Ozark artisans at work and purchase one-of-a-kind treasures from the makers who work here. Enjoy live music, wander the Heritage Herb Garden, attend workshops, and stay in the darling cabins at this folksy paradise.
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Kendall Davis is originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, and graduated from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and their dog, Scout.