Arkansas is known for its natural beauty and numerous national parks and forests, but it is also home to many museums and adventures that can enthuse any adventure-seeking family, and you won’t run out of great things to do in Arkansas with kids!
Family vacations are a cornerstone to summer days well spent, so this list features just a few of the many places Arkansas calls home that can keep the entire family entertained.
From your grade school children to your teenagers to even the grandparents who like to join in on the family fun, these attractions will find a way to make family memories to last for years.
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The Best Things to Do in Arkansas with Kids
In no particular order…
Magic Springs (Hot Springs)
Magic Springs is Arkansas’ only theme and water park in the state. The park has regular hours throughout the summer months with plenty of rides and attractions to entertain the whole family.
The rides in the park can be categorized as family rides, kid rides, and thrill rides. The water park area is called Crystal Falls and features a multitude of slides, a surf attraction, and a wave pool.
Magic Springs also hosts an annual summer concert series, with concerts being free with a day pass.
Museum of Discovery (Little Rock)
As the oldest museum in the State of Arkansas, the Museum of Discovery holds the mission of igniting and fueling a passion for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
The museum offers a variety of programs and 90 hands-on exhibits. The Museum of Discovery offers an opportunity for children and adults alike to play and explore the world of science and technology.
It also houses the Guinness World Record musical bi-polar Tesla coil. Over the years, the Museum of Discovery has called different buildings in Little Rock home, but it now resides in the River Market district of downtown Little Rock. This convenient location makes it a great stop while exploring what the River Market has to offer all its visitors.
Mid-America Science Museum (Hot Springs)
The Mid-America Science Museum sits just outside of downtown Hot Springs. This museum houses over 100 hands-on exhibits, as well as The Guinness Book of World Record’s most powerful conical Tesla coil capable of producing 1.5 million volts of electricity.
The Mid-America Science Museum is the largest hands-on science museum in Arkansas, and it provides opportunities for children and adults alike to discover new and exciting facts about science and technology.
Visitors can walk along the science skywalk, experiment with new topics in the workshop gallery, and view a life-size mastodon skeleton within the permanent exhibits of the museum. Temporary exhibits are also regularly coming through the museum to constantly challenge visitors to continue discovering new topics that excite the whole family.
Scott Family Amazeum (Bentonville)
The Scott Family Amazeum is a non-profit, interactive children’s museum aimed at sparking curiosity for learning in the entire family through a hands-on approach. The interactive exhibits offer visitors the opportunity to explore Arkansas culture through learning about the land, those who created the industries of the Natural State, and how we sustain it all in the current day.
The museum even offers different programs throughout the year, from hands-on camps to family programs. This museum offers a unique experience to its visitors so that they leave knowing more about how the Natural State came to be and continues to be.
The Blue; Zip Line and Farm (Mena)
The Blue is a zip line canopy tour that runs within the Ouachita Mountains on a working cattle ranch. The Blue has five zip lines taking you through the valleys and hills of the farm that has been a family homestead since 1897.
This family-friendly attraction is also an advocate for helping to spread awareness of conservation and advocating for autism awareness. The Blue hosts workshops to teach a variety of classes to visitors, as well as offers an opportunity to camp out on the farm. It is an attraction that all members of the family can be excited to explore.
Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo (Hot Springs)
Founded in 1902, the Arkansas Alligator Farm is the oldest attraction in Hot Springs. The farm is home to several alligators of all ages and sizes, as well as miniature goats, wolves, mountain lions, monkeys, and raccoons. Feeding shows occur throughout the week, and visitors can even feed baby alligators.
Children will get a thrill from the petting zoo where they can feed emu, pygmy goats, and sheep. The entire family will find something to enjoy with all the information being shared about the alligators that call southern Arkansas their home.
It is sure to make family memories while on your vacation or your simple day trip through Hot Springs.
Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari (Gentry)
The Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari is a 400-acre safari with a variety of exotic animals. The drive through tour will give your family encounters with African lions, Bengal tigers, leopards, antelope, buffalo, zebras, and dozens more.
The safari also has a walkthrough and petting zoo area where visitors can see kangaroos, miniature donkeys, giraffes, snakes, monkeys, and more. Guests can fill their day by exploring the variety of animals in their habitats with the natural background that Arkansas has to offer.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (Eureka Springs)
The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing refuge to abused and neglected big cats, especially cougars, lions, leopards, and tigers. The refuge works to educate the public about the need to end exotic animal trading.
When visiting the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, visitors can go on guided habitat tours around the area of the refuge where most of the large cats are housed, explore the discovery areas and see the smaller animal habitats, and take keeper talk tours to learn more interesting facts. The refugee also has more educational programs that are scheduled throughout the year to offer more educational opportunities for visitors.
The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is an attraction that offers exciting opportunities for the family to get up close and personal with exotic animals while also educating about the need to stop exotic animal sales.
Little Rock Zoo (Little Rock)
The Little Rock zoo is working to motivate people to find value in the natural world and help to spread education about the need for conservation. The Little Rock zoo offers the usual exhibits of animals of all kinds, but the zoo also offers several educational programs to encouraging engagement through hands-on activities, animal encounters, talking with experts, and other inspiring experiences.
The Little Rock zoo also works with several conservation programs to help animals worldwide. The zoo also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as 5k races, laser shows, and even Halloween events. The entire family will find activities they will all enjoy while also finding plenty of opportunities to learn and fuel your mind.
Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center (Jonesboro)
The Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is a 17,000 square foot facility providing education opportunities and various exhibits on the 160 acres of parkland. The Nature Center has an observation tower, exhibit areas, discovery room, and auditorium.
Visitors can also venture along the Habitats Trail, which takes guests around the Willow Pond and along the edge of the prairie lands. The Habitats Trail is a universally accessible trail, but those who want to explore the wooded areas can go along the Craighead Forest Trailhead.
The Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is free to the public and offers regular opportunities to hear talks from the park workers to offer more educational opportunities about the work of the Nature Center. The Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center makes for an enjoyable day of wondering through the forests of Arkansas for the whole family.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park (Little Rock)
Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a diverse state park consisting of the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers, the Arkansas Arboretum, 15-miles of trails, and Pinnacle Mountain itself set in the center. The park offers a visitor center with educational information, picnic areas, and larger pavilion areas. This state park highlights the diversity of the Arkansas geography.
Guests can explore the waters of the rivers or scale Pinnacle Mountain to take in all the breathtaking views from the mountain tops.
The Pinnacle Mountain State Park also hosts regular events such as Sunrise of the Summit where participants will take the moderately strenuous hike with a park interpreter to learn more about what lies on the trail and around the park and then witness the beautiful sunrise from atop the mountain.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park will provide a fun day of outdoor adventures for the entire family.
Mount Magazine State Park (Paris)
Mount Magazine State Park is the peak of Arkansas parks claiming home to the tallest point in the state at 2,753 feet. Mount Magazine State Park offers an array of activities for every level of adventure enthusiast. The park offers areas for mountain biking, horseback riding, back-packing, and ATV riding.
The park is also Arkansas’ most dynamic place for technical rock climbing, and it lays claim as one of two hang gliding launch areas in a park in the state. Mountain Magazine State Park also offers lodging with guest rooms, a restaurant, indoor pool, fitness center, and game room, as well as cabins and campsites.
The entire family will have plenty to do when looking for an adventure at Mount Magazine State Park.
Blanchard Springs (Fifty Six)
Blanchard Springs offers a variety of outdoor experiences that will get your family active and connecting with nature. A paved walking trail takes visitors the gushing hillside waterfall of Blanchard Springs. The Sylamore Creek is the perfect place to swim in clear waters.
Blanchard Springs is located within the Ozark National Forest, providing hiking opportunities to last you all weekend. Fisherman will enjoy catching rainbow trout at Mirror Lake. The biggest draw, though, is the Blanchard Springs Caverns, a living cave that is always changing.
Forest Service Guides offer 3 different guided tours of the caverns. Tours highlight water-carved passages, the underground river flowing through the cavern, and the world’s largest flowstone. The outdoors adventures of Blanchard Springs make for a great place to explore with children and adults, alike.
Crater of Diamonds State Park (Murfeesboro)
The Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 911 acres park featuring the world’s only diamond-bearing site that is open for public access. The best part of the 37 acres of diamond-bearing field? Any rocks or minerals you find while digging are yours to keep!
The state park also offers several walking trails, picnic sites, camping, fishing, and a seasonal café and water park. The park offers education on the history of the Crater of Diamonds, as well as education about different types of rocks and minerals that can be found throughout the state of Arkansas.
Events are held throughout the year and park interpreters are always ready to help answer any questions of curious park-goers. The family is bound to discover a few gems of knowledge and precious memories at the Crater of Diamonds.
Arts Center of the Grand Prairie (Stuttgart)
Established in 1964 by local artists and leaders, the Arts Center of the Grand Prairie promotes the arts in Stuttgart and surrounding counties. The arts center works to promote the arts through education and public involvement.
The arts center hosts festivals and classes throughout the year. The arts center hosts several art camps, weekend classes, and outreach programs. It is also the host of the Grand Prairie Festival of Arts for over 60 years, now expanding to include categories of photography, decorative and visual arts, and create writings.
The arts center also hosts the Lennox Performing Arts Series to allow community members and guests the opportunity to hear concert performers, professional singers, and professional children’s theatre. This arts center offers visitors an opportunity to support small community artists and local arts series.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville)
Crystal Bridges celebrates the spirit of America through the unity of art and nature. Crystal Bridges is set beside a spring-fed pond with surrounding walking trails on the museum’s 120 acres park. Aside from the galleries with beautiful views of the pond, a restaurant is housed on a glass-enclosed bridge and a library of over 50,000 volumes of art references are available for visitors to enjoy.
Crystal Bridges is home to a permanent collection of 5 centuries worth of American works that continue to grow, along with arrays of temporary exhibits. Visual and performing artists are also regularly featured in the multidisciplinary space at the museum. This museum offers an opportunity to explore the variety of artistic disciplines sure to captivate the attention of the entire family.
Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum – North Little Rock
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is the only place in the world where visitors can see 2 floating Naval vessels that were used in World War II. Visitors can see the tugboat Hoga and the submarine USS Razorback.
The USS Razorback is 90% operational and maintained as authentically as possible. The museum itself features exhibits on several Naval vessels, as well as a collection from the Arkansas River Historical Society.
The museum also has a Riverwalk with memorials and a Peace Garden. This museum offers an opportunity to learn the history of how these amazing Naval vessels served in World War II.
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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.