Arkansas is a beautiful state with a diverse geography. Many Arkansas attractions are related to the beauty of nature, featuring rivers, preserved forests, various types of wildlife, and other natural world wonders.
And this is no surprise, considering the fact that Arkansas is known as The Natural State.
But is this state just for outdoor enthusiasts? The answer, of course, is no!
There are plenty of other things to do in Arkansas. There are family-friendly attractions that will captivate people of all ages, historic sites that paint vivid pictures of the past, and much more.
After all, the state formerly known as the Land of Opportunity has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the years. Without further ado, let's explore the top tourist attractions in Arkansas.
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The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is relatively new among the many attractions in Arkansas, opened in 2011 by the Walton Foundation's Alice Walton.
It is the home of one of the world's biggest collections of American art displayed within one building. The works displayed cover a wide range of genres and topics, with themes like spirituality, Black faith, American craft, and more.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art contains a mix of permanent and temporary exhibits that span the past fifty years of contemporary American art.
There are works by Georgia O'Keeffe, Andy Warhol, James Turrel, and Normal Rockwell, among others. The building has delightful architecture and is a work of art, adding to the already lovely viewing experience.
In addition, the museum boasts a forested property that covers 120 acres of land, within which are three miles of trails. The Art Trail is especially loved and is well worth a relaxed stroll.
Address: 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, AR 72712
Hot Springs National Park may be among the most popular Arkansas attractions, an enticing draw of the history-rich Ouachita Mountains.
The Native American peoples of the region believed the springs had various healing properties. As a result, visitors have come to visit these springs even before the park's establishment, and the official opening of the preserved area in 1921 has only drawn in more guests.
Hot Springs National Park has plenty of attractions beyond the springs themselves. Hiking trails, observation towers, and historic bathhouses line its expanse.
One of these is the amazing Fordyce Bathhouse, also the park's visitor center. This structure is adorned with stained glass and marble, a mark of the incredible opulence that propelled it to fame during its operation from 1915 to 1962.
Hot Springs National Park is actually the oldest national park in the United States, predating even Yellowstone by four decades. There are 47 thermal springs, 26 miles of walking trails, and some fantastic zip line courses, biking trails, and bird-watching opportunities.
Address: Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs, AR 71901
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Hot Springs and The Best East Coast National Parks
Magic Springs is considered one of the best family-oriented amusement parks in the region and is one of the only theme and water parks in the whole state.
It boasts five thrill rides - not including five roller coasters - eight kids', and four family rides. Whether you like log flumes, drop towers, pirate ships, or bumper cars, there will be something here that you and your family will love.
Magic Springs' water park portion, called Crystal Falls, has four additional thrill rides, eight different family attractions, and a great splash zone and children's area for play.
You can book a cabana, ride a boogie board, or watch a concert at Timberwood Amphitheater! The latter is always free to view. If it fits within your budget, this is one of the places to visit in Arkansas that you shouldn't miss.
Address: 1701 E Grand Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901
Come see where history was made! The Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is just as it sounds. It is both a functional high school, as well as an operating testament to the legacy of American history.
It was here that nine brave schoolchildren changed the fate of America forever. With the 1957 desegregation crisis at its peak, Little Rock was truly watched by the nation as it helped pioneer the civil rights movement. It's a must-see in Arkansas for history buffs.
Considering this is still an active high school, there are a few things you’ll need to know before visiting. Firstly, you can only view this site as a part of a reserved guided tour. Guided tours are only offered on select days as dictated by the official website.
Tours last an hour and recount the tale of the brave Little Rock Nine, the controversy that spun from their attendance, and their persistence in attending a previously all-white high school.
It will also touch on the importance of this event in testing the ground for the Supreme Court's 1954 case, Brown v. Board of Education, where public schools would be desegregated.
Admission to Little Rock Central High School is free, and the site is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Address: 1500 Park Street, Little Rock, AR 72202
Explore the animal kingdom in Arkansas’s title zoo! Here in Little Rock, this attraction is home to over 700 animals. They vary from species to species and average in over 200 different representations of all things wildlife.
Check out exhibits of monkeys, apes, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my), and so much more, all within a sprawling 33 acres of Arkansas real estate.
It is even funded by the Arkansas Zoological Foundation, which promotes the development of the zoo as a whole. Here animals are treated with care and provide for the perfect day entertainment for some good ole fashioned family fun.
The Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas is even known for hosting celebrations and events! Check out the official calendar on the website for some of their title attractions. These include things like Breakfast with the Penguins, Lion Day, and Zoo Brew.
This zoo also hosts other gatherings, such as weddings, birthday parties, and group events. Even if you’ve just come for a regular day of Arkansas adventure, you’re sure to find some golden memories.
Tickets here range from approximately $13 for adults and $10 for youths. However, the Little Rock Zoo is also known to host an annual day wherein all tickets are just $1 per person. Be sure to stay updated online for this special occasion and enjoy one of the best Arkansas attractions for cheap.
Address: 1 Zoo Dr, Little Rock, AR 72205
Also Read: 30 Best Zoos in the US
The William J. Clinton Library and Museum, also known as the Clinton Presidential Center, sits in Little Rock upon a public park measuring 28 acres.
Anyone interested in the life and times of the 42nd President of the United States should add this to their list of things to do in Arkansas.
The William J. Clinton Library and Museum spans 68,698 square feet, earning its archives the title of the largest among other presidential libraries.
This presidential museum and library is designed to look like a bridge, inspired by the six bridges that straddle the Arkansas River.
Within, you'll find interesting exhibits that grant insight into the life of Bill Clinton and his family, with accompanying photos and artifacts.
A timeline spread across eight panels tells the tale of his presidency, while a total of 14 alcoves discuss events of note during his time in the White House. There is also a full-scale replica of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room, as they would have been during his term.
Address: 1200 President Clinton Ave, Little Rock, AR 72201
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Little Rock
Thorncrown Chapel is one of the most beautiful and unusual Arkansas attractions. Found in Eureka Springs, this interesting structure is fashioned from a mix of wood and glass and is set amid natural woodland.
This mystical aura has made the chapel quite popular as an event venue, especially for weddings - but it's a great tourist attraction, too!
Thorncrown Chapel measures approximately 48 feet in height and boasts a whopping 425 windows with over 6,000 square feet of glass.
With an unbelievable appeal, the chapel is built with angular beams and provides 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding forest. It's won numerous architectural awards and is truly a sight to behold, a gem of the Ozark Mountains.
Admission to Thorncrown Chapel is free, and Sunday services are held here all summer long. Even if you're not religious, you'll benefit from going here when the chapel is in service, as you can gain information from guides.
Address: 12968 U.S. 62, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
Aviation enthusiasts will love the Arkansas Air and Military Museum. Set within a genuine aircraft hanger from 1943, this is one of the most immersive Arkansas tourist attractions.
It features a mix of static and rotating exhibits, including several vintage aircraft that remain in top flying condition. In fact, two of them continue to be in operation!
The Arkansas Air and Military Museum is located in Fayetteville and houses a mix of military and civilian planes, including racing planes and biplanes.
It also provides plenty of information on the long-lived history of air travel and aviation technology.
Some of the aircraft in the museum are the country's only surviving varieties of aircraft that belong to the golden era of aviation as well as World War I.
The museum also showcases many ground vehicles used by the military in a large permanent collection. A tribute to Louise McPhetridge, one of America's most famous female pilots, is particularly interesting.
Address: 4290 S School Ave, Fayetteville, AR 72701
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Fayetteville
Known as the only diamond-producing site in the world open to the public, the Crater of Diamonds State Park provides you with a unique experience you will never forget.
The park was created in 1972, but the crater dates back to 1906. Since then, a whopping 75,000 diamonds or so have been unearthed.
This includes the famous Strawn-Wagner Diamond, and these gems range in color from yellow to white to brown.
There are also plenty of other gemstones that you can uncover, such as amethyst, agate, garnet, quartz, and jasper. On top of that, every single gem you find here is yours, and you can keep it for yourself.
Of course, there are more activities to enjoy at Crater of Diamonds State Park. There's a 52-site campground in the shade of trees, a fascinating museum, and a fun water playground.
With 911 acres to explore and 37.5 acres in its diamond field alone, this volcanic crater and its surrounding verdancy make for the perfect one-of-a-kind getaway.
Address: 209 State Park Rd, Murfreesboro, AR 71958
Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the United States
The Garvan Woodland Gardens is a massive 210-acre reserve nestled in the heart of Arkansas. It is owned and operated by the University of Arkansas and dazzles visitors no matter what time of the year they may come.
Guests don't need to be a part of the university to visit and will be able to sample and view all sorts of flora and fauna native to the Ouachita Mountains.
Verna Cook Garvan created the Garvan Woodland Gardens in 1956. Garvan was an influential entrepreneur in the Hot Springs region, and her vision saw the creation of all manner of overlooks, scenic structures, and plots within the botanical space.
The gardens are now a preserve spanning 4.5 miles across the shoreline in a natural wooded environment.
When visiting the Garvan Woodland Gardens, you should start at the Pratt Welcome Center. You'll be greeted by some peacocks and will get to begin your exploration into the gardens with some cool information to take with you.
Address: 550 Arkridge Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913
Mammoth Spring State Park bears the same name as the town within which it resides.
As its name suggests, it is one of the USA's largest springs, boasting a water flow of around nine million gallons every hour.
The spring feeds water into the Spring River and Spring Lake, providing opportunities for water activities like swimming, fishing, boating, and more.
As such, a trip here is among the top things to do in Arkansas for water sports enthusiasts.
Mammoth Spring State Park also has a few other notable locations within its grounds. For example, a train depot from 1886 has been restored to resemble its original appearance.
There's also an authentic Frisco Railroad caboose, some old depot houses, and what remains of a mill.
You can even explore a hydroelectric station that is now out of service as you take a path across a dam on a self-guided interpretive hiking trail.
Address: 17 US Hwy 63, Mammoth Spring, AR 72554
There are few better Arkansas attractions where you can learn about the First Peoples of America than the Museum of Native American History.
Over 10,000 artifacts are displayed here, each one offering a unique insight into various tribes and peoples across five separate periods.
Some of these items date back over 14,000 years!
The Museum of Native American History has sections dedicated to Columbian, Paleo, Woodland, Prehistoric, Archaic, and Mississippian times.
You'll see all sorts of items like crafts, household objects, tools, artwork, and weapons that tell the story of Native American history as it has evolved over the past several millennia.
There's beadwork, headdresses, masks, quillwork, pottery, and more.
You'll also see an amazing mammoth skeleton or visit the Indigenous Medicine Garden.
The Museum of Native American History can be found in Bentonville, where it has lived since its establishment in 2006 by a Cherokee Nation member.
Its efforts in preserving the lives and stories of the first Americans have made it authentic, engaging, and fascinating.
Address: 202 SW O St Bentonville, AR 72712
The Old Mill is a hydro-powered grist mill, rebuilt in 1933 based on an authentic 1880s water mill.
It is located in T.R. Pugh Memorial Park and serves up a slice of American history.
Better yet, it's a National Historic Site, making it one of the great spots in Arkansas for a quick visit!
If you recognize The Old Mill, that's because it has been shown in numerous different Hollywood movies, such as Gone with the Wind.
It's also a beautiful artistic site filled with sculptures by Dionicio Rodriguez, a naturalist artist born in Mexico.
Each sculpture is designed to resemble wood completely, even if it's made from something else.
And in addition to that, The Old Mill is surrounded by beautiful flowers!
Address: 3800 Lakeshore Dr, North Little Rock, AR 72116
As its name suggests, Mount Magazine State Park is the home of Mount Magazine, the tallest mountain in Arkansas' northwest.
This is a popular recreational spot that provides chances to rough it for outdoor enthusiasts and chances to relax for those who prefer indoor comforts.
There's plenty to do at Mount Magazine State Park, making it quite popular among Arkansas attractions.
You can go hand-gliding, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, or even shopping at the gift shop for the park's exhibit gallery.
If you get hungry and are willing to splurge on a treat of a meal, you can check out Skycrest Restaurant, a lovely establishment with huge bay windows so you are always dining with a view.
Address: 577 Lodge Dr, Paris, AR 72855
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a 459-acre refuge and home for a hundred or so animals, a large number of which are big cats that were abandoned, abused, or neglected.
There are felines such as bobcats, tigers, cougars, lions, servals, leopards, and even ligers here, as well as bears, macaws, and coatimundis.
Half-hour guided tours of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge start at the Welcome Center and kick off with an explanation of the establishment's goals and mission.
Zoologists or biologist interns lead you through the site, discussing each animal that lives here in special natural habitats.
You'll also get to see a set of beautiful Golden Tabbies, also known as Strawberry Tigers, the rare result of the mating of an orange tiger with a white tiger.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is one of the nation's most respected and accredited organizations of its kind.
The establishment prides itself on rehabilitation through enrichment, providing engaging toys and experiences for its residents to enjoy.
There are also tons of cool programs to add to your list of things to do in Arkansas, such as the Carnivore Caravan Tour, a Coffee with the Curator experience, and several children's camps and classes.
Address: 239 Turpentine Creek Ln, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
Fort Smith National Historic Site is dedicated to telling the fort's story, from its official establishment in 1817 up to the end of its jurisdiction in 1896.
Its showcases and exhibits discuss the lawmen and soldiers and their perspectives of life here, expanding on tales of marshals, outlaws, and the military.
However, perhaps somewhat more importantly, Fort Smith National Historic Site is a documentation of Native American history.
It expands on the perspective of the Cherokee people and talks about the Trail of Tears in an immersive and exploratory experience.
You'll view barracks, a storehouse, jail cells, a bookshop, a judge's courtroom, a storehouse, and even the gallows.
Displayed items include record books, postcards, and weapons, providing insight into frontier life.
It's one of the more sobering places to go in Arkansas, but it's a fantastic educational experience.
Address: 301 Parker Ave, Fort Smith, AR 72901
The unique and unusual Christ of the Ozarks statue has been one of the popular attractions in Arkansas for over five decades.
It measures 67 feet in height and stands in Eureka Springs upon Magnetic Mountain, boasting an arm span of 65 feet.
You can spot it from a notable distance away!
Iconic and much loved, the Christ of the Ozarks statue was built in 1966 and has become the Ozark Mountains' most visited tourist hotspot.
It's an impressive example of highly skilled masonry and stonework and is a fantastic photo opportunity.
All around it, numerous additional attractions involving reenactments, monuments, plays, and shops seek to bring the statue and the Bible to life.
Address: 937 Passion Play Rd, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
The Clinton House Museum is a small home measuring 1,800 square feet, containing only one bedroom, and sits quaintly in the Ozark Mountains.
This was the first house President Bill Clinton shared with Hillary Rodham, and they even married in its living room.
It was built in 1931, and the Clintons lived there until 1975.
It's also now a National Historic Landmark, so it's become one of the few Arkansas attractions dedicated to the president.
The Clinton House Museum focuses on preserving Clinton's early life and times, including tons of memorabilia from his early political campaigns.
You'll see some of his first television ads and political speeches.
The museum also covers the Clintons' marriage, providing a timeline of their lives together and even showcasing Hillary's own wedding dress.
Address: 930 W Clinton Dr, Fayetteville, AR 72701
Also Read: Most Famous Historic Houses in America
The beautiful South Arkansas Arboretum is a gorgeous 12-acre expanse home to a wide range of flora and fauna native to the West Gulf Coastal Plain, including several rare and lesser-known varieties.
For the most part, the establishment's mission is education, serving as a resource for students and members of the public.
The South Arkansas Arboretum is one of the famous places in Arkansas for those seeking a little physical activity.
This is thanks to an active use portion where joggers and walkers can exercise to their hearts' content.
When you're done with your workout, you can move to the transitional zone, where a creek and several ponds sprout to form a serene environment.
There's also a butterfly garden filled with blooming flowers from May to August.
Address: 1506 Mt Holly Rd, El Dorado, AR 71730
If the history of corporate entities and powerhouse retailers is something that tickles your fancy, then the one-of-a-kind Walmart Museum will be one of the most fun Arkansas attractions for you.
It is situated in Bentonville, the hometown of founder Sam Walton, and includes the man's preserved office completely with period-appropriate furniture, fixtures, and simple wood paneling.
The Walmart Museum is actually built into the very first Walmart store ever to exist, which was a 5-10 dime store at the time.
It traces the history of the huge chain and its slow rise into one of the nation's most successful retailers.
The interactive gallery ensures that exhibits are engaging and interesting, and the Ford F-150 that belonged to Walton is parked onsite for your viewing pleasure.
Address: 105 N Main St, Bentonville, AR 72712
The Buffalo National River is one of the country's only undammed rivers. It is one of the most beautiful attractions in Arkansas.
It winds through the gorgeous Ozark Mountains, spanning 135 miles in its rushing length and providing plenty of opportunities for land and water activities.
You can go mountain biking, river hiking, horseback riding, caving, floating, and canoeing.
The Buffalo National River is a haven for all sorts of wildlife, too. Some bobcats, deer, and other fauna peacefully live in its area.
This is thanks to the three protected, designated wilderness areas within the range of the river! If you like wildlife watching, this is a great place to engage in that hobby.
Address: 33 Park St, Wilson, AR 72395
The Hampson Archeological Museum State Park is situated near the border of Tennessee.
It is dedicated to the exhibition and interpretation of life from the years 1400 to 1650 in the region.
It does this by recreating the village of Nodena, a 15-acre settlement that existed during those years, which James K. Hampson preserved.
The Hampson Archeological Museum State Park is renowned across the country for its impressive artifact collection, providing an excellent and insightful glimpse into the religion, social network, trading network, crafts, and culture of this civilization of the Late Mississippi.
Access to the collection is free and grants you a fantastic visualization of what life was like for this village, making it one of the best things to do in Arkansas for history buffs.
Address: 33 Park St, Wilson, AR 72395
The Old State House Museum is, fittingly, housed within Arkansas' Old State House.
This site commemorates the history of this building and its significant role in various historic events, including the state's admission into the Union, it's joining of the Confederation, and more.
It was used as a government structure until 1911 and has since become one of the more insightful Arkansas attractions.
Admission to the Old State House Museum is entirely free.
You'll get the chance to learn a lot about the history of Arkansas and the many other purposes the building has served.
It's been the HQ of the Arkansas State Police, an Arkansas War Memorial, and even a medical school.
Address: 300 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201
The Compton Gardens and Arboretum is a wonderful woodland garden filled to the brim with native plants and animals.
It takes its name from its location: the home of Dr. Neil Campton, a man dedicated to protecting and conserving the region's biodiversity.
Nature lovers are sure to consider this a must-see in Arkansas!
The Compton Gardens and Arboretum span 6.5 acres and contain a half-mile trail system, acting as a free-to-access recreational and educational green space.
All plants here are marked with their names and information, including two majestic Arkansas Champion trees.
Address: 312 N Main St, Bentonville, AR 72712
Rush Ghost Town in Marion County is the only ghost town between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River.
As far as destinations in Arkansas go, it's eerie and unique - perfect for those interested in more unorthodox attractions.
Rush was once a zinc-mining town, and from the mid-1880s to mid-1930s, it was a prosperous, bustling settlement.
Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the entirety of the Rush Historic District spans 1,300 acres.
It is essentially a Gold Rush ghost town, with several educational exhibits and helpful interpretive signs along its many steep, challenging hiking trails.
You'll be able to view the Hicks and Taylor-Medley stores, the blacksmith shop, the processing mill, a smelter, a livery barn site, a mine level, Ore Wagon Road, and more.
Address: Rush Historic District, Yellville, AR
Castle Rogue's Manor is probably one of the most unique Arkansas attractions. It sits on Tablerock Lake - or, rather, is perched over it on a cliff of limestone.
Its grounds cover 20 acres and offer lovely views of the surrounding environment.
Tours of the manor are privately provided by appointment only, but the minor hassle of this requirement is well worth it for the fantastic interior you'll be able to peruse.
Castle Rogue's Manor has many majestic and opulent features. For example, there's a medieval fireplace flanked by bronze dragons that "breathe" fire, with the hearth requiring 7,000 pounds of stone in its construction.
There are 15,000 square feet of manor space to explore!
Address: 2272 State Hwy 187, Beaver, AR 72613
Blanchard Springs Caverns can be found within the national forests of Ozard and St. Francis on the northern side of Arkansas.
These spectacular caves offer a stunning glimpse into the complex and dynamic all-natural cavernous systems that form beneath the ground.
These caverns have undergone thousands of years' worth of changes, and they continue to change to this day as water carves its way through the rock.
A ranger-led tour is the only way to explore the Blanchard Springs Caverns.
Three tour options are available, one of which brings you through the beautiful 1.2-mile Discovery Trail.
It's one of the best things to do in Arkansas!
Address: 704 Blanchard Springs Road, Fifty-Six, AR 72533
Also Read: The Best Caves and Caverns in the USA
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center was once the studio of author Ernest Hemingway and the family home of Pauline Pfeiffer, his second wife.
It is a converted barn, and it's where Hemingway wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms, as well as several short stories.
Today, the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center is one of the many educational Arkansas attractions, focusing on teaching guests about life in the state during the 1920s and 1930s.
You'll learn about world events, literature, relationships, and the development of the New Deal era.
Address: 1021 W Cherry St, Piggott, AR 72454
The Gurdon Light is a bizarre phenomenon that has become an eerie local mystery. Trying to catch a glimpse of it is one of the most unusual things to do in Arkansas.
But what, exactly, is the Gurdon Light? It is a white-blue light that appears suddenly in the wooded trees close to the highway of Interstate 30.
Some people have reported the light as being orange instead.
Some supernatural belief states that this is the light of the lantern of a railroad worker who perished on the train tracks.
So what's the scientific explanation? As of yet, there is no confirmed theory behind the phenomenon.
Some have suggested it's just car lights. Others say it may be a piezoelectric effect generated by some crystals or ceramics in the area.
Whatever the case, it's a head-scratcher!
Address: Gurdon, AR 71743
Quigley's Castle is widely considered the Strangest Dwelling in The Ozarks.
Naturally, this has made it one of the more enticing attractions in Arkansas! This was the home created and envisioned by Elise Quigley, who wanted to live as close to nature as possible.
She and her husband worked together to create the perfect home using lumber and rocks from their land.
Quigley lived here with her family until her passing in 1984.
The house today is a popular tourist attraction, boasting a pure timber construction and a whopping 28 large windows that stare out over the surrounding verdancy.
There is also a garden that boasts over 400 perennials with vibrant flowers.
Address: 274 Quigley Castle Rd, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
Also Read: Most Beautiful Castles in America
Crescent Hotel and Spa is referred to as the most haunted hotel in America.
Aspiring ghost hunters should definitely add this to their list of places to visit in Arkansas! The highly luxurious resort hotel has a sordid history, with tragedy befalling many of its guests.
In fact, before the hotel even opened, two deaths had already taken place on the property.
Ghost tours of the Crescent Hotel and Spa are offered daily. You'll get to view some of its most haunted rooms and locations while hearing the gruesome tales behind each one.
Even if you don't necessarily believe in ghosts, it's still a fun place to check out, just for the novelty of it all.
Address: 75 Prospect Ave, Eureka Springs, AR 72632