Top 15 Arkansas Attractions You Don't Want To Miss

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Nikki Jain

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.

Things To Do in Arkansas

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1: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

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

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2: Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park

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

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Hot Springs and The Best East Coast National Parks

3: Magic Springs and Crystal Falls Water and Theme Park

Magic Springs and Crystal Falls Water and Theme Park
Facebook/Magic Springs and Crystal Falls

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

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4: Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Flickr/Adam Jones

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

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5: Little Rock Zoo

Little Rock Zoo
Flickr/Arkansas ShutterBug

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

6: William J. Clinton Library and Museum

William J. Clinton Library and Museum

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

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Little Rock

7: Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel
Flickr/Thorncrown Chapel

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

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8: Arkansas Air & Military Museum

Arkansas Air & Military Museum
Wikimedia/Michael Barera

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

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Fayetteville

9: Crater of Diamonds State Park

Crater of Diamonds State Park
Wikimedia/Doug Wertman

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

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Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the United States

10: Garvan Woodland Gardens

Garvan Woodland Gardens

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

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Hot Springs, Arkansas

11: Mammoth Spring State Park

Mammoth Spring State Park

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

12: Museum of Native American History

Museum of Native American History
Facebook/Museum Of Native American History

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

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13: The Old Mill

The Old Mill

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

14: Mount Magazine State Park

Mount Magazine State Park

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

15: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Flickr/Celeste Lindell

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

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Plan your trip to these Arkansas attractions soon!

Arkansas attractions are diverse, ranging from natural spots to historic sites and from unusual, eerie locations to beautiful gardens filled with vibrant colors. You'll find that there are even more interesting and beautiful things to do in Arkansas even beyond this list, so strap yourself in for a lovely and exciting holiday.

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