The Land of Opportunity
Natural Adventure, Dramatic Scenery, Crystal Clear Waters
Ozark Mountain Vistas, Rolling Greens, Native American History
Get To Know Arkansas
Known for its dramatic scenery and crystal clear waters, Arkansas has affectionately been dubbed the Natural State. A single visit to the state will tempt you to keep coming back for more. At every turn, mountain vistas beckon from the distance, while vast landscapes and rolling greens lend placid ambiance to towns statewide. If you’re thinking of booking a bus ticket to Arkansas, prepare to be humbled and enthralled all at once.
There's no shortage of things to do in Arkansas.
A Brief History of Arkansas
The name Arkansas comes from “acansaw,” meaning downstream place, further emphasizing how much nature has shaped the state. In its earliest days, Arkansas was home to settlers known as Bluff Dwellers. True to their name, they resided in Ozark Mountain caves. Over the years, the land became populated with Native American and European settlers who established rigid farming and fur trading practices in the area.
Arkansas was also part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, which Thomas Jefferson acquired when he agreed to purchase the land west of the Mississippi for a substantial sum. The capital of Little Rock was settled in 1821, and Arkansas became an official state in 1836. Before it achieved statehood, only 400 residents lived in the territory although it has quickly blossomed into a hub for culture and communities. For decades now, locals have become innovative farmers, growing and selling 46% of the United States rice.
Must See List
- Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
- Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center
- Arkansas Railroad Museum
- Totem Poles
- Arkansas Tech University Museum
- Fort Smith National Historic Site
- Bathhouse Row
- Hot Springs National Park
- Rush Historic District
- Sequoyah National Research Center
- Blue Spring Heritage Center
- The Old Mill at T.R. Pugh Memorial Park
Top Cities To Visit in Arkansas
Set along the Arkansas River, the state’s capital is a vibrant city that expertly fuses history and modernity into a complex series of winding roads and brilliant attractions. It’s largely associated with Bill Clinton, and it’s where you’ll find the impressive William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. If you’re a history buff, it’s worth a visit to the Governor’s Mansion in Quapaw Quarter. The home is imposing and majestic, and it’s a great place to snap a few photographs. Check out the old-world architecture that dominates the Quarter, too; these are the historic areas that make Little Rock so special, and many of the homes date from the late 19th century. If you’re traveling with the family, make some time for the Little Rock Zoo. There are hundreds of beautiful animals here, and there’s even a petting zoo at the Arkansas Heritage Farm. Although there are plenty of lodging options, you might wish to book a room at one of the spacious downtown chain hotels. You’ll be within walking distance of many area attractions.
Nestled in the heart of The Ozarks’ southern reaches, Fayetteville bubbles with huge freshwater springs and plenty of rivers and streams great for tubing. Hiking fans will find an abundance of mountainous ascents and greenways to explore. If you’re feeling a need for a city vibe, the Dickson Street area has plenty of eateries, craft breweries and shopping at hand. The area around downtown has theaters, museums, farmer’s markets and more. Whether you want to get into the great outdoors or take in a little culture, it’s the perfect “big small town” for discovery, excitement and recreation for people of all ages.
If you’re more of an outdoorsy type and want to forgo the big-city experience, head to Forrest City instead. Just a short drive from Village Creek State Park, the area is cozy and quaint. You’ll find the St. Francis County Museum downtown—a great place to start if you want to learn more about the area’s past. Or venture into one of the many mellow restaurants or cafes in the area to enjoy a meal that’s as good as home-cooked.
Along Crowley’s Ridge is Jonesboro, a placid city known as the home of Arkansas State University. It’s also home to plenty of shops and performing arts venues. Perhaps its most noteworthy feature, though, is the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center. Bring the family and walk its extensive trail system that takes you through everything from prairie lands to wetlands. Or visit the exhibit hall and take in an informative wildlife film before browsing the breadth of plant and animal displays.
Arkansas is filled with towns that are bursting with both history and scenery, and Malvern is among the most noteworthy. Once a railroad stop, today Malvern is known largely for its brick production plants. In the mix you’ll also find a number of destinations listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among them are the Hot Spring County Courthouse, which opened in 1936, and the Billings-Cole House, dating from 1948. Malvern is also home to one of just two whitewater parks in the state: Ouachita River.
You’ll know this city for the magnificent Blytheville Arch, which stands as the gateway between Arkansas and Missouri. The horseshoe structure alone is eye-catching, but you’ll want to venture into Blytheville for other reasons, too. Founded in the late 19th century, the city is home of the storied Ritz Civic Center. It was founded in the early 20th century before it succumbed to fire damage. It was restored some decades later, and today it’s a wonderful place to watch a live performance or a movie.
What’s in a name? When you’re called Texarkana, your name breaks down into three separate states: Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The city is noteworthy for its State Line Post Office and Federal Building, which is the only post office in the state to take residence in two states (Texas and Arkansas). If you’re an entertainment buff, spare some time for the Perot Theater, where legends like Annie Oakley and Will Rogers often entertained locals. Also worth a visit is the Lindsay Railroad Museum, which celebrates the city’s railroad roots.
Culture in Arkansas
Life in Arkansas is leisurely and inviting. Visitors seeking a respite from the “real” world will find plenty of rest, relaxation, and friendliness in the Natural State. The state is renowned for more than its fascinating history and rich scenery—it’s also home to a lively music scene and many world-class museums. You’ll leave the state with a new appreciation for bluegrass, country, gospel, and blues music, and you can visit any number of venues to catch a live show any day of the week.
If you’re craving the perfect mix of Midwestern and Southern-inspired food, look no further than the local spots throughout Arkansas. Comfort food is a luxury in the state and delicious eats can be found practically anywhere. Quirky favorites include possum pie, fried chicken, and chocolate gravy. If you’re interested in getting a taste of what Arkansas is all about, be sure to check out their amazing restaurants and diners.