Southwest Region- The "I Love L.A.!" Tour (L.A.=Lower Arkansas)
You'll be delighted at the way the sun shines on you through the mighty and shady trees of the Timberlands Region, as you traverse "L.A." from the Ouachita Mountains region on over to the sultry Delta. Best enjoyed in spring or fall, you can still get your kicks here in summer or winter. We'll show you how!
Make a loop today in which you'll marvel at the diversity of Arkansas's State Parks. Start with a morning tour of the treasured Historic Washington State Park. Your guide, dressed in period costume, will escort you around the restored town of Washington, now a wonderful state park. There's hardly a better Arkansas lunch to be found than either in or catered by the historic 1832 Williams Tavern Restaurant. The fried tomatoes, catfish and the cobblers are not to be missed! After lunch, get a little down and dirty as you dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Here you can enjoy the one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure of prospecting for real diamonds - this is the world's only diamond-bearing site open to the public! Occurring naturally here along with the diamonds are garnet, amethyst, jasper, agate, quartz and other rocks and minerals that make this site a rock-hound's delight. And what you unearth is yours to keep. Next we're on to DeGray Lake Resort State Park for dinner and an overnight in the lodge, overlooking the lake.
This morning drive to Texarkana. Texarkana was founded in the early 1870s where two railroads met at the Arkansas-Texas border. The town straddles the border and is, politically, two towns with the same name. The only U.S. post office located in two states can be found at 500 State Line Road, where Photographer's Island is a popular spot for taking photos of people standing in two states simultaneously. Another unusual attraction is the Ace of Clubs House, built in the shape of a playing card "club." Texarkana is also home to the Texarkana Regional Arts Center, which hosts touring exhibits and works by regional artists; the Perot Theater, where touring national and international acts perform in an ornate 1924 theatre; the interactive Discovery Place Childrens Museum; and the Texarkana Regional History Museum. Lunch and touring in Texarkana, then drive to Magnolia for a dinner party and overnight.
Breakfast then a visit to the murals and lovely downtown square of Magnolia, which boasts a bounty of murals, fun antiquing, a serenity garden, and a couple of indoor places for a coffee break. You might want to plan around the astounding and festive Magnolia Blossom Festival and World's Championship Steak Cookoff. Available year-round is the guided tour of Southern Arkansas University's 658-acre Agricultural & Horticultural Farm. Next you're on to El Dorado. Known as Boomtown since oil was discovered a mile west of the city in 1921, El Dorado's resulting gush of population and prosperity led to an architectural boom still reflected in a self-guided walking tour of the city's restored downtown, now filled with shopping and dining opportunities. You'll lunch downtown. The area also includes the Rialto Theater, Arkansas's only working art deco theater, and the historic John Newton House, which hosts the annual Mayhaw Festival. Two other popular El Dorado events you might schedule around include Showdown at Sunset, the reenactment of a 1902 gunfight on the Union County Courthouse square, and MusicFest, which features a variety of national and local musical acts right on the square. In the afternoon, stop at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover, where you'll find exhibits, films and a park with full-sized derricks and other oilfield equipment. Overnight El Dorado.
Next you continue to Camden. Camden is home to a spectacular annual daffodil festival - other times of the year you can enjoy a break or picnic in a pavilion or park overlooking the serene Ouachita River. With advanced planning, there are some spectacular private gardens in Camden that will welcome you and delight your senses. Then you'll hit Pine Bluff, which lies near the Arkansas River on the boundary of two of The Natural State's geographical regions. To the west and southwest stretch the rolling woodlands of the West Gulf Coastal Plain and to the east and southeast the terrain settles into the flat and largely agricultural expanse of the Delta. Located in the city's downtown are a number of museums and other attractions: the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Historical Museum, the Band Museum, and the Southeast Arkansas Arts and Science Center are all within easy walking distance of each other. Thirteen colorful murals adorn building walls, depicting facets of the city's history. Located close by is the Arkansas Railroad Museum, which houses a steam locomotive listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The new lakeside Saracen Landing houses the community's farmers market and is a lovely spot for a covered picnic lunch or concert. The Delta Rivers Nature Center, a Game and Fish Commission education facility. Pine Bluff also hosts the annual Smoke on the Water Barbeque and Music Festival held each September. Dinner and overnight Pine Bluff.
After breakfast in Pine Bluff, it's down to Lake Village and Lake Chicot State Park you go. Lake Village, a town on the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, lies on the curving shore of picturesque Lake Chicot, a 20-mile long abandoned channel of the Mississippi River that is Arkansas's largest natural lake. Fishing, kayaking (including their famous guided evening kayaking outings), other water sports and birding are popular on the lake. The State Park's visitors center contains exhibits on area history and natural resources and has plenty of information detailing self-guided Mississippi River levee and Civil War tours. Jack R. Rhodes Lakefront Park provides a swimming area, walking path, small amphitheater, boat ramp, and picnic pavilions, a nice place for lunch depending on when you're with us. Other area attractions include exhibits at the Lake Chicot Pumping Plant, a $90-million facility built to protect the lake's water quality by diverting silt-laden run-off; the Museum of Chicot County; and the Plantation Bed and Breakfast, located in a farm house where Confederate wounded were treated during the 1864 Battle of Ditch Bayou. Just north of downtown, an historic marker records the site where in 1923 Charles Lindbergh, who would later make the first solo Transatlantic flight, made his first nighttime flight. Fitting for the place where you'll make your first nighttime kayaking expedition!
1 Capitol Mall, 4A-900 - Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 | 1-800-872-1259 or (501) 682-7777 (V/TT)