Multiple Regions- Lucky 7: Scenic Byway 7
You'll be in luck if you get to journey along Scenic Byway 7, from the Timberlands region in Southern Arkansas all the way up into the Ozark Mountains. Best enjoyed in the Spring and Fall, certainly modifiable for Summer and Winter.
Known as Boomtown from its oil boom days of the 1920's, El Dorado was named "the best downtown in Arkansas" by the Arkansas Times. A diverse and hopping mix of downtown businesses offer quality antiques and collectibles, upscale clothing, health foods, gourmet coffees, jewelry and a host of other goods and services, all around a charming, bustling square. Among many impressive architectural sights -- all within easy walking distance of each other -- are the El Dorado City Hall at 204 North West Avenue and the eight-story Lion Oil-Exchange Bank Building at Washington and Oak, which was completed in 1927 and remained for decades the tallest building in the area. Entertainment options available include live music and movies in the grand Rialto Theater or a game of pool in a 1920s-vintage hall.
After breakfast, zip up to Camden where you can enjoy a coffee break in a pavilion or park overlooking the gorgeous Ouachita River. In season, Camden is home to a spectacular Daffodil Festival. From here, make your way on up to Hot Springs for lunch and an afternoon of your choice of indulgences. Check into your hotel and choose from the many diverse options of activities in Hot Springs, known as Arkansas's Spa City. The charming, quirky beloved tourist mecca literally sprang to life in a Ouachita Mountain valley containing a remarkable array of 47 thermal springs. In addition to its famed Bath House Row and thermal baths, topflight attractions include live and simulcast horse racing at Oaklawn Park, Magic Springs/Crystal Falls theme and water parks, the 210-acre Garvan Woodland Gardens, known as "Arkansas's Botanical Garden," and a renowned arts community, which often hosts evening gallery walks right downtown, blocks from your hotel. Other attractions include music, magic and religious shows, a trip up to Hot Springs Mountain Tower, lake tours, and more. Shopping opportunities, including antiques, abound in the Spa City, as do options for lodging. DeGray Lake Resort State Park is nearby, and offers a lodging and dining option right on the lake.
Following breakfast, it's a quick drive just up the road to Lake Ouachita State Park. The staff at LOSP loves to tailor activities to groups. We're partial to the boat ride with the option of basic lake kayaking out to an island for a picnic lunch. The interpreters at the park will enlighten you with their knowledge of area wildlife and tales of recent sightings, which often include deer, beaver, a multitude of bird breeds, and if you time it right, bald eagle sightings. Following your day on Lake Ouachita, continue up Scenic 7 and take the slight detour to get you on Petit Jean Mountain. Check into the lodge and explore the magic of Petit Jean. Dinner and overnight Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park.
After breakfast and a morning hike if you so choose, get back on course on Scenic 7, with a stop for lunch in Russellville or perhaps a picnic lunch at the serenely shaded picnic grounds on the Ouachita Trail. Then continue on 7 to the nation's first National River, the Buffalo River. Choose from a variety of ways to take in the stunning beauty of this beautiful rambling river - you can canoe (and this canoeing can be kept quite mellow and relaxing), take hot air balloon rides, and hike in the area. Before dark, we're back on 7 and quickly in historic Harrison. How about a stop in the Ozark Emporium for ice cream, followed by a stroll in the historic downtown? This evening, we'll dine in Harrison and guess what? Did you know that there are Elk in Arkansas? That's right! Just south of Harrison, Arkansas, the Elk herd is estimated to number between 450-500 Elk. We'll venture out to see if we can get a glimpse of them in the evening, as early morning and later in the evenings are the best times to spot them. Overnight Harrison.
1 Capitol Mall, 4A-900 - Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 | 1-800-872-1259 or (501) 682-7777 (V/TT)