Some of the most epic events in American history came right through The Natural State. The Trail of Tears is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Old Southwest Trail is also known as the National Road and the Old Military Road. It was one of the first permanent roads across Arkansas. Both Confederate and Union forces trekked through the state en route to battles and sometimes engaged in skirmishes along the way. The Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Line operated from 1857-1861 and carried passengers and mail.
This Arkansas History and Heritage Trail is a journey through Trail of Tears history, Civil War sites and other important pieces of Arkansas culture. Read about the trail’s many highlights and make plans to travel it!
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Unfortunately, these historic words written July 4, 1776 haven’t always been true for some people who have had to toil throughout history to make this country a better place to live. Monuments to these struggles by African Americans, those interred in Japanese relocation camps, farmers fighting for better business practices, and the Native Americans who made the forced Trail of Tears march, make thought-provoking destinations, several of which can be found in The Natural State.
Arkansas wine is a natural byproduct. Two European families settled in the Arkansas River Valley, attracted by its fertile sandy soil and moderate climate. These pioneers of the American wine industry were Jacob Post, who came to America in 1872, and Johann Wiederkehr, who immigrated to Altus from Switzerland in 1880. Area conditions reminded them so much of the fine wine-making regions of Germany and Switzerland that they each established vineyards, the beginning of viticulture in Arkansas.
During the 1930s, the blues could be found in juke joints in many small towns along the Mississippi River. But the undisputed blues capital at the time was Helena, Arkansas, located along the Mississippi about 80 miles southwest of Memphis. Helena’s downtown streets—Elm, Phillips, Walnut and part of Cherry—were filled with juke joints and cafes where bluesmen played all night long to packed houses. Even the sidewalks were a popular venue for many musicians. The town's radio station, KFFA, helped launch the careers of many of the legendary blues artists when they appeared on King Biscuit Time. The show is still aired today from the Delta Cultural Center and is the longest-running daily radio show in the United States.
Refreshing regional beer and microbrews are available on tap and in bottles. Arkansas also boasts a growing brewery industry. You'll find them located in Little Rock, Fayetteville, Rogers, Hot Springs and Springdale. We also have a distillery, the first legal one since Prohibition. Tour the breweries and brew pubs of Arkansas.
Some of the most lively discussions ever held are when people debate who has the best barbecue. There are enough secret recipes to make Fort Knox explode if they were stored there. Arkansas is blessed with a wealth of barbecue restaurants, dives, joints…whatever you want to call them. You can choose from mustard and tomato vinegar sauces, dry rub, and thick or thin tomato based. Ribs, pulled or chopped pork, beef tenderloin and chicken are on most menus along with the familiar sides. This is, by no means, a comprehensive list. It's just the tip of the barbecue "iceberg."
Affordable spa vacations that leave you feeling like a million bucks. Relaxing in a tub of hot water, soothing away the "wearies" of the world. Then the trained hands of a masseuse ply away the knots and kinks that come with a modern lifestyle. Sound extravagant? It can be, but you don't have to pay a fortune to experience the relaxation and luxury of an Arkansas spa getaway.
The scenic beauty of Arkansas is a natural complement to the game of golf. From rolling hills to hardwood forests, towering pines to mountain lakes, pristine rivers to fertile farmlands, the state boasts amazing golfing experiences around every turn. The Natural State Golf Trail features 12 elite courses (two at the Hot Springs Country Club) in 11 unique locations.
January 23 is the country’s National Pie Day as so designated by the American Pie Council. Here in Arkansas every day is "pie day." Don’t just take our word for it though. Jane and Michael Stern, authors of the Roadfood guides and website, declared in a November 2003 Gourmet Magazine article, that "Arkansas is known as one of America's foremost pie states…” And in the January 22, 2010 edition of USA Today, SeriousEats.com creator Ed Levine highlighted his Top 10 pie spots in the nation. One of his choices? The Family Pie Shop in DeVall's Bluff. Here are a few locations (in no particular order) where you can honor the All-American dessert in style with some of The Natural State’s best pies. This is, by no means, a comprehensive list.
Did you know Arkansas is believed to be the birthplace of cheese dip? Little Rock lawyer and filmmaker Nick Rogers has done his research and believes it to be. He tracked the background of the spicy concoction to see if it could be “the dish” for which Arkansas could be famous. Rogers discovered the original Mexico Chiquito restaurant, though it was named Little Mexico at the time, opened in Hot Springs in 1935 and introduced cheese dip. This predates Rotel by at least 10 years. Mexico Chiquito is still alive and kicking in Arkansas with both full-service and drive-through locations. Cheese dip is served pretty much in every nook and cranny restaurant of The Natural State. Here are some suggestions.