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The Ultimate Bucket List
There are certain things every Arkansan should do at least once. Consider this an Arkansas bucket list, or at least it’s a start.
Eating an entire hubcap cheeseburger at the original
Floating in a canoe down the
Buffalo National River
when the dogwoods are blooming.
Searching for the
late at night. First sighted in the 1930s, the Gurdon Light is a mysterious floating light above the railroad tracks near Gurdon in Southwest Arkansas. Many theories exist to explain the light. Seek, find and create a theory of your own.
for trout early in the morning on the upper White River.
Watching the sun rise on a winter morning from a duck blind on the Grand Prairie.
Spending the night at both the
in Hot Springs and the
in Eureka Springs.
1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
is known not only for its history and grandeur, but also for its ghosts. The hotel has become popular for its nightly ghost tours and its annual ESP Weekend in January.
Attending a Battle of the Ravine college football game between Ouachita and Henderson in
Digging for diamonds at the
Crater of Diamonds State Park
near Murfreesboro. - The biggest diamond ever found in the United States was discovered here. The 40.23-carat, white gem was unearthed in 1924, before the park was established, and was dubbed The Uncle Sam Diamond after its finder. In 1975, George Stepp, a logger from Carthage, Ark., discovered a 16.37-carat white diamond, the biggest one found by a park visitor after the Crater’s establishment as a state park in 1972. Diamonds continue to be discovered (and kept!) by park-goers every year.
Visiting Bald Knob when the strawberries are ripe in May and ordering the strawberry shortcake at
Sampling fried chicken at the Mount Nebo Chicken Fry in
Picking wild blackberries while wondering how many chigger bites you’ll have at the end of the day.
Eating some peaches at the Johnson County Peach Festival.
Started in 1938, this is one of the oldest festivals in Arkansas. Held the last weekend in July each year, activities include peach and peach pie-eating contests, a fishing derby, a greased pig chase, talent show, pageants, live music and more.
on the Mulberry River.
Having a steak on a Friday night at Jerry’s in
Hanging out with some bikers at Roy’s in
Attending the Fourth of July community picnics at
Crossing the U.S. Highway 62 bridge over
on a clear day and admiring how blue the water is.
Eating the Gear Salad and the filet mignon at
Sitting outside at Basin Spring Park in
on a fall Saturday evening and enjoying the music.
Visiting Judge Parker’s courtroom at the
Fort Smith National Historic Site
Judge Isaac C. Parker held the bench of the U.S. Court for the Western District of Arkansas for 21 years. His tenure was unique in the history of the federal judiciary; while most U.S. district judges toiled away on civil cases, Parker heard thousands of criminal complaints involving disputes and violence between Indians and non-Indians.
Driving along the
Talimena Scenic Drive
as the leaves are changing.
Spending the day walking around
Historic Washington State Park
when the jonquils are blooming.
Taking a boat out onto Grassy Lake in southwest Arkansas at night to look for alligators.
Each year, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission awards 72 exclusive alligator hunt permits to control the population.
Walking around the courthouse square in
and going into as many locally owned shops as possible.
While still preserving many of its historic buildings—like the famous
and Griffin Auto Building—El Dorado is undergoing a renaissance to become “The City of Festivals.” State-of-the-art infrastructure will soon accommodate the thousands who will patronize the city’s many new events. Its Southern Food & Wine festival and the South Arkansas Arts Center already lure people to this noteworthy city each year.
Buying more than you need at
Mack’s Prairie Wings
Wrangling an invitation to one of the Sunday night wild game dinners at
Drinking some of the water at the
headquarters in downtown Hot Springs.
Grabbing a weekday plate lunch at the Pickens Store in Desha County during the harvest season.
Eating a plate of buffalo ribs at the
in Little Rock.
Lower White River Museum
in Des Arc on a Friday afternoon and then having a catfish dinner at
Eating a turkey sandwich at the original
Spending a summer Saturday morning at the
on the square in Fayetteville.
Visiting a sand blow in Northeast Arkansas while contemplating the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12.
Getting a sunburn while attending Riverfest in
and be sure to stay for the fireworks.
Riverfest is Arkansas’s largest music festival held every Memorial Day Weekend in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. Famous musicians like Sheryl Crow, Ludacris, Carrie Underwood, Earth Wind & Fire, Heart, Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, ZZ Top, Snoop Dog and Brad Paisley perform all weekend long on various stages.
Buying a stack of books at
Watching Sonny Payne do his “King Biscuit Time” radio show at the
Delta Cultural Center
Fishing for bream on a south Arkansas oxbow during the day and going frog gigging on the same lake at night.
Watching the cardboard boat races at Greers Ferry Lake and then having dinner at the
Red Apple Inn
.- The World Championship Cardboard Boat Race held every July in Heber Springs is serious fun but also serious competition. Participants must build a person-powered boat made of corrugated cardboard that is capable of completing four heats around a 200-yard semicircle course. The race draws big crowds from across the state to take in the spectacle, and often garners national attention. In 2005, the races aired live on ESPN and re-aired more than 21 times, reaching 88 million viewers.
Sitting on the east side of
while watching the sun rise over the Arkansas River Valley.
Watching the Memphis fireworks on the Sunday before Memorial Day from a sandbar on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River.
Taking a slow walk through
Mount Holly Cemetery
in Little Rock.
Attending a high school basketball game on a winter Friday night at
Attending a high school football game on a fall Friday night in
Buying some wine in Altus and then visiting the
Back in 1880, two European families settled in the Arkansas River Valley, attracted by its fertile sandy soil and moderate climate. Jacob Post, who came to America in 1872, and Johann Wiederkehr, who immigrated from Switzerland in 1880, found the area conditions reminded them of the fine wine-making regions of their homeland. They each established vineyards, and thus are the founders of the viticulture in Arkansas.
Eating a turkey leg at the Arkansas State Fair.
Attending the seasonal craft fairs at
Fishing for smallmouth bass on the
Eating a tamale spread at
in Hot Springs.
Attending the King Biscuit Blues Festival at Helena.
This is one of the nation’s leading blues festivals. Held for three days annually in October, tens of thousands of blues enthusiasts converge on historic downtown Helena in the Upper Delta to hear stirring performances by blues greats on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Standing in the state
rotunda and looking up.
Spending the night on a
on Lake Ouachita.
Attending a county fair parade.
when the leaves are turning with a stop at the Turner Bend Store.
Pigging out at
graze in the Boxley Valley in Searcy County.
As the largest species of mammal currently found in Arkansas, elk are one of the state’s most sought-after animals for viewing and photography. They can commonly be seen in Boxley Valley along Arkansas Highways 43 and 21.
Listening to the music on a Saturday night in downtown
Taking a bath on
in Hot Springs.
Standing along the rail at
on Arkansas Derby day.
For more than 77 years, this annual stepping-stone race to the Triple Crown features some of the best Thoroughbreds in the country. The Derby attracts people from across the country and state, some even donning seersucker and big hats.
Hanging out on Dickson Street in Fayetteville with the college students after a Razorback game.
Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
in Dyess and then heading over to Wilson to see the English Tudor architecture.
This historic Dyess Colony home has been restored to its appearance when young Johnny Cash and his family lived there from 1935 to 1954.
Reading the Civil War markers at
and then having barbecue at
Eating a slice of melon at the Hope Watermelon Festival.
Attending the all-tomato luncheon during the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival in Warren.
Walking the boardwalk through the swamp between Brinkley and Marvell to see the
Louisiana Purchase monument
in the water.
Attending an event in the back room behind the kitchen at
in Little Rock. - One of President Bill Clinton’s favorite restaurants, the private party room at Doe’s was where he spent many nights strategizing during the presidential election.
near Lake Village.
Getting a room for the night at Mather Lodge atop
Attending the duck gumbo contest on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in
Buying an ice cream cone at the Ernie Dunlap Store in
Having your picture taken while standing on the Arkansas-Texas line at the federal courthouse in downtown
Attending the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Hot Springs.-
is home to the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Each year, celebrities like Mario Lopez, Jim Belushi, Mark Martin and Bo Derek marshal the event.
Wearing a kilt to the Scottish festival at Lyon College in
Watching the rice harvest near Weiner on a cool fall day. - Arkansas produces far more rice than any other state in the nation. Riceland, based in Stuttgart, is the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice and rice products.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
on Lake Hamilton when the tulips are blooming.
Attending the annual Slovak Oyster Supper in February.
Attending the annual Gillett Coon Supper in January.
Waiting for a seat at
The Pancake Shop
on a Sunday morning in Hot Springs.
Watching the toad races during Toad Suck Daze in
Having a Friday night catfish dinner at The Whippet in