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See Arkansas First: Artistic weekend getaway destinations in the Ouachitas

Talimena Scenic Byway

Talimena Scenic Byway

When the hectic pace of everyday life leaves your soul thirsty, make your way to the Ouachitas for some art and culture. Everything from fine art to films is available for visitors to enjoy in one of Arkansas’s most treasured weekend getaway destinations.

On the way:

Traveling east from the Oklahoma border to Mena, the Talimena Scenic Drive on Arkansas 88 Scenic Byway takes drivers across the Ouachita National Forest, passing through Queen Wilhelmina State Park. The route offers mountain vistas unsurpassed in mid-America of forested peaks, valleys, lakes and streams. The drive is especially picturesque when the surrounding mountains are clad in spring or autumn foliage and when it sits above clouds and fog in the lower valleys.

Where to stay:

Lookout Point, Hot Springs

Lookout Point, Hot Springs

To experience the art of nature, stay at Hot Springs Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, featuring a beautiful view of Lake Hamilton. Former visitors were not the least bit surprised Southern Living named the bed-and-breakfast “Best of the Best” in 2011. Guests wake up each morning to a hearty breakfast made by the innkeepers using herbs grown in the garden on site and a custom blend of coffee.

If the art of architecture is more to your taste, the most prominent building in the heart of historic downtown Hot Springs National Park is the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa. The Arlington has all of the ambiance and hospitality of a traditional, grand old Southern hotel, as well as full spa service and the Thermal Bath House, two fabulous restaurants and a national park outside any door. In the heart of historic downtown, art galleries, unique restaurants, charming antique shops and great entertainment are just steps away, making Hot Springs one of Arkansas’s top weekend getaway destinations.

What to do:

Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs

Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs

Stroll in historic Hot Springs, where some of the finest contemporary art in America is on display in the galleries of the Victorian downtown district, which stay open late for Gallery Walk the first Friday of the month.

Every June, the Hot Springs Music Festival brings together 200 international musicians to produce more than 20 concerts and over 250 open rehearsals of symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, choral works, chamber music and master classes.

Since its inception, more than 400,000 people have participated in the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute’s educational and cultural activities and special programs. Each October, emphasis is on documentary film as an art form, as well as a means to promote critical thinking on real life issues. Through symposia, forums, discussion groups and teaching, HSDFI brings cultural and social knowledge to all ages from the work of gifted film professionals.

Located on the shores of Lake Hamilton, Garvan Woodland Gardens is a 210-acre botanical garden containing streams, waterfalls, stone bridges, native plantings and a bird sanctuary and is one of the most popular weekend getaway destinations for nature lovers. The Evans Children's Garden provides a special natural play area just for kids. The glorious Anthony Chapel at Garvan Woodland Gardens on site is a striking glass-and-wood structure popular for weddings.

The Ouachitas aren’t the only place in Arkansas you’ll find fun family weekend getaways. Check out the other regions of the Natural State to find more weekend getaway destinations.