2023 Attractions for Northwest Arkansas
The 45,000-SF project in Bentonville is aimed at children and families, emphasizing interactive art and science exhibits, including a climbable canopy structure, a "tinkering studio" for young inventors and an acre of outdoor space.
Travel through the Boston Mountains on vintage rail cars, trestles over 125 ft. high, and the 1882 Winslow tunnel. Itineraries include Springdale to Van Buren with a layover for lunch and shopping, Van Buren to Winslow, and Fort Smith to Winslow. Specials, such as the Christmas Train event, are offered throughout the year. Private charters and group discounts are available.
One of the most scenic drives in the nation, Scenic 7 runs from the Louisiana border to Bull Shoals Lake near the Missouri state line, passing through both the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains. Numerous resorts, attractions and scenic overlooks are found along its route. Car and Driver magazine named a portion of Scenic 7 Byway as one of the top 10 driving experiences in the United States.
The third Arkansas Game and Fish Commission nature center opened in July 2006. The center was built on former Fort Chaffee land in Fort Smith next to Wells Lake, a popular spot for fishing and picnics. It includes a gift shop, classroom, multipurpose room, and a wildlife workshop. There is a wheelchair-accessible trail with wayside exhibit signs highlighting the environment and history of the lake and surrounding property. A 1200-gallon aquarium contains fish and turtles from the Arkansas River.
In the Arkansas River Valley rich soil gives life to vineyards. In and around the town of Altus, Wiederkehr Village wineries offer free tours, wine tastings and special events. Visitors to the area can also learn more about the region's coal mining history at the Altus Heritage House Museum at 106 N. Franklin (479) 468-4684. In Paris, Cowie Wine Cellars is also home to the Arkansas Historic Wine Museum.
A glittering gem of northwest Arkansas, the lake's 28,000 acres of clear water attract thousands of water sports lovers, fishermen and birdwatchers. The lake is surrounded by forests, tall bluffs and meadows crisscrossed by hiking trails. Campgrounds, resorts, marinas, outfitters, restaurants and shops serve the area, which is located in the Ozark Highlands near the cities of Rogers, Eureka Springs, Springdale and Fayetteville. Trout fishing is popular on the White River below Beaver Dam.
Located on 86 picturesque acres in northeast Fayetteville, the garden opened to the public in 2007. Situated on Ark. 265, the attraction features themed gardens and the region’s only butterfly house. Each garden highlights local artists and sculptors. Wedding and reception facilities are available. In addition to the Carl A. Totemeier Horticulture Center, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks will eventually include an amphitheater, boat rental facility, exhibit gallery, observatory cafe, education center, conservatory, special children's area, hiking and biking trails and boardwalks.
The country’s first national river (1972), the Buffalo River flows roughly 135 miles and includes nearly 95,000 acres of public land along its corridor. It has been the topic of a full-length book, the subject of a National Geographic feature article, and the cornerstone for the state's environmental movement. The stream descends nearly 2000 feet through layers of sandstone, limestone and chert. Its many bluffs are the highest in all the Ozark Mountains. Hidden away, ready for discovery, are other geologic marvels -- springs, caves, waterfalls, natural bridges, and box-like canyons where trails are abundant. Numerous outfitters service the river, and there are several campgrounds, cabins, motels and other lodging options nearby. While spring and early summer are the prime floating times, the lower section of the Buffalo can be floated year-round.
Chaffee Crossing is a 7,000-acre resource of residential, commercial and industrial development in Fort Smith and Barling. Several natural and historical sites provide prime locations for family activities such as picnics and get-togethers. The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center sits on 170 acres overlooking Wells Lake. The area is accessible for fishing, hiking and other outdoor recreation. There are miles and miles of biking and jogging trails. Golfers enjoy the nine-hole Deer Trails Fort Chaffee Golf Course. Retail space and wedding facilities are also available. The museum district includes the Fort Chaffee Barbershop Museum, Enchanted Doll Museum, Museum of Chaffee History, and Vietnam Veterans Museum.
This 1930s English-style bungalow was the first home of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Showcasing the life and times of the Clintons during their years in Fayetteville, the museum features photographic and memorabilia displays, including vintage campaign materials, exhibits on loan from the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, and a gift shop. The backyard and west side of the house are filled with flowers, shrubs, and trees associated with the first ladies of the United States. The museum is available for public tours, small meetings, receptions and weddings.
Located in Bentonville, this premier Museum unites the power of art with the beauty of landscape. The permanent collection explores the story of America and features American masterworks dating from the Colonial era to contemporary times. Additionally, the Museum displays a changing array of special exhibitions. Crystal Bridges also contains art and education classrooms and studios, an art reference library, a restaurant, and a store.
An Art Trail features several outdoor sculptures, including a James Turrell Skyspace. More than three miles of pedestrian and bicycle trails link the Museum’s 120-acre park and gardens to downtown Bentonville, which is home to boutiques, art galleries, great dining venues, the Walton Visitor Center, and the new 21C Museum Hotel.
Situated on 120 wooded acres in Bentonville, Arkansas, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton chairs the Museum’s board of directors. The building was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie and opened to the public on 11-11-11. Crystal Bridges’ growing collection spans five centuries of American masterworks from the Colonial era to the current day. The permanent collection is enhanced by a variety of temporary exhibitions.
Crystal Bridges offers year-round programming for all ages, including lectures, art-making workshops, films, gallery talks, and special events. The Museum also offers professional development for teachers and educational programming for K-12 school groups designed to fit with Common Core standards.
Nestled deep in a picturesque Ozark valley, the park features nearly 150 campsites, rustic cabins, a picnic area, a pavilion and miles of hiking trails leading through the surrounding Ozark National Forest. Selected as a park site in the 1930s, Lee Creek Valley provided materials for the Civilian Conservation Corps to build the park's rustic-style wood and stone cabins and other structures, which today offer modern conveniences. A mountain stream forms a peaceful 8-acre lake before cascading over a native stone dam. Hiking and backpacking trails access backcountry areas of the park and caves, crevices and bluff overlooks awaiting exploration.
A thriving, city experience in the heart of a college town, Fayetteville's downtown district features the bustling entertainment hub of Dickson Street, the historic Downtown Square and the legendary University of Arkansas campus. Must-sees are the seasonal Farmers' Market, Walton Arts Centers, and the award-winning Fayetteville Public Library. Aside from the unique shopping opportunities and excellent restaurants and bars, the area also hosts a number of annual festivals and events, including Bikes, Blues and BBQ (www.BikesBluesAndBBQ.org) and the Lights of the Ozarks.
"America's Victorian Village" was named one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs first drew visitors because of its natural springs with purported healing powers. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the city became a popular spa resort, and today its entire downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places. While baths and spa treatments are still available, the city is now nationally renowned for its art and well-preserved Victorian era architecture. Eureka Springs is packed with attractions such as gardens, tour caves, an exotic wildlife ranch and The Great Passion Play, which depicts the last week of Christ's life on earth, and is the nation's most attended outdoor drama. Unique boutiques offer antiques, fine art, contemporary and vintage clothing, handmade crafts and more. A portion of history is uniquely preserved through ghost tours at two of several historic hotels, the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, and Basin Park Hotel. An Art Colony offers demonstrations and art for sale.
This self-guided beer tour lets visitors and residents experience local breweries and engage with brewmasters while learning about their craft. The trail has more than 10 breweries in Fayetteville and surrounding cities for a complete tour of the craft beer scene.
You can pick up an ale trail passport for free at the Fayetteville Visitors Center located on the downtown square at 21 S. Block Ave., or at any of the breweries. When you visit a brewery, get your passport stamped and receive a commemorative souvenir.
The City of Fort Smith was named by True West magazine as the #1 Top Ten True Western Towns for 2013 and has remained in the Top Ten each year since. The rich history of the region and America is preserved on the grounds of the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Located in downtown Fort Smith, the site embraces the remains of two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. It commemorates a significant phase of America’s westward expansion, and today stands as a reminder of 80 turbulent years in the history of Federal Indian policy. It includes Judge” Parker’s replicated courtroom, “Hell on the Border” jail, and gallows.
A former bordello serves as the city’s visitor center, named Miss Laura’s Visitor Center. And the Fort Smith Museum of History, located in the 1907 Atkinson-Williams Warehouse Building, has been preserving local stories for more than a century. Exciting for the future is the U.S. Marshals Museum, also to be located downtown on the riverfront. And this is just a touch of what makes Fort Smith a true western town.
New for this historic town is The Unexpected, a mural festival bringing urban contemporary art to Fort Smith. It has taken place the past three years. Public murals created by international artists can be seen on buildings within a 10-block area downtown.
The site, located in downtown Fort Smith, embraces the remains of two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. A building that now houses the park's visitors center was first used in the 1840s as barracks for Army troops sent to keep peace and administer government policies over Native American Tribes. In 1872 the building became a federal courthouse and its jail soon became known as "Hell on the Border." The historic courthouse and jail building have been restored and, today, are part of a visitors center with exhibits that focus on: Fort Smith's military history from 1817 to 1871; Judge" Isaac C. Parker and the federal court's impact on Indian Territory; U.S. Deputy Marshals and outlaws; Federal Indian policy; and the Federal Indian Removal Act including the Trail of Tears. The park also contains a reconstruction of the 1886 gallows on the original site used for executions from 1873 to 1896. Maintained trails lead visitors through this urban park and along the site of the original fort and the Arkansas River.
A 12,056-acre natural park with limited development. Here students, family and friends can enjoy informative exhibits, relax overlooking the wildlife viewing area, attend educational programming and explore one of the adjacent hiking trails. Other activities currently located throughout the park include a Conservation Area with four hiking trails: Pigeon Roost with primitive campsites near Beaver Lake (8.2 mi.); Historic Van Winkle Trail with ADA accessibility and interpretive panels (.5 mi.); Shaddox Hollow Nature Trail (1.5 mi.); and the 24-mile Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail for hikers, non-motorized bikes and equestrians. A 100-yard public shooting range, permitted seasonal hunting, and interpretive programming are available. Restrooms are located at user-friendly locations.
A 17,000-square-foot visitors center features an exhibit gallery, wildlife viewing area, two rooms for group field studies, orientation room with a 65-inch LCD screen, murals, and gift shop. Interactive displays are offered in English and Spanish. A replica of a karst cave is inset into a wall, and an example of an Ozark bluff with water flowing over it is featured in the main entry area. Exhibits include a full mount deer and black bear, metal three-dimensional sculptures of birds of prey, and examples of endemic flora and fauna. Structurally, the design is representative of the old Ozark clerestory barn with wide rafters and high ceilings. It is also a green building and is the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited state parks building and one of the few in Arkansas. A large water feature representing a pond and flowing creek wraps from the front to the back of the visitor center.
A restored turn-of-the-century brothel now serves as Fort Smith's Visitor Center. Tours are offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Miss Laura's is reportedly the only former house of prostitution on the National Register of Historic Places. Also catch the trolley here for tours of the historic district.
Mount Magazine State Park, the highest point in Arkansas and one that affords spectacular vistas, rises from the Arkansas River Valley near Paris to an elevation of 2,753 feet above sea level. The park offers hang gliding, rappelling, camping, hiking trails and a visitors center that features interpretive exhibits on the area's history and flora and fauna. The 90,000-square-foot lodge and conference center opened in 2005. (479) 963-8502.
Take a 14,000 year journey through America's past. Exhibits are laid out in chronological order starting with the first people through the early European influence. View some of the finest ancient artifacts of early man: brilliant headdresses, artistic effigy vessels, the famous Sweetwater Biface, and an Ice Age Wooly Mammoth. Audio wands are available for self-guided tours.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals
A Minor League Baseball team based in Springdale, the team is a member of the Texas League, and serves as the Double-A affiliate to the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals season consists of 140-game schedule, with 70 home games and 70 road games and is five months long, beginning in early April and finishing Labor Day weekend. Typical game times are 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Special event game times will occur at various times throughout the season. The stadium is centrally located off of Interstate 540 at the southwest corner of 56th and Watkins.
This 178-mile trail winds along mountaintops and bluffs, past waterfalls and over streams, while passing through some of the most remote and scenic country in the Ozark National Forest and the Buffalo National River. The trail is used for day hikes as well as weekend and extended backpacking trips. The national forest contains campgrounds, picnic areas, cabins, wilderness areas such as East Fork, Hurricane Creek, Leatherwood and Richland Creek and many additional hiking trails.
The site of one of the largest Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River, Pea Ridge marks the successful culmination of the Union's effort to secure control of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and protect the arsenal at St. Louis, which made easier the supply of General Grant's Vicksburg campaign. The park encompasses 4,300 acres and includes a seven-mile, self-guided tour with 10 stops featuring wayside exhibits, a nine-mile horse trail and seven-mile hiking trail. It also has a visitors center, museum and bookstore, and a 30-minute film of Battle of Pea Ridge. The park is located on U.S. 62 in Pea Ridge.
The 1862 Battle of Prairie Grove was the last time two armies of almost equal strength faced each other for supremacy in northwest Arkansas. When the Confederate Army withdrew, it was clear Missouri and northwest Arkansas would remain in Federal hands. Today, historic homes are located on the 838-acre Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, which has a self-guided walking tour and driving tour. The park's visitors center has a gift shop, museum and bookstore. Pavilions, a picnic area and a playground are also at the park. The Hindman Hall Museum at the park features new exhibits detailing and interpreting the Battle of Prairie Grove.
Dedicated to the study, interpretation and preservation of the rich history of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains, the museum offers lectures, films, classes, tours and frequently changing exhibits. It contains a significant research library and a collection that includes tens of thousands of artifacts and 150,000 photographs illustrating Ozark life. The handicapped-accessible museum campus of more than two wooded acres includes seven historic buildings ranging from the 1830s to the 1930s. The museum is located at 118 W. Johnson, Springdale.
Established in 1878 as a Benedictine Monastery, the historic compound now serves as a boy’s college prep school. A self-guided walking tour brochure of the park-like grounds and gothic-style architecture is available at the Coury House. Guided and group tours are available with prior notice.
Home of the original “Bluebird of Happiness,” this unique Art Park contains walking paths, Pottery Gallery, Blown Glass Showroom, Art Guild of American Arts and Crafts, gallery/coffee shop, stone labyrinth, mural garden, sculpture garden, wizard’s cave, fountain lake, and classes. Glass blowing demonstrations (call for demo schedule) are available. The compound also contains picnic tables and a gazebo.
The Muse Gallery and Coffee House at Terra Studios
Features over 40 regional crafts people. Coffee house has Artisan breads and pastries from the Ozark Natural Breads Bakery, culinary art goodies from chef Susan Lovett, and Arsaga's fresh roasted coffees. Terra Studios is home of the original Bluebird of Happiness.
In Dardanelle, Mount Nebo State Park is a Civilian Conservation Corps-built park with cabins, tennis courts, a swimming pool, campsites, a visitors center, a hang gliding area, group pavilions and 14 miles of hiking trails. (479) 229-3655. Information on all 52 state parks is available at www.ArkansasStateParks.com.
Located along a beautifully restored Victorian Main Street, the district is composed of six blocks of art galleries, antique shops, restaurants and historical attractions. From specialty stores to warehouses, shoppers can search for hard-to-find collectibles, one-of-a-kind gifts, original art, local Ozark crafts, home decor and extraordinary antiques. Van Buren is also the southern terminus of the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad that offers patrons Ozark Mountain excursions aboard refurbished passenger cars.
The Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers is the largest permanent outdoor amphitheater in the state. It pulls in big name acts - Miranda Lambert, Steely Dan, The Avett Brothers - for celebrity concerts. Seating capacity of 7,000, (3,000 covered and 4,000 lawn seats), great sight lines, air-conditioned restrooms, and largest stage house in the state. Set in a vibrant commercial district with restaurants, shopping outlets, hotel accommodations.
The origin and growth of the nation's largest corporation is encapsulated at this Bentonville museum housed in the building that gave birth to the retail giant. In 1962, Sam Walton opened his first discount store in Rogers at 8th and Walnut streets and employed 25. Today, Walmart is one of the world's largest companies. The museum is an educational and informative facility that interprets this American retailing success story.