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18 Charming Small Towns in Arkansas That Should Be on Your Bucket List

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Arkansas is too often overlooked as a vacation destination, but before you book that tropical getaway, we suggest you take a gander at what the Natural State has to offer. From breathtaking natural scenery to bustling downtowns, here are the most charming small towns in Arkansas that definitely deserve a spot on your bucket list. 

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charming small towns in arkansas batesgille
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1. Batesville

Located along the banks of the White River in northern-central Arkansas, Batesville is the most populous town in the county and the oldest city in the state, which means there’s plenty of history to take in. If you visit in April, be sure to check out the Scottish heritage festival at Lyon College—a lively celebration of the city’s roots that includes bagpipe players, dancers and authentic Scottish food. It’s also worth noting that the gorgeous natural scenery can be enjoyed at any time of year from scenic spots like Bayou Polk Park, and family-friendly activities abound during the summer months (think: water parks and swimming holes).

2. Van Buren

Van Buren, the second largest city in the Fort Smith metropolitan area, is a quaint destination that boasts a bustling downtown district with restaurants, art galleries and a large number of antique shops where tourists can find an array of rare and collectible items. The town is also home to the Drennen-Scott historic site, as well as the King Opera House, a meticulously restored Victorian-era opera house that hosts a wide range of theatrical performances, plays and concerts. Finally, those looking to take a break from the city scene can head to the Lee Creek Hiking Trails to visit fascinating geological sites and enjoy scenic views of the Lee Creek Reservoir.

charming small towns in arkansas bella vista

3. Bella Vista

Situated in the beautiful Ozark mountains, Bella Vista is a quiet town with several cultural attractions, including the Museum of Native American History, the Veterans Wall of Honor and the Bella Vista Museum, which features artifacts and exhibits relating to the town’s unique history. Another popular tourist destination is the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel—a glass chapel, built by an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, that features breathtaking gothic arches in a light-drenched space. Perhaps the most compelling reason to visit Bella Vista, however, is the incredible natural beauty of the surroundings. To experience the splendor of the rural setting, we suggest hiking along the Tanyard Creek Nature Trails; and a visit to War Eagle Cavern, a gorgeous living cave, is well worth the 45-minute drive if your itinerary permits.

charming small towns in arkansas eureka springs
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4. Eureka Springs

Located in the Ozark mountains, Eureka Springs is a charming town known for its perfectly preserved Victorian architecture—historic structures that currently house an impressive selection of boutiques and art galleries. If shopping isn’t a top priority (we see you, nature lovers), you might be excited to learn that the whole town is built around a namesake natural hot spring—a scenic spot where visitors can enjoy an outdoor spa day in thermal waters before exploring the surrounding caves, caverns and hiking trails.

charming small towns in arkansas rusellville

5. Russellville

Russellville, a cozy town that borders Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas River, is an ideal destination for outdoorsy types. For starters, it’s a stone’s throw from Lake Dardanelle State Park and the Ozark St. Francis National Forests, both of which boast incredibly beautiful hiking trails; and, given its proximity to two different bodies of water, it should come as no surprise that canoeing, kayaking and fishing rank among the most popular outdoor activities on offer in Russellville. (Russellville is widely known as the go-to spot for bass fishing, in particular.) The town itself also has 14 different parks with fields and facilities for recreational activities ranging from soccer to skateboarding.

charming small towns in arkansas north little rock

6. North Little Rock

Located in Central Arkansas, North Little Rock is a quiet refuge for travelers who want a charming small town experience, as well as easy access to the capital city. Local activities include hiking and biking on any number of the town’s scenic trails, which run alongside the Arkansas River; strolling through Burns park, a 1,700-acre gem that boasts playgrounds, trails, golf courses and even an amusement park. Finally, there’s the Old Mill—a gorgeous water mill from the 1800s that you might recognize from the opening scene of Gone With the Wind.

charming small towns in arkansas el dorado
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7. El Dorado

Located near the Louisiana Border, El Dorado is a 1920s boomtown with charming Southern vibes and a bustling main street, lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Plus, there’s more to El Dorado than the downtown strip. You can catch an outdoor concert at the Murphy Arts District, soak up some culture at the South Arkansas Art Center and Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, check out the wildlife at the South Arkansas Arboretum, or simply enjoy some leisure time at one of El Dorado’s many parks and recreation centers. In other words, there are no shortage of ways to stay busy in this small town. 

charming small towns in arkansas mountain view
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8. Mountain View

If a taste of traditional Arkansas life is what you seek, a trip to Mountain View fits the bill—namely because this Stone County town in Northern Arkansas takes great pride in preserving Ozark culture, including its strong ties to folk music. In fact, Mountain View is considered to be the folk music capital of the world—and there’s a good chance you’ll get to experience the regional sound firsthand if you head to the town’s music store, where impromptu concerts are commonplace. We also recommend touring the many natural attractions that the town has to offer, particularly the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area—a local park prized for its rolling hills, caverns, streams and waterfalls.

charming small towns in arkansas rogers
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9. Rogers

Sightseeing opportunities and outdoor activities are abundant in Rogers, a small Ozarks town in Benton County. Some notable landmarks to visit include the historic and incredibly picturesque War Eagle Mill, the War Eagle Cavern and the Daisy Airgun Museum, a small museum in the heart of the town’s historic district that features a collection of fascinating vintage artifacts and antiques. Rogers is also home to the Hobbs State Park Conservation Area—a testament to the natural beauty of the region that cannot be missed. Bonus: There are numerous local breweries and top-notch restaurants in town—you know, in case you want to end your day of exploring with a frosty beer and a hearty meal.

charming small towns in arkansas fairfield bay
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10. Fairfield Bay

Fairfield Bay is a lakeside resort town with a fully operational marina and gorgeous public beaches. As such, it should come as no surprise that this Arkansas locale is a popular destination for aquatic activities, such as water skiing, boating and fishing. What you might not have known is that Fairfield Bay is also a golfer’s paradise where fans of the sport can while away the hours playing on one of the fourteen elite courses that comprise the Arkansas Golf Trail.

charming small towns in arkansas ozark
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11. Ozark

This small community is situated in the Arkansas River Valley at the Southern edge of the Ozark Mountain Range and is one of several towns that comprise the Ozark Gateway Region—a vibrant area where folk culture and natural beauty intersect. Cruise the scenic byways, spend a day tasting wine, marvel at the enchanting beauty of the wilderness from the banks of the Mulberry River…and when that’s done, stop by Beatles park to romp around a quirky public space—complete with sculptures and statues—dedicated to the beloved British invaders. (Fun fact: Ozark is the only town in the state that the band ever visited together.)

charming small towns in arkansas paris
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12. Paris

It might not be Paris, France but one could argue that this quiet Arkansas town is every bit as romantic—particularly if you pay a visit to Mount Magazine State Park, which boasts the tallest peak in the entire state. (Needless to say, the panoramic views from the summit will sweep you off your feet.) And yes, this town does have its own miniature recreation of the Eiffel Tower, too.

charming small towns in arkansas murfreesboro
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13. Murfreesboro

You can’t plan a trip to Murfreesboro, Arkansas without designating a day to dig for bling at Crater of Diamonds State Park, the only place in the world where the public can search for diamonds in their original volcanic source. When the treasure hunt is complete, be sure to check out Daisy State Park at Lake Gleeson, a scenic spot that’s popular for camping, fishing and kayaking.

charming small towns in arkansas siloam springs
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14. Siloam Springs

Located near the Oklahoma border, Siloam Springs is a small town that checks all the boxes. At the center of town, you’ll find a winning combination of historic architecture and modern day entertainment that includes boutiques, trendy restaurants and art galleries. Another unique feature is Sager Creek, which runs through downtown Siloam Springs, serving up natural beauty to passersby and even rapids for the more adventurous visitors.

charming small towns in arkansas altus
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15. Altus

Calling all winos: Altus is located in the heart of Arkansas wine country, so viticulture is a pretty big deal in this small town which happens to be home to four separate vineyards. Wondering what to do when you visit? Well, this one is kind of a no-brainer—just swirl and sip, whilst drinking in the spectacular view from the foothills of the Ozark mountains.

charming small towns in arkansas hot springs
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16. Hot Springs

If you’re in need of a spa retreat, Hot Springs is an ideal destination. This small city in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas is renowned for its (you guessed it) natural hot springs, which for centuries have been believed to have healing powers. If you want to destress, head to Bathhouse Row for a soak and then meditate in the magical woodland setting of Garvan Gardens. You’ll feel renewed, we promise.

charming small towns in arkansas fayetteville
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17. Fayetteville

Home to the University of Arkansas and among the top five best places to live according to U.S. News and World Report, Fayetteville is also considered the entertainment capital of Northwest Arkansas. Most of the action takes place on Dickson Street, the town’s colorful main strip, where you can find bistros, nightclubs, galleries and the Waltons Art Center, a cultural center and performing arts venue that attracts artists from all over the world. Fayetteville is also home to one of the nation’s last drive-in movie theaters, as well as the pristine 44-acre landscape of the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks.

charming small towns in arkansas mountainburg
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18. Mountainburg

Rolling hills, lush valleys, lakes and streams are all part of Mountainburg’s beautiful terrain. For awe-inspiring panoramic views, Artist Point—a stop on the Boston Mountains Scenic Loop—makes the top of the list. That said, there are many state parks that highlight the natural beauty of the area too (plus, a very cool dinosaur park) . Bottom line: Visit Mountainburg for a rugged outdoor experience that includes hiking, fishing and picture perfect surroundings.