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10 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways in Arkansas

Written by Brad Lane
May 22, 2020

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From Hot Springs in the Ouachita Mountains to romantic getaways in downtown Little Rock, weekend trips in Arkansas offer a true escape. You don't have to drive far in the state to find somewhere special to stay. Cozy accommodations flourish in Eureka Springs, and the city of Mountain View delivers with rustic retreats. Even more cultural flavor is prevalent at places like Bentonville and El Dorado.

The great outdoors is on display throughout many of the best weekend getaways in Arkansas. Scenic backdrops, including the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains, lend to activities like mountain biking and hiking. The Buffalo National River is also fully accessible with a weekend getaway in Jasper. For a less active vacation, these fantastic mountain landscapes offer a tranquil scene to appreciate from a front porch.

History runs deep throughout Arkansas and many of the best small towns for a weekend getaway, like Van Buren, combine this history with a modern touch. Visitors will find contemporary storefronts and tasty restaurants in these charming historic districts.

Choose the ideal place to visit for your next short break from our list of the best weekend getaways in Arkansas.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Hot Springs

Aerial view of Hot Springs
Aerial view of Hot Springs

Less than an hour's drive from Little Rock, the city of Hot Springs is world-renowned for its steaming attractions. Within the Ouachita Mountains, the city's long history of tourism stems from underground springs that supply a rich collection of thermal baths.

One of the nation's smallest national parks, Hot Springs National Park, encompasses the north end of the city. The national park aids in preserving historical places like Bathhouse Row.

Several opportunities to soak the weekend away exist in Hot Springs. One of the best places for a thermal bath is the historic Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa on Bathhouse Row. This steaming bathhouse also offers a spectacular place to spend the night. The Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center is a recommended first stop for exploring the surrounding national park.

It's not just hot springs that make the city an excellent spot for a weekend getaway in Arkansas. The creative culture of the town and lush woodlands surrounding Hot Springs also draw tourists from across the state.

The Garvan Woodland Gardens are a popular place to visit south of downtown on the Lake Hamilton shoreline. Within the gardens, the Anthony Chapel provides a sanctuary surrounded by nature.

Accommodation: Best Resorts in Hot Springs

2. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Historic Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville
Historic Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville

In Northwest Arkansas, Fayetteville is a historic college town with many reasons to visit throughout the year. The food scene in the Historic Downtown Square of Fayetteville offers contemporary tastes to explore. The entire district also buzzes with energy well into the night. Other downtown attractions include boutique storefronts and several live music venues that amplify the sound of Arkansas.

Recreation abounds in this city surrounded by the Ozark and Boston Mountains. Hiking and mountain biking are two of the most common things to do outside Fayetteville, especially at places like Kessler Mountain Regional Park. Paved biking trails also wind their way throughout the city. For a family fun getaway, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a short drive away.

Fayetteville is home to the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Razorbacks. Football and basketball events at the university draw thousands of fans to Fayetteville.

Several hotels in Fayetteville offer places to stay for the large number of visitors the city receives each year. For one of the best places to stay near downtown and Razorback sporting venues, the Graduate Fayetteville is within walking distance to it all.

3. Mountain View, Ozark Mountains, Blanchard Springs

Blanchard Springs in the Ozark National Forest near Mountain View
Blanchard Springs in the Ozark National Forest near Mountain View

Deep in the Ozark Mountains in the north-central part of the state, this mountain town is all about folk music. Home to the annual Arkansas Folk Festival since the 1960s, the city's musical history is on display at Ozark Folk Center State Park. Traditional and contemporary folk music still rings throughout the streets in Mountain View. Visitors can also find a variety of local restaurants and late-night establishments to go with the soundtrack.

Alongside cultural appeal, the natural surroundings of Mountain View entice weekend visits. The nearby Blanchard Springs Recreation Area is a top spot in the state for hiking and waterfall enjoyment. The 50-mile Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail is also accessible from Blanchard Springs. This nationally recognized single-track offers some of the best mountain biking in the state.

For those looking to stay indoors in Mountain View, the city offers an array of charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations. Optimal for a couples getaway, places like Wildflower Bed and Breakfast On the Square offer quiet rooms and close access to downtown. The Ozark Country Inn Bed and Breakfast offers similar downtown accommodations in a well-preserved Victorian home.

4. Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs
Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs

In the far northwest corner of Arkansas, Eureka Springs is a haven for weekend travelers from across the state. The entire downtown district of Eureka Springs is on the National Register of Historic Places. This antique appeal blends nicely with the many modern restaurants and boutique shops in downtown.

Downtown Eureka Springs is also the central spot for annual events like the Ozark Mountain Music Festival and the Christmas Parade of Lights.

The great outdoors adds more reason to escape to Eureka Springs. The sprawling Beaver Lake nearby offers lakeside accommodations, including the Beaver Lakefront Cabins. Lake Leatherwood also provides a nearby watery landscape to explore and over 15 miles of hiking trails. For a great natural escape right in the city, Harmon Park offers a tree-filled six acres near downtown.

An iconic place to stay in Eureka Springs is the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, one of the best resorts in Arkansas. This historic accommodation has a long history with housing a wide range of guests. The hotel today stands as a symbol of Ozark Mountain hospitality and lends instant access to downtown. The New Moon Spa at the hotel offers the perfect way to unwind on a romantic getaway in Eureka Springs.

5. El Dorado

Rialto Theater in El Dorado, AR
Rialto Theater in El Dorado, AR | Steve Snodgrass / photo modified

Born from an oil boom in the 1920s, El Dorado still retains much of its prosperous past. A downtown renaissance has reinvented the city over the last decade, and today El Dorado is a tourism and cultural capital. A striking 1928 Union County Courthouse stands at the heart of the vibrant historic district in El Dorado. Several modern storefronts and local eateries surround this stately building.

This historic downtown district in El Dorado also includes the Murphy Arts District. A top spot in the city to catch live music, the Murphy Art District campus also features restaurants and other artistic venues. The nearby Newtown House Museum allows visitors to take a step back into El Dorado's past and into a mansion built in the 1840s.

The Union Square Guest Quarters offers the only downtown accommodations in El Dorado. A popular place for civic events and gatherings, the Guest Quarters feature luxurious suites in historical accommodations. Great for a couples getaway, the guest quarters are also within walking distance of several date night activities in downtown El Dorado.

6. Little Rock

State Capitol building, Little Rock
State Capitol building, Little Rock

The largest city in Arkansas makes for a great weekend getaway. Brimming with historical and cultural appeal, Little Rock blends a storied past with modern attractions. Some of the top places to visit in Little Rock include the Clinton Presidential Library and the River Market District. History is further on display in the city at places like Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

Aside from the city attractions, Little Rock is also surrounded by stunning nature to explore. Pinnacle Mountain State Park is less than a 30-minute drive from the city and offers over 15 miles of hiking trails. The neighboring Maumelle Park is even closer to the city and features a riverside campground. For more natural scenes close to Little Rock, the scenic OId Mill is fifteen miles to the south with a postcard setting to enjoy the day.

Alongside a marble State Capitol building, this capital city is home to many great places to stay. Hotels in Little Rock range from budget-friendly to downright decadent. The city's best five-star hotel, the Capital Hotel, has an unbeatable downtown location and touch of class.

The Burgundy Hotel, also in downtown, is one of the most romantic hotels for a couple's getaway in Little Rock.

7. Jasper

Buffalo River near Jasper
Buffalo River near Jasper

To escape to a charming small town in Arkansas, the town of Jasper delivers with postcard settings. Its location on the Little Buffalo River and near the Buffalo National River makes getting on the water a fun thing to do in Jasper. Several outfitters in the area offer boat rentals and guided tour opportunities.

Campgrounds are also accessible near Jasper. The Steel Creek Campground is a popular spot to camp near massive limestone cliff walls.

Fifteen miles west of Jasper, the Boxley Valley Historic District is another popular place for tourists. A jumping-off point for exploring the Buffalo River, Boxley Valley is also a prime spot to see massive elk roaming the river valley.

South of Jasper, the Arkansas Grand Canyon provides even more natural appeal and one of the most scenic drives in the state.

It's not all above-ground attractions near Jasper. The nearby Mystic Caverns provides an underground world to explore 10 miles away.

Jasper also caters to foodies of the region with local storefronts like the Low Gap Cafe and the Blue Mountain Bakery. Oddities and antiques are also prevalent in Jasper and make for a fun shopping experience.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Jasper

8. Bentonville

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville | Alexandratx / photo modified

A mecca for mountain biking in the northwest corner of the state, Bentonville is also a cultural hot spot for arts and entertainment. Surrounded by the Ozark Mountains, Bentonville's biggest claim to fame is being the birthplace of Walmart. Like the retail giant, the cultural footprint of Bentonville continues to expand today.

The historic downtown district is the central place for activity in Bentonville. Downtown visitors can check out the Walmart Museum housed in the original Walton's 5&10. Several unique restaurants and boutique storefronts also define the area. Downtown is also the central spot for city events, including Farmers Markets and First Friday celebrations.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is the crown-jewel cultural spot in Bentonville. This expansive museum encompasses eye-catching architecture and a wide array of American artists. The 21C Museum Hotel is one of the closest places to stay near Crystal Bridges, and also one of the top places to stay in the city.

For outdoor enjoyment in Bentonville, mountain biking trails are easily accessible from all sides of the city. Fun for hiking and running, too, paved trails like the 36-mile Razorback Greenway connect to Fayetteville to the south. For single-track attraction, Coler Park features over 15 miles of dirt trails.

9. Van Buren

Main Street in Van Buren
Main Street in Van Buren | Clinton Steeds / photo modified

In western Arkansas, near the Oklahoma border, Van Buren provides small-town charm that is perfect for a weekend getaway. The six blocks of historic downtown Van Buren are the first place to head when visiting. Alongside local restaurants and entertainment venues, downtown storefronts in Van Buren feature antique collectibles and one-of-a-kind art displays.

The King Opera House in downtown is a great place to catch a show. For historical interest, the 1838 Drennen-Scott House near the city center is a well-preserved house museum that is open to the public. Bordering downtown and the Arkansas River, Lee Creek Park offers hiking trails and access to the water.

A handful of name-brand hotels surround the downtown district and offer a comfortable place to stay. Two of the best of these hotels, Hampton Inn and Best Western Van Buren Inn, offer dependable accommodations at a family-friendly price.

For nearby adventures from Van Buren, visitors can visit "where the new south meets the old west" at Fort Smith, only five miles away.

10. Murfreesboro, Arkansas

Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro
Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro

One of the biggest draws to this small town in southwest Arkansas is the chance to discover diamonds. Two miles south of Murfreesboro, the aptly named Crater of Diamonds State Park is filled with sparkling appeal. More than 33,000 diamonds have been found in the 37 acres of plowed volcanic field in the state park. Visitors keep anything they can find at this unique state park of Arkansas.

People all over the world come to Murfreesboro and the adjacent state park. The area contains several themed lodging options for amateur gem seekers and mineralogists alike.

The Diamonds Old West Hotel & Cabins provides one of the most unique overnight experiences near the state park. Fun for families, this Old West hotel features modern comforts and replica furnishings.

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