I have to admit that before living in Arkansas for six months, I was a bit skeptical about the state. It never crossed my mind to visit “The Natural State” until my husband had military training at Little Rock Air Force Base. We decided to make the best of it and get out to experience what Arkansas had to offer! Of course there were things that I didn’t like about Arkansas (tornado warnings, heat, humidity, and snakes to name a few), but Arkansas definitely has some diamonds in the rough! Below is my list of the top 10 things to do in Arkansas!
1) Dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park. This is touted as “the world’s only diamond site where you can search and keep what you find.” In 1924, a 40.23-carat white diamond named the Uncle Sam Diamond was discovered here and is the largest diamond found in the U.S.
2) Eat buttermilk ice cream at Loblolly Creamery. If peaches are in season, try it with fresh peaches for an oh-so-yummy summer treat. They have an awesome soda fountain/ice cream bar where you can try more of their small-batch ice cream creations and you can find them at other locations around town as well.
3) Hike Pinnacle Mountain. This is a great hike with great views right in Little Rock! We took the strenuous ¾ mile East Summit Trail with the boulder fields up then took the nice and easy West Summit Trail down the other side of the mountain. You can also take it really easy and do the 1 ¼ mile Base Trail around the mountain.
4) Visit the Last Plane Out of Saigon. This C-130A “Hercules” plane is located just outside of the main gate at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville. The day before the fall of Saigon, a South Vietnamese major piloted this C-130 plane from Vietnam to Thailand. There were 452 people on board (32 in the cockpit) who were seeking freedom. If you are a Jimmy Buffet fan, you’ll have his song “Last Mango in Paris” in your head now!
He said, “I ate the last mango in Paris
Took the last plane out of Saigon
Took the first fast boat to China
And Jimmy, there’s still so much to be done.”
5) Go on a Segway tour in Little Rock. This is a great way to see the sights including the Arkansas River, River Market, and Clinton Presidential Center in the downtown Little Rock area. And it is fun to drive the Segway!
6) Eat yummy food and drink tasty beer at the Apple Blossom Brewing Company. Head three hours northwest of Little Rock to the town of Fayetteville – home of the University of Arkansas and the Razorbacks – in the Ozarks. Their cheese fries and apple bread pudding were a-ma-zing.
7) Hike to Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park. This is only a 2 mile round trip hike but the trail to get back up from the valley is a bit strenuous. It is worth it with a 95-foot waterfall at the turnaround point!
8) Bike the Arkansas River Trail. We started at the Big Dam Bridge which is the longest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in North America that has never been used by trains or motor vehicles. The trail consists of an 88-mile loop for those who want a longer bike ride!
9) Check out Hot Springs National Park. This is unlike any other national park that I’ve visited. The park consists of old bathhouses from the early 1900s that used the water from the thermal hot springs for 20th century spa treatments. Today, the bathhouses have been renovated for historical and commercial purposes. For example, you can check out the park’s visitor center at Fordyce Bathhouse, take a traditional bath at Buckstaff Baths, visit the modern spa at Quapaw Bathhouse, or eat/drink at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery.
10) Lots more to do in The Natural State! There are 52 state parks to check out, canoeing the Buffalo National River, visiting Eureka Springs, trout fishing on the White River, and more! Check out Arkansas for yourself!