We might be biased, but at Arkansas Frontier, we adore exploring Arkansas! The Natural State is simply gorgeous, and it’s filled with family-approved activities if you know where to look. In this guide, we’ll explore 60+ fun attractions in Arkansas to experience with your kids. We’ll take some epic hikes, have our minds blown in a few incredible museums, and chow down on hearty Southern cuisine. From pumpkin patches to sports arenas, Arkansas has a wide array of family-friendly attractions to keep you busy all year long. Let’s start planning your perfect weekend!
Spend a fall day at Arkansas Frontier!
If you have littles, come on out to the pumpkin patch at Arkansas Frontier this fall! We have everything you need for a fantastic fall adventure day-from a petting zoo to a real-life frontier city, pumpkin picking, carnival games, and much more. Our farm was founded by teachers, so we focus on education, but it’s all unpinned with an element of adventure. If you’re looking for something new to do in Arkansas, join us a for fun-filled day on the Frontier!
Fun Things to Do in Arkansas for Families
Arkansas is a fairly small state, and if you’re just visiting, you can road trip to the best destinations in a week or so. If you’re lucky enough to reside in Arkansas, then you can use this list of family-friendly attractions to fill your calendar with adventure. We’ve got a little something for everyone, whether you’re into the outdoors, the arts, history, or the paranormal. We’ve organized our favorite Arkansas attractions by region, so you’ll be able to easily use this guide to create your own trip map. Let’s go!
Fun Activities in and around Hot Springs
We’ll start our adventure in the fun and historic town of Hot Springs. A destination full of gangster lore, Native American history, and fabulous food, Hot Springs is surrounded by the gorgeous Ouachita Mountains and is one of our favorite spots in the state. In this guide, we’re going to keep the descriptions short, but for detailed information on the city, check out our “Ultimate Guide to Downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas!”
1. Mid-America Science Museum
The Mid-America Science Museum has been entertaining and educating kiddos since 1979. You’ll explore the world’s largest Conical Tesla Coil, the state-of-the-art, 5D Digital-Dome Theatre, a dinosaur park, and over 100 hands-on exhibits!
2. Fordyce Bathhouse
The Fordyce Bathhouse is at the center of Historic Bathhouse Row and serves as the visitor center and museum for Hot Springs National Park. They offer a guided tour that walks you through the 1920s bathhouse experience, perusing a plethora of interesting medical equipment and contraptions. It’s a fantastic educational experience for kids in a stunning structure.
3. Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
The most famous theme park in the state is Magic Springs Theme and Water Park. The park offers a wide range of rides, ranging from thrilling roller coasters to tiny tot rides. There is also a full-fledged water park on site! They offer excellent events throughout the year in addition to the permanent theme park attractions. The most popular is their Halloween event: Magic Screams!
4. Garvan Woodland Gardens
Garvan Woodland Gardens is the state’s best botanical garden, associated with the University of Arkansas. It’s a fun spot for kids due to Evan’s Childrens Adventure Garden which includes climbing bridges, a waterfall, a cave, and a boulder maze! They also have one of the most impressive Christmas light displays in Arkansas.
5. The Gangster Museum of America
For a unique attraction in Hot Springs, check out The Gangster Museum of America! It’s a small museum that details the history of the Hot Spring’s rowdy Prohibition years through themed galleries, artifacts, and period-dress guides.
6. Lake Ouachita
Lake Ouachita is the largest lake in the state. It’s located south of Hot Springs and includes stunning Ouachita Mountain views, excellent fishing, boating, and rustic campgrounds. The lake is surrounded by beautiful hiking trails and has a few good swimming beaches too!
7. Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
The Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo is one of the oldest attractions in Hot Springs, entertaining children since 1902 with its exotic animals. Today, they offer alligator feedings and a wonderful petting zoo!
8. Galaxy Connection
If your crew is into Star Wars and Superheroes, Galaxy Connection is your spot! They offer a guided tour to explore the vintage arcade, hall of movie props, and a huge collection of life-size superheroes!
9. Tiny Town
Tiny Town is a fun tourist attraction for kiddos. It features dozens of fully animated miniature models including a Native American village, model trains, and sawmills. It’s an entire universe, just in miniature!
Fun Things in and around Fayetteville, Arkansas
Fayetteville is the largest city in Northwest Arkansas. It’s the home of the University of Arkansas and is situated in the most scenic portion of the state. While many of the fun attractions in Fayetteville like the nightlife of Dixon Street, the Arkansas Ale Trail, and the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market are more geared towards adults, there are a few fun attractions for families as well.
10. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Arkansans are yelling at me right now because Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is technically in Bentonville, but there are several small cities in NW Arkansas that kind of flow together, so we’re counting it. Bentonville is famously the home of the Walmart Corporation and the original store run by Sam Walton. Due to mega-Walmart money, you can now experience world-class art in this small Arkansas city. The museum includes Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola and Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, just to name a couple.
11. Arkansas Collegiate Sports Game
As mentioned, Fayetteville is the home of the University of Arkansas. The campus is a beautiful tour. There’s even a hotel in one of the old dorms! Sports are a big deal in Arkansas, and tailgating at a Razorback football game, scarfing hot dogs at a baseball game, or cheering on the wildly successful track team are fun ways to spend a Saturday in Fayetteville!
12. Walton Arts Center
Located in nearby Rogers, The Walton Arts Center is a fantastic spot for live music and theatre. They hold fun seasonal events like a Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Party, and they offer educational workshops for kids!
13. Local Cuisine
If food is the main event for your crew, then Fayetteville has plenty on offer! Check out Cafe Rue Orleans for tasty Cajun and Seafood. Hugo’s is located downtown and serves a mouthwatering cheeseburger. For the kiddos, check out Hammontrees Grilled Cheese on N. West Ave. It serves gourmet grilled cheeses in every variety you can imagine.
14. Arkansas Air and Military Museum
The Arkansas Air & Military Museum explores the military past of Arkansas through authentic artifacts and aircraft. The museum hosts a large display of military aircraft, many of them still in flying order. Three of the aircraft are available for hands-on experiences, your kids will love climbing right into the cockpit of a military fighting jet!
15. Wilson Park
Wilson Park is a fun city park in Fayetteville that offers beautiful gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, and a lovely sculpture garden that includes a fairy-tale castle structure.
16. Kessler Mountain Jam
Are you into mountain biking? Kessler Mountain Jam is an Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series race that occurs on, you guessed it, Kessler Mountain in Fayetteville. The race has categories for all ages and levels, so the whole family can join in!
17. Arkadia Retrocade
Introduce your children to the magic of the 80s at Arkadia Retrocade! Located on College Ave in Fayetteville, the arcade boasts more than 175 vintage arcade games and a huge display of memorabilia.
18. Art Ventures
Open in 2009 as Fayetteville Underground, Art Ventures is an artist colony and art shop that highlights local artists. They host scores of interesting exhibits and seasonal events and 6-week creative learning courses for children in grades K-12.
Fun Activities in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Eureka Springs is a funky little town in the upper reaches of Northwest Arkansas. Its streets are lined with refurbished Victorians, unique boutiques, and sparkly rock shops. If your family loves art, fashion, and a touch of the paranormal, then…Eureka! We’ve found your spot!
19. Thorncrown Chapel
A chapel, made of glass, down a footpath in a dense forest…sounds like a fairytale, doesn’t it? Well, it kind of is. Designed by famed architect E. Fay Jones, Thorncrown Chapel contains more than 6,000 sqft of glass, perfectly blending into its wooded surroundings. It’s a sight to see.
20. Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour
The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is often ranked as the most haunted hotel in the United States. It sits on a glorious piece of property, evoking a very “castle on the hill” kind of vibe, and the staff has fully embraced the paranormal legacy. They host nightly guided ghost hunts and frequently seasonal events. It’s one of the best Arkansas attractions for the Halloween season!
21. Christ of the Ozarks
The Christ of the Ozarks is a 67-foot statue that towers over the Victorian village of Eureka Springs, atop Magnetic Mountain. It was constructed in 1966 and has become a symbol of the area. The statue is closely connected to another Jesus-themed attraction in the area—The Great Passion Play-“America’s #1 Attended Outdoor Drama.” In an open-air amphitheater, a massive cast of very talented actors portray the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth each summer season. Their campus also includes a Jewish Tabernacle display and a Holy Land Tour.
22. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a large animal sanctuary for abused and abandoned big cats. The refuge houses more than 100 tigers, lions, and leopards as well as bears, coatimundis, and much more. They offer ecology education programs and kid’s camps to increase awareness about animal maltreatment and habitat preservation.
23. Quigley’s Castle
Quigley Castle is a weird and wonderful home and garden, the 1943 vision of Elise Quigley. She collected beautiful rocks her entire life, incorporating them into a two-story home in a magical garden. For decades visitors have toured the gardens. I remember going there as a child and finding it wacky but entirely mesmerizing!
24. Onyx Cave
Onyx Cave is a 15-minute drive from Eureka Springs and has been open to the public since 1893! Onyx is the oldest show cave in Arkansas and is surrounded by a family fun park that includes gem mining, a smash lab, and axe-throwing. Fun Fact: the 1969 horror movie, It’s Alive, was filmed inside the cave.
25. Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway
Ride the rails on an elegant 1920s dining car in a real diesel locomotive and explore the stationary display of vintage cars too!
26. Ozark Mountain Ziplines
The Ozark Mountains are stunning, especially in the fall! Soar through the canopy on some of the best ziplines in the region at Ozark Mountain Ziplines!
Fun Activities in Northwest Arkansas
We’ve covered two of the bigger cities in Northwest Arkansas, but some of the best family attractions in the area aren’t really in a city, but are in the wilderness! In this section, we’ll cover some of the natural wonders, state parks, and abandoned spots that are must-visits if you’re in the area!
27. Buffalo National River
Kayaking on the Buffalo National River is a right of passage for Arkansans. It’s simply one of the most beautiful areas in the state, without towering bluffs, pale blue-green waters, and a family-friendly vibe. Many choose to rent kayaks and put in at the town of Ponca.
28. Blanchard Springs Caverns
Blanchard Springs Caverns is the most visited cave system in Arkansas. It’s located in the town of Mountain View and is the second-longest cave system in Arkansas at just over eight miles. There are several guided tours for adventurers of all levels and bravery!
29. Mammoth Springs State Park
Mammoth Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest springs. The park offers fantastic trout fishing, a float stream, remnants of an old mill and hydroelectric plant, and an 1886 Frisco train depot and locomotive museum.
30. Ozark Folk Center State Park
The Ozarks are world-famous for their unique culture and handicrafts. Also located in Mountain View, Ozark Folk Center State Park allows you to watch the artisans at work, hear Southern Mountain Music, and shop handicrafts.
31. Whitaker Point Trail
There are innumerable good hiking trails in Arkansas, but probably the most famous is Whitaker Point, known to locals as Hawksbill Crag. It is just outside of Kingston and is an easy hike to complete for most levels of trekkers. The trail ends with an epic panoramic view from the crag overlooking the Ozark National Forest. It’s the most photographed spot and Arkansas, and you won’t have any trouble seeing why.
32. Devil’s Den State Park
While the caves in Devil’s Den have been closed for many years, the park offers some of the most beautiful and simple waterfall hiking trails in the state. It’s a perfect spot for a family hike and picnic by the river. Devil’s Den also boasts Yellow Rock Trail, which like Whitaker Point is a craggy overlook hike with epic views!
33. Rush Ghost Town
Along the bluffs of the Buffalo National River, the 1880s mining town of Rush is now in shambles. Once thriving from the procurement of zinc ore, Rush was a thriving community until World War II. From then, it began to decline as the mines dried up and were dismantled. By the 1950s, Rush was a complete ghost town, but you can still explore the ramshackle structures and imagine yourself living in this wilderness paradise.
34. Camping in Jasper
Jasper is one of the most beautiful areas of the state. It includes the Grand Canyon of Arkansas and excellent hiking and fishing. The area is loaded with adorable, bluff-clinging cabins and family-friendly camping sites like Dogwood Springs.
35. Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls
Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls is the tallest waterfall between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. It’s accessed by a difficult and steep trail beginning near Compton, or by a quick and easy walk from the Buffalo River. Pick your poison! Spring and fall are the best time to visit when the falls are at peak flow.
36. Lost Valley Trail
Lost Valley is a personal favorite for my family. It’s located near Ponca and involves a series of short hiking trails and caves to explore. There’s a natural bridge to cross a boulder-filled creek, and it’s just a fun area for kids to climb and explore. The star of the show is Eden Falls Cave. You’ll crawl through 200 feet of cave to reach a fully enclosed 35-foot waterfall! Bring a headlamp.
37. Pea Ridge National Military Park
Located in Garfield, Pea Ridge National Military Park is the home of the most pivotal battle of the Civil War, west of the Mississippi River. 23,000 soldiers battled it out on this 4,000+ acre ground. The park memorializes the soldiers who lost their lives here and tells the history of the Civil War in Arkansas.
Fun activities in and around Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas and lies at the center of the state. It’s the seat of government, obviously, but it also boasts some fun museums and a vibrant riverfront that make for excellent family outings!
38. Arkansas State Capitol Tour
The Arkansas State Capitol Building was completed in 1915 with 247,000 square feet of Indiana limestone and marble. It’s a beautiful structure that houses several interesting rotating exhibits on Arkansas history. They offer guided tours every day of the week!
39. Little Rock Central High National Historical Site
Though the tiny town of Charleston was actually the first school in the state to fully integrate, it was Central High in Little Rock that made the national media. It’s an important site for Civil Rights, and one all Arkansans should visit. Ranger-led interpretive tours are available Tuesday-Saturday at 1 p.m.
40. Museum of Discovery
The Museum of Discovery is Arkansas’ premiere science center. It houses hundreds of hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages, as well as interactive shows and science experiments. They host a packed calendar of events, and it’s the place to be for curious, science-oriented families!
41. Clinton Presidential Library Tour
The Clinton Presidential Center and Park includes the offices of the Clinton Foundation and the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum. The museum includes a replica of the Oval Office and photos/mementos of the president’s life before and during the presidency. The park offers guided library tours for large groups, or you can do a self-guided tour with your crew.
42. Explore Riverfront Park
Riverfront is a famous spot for eating and drinking in Little Rock, with funky bars and tasty restaurants filling the riverside warehouses. However, Riverfront Park is a place for the whole family. It includes Junction Bridge, Peabody Splash Park, and the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden. It’s a fun Arkansas attraction to wander around on a warm Saturday morning!
43. Street Art of SOMA
If you’re interested in urban art, then there’s no better place to mural hunt than the SOMA District. SOMA has some of Little Rock’s most beloved restaurants (we’ll hit those in a minute) and the best street art in the city.
44. Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Pinnacle Mountain is located in Maumelle, 20 minutes west of Little Rock. It’s a fantastic day hike because you can choose your level of difficulty and adventure. The west side of the mountain is a mostly packed trail with some manmade stairs. The east side is a rock scramble from start to finish. Either route you choose lands you at the summit with a 360-degree view of the Arkansas River Valley. You can’t go wrong. Pinnacle Mountain State Park is also a verified spot on the Trail of Tears.
45. Arkansas Skatium
Winter in Arkansas can be windy and dreary, but it’s rarely cold enough for ice or snow, and certainly not cold enough for natural ice skating rinks. Good thing we have Arkansas Skatium for open ice-skating sessions!
46. The Old Mill
Located in North Little Rock, The Old Mill is a recreation of an 1880s water-powered grist mill. The mill was featured in the opening scene of Gone With the Wind and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
47. Sequoyah National Research Center
Part of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the Sequoyah National Research Center claims to “constitute the largest assemblage of Native American expression in the world.” They have a vast research center, but they also host film screenings and special events showcasing Native American art, music, and culture throughout the year.
48. Historic Arkansas Museum
Historic Arkansas Museum is an open-air museum that consists of the oldest buildings in Little Rock. It also hosts exhibits showcasing Arkansas artisans and history.
49. Loblolly Creamery
Before you explore the street art of SOMA, stop by Loblolly and grab a cup of locally crafted ice cream! With 15% butterfat, all-natural, seasonal ingredients, and no extra junk, Loblolly has earned its spot as Arkansas’ favorite creamery.
50. The Root Cafe
The Root Cafe is a funky, indoor/outdoor cafe that serves up Farm-to-Table creations sourced from local Arkansas ingredients. It’s a favorite among night-shift workers, as they’re open early, and their breakfast is to die for!
51. Flying Fish
The Flying Fish has been a Little Rock mainstay for decades, serving up tasty Cajun dishes in a vintage cafe atmosphere. However, tourists flock to the Flying Fish for one weird attraction. The restaurant claims to display the first-ever Billy Bass Adoption Center. Do you remember those ridiculous singing fish plaques that people were (for some odd reason) obsessed with for a while? Well, the trend passed, and there were thousands of unwanted Billy Bass in closets around the world. Flying Fish decided to adopt them all and display them beautifully in their cafe. So, dig out your singing fish, and take it to Flying Fish for an official adoption.
Fun Attractions Around the State
In this last section, we’ll dive into the best attractions in Arkansas for families that stand alone. These spots are worth a visit, but they aren’t in areas with a ton of other attractions. Remember, Arkansas is small, so making a day trip from your hub, to any part of the state, is easily achieved.
52. Crater of Diamonds State Park
Located in Murfreesboro, Crater of Diamonds is the only public diamond mine in the United States. You’ll check in with the visitor center and get your equipment, and you’ll be set free in the field and creek to mine for diamonds. You get to keep what you find!
53. Mount Magazine State Park
Mount Magazine is the highest summit in the state. While there are no panoramic views from the forested summit, there are beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails. Plus, it’s cool to say you’ve climbed the tallest mountain in any destination! It’s easily achieved by all levels of hikers and makes for great family photos. After your hike, visit nearby Cove Lake for a swim, or stop in the quirky boutiques of Paris. The town has a beautiful central square and features a mini Eiffel Tower.
54. Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean State Park is located just outside of Morrilton, in Central Arkansas. It’s a stunning state park with a very popular waterfall hike to Cedar Falls and panoramic views from the bluff-side lodge.
55. Hampson Archeological Museum State Park
Hampson Archaeological Museum State Park is located on the site of an old farming community, dating back to 1400. The 15-acre site displays artifacts and exhibits detailing the life culture of Arkansas’ early inhabitants.
56. Louisiana Purchase State Park
The Louisiana Purchase is probably the most important and infamous real estate transaction in the history of the world, and the initial survey of the land took place in Eastern Arkansas. The park contains mostly swampland, but an elevated boardwalk granite monument marking the starting point, and an interpretive trail explain this important moment in American history.
57. Beatles Park
The Beatles once changed planes in Walnut Ridge, and the citizens have never forgotten it. They have constructed an entire neighborhood devoted to the Fab Four, with a replica of the Abbey Road album cover, a Yellow Submarine, and a street art gallery.
58. Judge Parker’s Hanging Court
Located in the western city of Fort Smith, Fort Smith National Historic Site is home to Judge Parker’s Hanging Court and Gallows. The museum explores the stories of bandits, outlaws, and Native Americans in the 19th-century Western Arkansas Frontier.
59. Arkansas Pumpkin Patch
As a fairly rural state, with millions of acres of farmland, Arkansas has its fair share of fun pumpkin patches. While we are obviously a bit biased in this realm (as Arkansas Frontier is the GOAT), we highly suggest hanging out in some of the other amazing pumpkin patches in the state. Check out “Exploring the Best Pumpkin Patches in Arkansas for Families” to find your perfect farm!
60. Arkansas Festivals
From War Eagle Fair to the highly acclaimed Ozark Folk Festival, Arkansas has a jam-packed event calendar, full of family-friendly festivals! If you want to know more about the unique festivals that Arkansas has to offer, take a look at “Most Popular Fall Festivals in Arkansas: From Pumpkins to Beans.”
Arkansas is waiting for you!
It’s time to start planning your Arkansas adventure! From Hot Springs to Little Rock, Arkansas is blessed with natural beauty, interesting museums, and important historic sites. The Natural State features epic hiking trails, the chance to experience world-class art at Crystal Bridges Museum, and plenty of tasty Southern cuisine options. We hope you enjoyed this list of fun attractions in Arkansas and that it will come in handy when planning your road trip. Spring, summer, fall, or winter, Arkansas is a beauty, just waiting for you to explore!
Arkansas is stunning in autumn! If you’ll be visiting this season, take some cues from “Discover Arkansas in the Fall: From Hiking to Pumpkin Picking.”