Arkansas Bucket List ~ Lower Delta Region

The final region in our Arkansas Bucket List series is the Lower Delta region. This brings us to the southeast corner of Arkansas before heading into Louisiana. We briefly ducked down into this region on a day trip from Little Rock, and despite my bucket list for this area being shorter, I’m realizing we of course need to revisit the region.

Brinkley

  • Louisiana Purchase State Park: Boardwalk leads to the starting point of surveys for the Louisiana Purchase.

Gillett

  • Arkansas Post National Memorial: This is the one place in the region we set out to visit for our National Park Passport. We had to the whole place to ourselves, but it was very neat to visit since the site dates back to the Revolutionary War.

Helena

  • Freedom Park: Details the African American experience of the Civil War.

Jerome

  • Jerome Relocation Center Historic Marker: This was a relocation center for Japanese Americans during WWII and also a German POW camp.

McGehee

  • World War II Japanese-American Internment Museum: Another interesting museum detailing the use of the area for internment camps.

Rohwer

  • Rohwer Relocation Center Cemetery: This internment camp was where George Takei and his family were interned for awhile. He narrates some of the exhibits located there today.

Star City

  • Cane Creek State Park: This is where the Coastal Plain meets the Mississippi.

All attractions found in the 2018 Arkansas Travel Guide.

Arkansas Bucket List ~ Southwest Region

The Southwest Region of Arkansas is another region I highly recommend visiting, as it is home to one of America’s least visited, (yet highly relaxing,) National Parks, Hot Springs National Park.

Glenwood

  • Little Missouri Falls: I love waterfalls so this sounds like a nice picnic spot.

Hope

  • President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site: Nestled in the tiny town of Hope is a wonderful place to learn about the childhood of President Clinton. We were lucky and were able to take a tour of the house shortly after it reopened due to a fire!

Hot Springs

  • Bathhouse Row: Come stroll the main street of downtown Hot Springs and take in all the bathhouses that take advantage of the town’s namesake.
  • Clinton Tour: I wish I had known about this self guided tour when we visited! This allows you to take a tour of all of President Clinton’s favorite places around the town where he grew up.
  • Fordyce Bathhouse Museum: This also serves as the visitor center for Hot Springs National Park. It is a fascinating museum that shows how the hot springs used to be used when the bathhouses first opened.
  • Hot Springs Mountain Tower: Located within the “mountain” portion of Hot Springs National Park, this observation tower lets you explore two different viewing levels and contains some history on the area.
  • Quapaw Baths and Spa: Come here to experience the hot springs in luxury. We greatly enjoyed our hot spring couples bath!
  • Tiny Town: I wish I would have known about this miniature village display when visiting!

Mena

  • Queen Wilhelmina State Park: Scenic mountain views and a newly renovated lodge!

Mountain Pine

  • Lake Ouachita State Park: Huge lake that offers swimming and cabin rentals.

Murfreesboro

  • Crater of Diamonds State Park: Offers guests a chance to dig for diamonds.

Smackover

  • Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources: Neat museum that teaches about Arkansas’ natural resources, with special attention given to the oil boom.

Texarkana

  • Photographer’s Island: A chance to stand in both Texas and Arkansas at the same time!
  • State Line Post Office and Federal Building: This is the only post office that sits in two states. Plus the outside offers a nice memorial to JFK.

All attractions found in the 2018 Arkansas Travel Guide.

Arkansas Bucket List ~ Central Region

This region in Arkansas has a much larger Bucket List due to the fact that the state capitol is located in this region in Little Rock. We have visited Little Rock once before so a few things on this list are things we’ve done, but I can see now that our 3 days in Little Rock were not enough!

Conway

  • Cardon Settlement Park: This looks like a neat historical park that also has a trail commemorating the Trail of Tears.

Jacksonville

  • Ron Newport Recycle Education Park: I’ve always been passionate about recycling so I think this would be an interesting stop…plus they have sculptures made of recycled material.

Little Rock

  • Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Walk: Plaques dedicated to various Civil Rights activists.
  • Arkansas State Capitol: Very beautiful capitol building. When we visited we learned about the acoustics of the chambers by stumbling upon a tour while self-guiding ourselves through the building.
  • Big Dam Bridge: The largest bridge built specifically for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Central High School National Historic Site: This is probably one of my favorite historic sites I’ve ever visited. I wasn’t expecting much going in as you can really only go in the interpretive center and not the school itself, but it was so well done and I learned so much. Could easily spend hours here!
  • Clinton Presidential Center and Park: This is Clinton’s Presidential Library. I realized there was so much I didn’t know about the first president I remember in my lifetime! While we visited they also had a really neat special exhibit on the Winter Olympics.
  • H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden: This is a symbol of friendship between South Korea and America and honors the man or started the American Taekwondo Association.
  • Heifer Village: Offers hands on exhibits about the places around the world that Heifer International sponsors.
  • La Petite Roche Plaza: This park area surrounds the city’s namesake, “Little Rock.”
  • Little Rock Zoo: We stayed  near the zoo when we visited, but didn’t actually have a chance to stop in as the weather was really warm and there was a lot of construction happening near the zoo that prevented us from easily walking over.
  • MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History: This was a fascinating museum to visit. It was well laid out and we learned a lot about the life of General Douglass MacArthur.
  • Museum of Discovery: This is Arkansas’ science museum and is also the oldest museum in Little Rock.
  • Old State House Museum: This was another highlight of our visit. They had a lot of neat exhibits and we learned even more about the Clintons.
  • Pinnacle Mountain State Park: This park looks like it would offer great views!

Morrilton

  • Petit Jean State Park: This sounds like a wonderful and large state park to find some relaxation at the lodge and also view a 95 foot waterfall.

North Little Rock

  • Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum: Gives visitors and opportunity to view the longest serving submarine in the world and a tugboat used during WWII.
  • The Old Mill at T.R. Pugh Memorial Park: This looks like a very picturesque spot.

Perryville

  • Heifer Ranch: Heifer Ranch features Global Village which shows model homes from countries where Heifer works to end poverty.

All attractions found in the 2018 Arkansas Travel Guide.

Arkansas Bucket List ~ Upper Delta

Another small bucket list region in Arkansas. This was the first region I ever was in for a basketball game in Arkansas, and I have to say, my first visit was not that thrilling! But there is a little bit I’d be interested in visiting in this area, despite it’s lack of outdoor appeal compared to other regions.

Marion

  • Sultana Disaster Museum: Museum dedicated to America’s largest maritime disaster.
  • Sultana Historic Marker: This marker honors the sinking of the Sultana.

Walnut Ridge

  • Beatles Sculpture: Sculpture commemorates the visit of the Beatles to the Rock n’ Roll Highway.
  • Guitar Walk: Giant guitar walkway that honors musicians that played along the nearby Rock n’ Roll Highway.
  • Parachute Inn: This gives you a chance to dine on an airplane without ever leaving the ground! Sounds like a neat experience!

All attractions found in the 2018 Arkansas Travel Guide.

Arkansas Bucket List ~ North Central Region

This region of Arkansas has a fairly short list, but judging by all the hiking trails and state parks I placed on the list, I’m sure it would be a beautiful region to visit!

Cotter

  • Cotter Rainbow Bridge: Rainbow bridge over the White River.

Heber Springs

  • Bridal Veil Falls: Waterfalls are always beautiful to visit.
  • Mossy Bluff Trail and Buckeye Trail: Shorter trails that offer scenic views.
  • Sugarloaf Mountain Trail: Located on an island!

Lakeview

  • Bull Shoals-White River State Park: Boasts hiking trails and an observation tower.

Mammoth Springs

  • Mammoth Springs State Park: Claims to be a natural wonder of Mid-America.

Mountain Home

  • Miniature Museum of Merritt Tiny Town Tours: 200 displays show all kinds of dollhouse and miniature set ups.

All attractions found in the 2018 Arkansas Travel Guide.

Arkansas Bucket List ~Northwest Region

Today we move on to the next state in our Bucket List Series….Arkansas! I have been through and visited Arkansas three different times and have love all of my visits! It’s a beautiful state with lots more to offer than I ever expected. Making these lists as shown me that clearly I need to visit again a few more times!

Alma

  • Popeye Statue: Unique statue dedicated to the famous cartoon character.

Beaver

  • Historic Beaver Bridge: Rare suspension bridge in Arkansas.

Bentonville

  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: I’ve heard so many great things about this beautiful museum.
  • The Walmart Museum: This museum is rather small, but it was so unique to visit and I recommend it to anyone.

Boxley

  • Buffalo National River: We went hiking along this river in March when it was snowing. It was such a beautiful area.

Charleston

  • National Commemorative Site: This monument dedicates the first public school to integrate in the south.

Eureka Springs

  • The Great Passion Play: A unique experience held in the summer months.

Fayetteville

  • Botanical Garden of the Ozarks: This botanical garden features 12 themed gardens.
  • Clinton House Museum: Museum found in the Clinton’s first house.

Fort Smith

  • Fort Smith National Historic Park: This park is found on the Arkansas River, with Oklahoma just across the way. I highly suggest planning to spend a lengthy time at this historic site.

Huntsville

  • Withrow Springs State Park: Park that has a beautiful waterfall.

Ozark

  • Reed Mountain Park, Dam Overlook and River Bluff Nature Trail: Great place for a short hike.

Paris

  • Arkansas Historic Wine Museum: I love visiting wineries, so I think visiting a museum dedicated to wine would be fun!
  • Mount Magazine State Park: This park is home to the highest peak in the state.

Pea Ridge

  • Pea Ridge National Military Park: When we visited it was incredibly chilly, so we did most of our viewing from the car, but there were some great scenic overlooks in this mountainous area.

Pelsor

  • Haw Creek Falls Recreation Area: This stream boast hikes along falls.
  • Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area: This area is known for it’s unique rock formations and a waterfall.

Rogers

  • Daisy Airgun Museum: I figure Andrew would be interested in checking out this museum.

West Fork

  • Devil’s Den State Park: This park was built by the CCC and also is home to another waterfall.

All attractions found in the 2018 Arkansas Travel Guide.

Spring Break Day 2: Fort Smith and Buffalo National River

Since we spent the night in Fort Smith, we were able to sleep in a bit before heading back over to Fort Smith National Historic Site. We’d already purchased our passes the night before, so it was easy to get back into the indoor exhibits. We began our time watching the short film they offer. This was helpful, because it reviewed some of the exhibits we’d seen outside the night before, but also gave us a better overview of what we would see inside as well. There were hardly any people there that early, just us and another older couple.

After the film we went into the old jail area on the first floor. It was all one pretty big room with concrete flooring and showed why they felt the need to build a new improved jail. For those who don’t know, we like to take our friend Buddy Bison around to all the National Park Sites we visit and get his picture in fun locations. Here he is all locked up in a cell!

Next we went up to the second floor where there is a replica built of what the new jail cells would have looked like. These were stacked cells, but gave the prisoners their own individual space with open walk areas on the outside of the cells. All of this was basically enclosed in a giant cage.  The prisoners doors would have been opened every morning so they could get out of their cells to stretch in the open areas and mingle with other prisoners.

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In another area of the upper level, they also had an exhibit on the Trail of Tears and another that shows Judge Parker’s Courtroom as it would have looked during his time spent at the fort.

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After leaving Fort Smith, we began our journey to Buffalo National River. Did I mention our cold our southern spring break trip had been? Well on our way to the Buffalo National River it began to snow! Nothing stuck so the windy roads to get there remained safe for travel! The area of the river we visited was near the Tyler Bend Visitor Center. When you go into the visitor center there’s a nice small museum display of some of the animals you might typically find in the area. They also have a small gift shop and will play a short film upon your request. They have a deck viewing area, but it was closed while we were there due to the wet, slippery conditions.

We didn’t want to have come all that way and not actually see the river, so we chose to hike the one mile trail out to the overlook. The trail was well packed but did have some steep and narrower parts to it. We also had to hop over a few very small creeks (or maybe it was one that kept winding back into our path) on our way to the overlook and back. The view of the river once we got to the overlook was well worth the hike out!

On our way back to our car, we also saw a few deer along the path, so that made it very exciting. Our next and final stop for the day (and night!) would be Branson, MO. We arrived there shortly around dinner and headed to a well loved local pizza place: Rocco’s Pizza. Rocco’s is located in a small house so parking is limited and the tables are cramped but the food was well worth it and all lovingly made. We started with the garlic knots which arrived covered in real minced garlic, not just the garlic seasoning you get other places. I had a basic cheese pizza and Andrew got a calzone. We both had plenty to take with us for another meal later on the road.

It was a pretty short drive to our hotel. We stayed at the Super 8 near Andy Williams Theater. The man who checked us in was very friendly and we were able to park near the side door that was fairly close to our room. I know we didn’t see much of Branson that night and that it was the off season, but I’ve often heard people say that Branson is the Wisconsin Dells of Missouri. Growing up in Wisconsin, I’ve frequented the Dells quite often and all I can say is, clearly these people have never actually experience the Dells because I found Branson to be pretty mellow during our visit and much more down home. It’s more spread out and not so in your face and definitely focused more on the shows you can see than the amusement parks you can visit.

Spring Break Day 1, Part 2: Bentonville and Fort Smith

Following out time at the rather frigid Pea Ridge Battlefield, we decided we should get some nice warm lunch before heading to the Walmart Museum in Bentonville. I did a quick search for some cheap eats in Bentonville on my Trip Advisor App and discovered a nice diner type place called the Station that served some great warm sandwiches. As we plugged the address into our phone, we were even happier discovering it was two buildings down from the museum. Perfect!

We easily found some free street parking just a block away from our destinations. The Station is a nice Mom and Pop place located on the square. I loved the decor of license plates and old gas pumps. It had been forever since I had a grilled cheese sandwich so that’s what I ordered. Andrew opted for the Ham and Cheese.

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Following our meal we walked down to the Walmart Museum. It’s cool because the old Walton’s 5-10 storefront is still there. They also have another building portion that holds the museum exhibits, and a soda fountain. The museum is organized chronologically. It was really neat to see how the company spread across the U.S. and globe over time. They also had some fun interactive activities to try in each area.

Our final stop for the day would be in Fort Smith which was also where we would be spending the night. We made it to Fort Smith National Historic Site around 4pm which only gave us an hour to see everything. Fortunately, the entrance fee allowed us to come back the following day. We chose to spend our first evening there exploring the outside grounds. We got to go inside the Commissary and the Gallows. We also walked across the railroad tracks, crossing the Arkansas/ Indian Territory boundary to see the site of where they wanted to first build the fort. There also is a nice path that goes along the Arkansas River over on that side of the tracks that allowed us to get a nice walk in after being in the car for several hours that day.

After Fort Smith closed for the day, we drove over to the Baymont where we were spending the night. Check in was a breeze and they even had fresh cookies out for us to take. That held us over before we drove North of town to get to the nearest Zaxby’s. We don’t have Zaxby’s near us, so it’s always a treat when we get to eat there!

Spring Break Day 1: Missouri and Arkansas (Part 1)

This spring break Andrew and I were looking for a way to head to a warmer place without breaking the bank. We thought just going to southern Missouri and Arkansas would do the trick, but turns out that was some of the coldest March weather those areas had seen in quite some time! We still greatly enjoyed our time there. Our first day was jam packed with places to visit so I’ll just give you part of the scoop today!

Sunday after church, we drove as far as Joplin, MO for the night. We spent the night at the Best Western. It was an older building but renovated. All the doors were open to the outside and that being said we had quite a bit of loud foot traffic outside our door. When morning came I realized it was because an entire college baseball team was also staying there overnight.

When we got up in the morning we realized we weren’t that far from where the tornado went through a few years back, so we drove along it’s path to see how things have been rebuilt since then. I must say that is one impressive high school! They also had a really neat park that was being built up further west in town.

Our first touristy stop of the day was George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, MO. When we arrived, they welcomed us into the visitor center and immediately asked if we were parents with the first grade field trip. (our answer was no….and then we mentally prepared ourselves for bombardment.) The visitor center had three levels of exhibits. I was not expecting that but it was really nice and we learned a lot of new information. He’s more than just a peanut man! The upper level was filled with interactive, hands-on exhibits that I’m sure were great fun for those first graders.

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They have about a mile walking trail around the grounds, but part of it was closed for construction while we were there. We also were wimps and chose to not take the trail since the wind was blowing quite forcefully.

Our next stop brought us just into the northern part of Arkansas: Pea Ridge National Military Park. The weather hadn’t warmed much by then, so we were very grateful for the self-guided driving tour. We were brave enough to get our at the East Overlook (nice mountain views), West Overlook (battlefield views), and Elkhorn Tavern.

After we’d had enough exploring in the cold weather, we decided to head toward Bentonville, where we would get lunch and visit our next tourist attraction. But more on that next week! 🙂

Hope you’ve enjoyed this “Tuesday Travels” post!

 

Southern Tour Day 11: Little Rock

Our final day of our trip was spent entirely in Little Rock. We began our morning at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. Growing up in the north, it’s very interesting to visit Military Museums in the south because they offer a much different perspective on the Civil War. Part of the museum also focused on the life of MacArthur which was very interesting. They also had a really neat exhibit on photographs from World War II.

After a lunch break, we had two more stops for our day. The first was the Old Statehouse. It was undergoing some renovations during our visit but still had a lot of neat exhibits. I especially enjoyed seeing the dresses of the First Ladies of Arkansas. Quite a few familiar names were among the governors of Arkansas exhibit as well! They also had a fun room for kids to explore different aspects of campaigning on the first floor. My husband had some fun in that room pretending he was on a Whistle Stop tour!

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Our final stop of the day was to the current state capitol. Unlike other state capitols we have visited, this one sure was tough to find a parking spot nearby! We opted to just give ourselves a self-guided tour, but did stumble upon a tour guide with another family when we neared the Senate chambers, so she allowed us to join in so we could see the upper level. We learned a lot of interesting debates they have had about the use of curtains and other sound system aspects. This state capitol also has a nice little gift shop, perfect for stocking up on those postcards!

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We spent the rest of our evening relaxing at the hotel pool. We’d had a fantastic trip through 6 states but were ready to head home before our big move to Iowa a few days later! We traveled back to St. Louis the next day with a stop to Ozark National Scenic Riverway for a final National Park Passport Stamp. What an adventure we had over those 11 days!