Sometimes, on a hot summer’s day, there’s nothing better than sitting on a beach with good friends and your toes in the sand. Land-locked Arkansas may not jump to the top of your beach vacation list, but this state does indeed have lake and river beaches. Plus, there are no pesky jellyfish, crabs, or sharks, just crystal clear water surrounded by beautiful forest scenery. Out of the 23 Arkansas state parks that have water access, eight of them offer beaches. There are also city parks with privately owned lakes and swimming holes. As you can see, Arkansas has plenty of options to choose from! The hardest part of planning your vacation will be deciding which vacation rental to book. So, pack your swimsuit, and take a trip to the Natural State to splash the summer away!

1. Beaver Lake

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Beaver Lake is nestled high in the Ozark Mountains in northwest Arkansas. The 28,370-acre lake offers natural scenic beauty and a variety of recreational facilities. Paved access roads wind through 12 developed parks making everything easily accessible. There are 2,008 acres of campgrounds and over 650 individual campsites with conveniences such as electricity and fire-rings, drinking water, showers, and restrooms. Cabins, resorts, and vacation rentals also ring the lake. There are also great opportunities for swimming, hiking, boating, and fishing. Sounds like your one stop shop for summer fun!

2. Lake Ouachita

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Lake Ouachita is the largest lake located entirely within Arkansas and is renowned for its scenic beauty and clear waters. The lake is virtually surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and has 970 miles of one of Arkansas’s most pristine shorelines. The 40-mile-long lake is a favorite among sailors, and scuba divers enjoy the clear waters. Other water sports like boating, fishing, and water skiing are also popular here. There are more than 100 uninhabited islands for primitive camping or you can stay at one of the cabins or resorts. While you’re here, definitely check out Hot Springs, near the east end of the lake. It’s Arkansas’s leading tourist destination and home to Hot Springs National park. At the western end of the lake, Mount Ida also attracts visitors for its rock shops and quartz crystal mines.

3. Bull Shoals

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Bull Shoals Lake is the place to go if you’re looking for fishing in Arkansas. This 45,500-acre lake is known for its lunker bass fishing. The nearly 1,000 miles of rugged shoreline and 60,000 acres of public land is also open to visitors and provide a variety of outdoor opportunities. There are picnicking and camping facilities with grills, firewood, tables, and drinking water. Water skiing and swimming are also popular at Bull Shoals, and you can also rent boats with guides at the commercial docks.

4. Lake Hamilton

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Lake Hamilton was created in 1932, and it is now one of Arkansas’s most popular recreational and residential lakes. Much of it is ringed with condominiums, resorts, motels, restaurants, private homes, and vacation rentals. Hill Wheatley Park, located on the shore, has a popular swim area with a man-made sandy beach, picnic facilities, and restrooms. Other popular activities are water skiing, boating, and fishing.

5. Knoppers Ford

Situated along Sugar Creek in the Ouachita National Forest, Knoppers Ford is popular with campers looking for a semi-primitive experience as well has Off Highway Vehicle and equestrian enthusiasts. Many come here for the fabulous Sugar Creek Multi-use Recreation Trail. This is a free day use area with no overnight camping, but you can easily find a vacation rental in nearby Booneville.

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6. Lake Ponder

Lake Ponder, in Crowley’s Ridge State Park in Paragould, offers trails, a swimming lake, fishing lake, baseball field, and boat, kayak, and pedal boat rentals. The biggest attraction, however, is Crowley’s Ridge, an unusual land formation that is one of only two of its type in the world. Stay in one of the native log and stone cabins or campsites.

7. Lake Leatherwood

Lake Leatherwood is located just two miles west of Eureka Springs off U.S. 62. This 85-acre, spring fed lake is defined by one of the largest hand-cut limestone dams in the nation. There is also over three miles of shoreline and a 1,600-acre municipal park with about 15 miles of some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails around. This park is also popular for swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking, and is home to a diverse population of water fowl and other birds, including heron, geese, bald eagles and wild turkey.

8. Lake Charles

Lake Charles is an excellent beach to spend an afternoon in the sun before taking a dip to cool off. This 645-acre spring-fed lake offers camping, picnic sites, hiking trails, pavilion, playgrounds, launch ramp and a sandy beach. For even more fun, try one of the park programs including lake tours and guided kayaking adventures.

9. Lake Bennett

Lake Bennet is well-known for swimming, boating, camping, and picnicking. Located in Wooly Hollow State Park, this 40-acre lake was the first Soil Conservation System watershed project in the United States. Today, it’s a popular recreation area with canoes, pedal boats, fishing boats, and motors available for rent at the state park.

10. Lake Greeson

12-mile long Lake Greeson is especially appealing to anglers looking for channel catfish and rainbow trout fishing. Other game fish in the lake include largemouth, smallmouth, spotted and white bass, flathead and channel catfish, black and white crappie, and bluegill. There’s a total of 45 miles of walking, nature and cycle trails surrounding the lake, and camping and picnicking are also available. There are also two private resorts located on the lake. Don’t miss Crater of Diamonds State Park just south of Lake Greeson at Murfreesboro. It’s the only public diamond field in the world where visitors can search for the gems and keep their finds!

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