Arkansas comes alive in the summer with its blooming glades, deep forests, and warm waters beckoning swimmers and boaters. Check out Arkansas vacation rentals near cities such as Little Rock, Bentonville, and Fayetteville to experience the beauty of the outdoors, while also enjoying easy access to museums and historic sites within the respective cities. Look forward to delicious barbecue, fried fish, and other regional favorites that await you at the many restaurants in the state. Take a look at the most popular cities and towns in Arkansas for a summer vacation.
1. Little Rock
Arkansas’s capital city, Little Rock offers plenty of summer fun for visitors of all ages. Take the kids to Riverfront Park on a hot summer day for an afternoon of splashing around the water play area. Stop by the Little Rock Zoo to get up close to lions, cheetahs, and monkeys. Kids will also love to hop aboard the zoo’s restored antique carousel.
Little Rock is a city rich in history. As the former home of President Bill Clinton, it hosts the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, which includes a replica of the Oval Office and educational exhibits. Also in town are a bunch of tasty restaurants serving everything from burgers to fried fish to the unusual purple milkshake.
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2. Hot Springs
If outdoor recreation is a focus of your summer trip, then book a vacation rental in Hot Springs. This city is home to Hot Springs National Park which, as its name suggests, contains several natural hot springs. A visitor center takes tourists through the history of water therapy in the area. There are also trails and a scenic overlook on the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.
Kids and adults alike can learn about the gangster history of the region by visiting the Gangster Museum of America. Also worth a visit is the Mid America Science Museum, a kid-friendly spot that houses exhibits relating to matter, energy, and other science topics.
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Bill and Hilary Clinton lived in Fayetteville during the early years of their marriage, and you can tour the Clinton House Museum to view exhibits relating to the former president’s earlier political career. Kids may prefer the Arkadia Retrocade, where Pac-Man, Centipede, and BurgerTime let them experience an earlier generation of gaming.
Summertime in Fayetteville means that gorgeous flowers are in bloom at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Among the town’s many curiosities is Terra Studios. A giant chess set, troll sculptures, and a stone labyrinth are among the many unusual items on display in this small park.
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The birthplace of Walmart, you may find Bentonville’s Walmart Museum a worthwhile stop. Exhibits tell the story of founder Sam Walton and the beginnings of the iconic store. This isn’t the only museum in town, however. Visit the Museum of Native American History for artifacts dating back hundreds of years, or stop by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to view paintings by Thomas Cole and other American masters. This art museum is unusual in that it also includes outdoor acreage with trails, natural springs, and rock formations.
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Conway is another great destination for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Get a vacation rental here for easy access to lakes where you can fish, play water sports, or take out your boat for a relaxing evening on the water. Cadron Settlement Park offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and viewing remnant structures of the historic settlement.
Before heading back to your vacation rental, you will want to stop by the Whole Hog Cafe. This award-winning establishment offers delicious barbecue ribs, pulled pork, chicken, and even barbecue nachos.
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Hope is yet another town with ties to President Clinton, who was born in a modest house here. The President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site preserves the rooms that the future world leader lived in. At the Hope Visitor’s Center and Museum you can view more memorabilia of the president as well as railroad artifacts and a collection of old town photos.
For dining, you cannot beat Williams Tavern Restaurant, located only a short drive from Hope. This restored 1832 tavern serves up delicious plates of fried steak, hamburger steak, fried okra, and other Southern dishes.
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7. Fort Smith
Originally a military frontier post, Fort Smith is a great summer getaway for American history enthusiasts. The remains of the 1817 fort are still on display at Fort Smith National Historic Site, and the neighboring Fort Smith Museum of History includes displays that take the history of the fort from 1817 to more recent times. Also of interest is the Fort Smith Trolley Museum and its delightful collection of antique trolleys.
There is also plenty of shopping to do in Fort Smith. Central Mall is home to dozens of stores, so whether you are looking to buy gifts, clothes, sporting goods, or sweets, this mall has something for you.
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8. Eureka Springs
Vacation rentals in Eureka Springs give you easy access to lots of shopping and historic sites. This scenic town is a delight to walk through on a nice summer evening, as the Victorian architecture and views of the surrounding countryside offer a feast for the eyes. Along the streets you will find gift shops, galleries, and several restaurants. For fun with family or friends, challenge your group by solving puzzles at Escape Room 13, or go on a horseback trail ride at Bear Mountain Stables.
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9. El Dorado
El Dorado sits in the southwestern part of the state, and it has a long history as a center of the oil industry. The Oil Heritage Park commemorates this history with interpretive plaques and sculptures. You will also want to visit South Arkansas Arboretum State Park, where both native and exotic summer plants are in full display along the trails.
If you prefer to add indoor activities into the mix, then see the art on display at the South Arkansas Arts Center and Theater.
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10. Mountain Home
Mountain Home is an outdoor paradise. Located in northern Arkansas in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, this is a place of forested hills, lakes, rivers, and interesting geologic formations. The abundance of water in Mountain Home makes it a popular destination for anglers, boaters, wildlife watchers, and even scuba divers. Norfork National Fish Hatchery provides trout to regional waters, and you can arrange tours of the hatchery in advance. Big Creek Golf and Country Club is a great place to spend a day golfing with friends.
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