It’s time to shake off the winter cold and welcome the unofficial start of summer with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. From major cities to scenic lakes, Arkansas has something exciting for everyone. Head to downtown Fort Smith to try fantastic local eateries, or visit the zoo in Little Rock. From lakefront family homes to trendy lofts, there are plenty of Arkansas vacation rentals to choose from. Take a look at Memorial Day weekend getaway spots in Arkansas.

1. Little Rock

As the capital and largest city, Little Rock promises fun for the whole family. Each year, the Little Rock Zoo hosts a variety of family-oriented activities for this patriotic holiday in addition to visiting with the animals. Go hiking in the nearby Pinnacle Mountain State Park and stay for one of the talks on the natural world. Pick up fresh foods and veggies at the Little Rock River Market District, which holds twice-weekly farmer’s markets, to fix a meal at your vacation rental, or opt to eat at one of the local restaurants in the area, such as Flying Fish or Cache Restaurant and Lounge.

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2. Hot Springs

Thrills and chills await you in the town of Hot Springs. Spend your weekend riding the roller coasters at Magic Springs and Crystal Falls. This amusement park offers all your favorite rides along with a water park with slides and a wave pool. Take a tour of the old bathhouses in the Hot Springs National Park and feel the heat of these natural springs on a guided hike. Learn more about local and notorious bad guys at the Gangster Museum of America.

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3. Jacksonville

Spend your weekend splashing in the water in Jacksonville. The Splash Zone water park offers slides, a wave pool, and kiddie area with water fountains and dew drop showers. Dry off and put on your hiking boots for a day at the Holland Bottoms State Wildlife Management Area. Remember America’s fallen military members with a tour of the Jacksonville Museum of Military History. This small museum offers some nice exhibits and artifacts. Dupree Park is a great place to let the kids play on the playground while you relax and read your book on a bench.

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4. Fort Smith

Excitement awaits your family in Fort Smith over this holiday weekend. Attend the Old Fort Days Rodeo and Parade. Find good seats to watch the parade go by and then cheer as cowboys rope cows and ride bulls. On Monday, honor Arkansas’s fallen at the Memorial Day Service at Fort Smith National Cemetery. Take advantage of the sunshine at the Fort Smith Trolley Museum. It’s an outdoor museum with trolleys to see and even one to catch a ride on. Cool off at the Parrot Island Water Park with its slides, kiddie pool, wave pool, and lazy river.

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5. Fayetteville

Enjoy some time in the outdoors with a vacation rental in Fayetteville. Make the most of the weekend by hiking the Mount Sequoyah Woods Trails. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks features native and non-native plants, flowers, and shrubs in full bloom at this time of year. Before leaving, stop by the butterfly house and sit still to get a butterfly to land on you. Learn more about military aviation and history at the Arkansas Air and Military Museum.

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6. Eureka Springs

Unwind and enjoy small-town life in Eureka Springs. Cool off in the oldest show cave in the state, Onyx Cave. Your tour guide takes you around the cave and points out all the interesting geology. Visit the Blue Spring Heritage Center to see the towering hardwood trees and native plants. Walk past the Bluff Shelter and the Blue Springs. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a local rescue organization that cares for neglected and abandoned large cats. See these fierce creatures and sign up for an up-close visit with a cub.

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7. Bella Vista

Founded as a summer resort town, Bella Vista is a great place to kick off the summer season. One of the most popular places for hiking in the area is the Tanyard Creek Trail. When you need to cool off, simply take off your shoes and splash around in the water. Bring your boat and put in the water from one of the public launches at Lake Windsor. Invert Sports offers boat rentals and jet ski rentals to play on the lake or spend a day fishing.

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8. Mammoth Spring

Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, Mammoth Spring is a town that’s home to the largest hot springs in the state. Mammoth Spring State Park is the protected area of the hot springs just outside of town. More than nine million gallons of water flow each hour and form a lake. You can enjoy the hiking paths in the park or just enjoy walking by the springs. Learn more about how trains and rail service shaped the state at the Depot Museum.

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9. Ozarks

Ozarks shares its name with a large lake that Arkansas shares with Missouri. Mike Fink’s Marina Boat and Wave Runner Rentals Lake of the Ozarks can set your family up with a pontoon boat for a lazy day of fishing and soaking up the sun, or a powerboat for a day of water skiing. Learn more about the history of the lake and surrounding towns at the Ozark Area Museum. After a long day on the water, grab some ribs or sandwiches from Rivertowne BBQ to enjoy back at your vacation rental.

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