Downtown brick buildings in Van Buren, Arkansas. Image credit Daniel Collier Hinkle via Shutterstock

12 Gorgeous Arkansas Towns To Visit In 2023

The landlocked state of Arkansas, located in the south-central region of the Southern United States, is renowned for its natural wonders. From the majestic Ozark and Ouachita mountains that make up the US Interior Highlands to the luxuriant forests in the south and the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and Arkansas Delta, the Natural State has much to offer. Although big cities like Little Rock, Springdale, and Fayetteville, first come to mind when one thinks of Arkansas, the state has several gorgeous small towns to visit that serve as perfect getaways away from these bustling metropolises.


Fall colors in Batesville.
Fall colors in Batesville, Arkansas.

Placed at the base of the Ozark Mountains along the White River in the state’s north-central portion, Batesville, the administrative center of Independence County, is about 90 miles northeast of Little Rock, the state capital. Named in honor of Judge James Woodson Bates, the first territorial delegate from Arkansas to the US Congress, the city serves as the regional manufacturing and distribution hub for Northeast Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains region.

Being the state’s oldest city, Batesville houses numerous attractions ranging from historical sites to various outdoor activities. History and cultural aficionados must stop by the Garrott House, Cook-Morrow House, Old Independence Regional Museum, Mark Martin Museum, and the newly renovated Melba Theater. Batesville’s beautiful Riverside and Kennedy Parks offer breathtaking views of the majestic White River and many recreational activities. In addition, annual events like the Ozark Foothills Film Festival and the Arkansas Scottish Festival draw several visitors to Batesville every year.

Bella Vista

Pink and purple blooms on the trees in Bella Vista Lake Park, Northwest Arkansas.
Bella Vista Lake Park, Northwest Arkansas.

Located on the Springfield Plateau of the Ozark Mountains in the northern part of the state’s Benton County, the tranquil and picturesque Bella Vista is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Initially founded as a summer resort destination in 1917, Bella Vista has gradually developed over the years from a retirement community to a popular tourist destination. Hidden away amongst its luxuriant woods are seven crystal-clear lakes where members of the community and their guests can fish, water ski, or take a refreshing dip.

Some must-visit attractions in the city include the gorgeous Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, Veterans Wall of Honor, Bella Vista Museum, and the Museum of Native American History. Outdoor lovers can explore the extensive hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking trails, like the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail, Lake Bella Vista Trail, the Back40 Trails, and the Little Sugar trail system that crisscross the area, or enjoy a round of golf at the city’s five 18-hole and two 9-hole golf courses.


Storefronts on the Main street in Russellville, Arkansas.
Main Street in Russellville, Arkansas. Image credit Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bounded by the Arkansas River and Lake Dardanelle, Russellville, the chief city of the Russellville Micropolitan Statistical Area, is in the state’s Pope County. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Russellville Downtown Historic District covers a significant portion of the downtown and comprises a total of 34 historic buildings in Early Commercial architectural style. Besides the historic downtown area, Russellville is known for its vibrant culture, entertainment scenes, and proximity to incredibly beautiful hiking trails.

The adjoining Mount Nebo State Park, Lake Dardanelle State Park, and the Ozark St. Francis National Forest offer residents and visitors a plethora of excellent waterside stops and stunning vistas. The city hosts many annual events, including the Downtown Art Walk, the Pope County Fair, a hot air balloon festival at Russellville Soccer Complex, and an array of sporting, and horse racing events, fairs, and conventions at the Pope County Fairgrounds.


Downtown Ozark, Arkansas on US 64/Hwy. 23 facing east
Downtown Ozark, Arkansas. Image credit Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This small community rests in the Arkansas River Valley on the southern edge of the Ozark Mountains in Franklin County, approximately 38 miles east of Fort Smith and 48 miles west of Russellville. Placed at the heart of Arkansas Wine Country and encircled by rolling hills and amazing natural scenery, Ozark boasts a perfect amalgamation of small-town beauty and outdoor recreation. To learn more about Ozark’s rich history and culture, visitors must stroll through the downtown, featuring unique museums like the old Missouri Pacific Depot and the Old Franklin County Jail, besides various murals, gift shops, and locally-owned restaurants.

Ozark provides easy access to the Pig Trail Scenic Byway that winds through the rolling mountain country, rock formations, tall waterfalls, and the serene Mulberry River, well-known for kayaking and canoeing activities. Fishing opportunities are offered by the Ozark Lake on the Arkansas River, while the tree-shaded Aux Arc Park provides boat launching ramps and campgrounds.

Siloam Springs

People and cars on the street in downtown Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Downtown Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Image credit RaksyBH Shutterstock

Situated on the western edge of the Northwest Arkansas Metropolitan Area, sharing a boundary with Oklahoma, Siloam Springs sits atop a plateau in the Ozark region in the state’s Benton County. Initially founded as a health resort that once attracted thousands of visitors from across the nation, Siloam Springs is still a popular tourist destination that has preserved much of its scenic landscape.

The Sager Creek is a unique attraction, which flows through the downtown area via an artificial channel. In addition to being home to John Brown University, Siloam Springs’ other must-visit attractions include the Siloam Springs Kayak Park, Siloam Springs Farmer’s Market, and Siloam Springs Museum. The town also hosts numerous annual cultural events like the Dogwood Festival, Homegrown Festival, Siloam Springs Rodeo, City Fireworks Presentation, Light Up Siloam Christmas Parade, and many more.


Red facade of the City courthouse building in Paris, Arkansas.
City courthouse building in Paris, Arkansas.

Placed in a valley close to the Arkansas River in Northwest Arkansas’s Ozark Mountains region, the cute town of Paris serves as the administrative center for Logan County’s northern district. Referred to as the "Gateway to Mount Magazine," this quiet Arkansas town is renowned for its amazing landscapes and rich history, providing the ideal combination of small-town charm and outdoor recreational opportunities.

Some of Paris’s attractions include Logan County Museum, County Line Auction House & Flea Market, Cowie Wine Cellars, and Cove Lake Recreation Area. Nature lovers must visit Mount Magazine State Park to witness the beauty of the tallest peak in the state. One must not miss the historic buildings, pretty stores, and cozy cafes that line the streets of downtown, besides Arkansas’s sole Eiffel Tower with Love Lock Fence, which is perfect for photoshoots.


Magnolia, Arkansas United States - January 1 2021: a beautiful old theatre with neon lighting
Old theatre in Magnolia, Arkansas. Image credit Sabrina Janelle Gordon via Shutterstock

The county seat of Columbia County, Magnolia, sits in Southwest Arkansas, approximately 135 miles south of the state capital, Little Rock. Serving as an ideal getaway from the rush of urban metropolises, Magnolia invites tourists to tour its charming downtown area and soak in the natural beauty of the surrounding region. Named after the native southern Magnolia tree, Magnolia gradually developed from a cotton, farm production, and marketing town to being home to Southern Arkansas University and other noteworthy attractions like the Columbia County Courthouse Square and the South Arkansas Heritage Museum.

Thousands of visitors flock to Magnolia yearly to participate in the World Championship Steak Cookoff at the Magnolia Blossom Festival. The nearby Lake Columbia, Logoly State Park, and Lafayette Wildlife Management Area also offer ample outdoor recreational activities.

Mountain View

Folk Music Capital of the World, Mountain View, Arkansas.
Folk Music Capital of the World, Mountain View, Arkansas. Image credit Travel Bug via Shutterstock

Nicknamed the "Folk Music Capital of the World," this Stone County town is in a valley bounded by Ozark Mountains’ Blue Mountain Range. Widely known for its uniqueness, hospitality, and relaxed pace of life, tourism, and local festivals serve as mainstays for Mountain View’s economy. Mountain View takes great pride in preserving the region’s rich Ozark traditions with various live music shows to entertain travelers.

In addition to music stores and antique shops, Mountain View also houses numerous local hotels and eateries that cater to tourists who want to visit the nearby Blanchard Springs Caverns, Ozark Folk Center State Park, and Stone County Museum. Or take part in hiking, mountain biking, and camping activities at Ozark National Forest and world-class trout-fishing at the White River.

Fairfield Bay

Looking out from the bow of a boat over Greer’s Ferry Lake, Fairfield Bay, Arkansas.
Greer’s Ferry Lake, Fairfield Bay, Arkansas.

Placed on a hill overlooking the northern banks of the pristine Greers Ferry Lake, this charming lakeside retreat town spreads across Van Buren and Cleburne Counties in the state’s northern portion. Fairfield Bay offers visitors stunning mountain views and an array of outdoor activities. Fairfield Bay is also a golfer’s paradise where golf aficionados can play for hours at the two 18-hole championship golf courses. Hiking enthusiasts can explore the different trails of the Bay View Trail System, including the Sugar Loaf Mountain Island Trail and Indian Rock House Cave Trail.

In addition, this resort community is home to the well-known full-service Fairfield Bay Marina, containing over 400 slips as well as eight championship tennis courts, ten family adventure stops, three resort-style pools, a fitness center, and a wide variety of restaurants. Many tourists also come to Fairfield Bay to enjoy the many colorful annual events like Bloomin’in the Bay, Fourth of July, Surf the Bay, Oktoberfest, and Festival of Trees at the Bay.

Heber Springs

Aerial view of Sugarloaf Mountain in Heber Springs, Arkansas.
Sugarloaf Mountain in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

Named after a series of natural springs located on the eastern side of the town on Main Street, the administrative center of Cleburne County serves as a gateway to Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River. During summer, hordes of fishing enthusiasts are drawn to Heber Springs in search of prized trout catches and to enjoy water-based recreation activities.

The town’s historic downtown district contains a stately county courthouse with a traditional square, antique shops, art galleries, museums, theaters, and a Spring Park. Heber Springs’s must-see attractions include the Heber Springs Sports Complex, Collins Creek Cascade, Sandy Beach, Ruland Junction Toy Train Museum, Eagle Bank Park, and the Heber Springs Community Center.

Van Buren

The old business district on Main Street in Van Buren.
The old business district on Main Street in Van Buren. Image credit Roberto Galan via

Named in honor of US President Martin Van Buren, the county seat of Crawford County is in the western part of the state along the Arkansas River directly northeast of Fort Smith. The town’s location at the meeting point of Interstate 40 and Interstate 540 and close to the Arkansas/Oklahoma boundary has made it a well-known tourist destination. Visitors must travel down the Van Buren Historic District, encompassing eight blocks of pre-1920 Victorian and Italianate buildings along the historic Main Street, and witness the beautifully restored 1901 Frisco Train Depot, Crawford County Courthouse, Van Buren Confederate Monument, and the Albert Pike Schoolhouse.

Tourists can also enjoy a wide range of local events and community theatre performances at the historic King Opera House or visit the Drennen-Scott Historic Site to learn more about the rich history of the Old West. Nature lovers can head to the Lee Creek Hiking Trails to see the interesting geological sites and enjoy breathtaking views of Lee Creek.  

Eureka Springs

Road through Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railroad Depot, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
North Arkansas Railroad Depot, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Situated in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas close to the boundary with Missouri, the heart of this quaint town occupies a narrow valley at the headwaters of Leatherwood Creek in western Carroll County. The historic commercial downtown of Eureka Springs is known for its perfectly preserved Victorian buildings that line the steep, winding streets.

Some of Eureka Springs’s noteworthy attractions include Thorncrown Chapel, Lake Leatherwood Park, Crescent Hotel & Spa, Blue Spring Heritage Center, Christ of the Ozarks statue, Eureka Springs Historical Museum, and the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway. The city also hosts various annual festivals like the May Festival of the Arts, Eureka Springs Food and Wine Festival, and Eureka Gras Mardi Gras Extravaganza.

From historic downtowns to awe-inspiring natural surroundings, the small towns in the nation’s 29th largest and 34th most populous state are often overlooked as vacation destinations. Each of these towns has something unique to offer, whether it be spectacular landscapes, historical landmarks, thriving cultural scenes, ample recreational opportunities, and the kind of Southern hospitality of the people residing here. So, whether you are searching for a nature retreat or a place to unwind, you must visit these gorgeous small towns in the Natural State on a vacation tour with your loved ones.

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