Historic downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, USA, with boutique shops and famous buildings. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin / Shutterstock.com

6 Best Towns in Arkansas to Visit in 2024

There's always something to do in Arkansas, no matter what part. From the views of Bella Vista to the springs in either Eureka or Hot Springs, the state is nothing short of incredible. All of these landmarks and cultures add together into a state that anyone and everyone should consider visiting. The weather's warm, and the towns are filled with so much charm, meaning that no one should pass them up, no matter how big or small they are. There's always something to do, rain or shine, and the people there only add to the hospitality and downright beautiful scenery.

Eureka Springs

Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas: Beautiful street view, shop commerce destination in Northwest Arkansas.
Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Editorial credit: shuttersv / Shutterstock.com

Near Arkansas' border with Missouri in the Ozark Mountains is Eureka Springs, which was named after the many local springs in the area, often said to have health benefits for those who visited. Much of its Victorian architecture still stands and is well preserved, with the entire town being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This means that attractions like the Basin Park Hotel or the Palace Hotel & Bath House are still open and stand tall today, providing an incredibly unique style and atmosphere in the area. Tourists and residents often go to the springs in the area through different parks and trails, with the town keeping 63 Spring Reservations preserved, including Cave, Soldier, Cold, Cardinal, Conway, and Harding Springs, among many others around the area. Eureka Springs even has a trolley service, stopping around places in town while being accessible to those lodging in the local hotels. Plenty of people also travel to Black Bass Lake, which can be reached after a mile and a half of hiking and/or biking. Here, people often boat, picnic, or just take in the sights of the Ozark Mountains.

Van Buren

Main Street, old business district, Van Buren, Arkansas, USA.
Main Street, old business district, Van Buren, Arkansas, USA. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.com

Van Buren was once a small community in the early 1800s, acting as a lumber yard for people going up and down the Arkansas River. After a post office was built for said community, it was named after the then-present Secretary of State Martin Van Buren, and the name stuck. Much of its architecture is from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these buildings have been restored, like the King Opera House, which has a slew of theatrical presentations that bring in people from all over the area. Meanwhile, eateries like The Vault 1905 have sports grills built in a repurposed bank, with the word "Bank" still written on bricks outside the front of the restaurant. People come by to see the Crawford County Speedway, which is a dirt track that features races with participants hand painting their vehicles with different liveries, with events held from the early spring until the mid to late fall. Also famous in the area is the Van Buren Municipal Park, with a 0.8-mile walking trail going around Lake Cap Bedell.

El Dorado

Newton House Museum near downtown El Dorado, Arkansas.

Newton House Museum near downtown El Dorado, Arkansas.

El Dorado boomed because of the oil that was discovered nearby in the early 1920s. It's still a big part of its identity today, with the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission having its headquarters in the town. Downtown has a space dedicated to the history of El Dorado and how oil helped shape its history, called the Oil Heritage Park. It has artifacts, informative plaques, and sculptures showing people how important this development was. Contrasting this, El Dorado has an in-depth art and music scene, with the newest venue, called the Murphy Arts District (MAD), opening in 2017. It has a music hall, an outdoor amphitheater, a space for playgrounds, and even a farmers market. Meanwhile, the South Arkansas Art Center has art exhibits for local artists, a lot of which are focused on nature, as well as musicals. El Dorado is also home to one of the most extensive mayhaw orchards in southern Arkansas, which is a staple in southern cuisine. A Mayhaw Festival happens in May, with people coming by to participate in a motorcycle rally and parade and buy Mayhaw jelly cases.


Garrot House, the oldest house in Batesville, Arkansas, was built in 1842 and covered in snow.

Garrot House, the oldest house in Batesville, Arkansas, was built in 1842 and covered in snow.

Batesville is one of Arkansas' earlier towns, being established first as a trading post in 1812. In all that time, the area has accumulated a lot of ghost stories and urban legends like vanishing hitchhikers, so those who love the paranormal will feel right at home. Historic buildings like the Brown Chapel on the Lyon College campus or the Melba Theater are said to be haunted. Many houses and commercial buildings still exist today, with the town having a pretty robust historic district meant to preserve its history. The aforementioned Melba Theater, despite its spooky demeanor, is actually a renovated single-screen movie theater that has events and parties. It was originally an opera house before becoming a mercantile store and then the first cinemascope theater. Museums like the Old Independence Regional are always a great visit, housing many exhibits and artifacts from the area's history, including models to show what life was like during different points in the town's history. From Native American artifacts to wagons and dioramas showing how people lived during the great depression, there's always something to learn at the Old Independence.

Hot Springs

Aerial view of Downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Aerial view of Downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.

A resort town at heart, Hot Springs has plenty to offer. It's in the Ouachita Mountains and has a collection of natural hot springs in the area. Several bathhouses were once open in the area on the well-known Bathhouse Row. The Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the visitor center for the nearby Hot Springs National Park, while the Superior has been renovated and is now a brewery, still keeping the name from its past. Some of these are still open today, like the Buckstaff Bathhouse, for anyone who wants to relax and get a full thermal treatment while learning a bit about Hot Springs' history. The Hot Springs National Park was made to protect the nearby springs, with it being one of America's first national parks. People can book tiny houses both in town and in the Ouachita Mountains to have easy access to them. Some of the nearby lakes include Lake Catherine, Ouachita, Hamilton, Greeson, and DeGray. These lakes have water sports along with boating and fishing opportunities. People who want to do something adventurous can dig for quartz and crystals at the local Ron Coleman Mining, which is great for any age. Anyone who wants a bite to eat can head to the Grateful Head Pizza Oven or La Hacienda, which will have people full and happy after any adventure.

Bella Vista

A family with kids is biking on a trail in Bella Vista, Northwest Arkansas.

A family with kids is biking on a trail in Bella Vista, Northwest Arkansas.

The town of Bella Vista was initially established as a resort destination in 1917 for people wanting a spot in the south to enjoy their summers. It would become a retirement community decades later before finally incorporating in 2007, almost a century after it was initially established. So what does it have to offer? Its name in Spanish translates to beautiful views, so there are plenty of outdoor activities and sights in the area. The Back 40 trails are a collection of trails totaling up to around 40 miles, which are meant to be biked through via mountain bike, but pedestrian traffic is open as well for anyone who wants to walk any length. Meanwhile, the Loch Lomond Trail has a dog park, and the Lake Bella Vista Walking Trail has a playground for children. Seven lakes lie in the area: Lake Ann, Windsor, Brittany, Norwood, Rayburn, Avalon, and the aforementioned Loch Lomond. These lakes have fishing and boating opportunities, though some might be more difficult to access than others. Golf is offered at several courses, including the Brittany, Scottsdale, Dogwood Hills, Kingswood, and Berksdale courses, alongside the Bella Vista Country Club.

Why Arkansas Should Be on Your Travel List

The state of Arkansas might not be at the top of everyone's bucket list, but it should be. It has a unique layout with many scenic towns to visit, most of which are pretty close to nature. Any tourist would be happy to visit the charismatic and charming towns of Arkansas, with hot springs to lay in and relax, excellent food to enjoy, and trails to hike through and explore.

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