Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Image credit shuttersv via Shutterstock

6 Towns in Arkansas With Thriving Local Businesses

If looking for a genuine Southern adventure, head to small-town Arkansas. There, local means local—deliciously, excitingly, and fantastically local. Ozark cafes, folk music shops, jig joints, antique stores, BBQ grills, supposedly haunted hotels, and even a cliffside restaurant are among the authentic establishments enlivening the main drags of rural Arkansas. Learn more about six small communities where you can find—and support—those thriving local businesses.

Eureka Springs

Historic downtown of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Historic downtown of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Image credit Rachael Martin via Shutterstock

As per its slogan, Eureka Springs has "something for everyone." Foodies can dine at Le Stick Nouveau, Ermilio's Italian Home Cooking, the Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse, and the Local Flavor Cafe. Artists and aesthetes can browse The Ladybug Emporium, Wilson and Wilson Folk Art Company, and Metal Feathers. Partiers of all orientations can cut a rug at Eureka Live and Missy's White Rabbit Lounge. Witness The Great Passion Play, a reenactment of Christ's bodily demise called "America's #1 Attended Outdoor Drama."

Stay at the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, a luxurious retreat nearing its 140th birthday. Also, as the "Most Haunted Hotel in America," the Crescent attracts ghost hunters and herds them through the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour, Kids Ghost Tour, Expert & Expanded Ghost Tour, and/or the Midnight Investigation.


Historic Downtown Jasper, Arkansas.
Historic Downtown Jasper, Arkansas. Image credit Photolitherland at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An ever smaller community in the Arkansas Ozarks, Jasper has about 550 residents and arguably the most iconic café in the state. Everything from New York Magazine to Man v. Food to the National Register of Historic Places has recognized the Ozark Cafe's culinary and historical significance. It opened in 1909 and expanded to comprise three adjacent buildings that house a nearly 30-foot-long bar, soda fountain, grilled-cheese-sandwiched and knife-impaled Excaliburgers, and live music on Saturdays.

The Ozark Cafe stands on Court Street near other local legends like Bubba's Buffalo River Store, Peggy Sue’s Coffee, and the Jasper Pizza Company. Tourists wishing to branch out into Jasper's wilderness can stop at the Low Gap Cafe along the Buffalo River and the Cliff House Inn overlooking the Arkansas Grand Canyon.

Heber Springs

First reassurance marker for Arkansas Highway 25 Business (AR 25B, 7th Street) south of the Highway 110 junction in Heber Springs, Arkansas.
Downtown street in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

Located on Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River, Heber Springs springs to life not just with aquatic activity but also with vibrant businesses. After a swim or a sunbath, residents and visitors go for a cappuccino at the Jitterbug Coffeehouse, a burger at Tisha's Place, a show at the Gem Theater, and a wide variety of local products at the Ozark Country Market.

Ironically, waterfront Heber Springs is dry, meaning the commercial sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. However, many businesses get around this ban by obtaining a private club permit. Thus, you can purchase a club membership to drink at restaurants like Las Playitas, Cafe Klaser, and Pizza Pie-Zazz, and hotels like the Heber Springs Resort and Red Apple Inn.

Mountain View

Historic businesses along Highway 66 in Mountain View, Arkansas.
Historic businesses along Highway 66 in Mountain View, Arkansas. Image credit Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the "Folk Music Capital of the World," Mountain View is full of folksy and musical stores. At the top of the literal and metaphorical mountain is the Dulcimer Shoppe, founded by Lynn McSpadden, a luthier who made his first dulcimer in 1962. Another peak Mountain View business is Mountain View Music, which repairs and sells a variety of instruments (not just dulcimers) and is a "hub for some of the best folk musicians around."

In addition, do not neglect to visit the Ozark Folk Center State Park, which, along with being a music venue, hosts a gift shop, craft village, and a restaurant called The Skillet. Many of those businesses boom even louder during Mountain View's array of annual festivals, such as the Arkansas Folk Festival in April and the Spring/Fall Bluegrass Festival in March/November. Mountain View is music to the ears, eyes, and taste buds.

Siloam Springs

Downtown Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Downtown Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Image credit RaksyBH via Shutterstock

Yet another springy Arkansas settlement, Siloam Springs, flows with shops and eateries. Smack dab downtown is Fratelli's Wood-Fired Pizzeria, which cooks genuine Italian-style pizza in a wood-fired oven. Just up the street is Pure Joy Ice Cream, which might make you scream for joy with its unique and delicious flavors aided by local cheese producers, chocolate makers, coffee roasters, and beer brewers.

Way down South Mount Olive Street near Highway 412 sits the Magnolia Trading Post, a clothing boutique that currently has an unbelievable 5/5 rating out of 154 Google reviews. After turning the corner of Highway 412, you will find Cathy's Corner, an uber-popular restaurant in a distinctive fake-chicken-guarded building. Let Cathy's be the last in your pecking order of Siloam Springs stops.


Main Street, Hardy, Arkansas.
Main Street, Hardy, Arkansas. Image credit Skullrik, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As one of the oldest continuous settlements in northeastern Arkansas, Hardy is a hardy community. It developed in the 1880s around the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Memphis Railroad. Hardy's ravishing railside buildings, erected during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, are preserved in the Hardy Downtown Historic District. Hardy, which boasts around 750 residents, is the state's smallest city with a historic district. About 43 structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many of them house lively businesses.

Hardy's architectural/commercial highlights include the Jackson Building, which was built circa 1920 and is now famous as Miller’s Leather Shop; Cochran Building, a former theater that currently operates as the Ozark Classic Crafts Mall; and Biggers and Johnston Building, which is a 104-year-old haunt that houses the Memory Lane Antique Mall. After shopping in what is essentially a time machine, eat a hearty modern meal at Sabai Thai Cuisine and/or Smokin' Rick's BBQ.

Local means local in rural Arkansas, but that means everything to tourists. Although you can find typical small-town Southern fare like BBQ joints and antique stores, you can also find dance clubs in Eureka Springs, a nationally famous café in Jasper, "wet" restaurants in "dry" Heber Springs, a dulcimer shop in Mountain View, a perfect boutique in Siloam Springs, and hardy historic haunts in Hardy. These thriving local businesses are authentic to Arkansas and can be patronized during your next Southern vacation.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 6 Towns in Arkansas With Thriving Local Businesses

More in Places