Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Editorial credit: shuttersv /

7 Friendliest Towns To Visit In The Ozarks In 2024

There is something about a town that sits on the shores of a glittering lake — or one framed by the austere grandeur of a noble and majestic mountain. It is a bonus if such a town is charming, small, and friendly. Unfortunately, these storybook towns are few and far between. But the Ozarks region bucks this trend and should be on every vacationer’s bucket list. From Eureka Springs, Arkansas to Branson, Missouri, discover the seven friendliest towns in the Ozarks in 2024.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Editorial credit: shuttersv /

Anyone who does not know why Arkansas is called “the Natural State” — has probably not set foot in Northwest Arkansas. And the one spot that gives this nickname meaning is the area around the friendly town of Eureka Springs. One may not discover some law of Physics — as Isaac Newton did when he supposedly screamed ‘Eureka” in the 1600s, but will discover a kind of raw natural beauty that is hard to chance upon these days.

Book a room at Crescent Hotel and Spa, which styles itself as the state’s “symbol of hospitality.” Wander through Basin Spring Park, the site of a spring that birthed the town and a great place to people-watch. Avid shoppers will find tons of options around this area. If you have a good relationship with mushroom soup and delicious prime ribs, Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse must be on your to-do list.

Branson, Missouri

Downtown Branson, Missouri.
Downtown Branson, Missouri. Editorial credit: NSC Photography /

Any town that bills itself as the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World” is going to be friendly. Live entertainment, including music, comes with a free spirit — and some contagious warmth and camaraderie. Branson is low-ket Vegas and boasts more theater seats than Broadway's theater district. To spice it up, show tickets here are way more affordable. To relive the heady 60s with impersonators of music greats such as Michael Jackson and Kenny Chesney — Legends in Concert will have to be part of one’s itinerary. This is one of the greatest live tribute shows on Earth.

Then again, Branson hosts Inspiration Tower at Shepherd of the Hills, the go-to spot for a bird’s eye view of the town. Of course, Silver Dollar City, which USA Today has named the best theme park in the nation for the second year in a row — is the perfect venue for vacationers who prefer something intense and exciting.

Bella Vista, Arkansas

Bella Vista, Arkansas
Family with kids biking on a bike trail in Bella Vista, Arkansas.

Bella Vista is a heartbeat away from Bentonville and Rogers but way friendlier, slow-paced, and inviting. Bella Vista is Spanish for “beautiful view” and there is a lot to love in this woodsy area, especially concerning natural beauty and outdoor opportunities. One can enjoy a picnic at a table overlooking Lake Norwood, go boating in Lake Windsor, or hit up the many miles of trails within the town’s precincts. The Back 40 Trails, for example, and Blowing Springs — are among the best hiking venues.

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, with arches that tower 50 feet high, is both peaceful and incredibly beautiful. It is often a nice spot to rest, ponder, and meditate. Finally, avid golfers will love the fact Bella Vista hosts numerous golf courses, including the highly-rated Highlands Golf and Pub, which features a nice clubhouse with a full bar. Remember to grab a finger-licking pizza after a round of golf.

Van Buren, Missouri

Van Buren, Missouri
The scenic town of Van Buren, Missouri. Image credit: Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons.

Historians say it was not unusual to see Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States and one of the founders of the Democratic Party, shake hands, smile, and joke with men who were his political enemies. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that the town named after him is just as friendly. Van Buren is secreted on the banks of the Current River, which is swift and scenic in almost equal measure. Big Spring (there is a reason it is called “big.”) rises from a dramatic limestone cliff not far from downtown Van Buren. Its striking bright-blue water and sheer size make it one of the most sought-after attractions in town. It is the biggest spring in the Show-Me State and among the biggest in the United States.

The area around Van Buren is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways; hence, it features some of the best paddling in the Midwest. And if you want to enjoy a 6-ounce rib eye in a friendly place, where waiters are all smiles, work your way to the D's, a family restaurant known for home-style dishes.

Mountain View, Arkansas

Courthouse Square in Mountain View, Arkansas
Courthouse Square in Mountain View, Arkansas. Image credit: Brandonrush via Wikimedia Commons.

Mountain View’s evocative name is in reference to its location in a valley bordered by the Blue Mountain Range of the Ozark Mountains. With nature’s broad smile on almost every side, it will be difficult for a resident here not to be friendly. Mountain View is also known for folk music, another feature that adds a layer of warmth and geniality to the town’s social landscape. A first-time visitor here will tap her feet to the delightful tunes from a banjo — as well as fiddles, dulcimers, and guitars. It is particularly a delight because, most of the time, the music is spontaneous.

Spend time at the Ozark Folk Center State Park, arguably the only state park in Arkansas dedicated to the preservation of the region’s folk tradition. To sniff some fresh air, the Ozark National Forest, which spans more than 1.2 million acres of rolling greenery, will come in handy. Alternatively, Mirror Lake, a trout haven that is just as stunning, is nearby and less forbidding.

Jasper, Arkansas

Jasper, Arkansas.
The historic downtown of Jasper, Arkansas. Image credit: Photolitherland at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons.

According to some accounts, Jasper, Arkansas, is named for a precious stone frequently mentioned in the Bible, a variety of chalcedony quartz that often comes in different hues of red, from brick red to brownish red. Jasper the town - and Jasper the precious stone — share one thing in common: Pristine beauty. Today, this Ozarks charmer is mostly known as the gateway to the Buffalo National River, America’s first National River. The river is known for the hulking limestone bluffs that surround it and the broad range of outdoor adventure opportunities it provides.

But Jasper is also called the "Elk Capital of Arkansas," and it will be a delight to lock eyes with one of the biggest deer species on earth and have a close-up view of their eye-catching antlers. Spend some quiet moments at Bradley Park, a quiet oasis situated at the end of Clark Street. After a long day of hiking the nearby waterfalls, grab a filling meal at Ozark Cafe. Feel the pulse of the town here and discover why it is among the friendliest towns to visit in the Ozarks.

Lowell, Arkansas

Razorback Regional Greenway in Lowell, Arkansas.
Razorback Regional Greenway in Arkansas. Image credit: Brandonrush via Wikimedia Commons.

Residents describe Lowell, a friendly town that reclines on the 36-mile Razorback Regional Greenway, as mostly calm, quiet, and safe. It blends the quaintness of a small town with the friendliness of a close-knit community. A first-time visitor will enjoy biking the Razorback Regional Greenway trail, a scenic, safe cycling and walking trail that links seven major cities stretching from Bella Vista to Fayetteville. Those who don’t want to break a sweat, however, will want to opt for Ward Nail Park, a 72-acre gem that often hosts the annual Mudtown Days celebration. For something heart-pounding, Fast Lane Entertainment is the only indoor roller coaster in Arkansas. Find time to sit down with a plate of fried catfish at Tater's Fresh Grill, best enjoyed after teeing away a slow-paced afternoon at the Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park.

Whether one will want to lace up for Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a swoon-worthy town with incredible natural beauty, charming Victorian architecture, and an eclectic downtown area — or Branson, Missouri, a friendly and delightful town billed as the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World, the Ozarks region presents a broad range of friendly towns that will leave a first-time visitor completely blown away. Plus, this region’s menu of outdoor offerings, including shimmering lakes and trail-laden mountains — is hard to beat.

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