If you want to learn about a surprising and exciting region in the American Midwest, take a look at the Ozark Mountains. A mountainous region west of the Mississippi River that spans four states, the Ozarks and their attractions deserve to be better known. The Ozark plateau runs from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Arkansas River, covering parts of Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and the tip of southeast Kansas. The full region spans roughly 75,000 square miles. The Ozark Mountains include three distinct areas: the Boston, Salem, and Springfield Plateaus.
The seven small towns below will illuminate points of interest that suggest the diversity and quaintness of the Ozark region as a whole.
Bentonville ranks among Arkansas' best-known cities. The famous retail giant Wal-Mart calls the town home, as do about 37,000 residents total. The town offers diverse points of interest, namely the 8th Street Market for food lovers, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – and the Scott Family Amazeum, one of the finest children's museums in the United States. For outdoor enthusiasts, Bentonville offers no fewer than 22 parks, which are made for running, walking, and hiking. Some also feature biking trails.
Grove sits in northeastern Oklahoma, with a population of 7,200. Formerly a part of Cherokee Nation land, Grove was incorporated in 1902. The town is a logical place to stay for visitors to Grand Lake, a popular warm-weather attraction nearby. Grove offers the Lendonwood Gardens, a botanical garden spanning eight acres with over a thousand plant species.
Outside of Grove proper, the Honey Creek area of Grand Lake State Park gives access to Oklahoma's natural beauty. For those with time and further interest in gardens, a trip to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, 70 miles southeast of Grove in the state of Arkansas, makes a great outing.
Mountain View, Arkansas
The small town of Mountain View, Arkansas, with a little more than 2,900 residents, makes for a more quiet and equally relaxing Ozark visit. The area's White River allows for fishing, boating, swimming, and picnicking. Mountain View has celebrated music and crafts activities, including the Bean Fest, the Arts and Crafts Festival, and the Mountainview Bluegrass Music Festival. Visitors can hear musicians play string instruments in the "picking" style beloved in the country and Western music circles. The nearby Ozark Folk Center offers museum-style education for students of all ages.
Batesville, Arkansas, population 11,200, is a small town and the seat of Independence County. Batesville plays a key part in Arkansas as a transportation hub related to its historic role in trade along the White River, a major waterway in the mid-continental United States. Tourist attractions include the Garrott House, an 1840s stately home that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Cook-Morrow House, built in the early 20th century, is another historic home and is also included on the National Register of Historic Places. Batesville's Ozark Foothills Film Festival began in 2002 and seeks to celebrate and encourage area filmmaking.
Known as "a small town with big ideas," Greenwood, Arkansas, population 9,600, offers a quieter alternative to life and visits in nearby Fort Smith. The growing location offers a performing arts center and the Vache Grasse ("Fat Cow") Golf Course, a local favorite. Local residents enjoy high-quality schools and low levels of crime, which ensure a safe and fun time here for visitors. The local historical society keeps local history alive and has moved to preserve the local, historic schoolhouse -- where the town's study of its past continues today.
Despite a small population of 12,900, Branson, Missouri, enjoys an outsized reputation as an entertainment center. The town has been attracting visitors to live music shows across various genres and musical styles for over fifty years. Branson likewise offers seasonal attractions, from fall leaf-watching to exploration of its historic downtown. The town's position between Table Rock Lake and Cooper Creek provides a natural geography that is worth a visit on its own. Boating activities should appeal to every type of visitor, from local kayaking rental options to a ride on the Showboat Branson Belle, an old-fashioned steamboat that offers a dinner-and-entertainment experience while sailing Table Rock Lake.
Rolla, Missouri, with a population of 20,300 and located in Phelps County, combines a small-town feel with a larger set of things to see and do, especially for kids. The town enjoys an exceptional history of train engines and railroads, and visitors can learn more at the Frisco 1501 Engine site. The Phelps County Courthouse offers lessons in the history of the US Civil War. A visit to the Ed Clark Museum of Missouri Geology is very worthwhile for natural history, especially on fossils, minerals, and rocks. The SplashZone Waterpark and Kokomo Joe's Family Fun Center provide swimming and waterslides for traveling families.
Fun for Families, Couples, and Everyone
For travelers who might be interested in the Ozarks as their next destination, the region's quaint towns give some very good reasons to visit. Indeed, the four-state region, from Missouri and Oklahoma to Arkansas and part of Kansas, offers a slice of American life that cannot be found anywhere else. The Ozarks may just be a viable future travel destination for couples, families, arts and culture lovers, and the travelers looking for something fresh and interesting.