Historic downtown and Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Image credit rjjones via Shutterstock

8 Coolest Small Towns in Arkansas for a Summer Vacation

Home to the stunning Ozark Mountain range, and steeped in the uniquely American history of the south, Arkansas is a state with much to offer the curious traveler. With countless opportunities to hike, camp, and fish, as well as a treasure trove of museums and historical sites, experiencing all that is on offer in the state can almost be a bit overwhelming. While the bigger cities have a lot to give visitors, a small-town experience can be a more fulfilling way to explore the nature, culture, and history of one of America’s most beautiful states.


Misty November Morning on the Buffalo River in Jasper, Arkansas
Buffalo River in Jasper, Arkansas.

Situated in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, Jasper is a natural wonderland, offering visitors a chance to experience the beauty of the great outdoors. Surrounded by miles of pristine forests, rushing rivers, and glorious vistas, the town is a popular destination for hiking and camping enthusiasts. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or just a casual walker, Jasper has a variety of trails to suit all levels of experience, with stunning views of the Buffalo River and the surrounding landscape. At night, the starry sky provides a spectacular show, and the sound of wildlife in the distance creates a sense of peacefulness and serenity. For those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Jasper, Arkansas is a true haven, offering a chance to reconnect with nature and discover the beauty of the Ozarks.

Eureka Springs

Historic downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, with boutique shops and famous buildings.
Historic downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Image credit Rachael Martin via Shutterstock

Eureka Springs is a town like no other, with a unique blend of natural beauty and quirky charm that makes it a must-visit destination. Nestled in the Ozarks and surrounded by lush forests, winding rivers, and sparkling lakes, the town provides a breathtaking backdrop for visitors to explore. However, it is not just the natural beauty that draws visitors to Eureka Springs. There is also the eclectic mix of shops and boutiques that line the town's winding streets. From funky vintage clothing stores to artisanal craft shops, there is something for everyone to discover. Visitors can spend hours exploring the town's quirky shops, chatting with local artists and craftspeople, and discovering one-of-a-kind treasures. Eureka Springs is a gem of the South, where visitors can immerse themselves in an undeniably unique culture while surrounded by the majesty of the Ozarks Mountains.

Helena-West Helena

Aerial view of Helena, Arkansas Battle Battery C View
Helena, Arkansas Battle Battery C View.

In 2006, the towns of Helena and West Helena merged to form the only slightly confusingly named Helena-West Helena. A jewel once described by none other than Mark Twain as "one of the prettiest situations on the Mississippi," the town’s history stretches much farther back than the story of its name. Helena-West Helena played a vital role in the Civil War and the civil rights movement and visitors can explore the town's many historic sites to learn more about its past. From the Delta Cultural Center to the Freedom Park and the King Biscuit Blues Festival, numerous attractions offer a glimpse into the town's history and culture. Beyond the historic sites, Helena-West Helena is also known for its natural beauty, with miles of rolling hills, lush forests, and winding rivers to explore. Visitors can take a scenic drive along the Great River Road, hike through the St. Francis National Forest, or take a riverboat tour to experience the beauty of the region. Helena-West Helena is a town that has something for everyone, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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

A town steeped in music history, with a vibrant music scene that dates back generations, Mountain View takes claim to the title "Folk Music Capital of the World." Visitors can explore the many music venues, festivals, and events that take place throughout the year. From the Ozark Folk Center State Park to the Jimmy Driftwood Music Barn and Folk Hall of Fame, numerous attractions celebrate the town's musical heritage. Visitors can also take a stroll down Main Street to discover the many antique shops, galleries, and boutiques filled with treasures and artifacts from the town's past. Beyond the music and history, Mountain View is also known for its natural beauty, with stunning views of the Ozark Mountains and miles of hiking trails to explore. Whether you are a music lover or a nature enthusiast, Mountain View is a town that is sure to capture your heart and leave a lasting impression.


View of the Ozark Bridge over the Arkansas River in NW Arkansas.
Ozark Bridge over the Arkansas River in NW Arkansas.

The perfect destination for a family vacation that offers both adventure and relaxation, Ozark is nestled in the heart of the mountains that share its name. The town offers stunning views of the natural beauty that Arkansas has to offer. Families can hike the trails of Ozark National Forest or take a canoe trip down the Mulberry River. There are also plenty of opportunities for anglers on the Ozark Lake and the Arkansas River. For those seeking more adrenaline-pumping activities, there is rock climbing, zip-lining, and ATV riding. Families can also enjoy exploring the charming downtown area, with shops, restaurants, historical sites, and an array of stunning murals to discover. No matter what your family's interests are, Ozark, Arkansas is sure to offer a memorable and exciting vacation for all.


The Historic South Pike County Courthouse, Murfreesboro, Arkansas
The Historic South Pike County Courthouse, Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Image credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock

Known for its diamond mines, Murfreesboro is a unique destination for visitors. The Crater of Diamonds State Park allows visitors to search for diamonds and other gems in the park's designated digging area. Located in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, visitors will appreciate the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape as they make their way to the mine. Once inside, you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones in a plowed field that was once an ancient volcanic crater. Beyond the excitement of finding treasure, visitors can also enjoy the other attractions offered by the mine, including a water park, camping, and hiking trails. You can also look forward to learning about the history and geology of the area through exhibits and museum displays. The diamond mine in Murfreesboro, Arkansas is a unique and unforgettable experience that allows visitors to connect with nature and uncover the hidden treasures of the earth.

Calico Rock

Abandoned funeral home, in Pepper Sauce Alley ghost town, in Calico Rock, Arkansas
Pepper Sauce Alley ghost town, in Calico Rock, Arkansas.

Named for the kaleidoscopic markings on the bluffs that overhang above the White River, Calico Rock is a true hidden gem of the state. The town's historic district is home to a number of well-preserved Victorian-era buildings, storefronts, and the iconic Calico Rock Water Tower, which stands as a testament to the town's storied past. In addition to the historic yet functioning downtown, Calico Rock features an entire ghost town to explore. Containing a tavern, a barber shop, a theater, a cotton gin, and an array of other buildings and structures, Calico Rock’s Ghost Town offers a rare opportunity for guests to step into some authentic history in a way that is just not possible any other way. With its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Calico Rock, Arkansas is a town not to miss, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for all who visit.


Trees and walking path in Downtown Leslie, Arkansas
Downtown Leslie, Arkansas. Image credit Brandonrush via Wikimedia Commons

Leslie is a small town that exudes a unique Americana beauty that is both charming and unforgettable. Founded and developed by pioneers moving west out of the Appalachians, the town is a living piece of the American story. The historic downtown district includes quaint shops and local businesses that offer a glimpse into the town's rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the historic Leslie Depot, which was once a bustling hub for travelers and commerce. Or visit the local antique shops and flea markets to find hidden treasures and one-of-a-kind keepsakes. At night, visitors can gather around the town square to listen to live music and soak up the friendly, small-town atmosphere. With its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Leslie is a town that is sure to capture the hearts of all who visit.

With its unique combination of Americana and southern charm, Arkansas is a state perfect for a summer vacation. From the majestic beauty of the Ozark Mountains to the crystal-clear waters of the Buffalo National River, the state is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the country. The state is also home to a variety of unique small towns that offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of Arkansas, with charming shops, restaurants, and attractions that capture the true spirit of southern hospitality.

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