Bikers Riding Motorcycles in Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, USA, Man Playing Guitar at Stop Sign. Editorial credit: shuttersv /

8 Coolest Towns in Arkansas for a Summer Vacation in 2024

Arkansas, widely considered to be a slightly derogatory "flyover state," is actually a captivating summer destination, offering outdoor adventure, interesting history, and classic American culture. With its stunning landscapes—from the lush Ozarks and Ouachita Mountains to the sparkling lakes and rivers—the state invites exploration and relaxation.

Arkansas's small towns embody a welcoming atmosphere, where historic districts meet contemporary art scenes, and local events bring communities together. Whether you seek the tranquility of nature, the charm of historic architecture, or the excitement of festivals and outdoor activities, Arkansas has something for everyone. Let's explore the Bear State through these eight small towns.


Downtown Paris, Arkansas, USA, Facing South on Highway 309.
Downtown Paris, Arkansas, US, Facing South on Highway 309. By Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Seated in the Arkansas River Valley, Paris is a picturesque town with a unique European-inspired aesthetic. Paris is best known for its replica of the Eiffel Tower in its downtown square, symbolizing its namesake and adding a whimsical touch to this area so far from France. This small town also has a rich history of its own, which can be explored at the Logan County Museum.

Paris provides you with easy access to Mount Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas, sitting at an admirable elevation of 2,753 feet, and located in the nearby Mount Magazine State Park. This park provides visitors with hiking trails, picnic areas, and sweeping views of the Arkansas River Valley from atop a collection of peaks beside the mountain that shares its namesake. It's a popular spot for extreme outdoor activities like rock climbing and hang gliding and is also notable for its birdwatching. The lodge at Mount Magazine offers accommodations for those seeking a longer stay with modern amenities and stunning vistas.

Paris also hosts several events throughout the year, including the Frontier Days Festival and the Tour de Paris bike race.

Eureka Springs

Historic Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, USA, with Boutique Shops and Famous Buildings.
Historic Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin /

Eureka Springs, in northwest Arkansas, is an iconic destination that is loaded with interesting old architecture and a cool small-town vibe. This town's narrow streets and historic buildings attract sightseers and historians alike who are looking for a slower pace away from big cities that share many similar attractions.

Historic tours can take you through the Victorian-era homes and hotels that give Eureka Springs its character. Book a tour with Underground Eureka Tours, or for something a little more spooky, go with Haunted Eureka Springs.

Beyond the town center, the Ozark Mountains provide numerous opportunities for outdoor adventures. Hiking and biking trails are plentiful, and nearby lakes offer boating and fishing. A little west of town up Magnetic Drive, The Great Passion Play, a major attraction, brings biblical stories to life with dramatic flair at the ornately designed performing arts center.

Mountain View

Gazebos at Washington Street Park, Downtown Mountain View, Arkansas
Gazebos at Washington Street Park, Downtown, Mountain View, Arkansas. By Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Mountain View, located in north-central Arkansas, is renowned for its folk music scene and dedication to traditional Ozark culture. This is evident in the Ozark Folk Center State Park, which is a hub for learning about traditional crafts and music, with daily demonstrations and live performances throughout the year. See a show at the beautiful Ozark Highlands Theater.

As mentioned before, Mountain View's music scene is a major draw, with musical acts regularly gathering at the courthouse square for impromptu jam sessions. The town also hosts various festivals and events during the summer, including the Mountain View Bluegrass Festival, attracting music lovers from across the region. To learn more about the history of this town, besides its connection to the arts, pay a visit to the Stone County Museum.

Trying to get out into the nearby hills? Check out the nearby Blanchard Springs Caverns, a stunning underground cave system that has guided tours. Above ground, hiking and fishing are popular activities in the surrounding forests and rivers. The ominously named Hell Creek Natural Area is full of gorgeous trails and fishing spots along Hell Creek, which leads into the much larger White River.

Hot Springs

Townscape of Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA at Dusk in the Mountains.
Townscape of Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA at Dusk in the Mountains. By Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Hot Springs, located in the Ouachita Mountains of central Arkansas, is a town with a storied past and a unique focus on relaxation and rejuvenation in its famous hot springs. Known for its naturally heated thermal springs (who would have guessed?), this town has been a popular destination for travelers for centuries at this point. Bathhouse Row, a National Historic Landmark District, features a collection of historic bathhouses where visitors can experience traditional thermal baths, spa treatments, and tours. You should also check out Hot Springs National Park, which encompasses the historic springs and provides scenic hiking trails with panoramic views of this hilly and forested area. The park's Visitor Center, located in the Fordyce Bathhouse, has displays that peer into the town's history and the science behind the healing thermal waters.

Beyond the bathhouses, Hot Springs has a lively downtown that is full of useful amenities, ranging from local gift shops to hotels and restaurants. For those interested in arts and culture, Hot Springs hosts several annual events and festivals in town, including the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival.

The town's location in the Ouachita Mountains makes it an excellent base for exploring nearby outdoor activities like boating, fishing, and mountain biking.

Heber Springs

Long exposure of a Marine landscape, Rocks, and sand on the banks of Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas.
Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas. By Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Heber Springs, in central Arkansas's lake country, is a place that draws visitors for its lakeside setting and plethora of outdoor (most aquatic) activities. It sits on the shores of Greers Ferry Lake, one of the biggest lakes in the state and a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming during the summer months. The lake's clear waters and natural scenery make it an idyllic spot for anyone looking to spend a summer vacation in 2024 by the water.

Greers Ferry Lake is the star attraction in Heber Springs, but the town is also home to the scenic Little Red River, which is known for its world-class trout fishing. Be sure to get your fishing license before heading out! The nearby Sugarloaf Mountain also has hiking trails with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape once you get to the top of the unique natural rock feature.

Van Buren

Old Business District on Main Street, Van Buren, Arkansas, USA.
Old Business District on Main Street, Van Buren, Arkansas, US. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

Van Buren, situated in the Arkansas River Valley on the far western side of the state, has a variety of significant historical landmarks and modern attractions just north of the Fort Smith Metro Area. This town's Main Street is a historic treasure trove, featuring well-preserved 19th-century architecture and a welcoming atmosphere to match, with tours available all year around. Catch a show at the King Opera House, go for a cold one at the Pointer Brewery, or visit one of the many restaurants or gift shops, all housed within old-timey and picturesque storefronts.

As mentioned, visitors such as yourself can take a guided tour to learn about the town's colorful history or ride the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, which offers scenic excursions through the Ozarks. The Drennen-Scott Historic Site, a restored antebellum home, provides further insight into the area's past.

While Van Buren has a strong historical focus, it also has plenty of outdoor recreation. Lee Creek Park and Clear Creek Park offer trails and picnic areas along the Arkansas River.

Siloam Springs

Old Buildings in Historic District of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, USA.
Historic District of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, US. Editorial credit: RaksyBH /

Siloam Springs is known for its revitalized downtown, which features landmarks such as the John Brown University ground and the Sager Creek Arts Center along Sager Creek, creating a charming riverside community that is a perfect stop for a road trip this summer.

You can try to line up your visit with one of this town's many events and festivals, including the Dogwood Festival in spring and the Homegrown Festival in summer. These events draw visitors from around the country, adding to the town's lively atmosphere, particularly in the summer months.

Outdoor adventurers will appreciate the town's proximity to the Siloam Springs Kayak Park, where you go for a leisurely kayaking trip, among other water sports on the Illinois River. Additionally, Natural Falls State Park, just across the Oklahoma border, offers trails and a collection of waterfalls along the way. Bring your camera!


Lake Fort Smith with Boston Mountains in Background, Near Mountainburg, Arkansas, USA.
Lake Fort Smith near Mountainburg, Arkansas, US. By Doug Wertman, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Mountainburg, nestled in the Boston Mountains of northern Arkansas, is a charming town with easy access to outdoor adventures of all sorts. Despite its small size, with a population of barely over 500 residents, Mountainburg appeals particularly to nature lovers and families. The town is best known for its connection to Lake Fort Smith State Park, a popular spot for camping, hiking, and boating. The park's extensive trail system allows you to explore the lush Ozark forests and take in scenic views of the lake not too far from town. Mountainburg's location also makes it a convenient base for exploring nearby areas like Devil's Den State Park and White Rock Mountain, both of which offer extensive hiking trails and breathtaking vistas.

This town also features the iconic Mountainburg Dinosaur Park, a kitschy yet family-friendly attraction with large dinosaur statues that capture the imagination of children and adults. It's a quirky spot for photos and fun, and it's right along the main road, making it an easy stop on a summer road trip.

Spend Your Summer of 2024 in Arkansas

Arkansas contains a range of inviting small towns, each with its own unique appeal for visitors in the summer months. From the Victorian architecture and vibrant arts scene of Eureka Springs to the rich folk music traditions of Mountain View, these towns capture the spirit of the state. Hot Springs and Heber Springs attract visitors with their thermal springs and tranquil lakeside settings, while Van Buren and Siloam Springs offer historical charm and vibrant downtowns. Mountainburg and Paris provide a peaceful escape with easy access to outdoor adventures. Whether you're drawn to history, arts, or nature, these Arkansas towns make for memorable summer vacation destinations this 2024.

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