Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

8 Picturesque Small Towns in The Ozarks for a Weekend Retreat

When it comes to planning a relaxing weekend retreat in the south-central part of the United States, there is perhaps no better place to consider than the Ozark Mountains. This cluster of highlands is heavily forested, occupying approximately 50,000 square miles of area; the mountains are spread across the states of Missouri, Arkansas, southeastern Kansas, and southern Illinois. The Ozarks are home to some of the country's most picturesque towns that offer several outdoor adventure opportunities, including hiking, camping, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Explore some of these towns from the White River at Batesville to the healing springs at Eureka Springs!

Jasper, Arkansas

The scenic Buffalo River in Jasper, Arkansas.
The scenic Buffalo River in Jasper, Arkansas.

Two of the best words to describe Jasper in Arkansas would be ‘quaint’ and ‘scenic.’ This small town in the Ozarks is nestled in Newton County amidst ample natural beauty. It is here that the Buffalo River, the country’s foremost national river, starts to flow. Visitors can follow the quaint river in Bradley Park, which is perfect for some outdoor fun. Never had the chance to see an elk? Well, Jasper has herds of them roaming around the forest area! The animal is so popular that people visit Jasper each year to witness the famous Buffalo River Elk Festival.

Back in town, Jasper is known for its scenic downtown square, where one can spot a magnificent courthouse and several gazebos. This area also has some excellent shops and eateries oozing the quintessential small-town charm. These include Ozark Cafe, Low Gap Cafe, and the Jasper Pizzeria Company. After a hearty meal, visitors can retreat to a comfortable room in lodging options such as The Gordon and Arkansas House.

Batesville, Arkansas

Josephine Street in Batesville, Arkansas.
Josephine Street in Batesville, Arkansas. By Misterhaha - Own work, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

Batesville is a small, charming town in Arkansas, specifically in its north-central region. What makes Batesville an attractive tourist destination is that it is the perfect blend of the old and the new. With the beautiful White River bordering the town, Batesville is a great weekend retreat getaway for enjoying outdoor adventure and exploring local culture. Fishing enthusiasts can look forward to catching various fish, like bass and trout, in The White River.

Among the many things to do in Batesville is visiting the Old Independence Regional Museum and the Batesville Community Center & Aquatics Park. The town also hosts flea markets for those interested in some shopping and has the legendary Melba Theater for entertainment. Lodging options are abundant, with convenient rooms at The Royal on Main and the Hampton Inn.

El Dorado Springs, Missouri

El Dorado Springs City Park
A view of El Dorado Springs City Park in El Dorado, Missouri. By Bungaloid - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Located in the state of Missouri, El Dorado Springs is a quaint small town known for its scenic natural surroundings and rich history. Among other things, the town is quite popular for the Healing Spring of the Osage, which is located in the city park. Known for its healing properties, this spring has attracted tourists for centuries. The town offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure such as fishing, hunting, and visiting conservation areas like Four Rivers and Schell Osage. Also, some beautiful lakes are located within an hour of the town, all ideal for a fun family day out.

These include  Pomme de Terre, Stockton, and Truman. As far as entertainment is concerned, El Dorado Springs is home to the famous Opera House Theater that hosts all kinds of performances, such as theater productions, live music, and much more! As night falls, the best way to experience El Dorado Springs is by camping in one of the many outdoor areas.

Bella Vista, Arkansas

Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista, Arkansas.
Waterfall on the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista, Arkansas.

An idyllic weekend getaway destination, Bella Vista in Arkansas is home to many cultural attractions, such as the Veterans Wall of Honor, the Bella Vista Historical Museum, and the United Lutheran Church. Besides savoring the beauty of the Ozark Mountains sheltering the town, visitors can also indulge in exploring historical monuments, such as the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel. This unique glass chapel features some splendid Gothic arches that are worth seeing.

For those interested in experiencing rural life in all its glory, a hike along the beautiful Tanyard Creek Nature Trail is highly recommended. Surrounded by greenery and lakes such as Lake Avalon, it is a world of scenery hidden away in Arkansas. Additionally, one could also add the Magnolia Hotel to their itinerary because this spectacular hotel is both charming and comfortable.

Poteau, Oklahoma

The old business district in Poteau, Oklahoma.
The old business district in Poteau, Oklahoma. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

Located in Oklahoma, Poteau is a small town that offers easy access to the Ouachita National Forest, which has 1.8 million acres of pristine lakes, rolling hills, and other geological wonders to explore. Some popular activities visitors enjoy at the park include hiking, swimming, four-wheeler riding, picnicking, biking, and boating. Camping is also available, and one can immerse themselves in the untouched wilderness of Oklahoma with a simple outdoor tent.

The Old Frisco Trail is a must-visit for tourists in Poteau. The trail continues to be in use despite the removal of the railroad lines. It is particularly popular among mountain bikers, runners, and walkers. The trail has some beautiful woodland foliage, which, besides being beautiful, also serves as a protective shield from the sun and the wind. End the day with some Mexican food at the Taqueria Bravo for a fun weekend retreat in Oklahoma.

Branson, Missouri

Scenic viewpoint with church in Branson, Missouri.
Scenic viewpoint with church in Branson, Missouri.

Nestled in the scenic mountains of Ozark, Branson is a small town in southern Missouri that is easily accessible from Central America. Those new to Branson might not know that it is located between two prime lakes, and another lake runs through the town! Thanks to this, Branson is a well-known camping destination with options like Table Rock Lake, which has two campgrounds. Some of the outdoor activities that one can look forward to enjoying in Branson include hiking, paddleboarding, biking, fishing, and boating, all of which are amidst some breathtaking scenery.

Another popular camping site in Branson is the Silver Dollar City Campground, which features not just campsites but also a clubhouse, beautiful log cabins, and RV sites! If you’re not one for the outdoors, Branson’s theatres are sure to charm, and visitors can choose between various performances. For example, The Haygoods, Presleys’ County Jubilee, and Sight & Sound Theatres each offer a unique experience, from jazz to classical music.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Historic Victorian homes in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Historic Victorian homes in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Eureka Springs is a mountain town in Arkansas with something to offer everyone: nature lovers, history buffs, art lovers, and shopping enthusiasts. Built around a beautiful natural spring, this town is well known for its magnificent Victorian architecture, which has been well preserved over the years. These historic structures are currently home to an impressive array of art galleries and boutiques. Eureka Springs also has plenty of natural beauty, and visitors can expect to enjoy outdoor spas and explore the nearby caves, hiking trails, and caverns.

The local springs are a fan favorite, believed to have healing powers that’ll relieve any stress over the course of the weekend. Similarly, some of the town's biggest attractions include The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Thorncrown Chapel, Beaver Lake, and Blue Springs Heritage Center.

Russellville, Arkansas

Scenic Petit Jean State Park near Russellville, Arkansas.
Scenic Petit Jean State Park near Russellville, Arkansas.

Russellville in Arkansas is the perfect weekend retreat destination for adventurers who love water activities and nature trails. This cozy town in the Ozarks borders the Arkansas River and Lake Dardanelle and is a great vacation spot for those who love the outdoors. To begin with, the town is close to Ozark St. Francis National Forests and Lake Dardanelle State Park. Both these parks boast stunning hiking trails, and since they are close to two water bodies, there is also the opportunity to enjoy activities like fishing, canoeing, and kayaking!

Other must-visit places in the town of Russellville include the Bona Dea Trails and Sanctuary and Arkansas River Visitors Center. The possibilities are endless, from exploring waterside walkways to learning about the town’s interesting past. Moreover, Russellville is a college town, so there is never a dull moment, even in the local historic district which is full of rustic outlets. That said, tourists can also opt for a peaceful moment in hotels such as Courtyard by Marriot and Hampton Inn which are known for their luxurious amenities.

Ending Off

When craving some beautiful scenery and a weekend stay in a picturesque location, look no further than these stunning towns in the Ozarks, in areas like Arkansas and Missouri. These are home to some of the most breathtaking lakes, parks, and natural trails; all one needs is a camera and hiking gear, and they’re all set for a fantastic weekend retreat in the Ozarks! Moreover, with cultural attractions hidden throughout, such as theatres and museums, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the Ozarks.

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