Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

8 Serene Towns in Arkansas for a Weekend Retreat

Arkansas, the 29th largest and 34th most populous state in the Southern United States’ south-central region is acclaimed for its diverse landscape. From the magnificent Ozark and Ouachita Mountains and the verdant Arkansas Timberlands to the low-lying lands along the mighty Mississippi River and Arkansas Delta, this landlocked state lives up to its official nickname, “The Natural State.” Even though crowded metropolises such as Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, and Springdale, get the maximum tourist attention, the serene small towns scattered all over the state are perfect for your weekend escapades far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Eureka Springs

Historic downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, with boutique shops and famous buildings.
Historic downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas, with boutique shops and famous buildings. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin /

Eureka Springs is one of the two administrative centers of Northwest Arkansas’s Carroll County, with the town's core occupying a narrow valley at the source of Leatherwood Creek in the Ozark Mountains, close to the state border with Missouri. The historic commercial downtown of Eureka Springs features numerous well-maintained Victorian-era structures, aside from several shops, boutiques, art galleries, eateries, and hotels like Angel at Rose Hall Bed & Breakfast, Best Western Inn of the Ozarks, etc. The Blue Spring Heritage Center, Thorncrown Chapel, Christ of the Ozarks statue, Crescent Hotel, Intrigue Theater, Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway, Lake Leatherwood Park, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, and Eureka Springs Historical Museum are the town’s noteworthy sites of interest. Annual events like the Eureka Gras Mardi Gras Extravaganza, May Festival of the Arts, and Eureka Springs Food & Wine Festival also lure thousands of revelers to Eureka Springs.

Mountain View

Folk music performance at Mountain View, Arkansas.
Folk music performance at Mountain View, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Travel Bug /

Home to 2,877 residents as per the latest US Census, this seat of government of Stone County has been christened after its location in a scenic valley encircled by the Blue Mountain Range of the Ozark Mountains. Renowned for its distinctiveness, welcoming ambiance, laid-back lifestyle, tourist attractions, and local festivals, Mountain View is aptly nicknamed the “Folk Music Capital of the World." Besides the many vintage shops and music stores, locally-owned restaurants, and bed & breakfasts like Wildflower Bed & Breakfast-On the Square, Ozark Country Inn Bed & Breakfast, Country Oaks Bed & Breakfast, etc., also cater to holidayers. Tourists must visit the adjacent Blanchard Springs Caverns, Ozark Folk Center State Park, and Stone County Museum; participate in world-class trout fishing at the White River and camping and mountain biking activities at Ozark National Forest. To soak in the Ozark Mountain culture, merrymakers can attend yearly festivals like the Mountain View Bluegrass Festival, Arkansas Folk Festival, Bean Festival & Championship Outhouse Races, Fourth of July celebrations, and a Christmas Tree Lighting event.

Siloam Springs

Downtown Siloam Springs
Downtown Siloam Springs. Editorial Credit: Picasa Via Wikimedia.

Siloam Springs sits at the top of a plateau in the Ozark region of Benton County on the western end of the Northwest Arkansas Metropolitan Area. Originally founded as a health resort, the town is widely known for its unparalleled scenic beauty, the amazing campus of John Brown University, and the perennial Sager Creek that flows via an artificial channel through the downtown area. Scores of boutiques, antique stores, art galleries, coffee shops, excellent diners, and accommodations like Hampton Inn Siloam Springs, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, and Super 8 by Wyndham Siloam Springs, etc., fill the downtown. Furthermore, interesting attractions such as the Siloam Springs Museum, Siloam Springs Farmer’s Market, Siloam Springs Kayak Park, as well as annual cultural celebrations like Siloam Springs Rodeo, Light Up Siloam Christmas Parade, and Dogwood Festival draw tourists to Siloam Springs.

Van Buren

The old business district on Main Street, Van Buren, Arkansas
The old business district on Main Street, Van Buren, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

Van Buren, dubbed in honor of US President Martin Van Buren, is located in western Arkansas, along the Arkansas River, at the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 540, directly northeast of Fort Smith. Holidayers touring this Crawford County seat must walk down the Van Buren Historic District which comprises numerous pre-1920 Victorian and Italianate properties such as the old Frisco Train Depot, Crawford County Courthouse, Van Buren Confederate Monument, and Albert Pike Schoolhouse. Watch community theatrical performances at the King Opera House, visit the Drennen-Scott Historic Site, and rest for the night at the Hampton Inn Van Buren, and Super 8 by Wyndham Van Buren. To enjoy astounding views of Lee Creek and check out enchanting geological sites, head straight for the Lee Creek Hiking Trails.


Mitchell House, Batesville, Arkansas
Mitchell House, Batesville, Arkansas. Image credit Valis55, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The administrative center of Independence County, Batesville is situated along the White River banks at the foot of the Ozark Mountains, approximately 90 miles northeast of Little Rock. Called after the American statesman James Woodson Bates, Batesville is the oldest city in the state besides being the Ozark Mountain region and Northeast Arkansas’s regional manufacturing and distribution mecca. The recently renovated Melba Theater, Old Independence Regional Museum, Garrott House, Mark Martin Museum, and Cook-Morrow House are must-visits for heritage lovers and cultural aficionados. For multiple outdoor recreations explore Batesville’s City Park, Batesville Community Center & Aquatics Park, Kennedy Park, Maxfield Park, etc., relax after a hectic day at Comfort Suites Batesville, and Days Inn by Wyndham Batesville AR, and make plans to attend any of the town’s yearly festivals like Arkansas Scottish Festival, and Ozark Foothills Film Festival.


Downtown Magnolia, Arkansas
Downtown Magnolia, Arkansas. Image credit: Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia commons.

Magnolia, christened after the native Magnolia tree, is the seat of southwest Arkansas’s Columbia County situated roughly 135 miles south of Little Rock. Initially founded as an agricultural and regional cotton marketing town in 1853, the community developed gradually to be home to the principal campus of Southern Arkansas University and other notable sites such as the Columbia County Courthouse Square and the South Arkansas Heritage Museum. Magnolia invites sightseers to peruse the plethora of shops, restaurants, and hotels like The Loft On The Square in its pleasant downtown area, and gaze in awe at the colorful murals on several buildings around the courthouse square. Every May, revelers flock in large numbers to partake in the World Championship Steak Cookoff and the Magnolia Blossom Festival. The adjacent Lafayette Wildlife Management Area, Logoly State Park, and Lake Columbia offer abundant outdoor recreation.


The charming Arkansas town of Ozark
The charming Arkansas town of Ozark. Image credit: Brandonrush via Wikimedia Commons.

Adjoining a major part of Arkansas Wine Country, Ozark, situated in the Arkansas River Valley is one of the two seats of government of Franklin County. Placed amidst spectacular natural scenery, Ozark stands out due to its distinctive small-town allure. Travelers can tour unique museums such as the Old Franklin County Jail and Old Missouri Pacific Depot apart from a wide variety of gift shops, antique stores, diners, and home-like lodges like Oxford Inn Hotel. From Ozark, one can easily access the Pig Trail Scenic Byway that makes its way through the rolling hills, rock formations, waterfalls, and the pristine Mulberry River favorable for canoeing and kayaking activities. The Ozark Lake and the Arkansas River are best for fishing activities, whereas the Aux Arc Park provides playgrounds, boat-launching ramps, campsites, and various other facilities.

Bella Vista

Arkansas Veterans Memorial at Lake Bella Vista.
Arkansas Veterans Memorial at Lake Bella Vista. By Brandonrush - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Occupying the Springfield Plateau in the northern part of Northwest Arkansas’s Benton County, Bella Vista has rapidly developed from a summer resort destination to a retirement community and a famed vacation retreat. Hidden amidst the town’s luxuriant forests are seven sparkling lakes: Lake Ann, Lake Brittany, Lake Norwood, Lake Windsor, Loch Lomond, Lake Rayburn, and Lake Avalon, where solely the community members and their guests are allowed to fish, swim, and water ski. Holidayers must not miss some of the major attractions including the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, Bella Vista Museum, Museum of Native American History, Veterans Wall of Honor, etc., play a round of golf at any of the golf courses, traverse the different trails that crisscross the area, and enjoy their stay at Greens One at Bella Vista Village.

From the lively folk music in Mountain View to the tranquil retreat of Bella Vista, these small Arkansas towns will surely captivate you with their unspoiled natural beauty. Boasting extraordinary sceneries, plentiful shopping opportunities, a wealth of historical landmarks, and perfect settings for all your outdoor exploits, the serene towns in the Natural State promise unforgettable experiences for every vacationer.

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