Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

9 Of The Most Quaint Small Towns In Arkansas

Arkansas, a state both southern and part of the Midwest, sits across diverse cultures and histories. Beyond larger cities, like Fort Smith or the state capital, Little Rock, the state's smaller towns offer possibilities for a quaint stay among history and modern charm. From historic spa towns like Mammoth Springs and Eureka Springs to natural attractions in Ozark, Mountain View, or riverside Camden, Arkansas' small towns give the traveler enough to explore once or on repeat visits. Whatever the tastes and interests of the curious tourist, this state provides plenty to see, do, and remember. 

Mammoth Spring

The Mammoth Springs State Park in Arkansas.
The Mammoth Springs State Park in Arkansas. 

The name Mammoth Spring may sound at odds with its population, which is a little over 900 souls. Yet this small town, in the state's northern foothills on the state line with Missouri, offers some of the most beautiful scenery in Arkansas. Fishermen praise the area for the quality and abundance of its trout population. Visitors should seek out Mammoth Springs State Park, home to one of the world's largest natural springs — fittingly called Mammoth Spring. The spring has nine million gallons of water flowing from it every hour, which creates its own 10-acre lake. For a mix of culture and history, visitors can seek out the town's folk music heritage and connections with the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Mammoth Spring's musicians are said to have inspired the establishment of the famous country music venue.


Downtown Ozark, Arkansas.
Downtown Ozark, Arkansas. Image credit: Picasa via Wikimedia Commons.

The northwest town of Ozark, with just 3,600 inhabitants, takes its name from an English spelling of the phrase "Aux Arcs," which the region's old French traders gave this land of rolling hills and valleys. The modern spelling of the same term — Ozarks — now refers to the mountainous zone that includes parts of four states: Arkansas, a slice of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Arkansas' own Ozark saw Civil War fighting and also played a key part in the Trail of Tears, the path of forced resettlement for Native Americans in the late 19th century. Ozark's historic town square brings together antique shops, a courthouse, and crepe myrtle trees for a quaint image from the town's older days. A 1911 train depot, now restored, serves as the local history museum.


The Historic Quachita County Courthouse in Camden, Arkansas.
The Historic Quachita County Courthouse in Camden, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

Camden, with 10,300 residents, lies in south-central Arkansas. The picturesque town lies west of the Ouachita River. The settlement here owes its existence to the rapidly growing 19th-century river commerce, which expanded from New Orleans and other cities established earlier. Indeed, Camden was once called the "Queen City" of the Ouachita, given its prominence in the period's steamboat trade. A sign of the town's bygone eras, the old Camden Post Office, constructed in 1895, now houses a popular restaurant. Like Ozark, the town saw bouts of bloody Civil War engagements as a part of the Red River Campaign of 1864. 

For architecture fans, the town's Washington Street Historic District showcases Greek Revival-style homes and examples from the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and other architectural styles popular in Camden's heyday. Most of Camden's homes were built by the area's cotton merchants and, later, for successful members of the oil industry. For true-blue history buffs, Camden's McCollum-Chidester House, first built in 1847, now houses the Ouachita County Historical Society. Today, Camden is a center of military and defense manufacturing. 


The old business district on Central Avenue in Bentonville, Arkansas. 
The old business district on Central Avenue in Bentonville, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

Bentonville, population 37,000, lies in Benton County and ranks among Arkansas' best-known cities. The famous retail giant Wal-Mart calls the town home. Bentonville 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 best children's museums in the United States. Like Ozark, Bentonville's immediate area witnessed the Trail of Tears forced migration to Oklahoma, a sobering but important part of local and Native American history. For outdoor enthusiasts, Bentonville has nearly two dozen parks to choose from, which are ideal for running, walking, hiking, and other pursuits. 


the Church of the Nazarene in Marshal, Arkansas
The Church of the Nazarene in Marshal, Arkansas. 

Marshall finished its incorporation in 1884 and gets its name from John Marshall, an early-nineteenth-century Supreme Court justice. Seated at the foot of the Boston Mountains range within the Ozarks, the town with 1,300 residents, in Arkansas' north-central region, features the Anthony Luna House, a Victorian-style charmer built in 1891 for the sheriff of the same name. Being the seat of Searcy County, Marshall has a courthouse in its historic downtown, as well as a row of old-fashioned shops.

The town experienced a brief boom in the early 1900s amid mining and logging investments. The area has long been focused on agriculture, and after World War II, the town called itself the "strawberry capital of the world." For a mix of history and a fun night out, head over to the Kenda Drive-In, an old-time movie space where guests can watch films from their car. Marshall is also a magnet for "dark sky" nighttime viewing, away from light-polluted urban centers. 

Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Founded to showcase and share the Ozarks' natural scenery, Eureka Springs, with 2,200 people, owes its existence to its natural springs and the spa economy from more than a century ago. The town's historic downtown appears on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded in 1879, Eureka Springs grew to 10,000 residents after just two years. Wealthy families built vacation homes here, many in the Victorian styles popular in the mid-and late-1800s. Today, the town's historical offerings include the Municipal Auditorium, opened in 1929, and the onetime home of Carrie Nation, a noted advocate for the abolition of slavery. 

Other options are the Basin Park Hotel, which opened in 1905 and is still operating today, and the Palace Hotel & Bath House, the only remaining example of the original Eureka Springs bathhouses. For a trip out of town, Lake Leatherwood City Park offers boating, fishing, a bait shop, bike trails, and other attractions. 


Josephine Street in Batesville, Arkansas, in fall
Josephine Street in Batesville, Arkansas, in fall. Image credit: Misterhaha via Wikimedia Commons.

Batesville lies 80 miles northeast of Little Rock, the state capital, and enjoys a similarly vibrant past and present. History buffs will love a visit here: it is the state's second-oldest continuously inhabited town, after Georgetown, on the White River. Today's Batesville has been named among the top 100 best small towns in America by author Norman Crampton. 

The town, population 11,200, plays a crucial part in Arkansas' transportation and logistics capacities, which is linked to its historic role in commercial traffic, like Georgetown, along the White River. Batesville's tourist draws include the Cook-Morrow House, built in the early 20th century, which is another historic home included on the national register. Even older is the Garrott House, an 1840s stately home that is included on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Historic Greene County Courthouse in Paragould, Arkansas.
The Historic Greene County Courthouse in Paragould, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

Paragould, with 30,200 inhabitants, sits in Arkansas' northeast corner, close to the neighboring states of Missouri and Tennessee. Established in 1883, its downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places, not least for longtime cultural mainstays like the Collins Theatre, an integral part of Paragould's local identity for almost a century. The town draws its unusual name from a combination of the names of two railroad tycoons: J.W. Paramore and Jay Gould. (Gould objected to his name appearing second and refused to list the new town on his trains' schedules.) 

The Greene County Courthouse, built in 1888, offers a textbook example of the Beaux-Arts architectural style popular in Europe and the United States in that period. The building today serves as the offices for the Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce. Not far away stands the Beisel-Mitchell House, a fine example of 1930s Spanish Revival and another dynamic element of Paragould's diverse building styles, drawing visitors for generations. New additions in Paragould's downtown include Power Plant Park, a converted industrial space, and the Community Pavilion, a venue for wedding receptions and other social gatherings. 

Mountain View

People enjoying a folk music performance at Mountain View, Arkansas.
People enjoying a folk music performance at Mountain View, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Travel Bug /

Calling itself the "Folk Capital of the World," the north-central town of Mountain View has 2,900 inhabitants and a great deal of local pride. Seated in the Ozarks, the town has long been a center of folk music and cultural forms. Each year, the town hosts both the Arkansas Folk Festival and the Mountain View Bluegrass Festival, named after the traditional music style.  

Outdoor options abound in and around Mountain View, not least at Blanchard Springs Caverns. This is the only cave open to tourists that is owned by the US Forest Service. Fishermen will enjoy Mountain View, and trout fishing in the White River and the Ozark National Forest are perennial attractions. Hikers should head to the Ozark National Forest, which spans 1,200,000 acres and has numerous trails. 

Arkansas' Best Features Are In Its Charming Small Towns

Given Arkansas' diverse attractions, the state's small towns will avoid larger addresses like Little Rock or Fort Smith — and that may be just what the traveler is after. The architectural gems in Camden and Eureka Springs and the natural beauty in Ozark, Marshall, and Mountain View all deliver on Arkansas' reputation and unofficial motto as the "Natural State." Its traditions continue today, and nature fans will enjoy its possibilities for hiking, biking, and especially fishing. Travelers of all kinds should find their interests and a quaint getaway or two across Arkansas' vibrant small towns. 

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