Rustic buildings in the historic downtown area of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin /

Arkansas's Best Small Towns for a Weekend Escape

Arkansas is home to the Ozark Mountains, and there are many hidden towns to relax and unwind! These quaint towns are nestled in the heart of magnificent peaks, allowing visitors to relax and unwind for the weekend. Whether you love challenging trails, scenic waterfall views, or sleepy towns with plenty of shopping, these charming destinations have it all. There’s even a ghost town in the mix because who doesn’t love exploring some haunted attractions? So pack your overnight bag and check out some of these delightful hidden towns to escape this weekend.


A historic building in the town of Jasper, Arkansas.
A rustic building in the town of Jasper, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Victoria Ditkovsky /

Jasper is the perfect spot for an easy weekend retreat if you love outdoor activities. The town lies along the Little Buffalo River in the Ozark Mountains. Those interested in the outdoors can head to the Indian Creek Trail or Henry R. Koen Interpretive Trail to take in the sights, then grab a bite at the Ozark Cafe. You can say at one of their many cabins in the area nestled in the tranquil wooded area.

While there are plenty of quaint shops and cafes, no trip to Jasper is complete without checking out the Arkansas Grand Canyon. It’s not exactly one of the wonders of the world, but it’s pretty close! It offers various scenic viewpoints, so get that camera ready. Stop off at the Cliff House Inn at the top of the valley to grab a bite to eat and then head to the observational towers.

Calico Rock

Businesses along a street in the Calico Rock Historic District.
Historic businesses and buildings in the Calico Rock Historic District. By Valis55 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Calico Rock is that perfect blend of natural wonders and small-town attractions. Go for a hike, take in the sights, and then spend a day in tow, taking in the rich history of this small Arkansas town. Before hitting up the sites, learn a little about the town at the Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center. Then, wander the historical buildings at East Calico Historic District or the Calico Rock self-guided tour of their ghost town.

After learning a little about the town, many gorgeous hiking trails that lend views of the blue, gray, black, orange, and red bluffs. However, Calico Rock’s claim to fame is its breathtaking Blanchard Springs Caverns, a short drive away. A gilded tour takes you through this living cave and offers insight into the world's largest flowstone. After a fun day in Calico Rock, stay at the beautiful Calico Rock Inn for a relaxing night!


A historic theater in Magnolia, Arkansas.
A historic theater in Magnolia, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

Magnolia is a kitschy little town with unique landmarks, historic shops, and natural attractions. This historic downtown area offers plenty of quaint shops, boutiques, and art studios that are perfect for the whole family. While you’re in town, check out the Magnolia Murals that depict a visual tour of the town's history. Outside the historic district, visitors can hit up one of the many trails and parks for a little more adventure. Head to Lake Columbia for an easy afternoon at the lakeside. Rent a boat and spend the day on the water, or park your RV at the established Lake Columbia RV park. It’s the perfect spot for fishing!

Bella Vista

Home along the lake in Bella Vista, Arkansas.
Home along the lake in Bella Vista, Arkansas. Editorial credit: shuttersv /

Bella Vista is another lovely destination hidden away in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. Visit the Bella Vista Historical Museum to learn about the town's history. To relax and unwind, book a cabin at Bella Vista Cabins, which offers secluded wooded views and all the amenities of a home.

There is no shortage of parks and hiking trails right outside the historic district of Bella Vista that are perfect for the whole family. However, the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail is a must-see for those visiting Bella Vista! This park has easily accessible and well-maintained trails with views of waterfalls and breathtaking stone cliffs.

Eureka Springs

Buildings in the historic downtown area of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Buildings in the historic downtown area of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin /

Eureka Springs, located in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, is the perfect balance of nature and attractions. With stunning views and parks all around, there is plenty to do in the evening! Spend the day admiring reduced big cats at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, or take in breathtaking views at Beaver Lake. For even more adventure, explore one of their many cave systems, such as Onyx Cave or Cosmic Cavern. Back in town, one can explore the historic downtown area and check out the many shops, art galleries, and local eateries. As the day ends, stay at the beautiful Tuscan Manor or one of their many local B&Bs.


St. Mary's Catholic Church in Altus, Arkansas.
St. Mary's Catholic Church in Altus, Arkansas. Editorial credit: HEakin /

Altus is the perfect getaway for travelers who want to spend the weekend sipping wine on the edge of the Ozark Mountains. The first vineyards in the area date back to 1872. Located on the Arkansas River Valley, it’s the perfect scenic stop to unwind and relax with a frosty glass of white wine. It has not one, but four wineries to choose from, like the rustic Post Winery or the stunning beautiful Chateau aux Arc Winery. But there’s more to do in Altus than just sip wine.

Head into town to check out the Altus Heritage House Museum to learn more about this small, historic mining town. There’s also a host of quaint, locally owned shops and restaurants to keep you occupied all weekend. You can stay at one of the cozy and affordable accomodation options in town such as the Wine Country Cottage and Primrose Farm RV & Camping.

Hot Springs

The Ozark Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The Ozark Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row in the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Editorial credit: K I Photography /

It should come as no surprise that the town of Hot Springs is known for its hot springs. The area is peppered with an assortment of naturally heated hot springs that will melt the stress of the week right off your body. The most notable hot spring is in Bathhouse Row, with eight bathhouses dating back to the 1800s. Most visitors head straight to the Fordyce Bathhouse, a stunning attraction from 1915 featuring intricate architecture and an intriguing past.

After relishing in the natural waters, one can walk around the historic downtown, which is full of friendly faces and lovely shops. Walking outdoors is also an option, as Hot Springs is no stranger to scenic hiking trails such as the Hot Springs and North Mountain Trails, West Mountain Trails, and the Sunset Trail. After all the walking, visitors are glad to enjoy a peaceful night’s rest at the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa or Spring Street Inn 1889.


View of Lake Fort Smith and the Boston Mountains in Mountainburg, Arkansas.
Lake Fort Smith and the Boston Mountains in the town of Mountainburg, Arkansas. By Doug Wertman from Rogers, AR, USA - Lake Fort Smith, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Mountainburg is an amazing place to go when you want to unplug and relax. It’s a sleepy little town with a population under 1,000 and known for its scenic mountain views (hence the name). Situated in the Boston Mountains, there are plenty of family-friendly trailheads or more challenging treks for the seasoned hiker.

Start your day at Lake Fort Smith State Park to learn about the available trail options and the activities in the area. Artist Point is one of the most popular attractions, providing scenic views that demand to be painted. But a photo is the next best thing if you didn’t pack your paints! Moreover, there is also the Lake Fort Smith Marina, which allows visitors to head out into the waters with their own boats. Be sure to book one of their secluded cabins far from the noise and bustle of the city.


The courthouse building in Paris, Arkansas.
The courthouse building in Paris, Arkansas. Editorial credit: NicholasGeraldinePhotos /

Along with having the same name as the famed town in France, Paris, Arkansas, also has its own (miniature) Eifel Tower! It’s a must-see for anyone visiting this sleepy little town for a relaxing weekend. Fun fact: the paint used for Paris’ mini Eifel Tower is the same as the original in France! While the downtown area is no stranger to fun shops and sites, the real beauty lies just outside town.

Mount Magazine State Park is a must when visiting Paris. The center of attention, Mount Magazine, stands almost 3,000 feet tall and offers breathtaking views of the wooded valleys and rivers below. After a full day of hiking, relax at one of the Vrbo and AirBNB treehouse cabins that provide a stunning view of Mount Magazine!

Get Ready to Take Some Photos

It’s hard to describe the beauty of the Ozark mountains, so get your camera ready to take some photos! The great thing about these small towns in Arkansas is there is so much to do. While the mountain trail views are spectacular, each town's heart provides something new and different. From historic museums to art galleries and shopping, there’s no shortage of things to do. There’s even a mini Eifel Tower! While many of these small towns have affordable hotels, the best way to enjoy them tends to be by renting a cabin with a view of the mountains.

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