Arkansas is a southern state often overshadowed by its southern neighbors. Bordered by Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, Arkansas is usually overlooked as a travel destination. However, the state is full of surprises and has a diverse geographical landscape. Complete with two mountain ranges, beautiful geological formations, limestone caves and almost 3 million acres of protected forest, Arkansas is full of remarkable nature. Travelers can enjoy the natural beauty of Arkansas from one of the state's many small towns. These are the best ones to visit to unwind and enjoy the scenery.
Eureka Springs is a town built on the picturesque Ozark mountainside in the north edge of Arkansas. The town is a natural paradise with over 60 natural springs, three lakes and more than 1800 acres of city park land. Lake Leatherwood Park is one of the town's most popular parks. The park is 1600 acres with an 85-acre spring-fed lake. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in the city, including hiking, biking, paddle boats, swimming, birding, backpacking, mountain biking and geo-caching!
The town has a population of 2,159 people, according to the 2021 census report. With such a small population, Eureka Springs is a secluded and peaceful place for travelers. The town also has historical charm, with its Victorian-era architecture. History is important to the town. In 1970 the National Register placed Eureka Springs on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, the town was re-listed as Nationally Significant. Beyond nature and history, Eureka Springs is also a great destination for artists. There are many art galleries and studios to explore in the town.
Heber Springs is the perfect small town, with a population of 7,154. The town is perfect for camping with cabins and resorts overlooking Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River. Greers Ferry Lake spans 31,500 acres. The U.S. Corps of Engineers built the lake in 1963. The lake has great fishing and water recreation. The Little Red River is also a great fishing spot and is home to the famed, world-record 40 pound brown trout. The lake and river are both very clean bodies of water and have long served as national models for environmental cleanliness in the United States.
Cherokee Village is a small town with something to pique everyone’s interest. The town has two 18-hole golf courses, nature trails, tennis courts, RV sites, fitness and sports centers, and lakes for boating and fishing. There are seven lakes and two marinas in Cherokee Village. Boat rentals are available at the marinas as fishing is a popular activity to do on the lakes. The lakes have an abundance of fish, including catfish, crappie, large-mouth bass and big bluegill.
The largest lake is Lake Thunderbird with over seven miles of shoreline. Both Lake Thunderbird and Lake Omaha are big enough for water recreational activities such as water skiing and pulling inner tubes and floats. The town has a large resort taking up 15,000-acre of space. This is massive compared to the town's small population of 4,977 people!
Located in northwest Arkansas, the town of Paris is nearly as picturesque as Paris, France. With around 3,700 residents, the rural town is set up in lush playgrounds of land and water. The town is most known as the entrance to Mount Magazine State Park. This park is the highest point in Arkansas, rising 2,753 feet above mean sea level. At the base of Mount Magazine, there are a variety of things to explore, including museums, historical sites, a winery, an abbey, dining, and incredible lodging. There is also an abundance of nature to explore. The Cove Lake Recreation Area is a160-acre lake in the shadow of Mount Magazine. The lake features swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, picnicking, boat rental, boat launch ramp, and food service.
Paris also has a historical downtown to explore filled with antique shops, restaurants, boutiques, and the parent company and original store of the Warren's Shoes chain. Many of the buildings downtown are on the National Register of Historic Places. Living up to its name, Paris even has its own version of the famed Eiffel Tower. The Arkansas Eiffel Tower is 25 feet tall and has a seven-foot water fountain base.
The heart of Mountain View’s culture is music. The town is the "Folk Capital of the World" because of the town's tradition towards preserving traditional folk music and culture. Once the warm weather starts, the town comes alive with local musicians playing late in the town square.
Beyond music, the town has an abundance of nature. Nearby Mountain View is the Blanchard Springs Caverns. This is the only tourist cave owned by the United States Forest Service. Formation of the cave dates back 350 million years and today it is the second longest cave in Arkansas. Trout fishing in the white river and the Ozark National Forest are two other popular natural attractions in Mountain View. The Ozark National Forest spans 1,200,000 acres and has numerous trails. There is even a 50-mile Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail rated by Outdoor Magazine as one of the Top 20 Outdoor Destinations.
The bluffs overlooking the white river, mark the home of the town Calico Rock. The town gets its name from the bluffs which have a calico cloth like coloring, with streaks of blue, black, gray, red and orange. While the town has a bustling 967 residents today, it is most famous for its residents of the past in its ghost town.
Visitors can take a tour of the ghost town and see an old pool hall/tavern, a barber shop, a theater, a café, a lumberyard, the telephone exchange, a cotton gin, a funeral parlor, and an electric company. The tour is best seen on foot.
Visitors can learn more about Calico Rock's history at the Calico Rock Museum and discover the town's natural beauty on one of its many walking trails. Those looking for a little more adventure can head to Ozark National Forest, which is adjacent to the town. The Forest goes through mountain ranges and streams.
Located at the foothills of Northern Arkansas, Mammoth Springs has some of the most beautiful scenery in Arkansas. The town covers a total area of 1.4 square miles and is home to 929 people, according to the 2020 census. Here, tourists will find Mammoth Springs State Park, home to the world's largest spring, aptly named Mammoth Spring. The spring has nine million gallons of water flowing from it every hour, leading to its own 10-acre lake. The area is world-renowned for trout fishing. Beyond the spring, Mammoth Springs has a lot to offer, from hiking to fishing, to dining in the town's quaint downtown core.
A small town of only 3,000 people, Bald Knob is also known as the "Strawberry Center of the World." This is because every year on Mother's day, the town hosts Home Fest, which is in honor of the strawberry fruit. There are events in the town during this time such as a strawberry eating contest and a strawberry cake auction! There is also a parade, carnival and live entertainment during the celebration.
Besides strawberries, there is far more for visitors to explore in Bald Knob. Fishing and boating are popular activities in the 217-acre Bald Knob lake. There are also the White and Red River Lakes nearby to explore. Be sure to pack some binoculars as Bald Knob also has a National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to many species of ducks and geese during the winter months.
Arkansas has some of the most beautiful small towns to chill out in across the United States. From the Ozark Mountain range, to the Arkansas Timberlands, the small towns listed above are full of Arkansas's natural beauty. In the small towns of Arkansas there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether it is fishing for trout in Mammoth Springs, or hiking in the mountains, these small towns in Arkansas are some of the best places to unwind and chill out.