The Ozarks, also known as the Ozark Mountains and the Ozark Plateau, is a beautiful forested area in the south-central United States. The Ozarks cover central and southern Missouri, northern Arkansas, southeastern Kansas, and northeastern Oklahoma. Spanning over 50,000 square miles, the area includes several charming small towns with some of the best main streets. These main streets offer great dining options, hidden treasures at antique stores, and something for everyone. You can visit the site of one of the first American Civil War battles in Carthage, Missouri; listen to live bluegrass music in Mountain View, Arkansas; and attend one of the many annual festivals in Eureka, Missouri. Let us take a look at nine towns in the Ozarks that have the best main streets.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Just as its name suggests, the town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas is named after the over 60 springs in the area. In fact, you can visit one of the springs along its historic Main Street at Basin Spring Park. The park offers stunning views of the town and is the site of live music and several annual events. For those looking for a frightful adventure, you can go on a ghost tour through Haunted Eureka Springs, also located on Main Street. The tour even takes you through a long underground tunnel. For those looking to simply relax, you can enjoy a great meal at Local Flavor Cafe and learn more about the town’s history at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. If you want outdoor adventures, the town offers hiking, fishing, and boating at Beaver Lake and Lake Leatherwood.
A popular tourist destination in Missouri, Branson has one of the best main streets in the Ozarks. The town’s Main Street boasts antique stores, local cafes, boutique shops, and a scenic railway. Visitors can hop aboard the Branson Scenic Railway and ride through the scenic foothills of the Ozark Mountains while traveling in vintage passenger train cars. Near the town’s charming Main Street is North Beach Park, a peaceful waterfront park for fishing and strolling along paved paths. Outdoor enthusiasts will also enjoy a trip to Table Rock Lake for fishing, swimming, boating, and hiking. Plus, the Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area is a great place to hike forest trails, see a waterfall, and view Lake Taneycomo. For thrillseekers, a trip to Silver Dollar City is a must. Voted one of the best theme parks in the US, Silver Dollar City has roller coasters, water rides, concerts, restaurants, and unique stores.
Mountain View, Arkansas
Although Mountain View, Arkansas is known for its musical heritage and scenic nature views, the quaint town also offers a vibrant Main Street with local restaurants, boutique shops, and antique stores, such as Rainbow Antique Mall. Since Mountain View is known as the “Folk Music Capital of the World,” the town has a vibrant music community. One of the best spots for live music is Ozark Folk Center State Park. The park is open from April to October and provides visitors a chance to hear live southern mountain music. For those looking to relax outdoors, the White River offers fishing, kayaking, and scenic float trips. For nature lovers, a trip to Hell Creek Natural Area is a must. It is one of 79 natural areas in the state and home to two endangered species, the Hell Creek Cave crayfish and the gray myotis.
The charming town of Eureka, Missouri is known as the Gateway to the Missouri Ozarks since it is found along the northeastern corner of the region. Located less than 30 miles from downtown St. Louis, Eureka offers stunning nature views, unique shops, and annual events along its main street. The historic downtown is home to the Eureka Scarecrow Festival in October. For outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs, a trip to Route 66 State Park is a must. Visitors can view memorabilia from Historic Route 66 at the visitors center, hike and bike in the park, and fish for black bass and catfish in the Meramec River. For those looking for a unique experience, nature and animal lovers will want to tour the Endangered Wolf Center to view and learn more about several endangered wolf species.
The town of Lebanon, Missouri offers midwestern hospitality, breathtaking views of nature, and a quaint main street to all visitors. The town provides several antique stores in the downtown area, as well as a local art gallery, the Lebanon Art Guild Studio. You can also enjoy a delicious BBQ meal at Mel’s on Madison, a family owned restaurant, while visiting the charming main street. Since Lebanon is located along Route 66, stopping at the free Route 66 Museum is a must to see memorabilia from the historic road. For those looking to relax outdoors and explore nature, Lebanon boasts eight parks, including Atchley Park which offers great walking paths, a playground, and a disc-golf course. The town is also home to Bennett Spring State Park, one of the oldest state parks in Missouri, renowned for its fishing, hiking, and camping.
Located in southwest Missouri is the historical town of Neosho, a Native American word for clear water. In fact, the name describes the clear springs that flow throughout the town, including near Neosho’s main street and historic area. The street boasts local cafes, buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, and Big Spring Park, which offers incredible views of one of the springs in town. Neosho is also home to several nature preserves and conservation areas, including the Neosho National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery is the oldest continually operating hatchery and raises rainbow trout for release in Lake Taneycomo. For outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs, a trip to the Bicentennial Conservation Area is a must. The conservation site was once part of the World War II Camp Crowder Army Base. Today, visitors can hike, bike, and ride horses along trails in the conservation area.
Van Buren, Arkansas
Nestled in the southwest corner of the Ozark Mountains is the historical town of Van Buren, Arkansas. The charming town has one of the best main streets for finding hidden gems, local Ozark crafts, and unique antiques. After purchasing your one-of-a-kind gift at Attic Treasure, you can enjoy a pint and Korean food at Pointer Brewery. Afterwards, you can walk along Main Street and view six blocks of historic buildings or relax at Lee Creek Park. The park is a short walk from the historic downtown and is a great spot for fishing, boating, and kayaking in the Arkansas River. If you are looking for more outdoor adventures, Lee Creek Reservoir Recreation Area offers hiking trails of various levels and incredible views of nature.
West Plains, Missouri
Tucked in the Ozark Mountains, West Plains, Missouri offers small town charm and big outdoor adventures. The town’s main street and downtown area is a hub for antique stores and boutique shops. Plus, you can enjoy delicious coffee and pastries at 10/40 Coffee and some of the best pizza around at Ozark Pizza and Bread Co. Just south of the downtown area is the Harlin Museum, which showcases art and history from the Ozarks. For nature lovers, the town is home to Galloway Creek Nature Park. The 40-acre park provides walking paths among native plants and wildlife, as well as a creek to explore. Outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy hiking in the Tingler Prairie Natural Area near the South Fork Spring River and Tingler Lake. Music lovers will want to visit in June and September when musical festivals happen at the Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association Bluegrass Park.
Carthage, Missouri is a quaint town filled with history, art, and one of the best main streets in the Ozarks. Located northeast of Joplin along the Spring River, Carthage offers visitors a great place to relax and unwind. The town’s historic main street and downtown area features more than 600 buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places, antique stores, and delectable restaurants, such as The Pie Safe. For history buffs, a stop along Historic Route 66 and a visit to the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site are required. The Battle of Carthage occurred on July 5, 1861, and was one of the earliest battles fought in the American Civil War. For those looking for more outdoor adventures, a trip to Kellogg Lake Park is a must. The park is set along the beautiful Kellogg Lake, a great spot for fishing and exploring nature.
From annual festivals to historic buildings and incredible views of nature, these nine small towns provide fun and relaxation along some of the best main streets in the Ozarks. The main streets are filled with unique stores, delicious restaurants, and friendly faces. Whether you want to explore natural springs, visit local art galleries, or take a train ride through the Ozark Mountains, you can do so at one of these charming small towns.