Best Summer Road Trips to Do in Arkansas

The Natural State has so much to offer when it comes to road trips. From driving across Arkansas’s portion of the famous Route 66 to taking advantage of the gorgeous scenic byways across the state (from the Great River Road to the Boston Mountains), you really can’t go wrong hopping in the car for a Sunday drive or a three-day getaway. We’ve compiled four unique road trips to celebrate or round out the summer. So load up the car, roll down the windows, and come along for the ride!

Waterfalls and Swimming Holes

Summer in Arkansas is hot! Take advantage of this road trip to cool off with a dip in a favorite local swimming hole and catch the glory of Arkansas’s most beautiful waterfalls. For best results, plan your trip for the first sunny day after heavy rains. Be sure to include Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas (nearest to Rogers) and enjoy the winding creeks and minor rivers that branch off from it. A short drive east along Highway 62 and then south on Highway 7 from Harrison, you’ll find Richland, Arkansas – home to Twin Falls. This hike and swim adventure offers gorgeous scenery and – as the name implies – two waterfalls that feed a cool swimming hole.

Not far from there, you’ll find Compton’s Double Falls in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness. Along the hiking trail, multiple smaller waterfalls can be seen, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to cool off in the creek! Paradise Falls, Woods Boys Falls, and Glory Hole Falls are all in the same general area, though it’s probably best to visit them on another day of your trip. Drive down Highway 21 for closer access to this trio of gorgeous waterfalls. Spend the rest of your road trip exploring the Ozark National Forest, where campsites and great hikes to legendary swimming holes await!

Dive Into the Arts

Take the opportunity this summer to explore the arts scene in Arkansas and catch the spirit of the Natural State. Start out in Hot Springs, a community steeped in arts culture. Wander the galleries on a Friday night or catch the country’s longest-running poetry night at the Wednesday Night Poetry series. Hot Springs is full of local galleries and artists and rich with history.

Next, drive to Little Rock for visits to the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts (formerly the Arkansas Arts Center), whose magnificent new galleries and campus open in 2022. Tons of great arts attractions await, from the performing arts at the Robinson Center to the fusion of art and history on display at the Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History and Art. On weekends, an artisan’s market is held at the Bernice Gardens in the SoMa District, and you can find a unique arts experience at the ESSE Purse Museum. For an indoor/outdoor arts experience, visit Wildwood Park for the Arts!

Finally, head to Northwest Arkansas to visit Arkansas’s quirkiest little art town – Eureka Springs – and one of the nation’s finest collections of visual arts – Crystal Bridges. Eureka Springs holds lots of small-town charm with a strong emphasis on art and craft. You’ll be delighted by a historic downtown full of art galleries nestled right into the mountains along a winding road. When you head to Bentonville for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, be prepared for a breathtaking experience! You can spend a whole day exploring the treasures of this museum!

Adventures in Arkansas: Mountain Bikes and Gaming

The final two road trips offer niche experiences sure to surprise and delight. 

Check out incredible mountain biking from the Mountain Biking Capital of the World (Bentonville) to respectable newcomer Northwoods Trails (in Hot Springs). Bentonville boasts over 300 miles of mountain biking trails, and Arkansas’s state parks include more than 400 additional miles of trails of all types. In fact, Arkansas is home to five International Mountain Biking Association Epic trails – the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, the Upper Buffalo Trail, the Womble Trail, and the Syllamo Trail. All of these trails are easily accessible from Hot Springs and Northwest Arkansas.

If you’re into electronic gaming, Arkansas has lots to offer. Start off in West Memphis at Southland Casino Racing – Arkansas’s home for greyhound racing. Next, drive down to Pine Bluff to the relative newcomer in Arkansas Gaming, Saracen Casino Resort. Finally, head to Arkansas’s historic horse racing headquarters in Hot Springs: Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. For a bonus cross-state addition, head just west of Fort Smith to Choctaw Casino and Resort – Picola. At each location, you’ll find modern gaming amenities and great food, and you just might come out a winner!

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