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There’s a good reason why they call Arkansas the Natural State: Its varied terrain encompasses dense forests, granite outcroppings, limestone caves, and flowing rivers favored by anglers. And it's all set against the rugged Ozark and Ouachita mountain ranges. But Arkansas isn't just a playground for the outdoorsy set. The state occupies a culturally fascinating intersection between the Midwest and Deep South.
The microcultures and small towns here vary as much as the landscape, from charming mountain communities to the historic blues shacks along the Mississippi Delta. Little Rock, the capital city, is both symbolically and literally at the center of Arkansas. You can follow the trail of the Civil Rights Movement here at the Little Rock Central High School and explore the life of a leader at the Clinton Presidential Center. The state’s natural wonders and historical sites come together in Hot Springs, southwest of the capital.
Arkansas has four major commercial airports to choose from: Little Rock’s Clinton National Airport (LIT), Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) in Fayetteville, Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM), and Texarkana Regional Airport (TXK). Amtrak trains connect six cities via the Texas Eagle line. Public transit systems within the state, such as buses and streetcars, can help you reach your destination, and ridesharing services are plentiful within bigger cities and towns. A vast network of state highways and scenic byways unifies the state, making a car a convenient choice for accessing all the Arkansas has to offer.
With an abundance of attractions and activities, Arkansas has a lot to offer at any time of the year. Summer visits can be a delight if you can handle the heat, but keep in mind — it can get quite humid. During that time of year, lake vacations are perfect for outdoor recreational activities. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit for milder temperatures. In spring, prepare to be awed by kaleidoscopic hues as the wildflowers erupt and the dogwoods and jonquils burst into bloom. Come autumn, onlookers revel in the fall foliage that carpets the mountains.
Hot Springs National Park, located in the city of the same name, is where nature meets healing. Ancient thermal springs offer an immersive experience of one of the state’s best natural wonders. The park's Bathhouse Row features nine historic spas with marbled tubs, stained glass skylights, and thermal caves. Outside the center of town, 26 miles of hiking trails lead through lush woodlands with creeks, gorges, and scenic viewpoints. The park also hosts informative ranger-led tours that detail the region's history and natural environment.
Arkansas' capital packs in a lot of charm and plenty of Southern hospitality. Explore outdoor attractions like the impressive Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden or Riverfront Park, which boasts 33 acres of scenic parkland. Or dive into local history and culture at the William J. Clinton Library and Museum or the futuristic Museum of Discovery.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Bentonville, in the northwest corner of the state, showcases modern art in an elevated natural setting. Situated within a picturesque 120-acre park in the Ozarks, the museum features contemporary pavilions, a glass-covered bridge, a sculpture walking trail, and a gallery with a permanent art collection.