It’s important to have goals. One of the best ways to set goals is by creating bucket lists, and some of the best bucket lists to have are those related to travel. In fact, we recommend having a travel bucket list for every state. This includes the gorgeous natural state of Arkansas, which is what we will be discussing today.
What is a Bucket List?
Before we dive in too deep, let’s talk a bit about what exactly a bucket list is. In short, a bucket list is a collection of experiences you’d like to have before you “kick the bucket.”
Some people like to keep one long bucket list, but there are so many things we’d like to accomplish and things we’d like to see that we find it’s better to keep several lists of bucket list ideas. These might include places to visit, foods to eat, things to do, or even people to meet.
As mentioned above, this article will cover travel list suggestions for Arkansas. To be quite honest, all of these experiences deserve a spot on your Arkansas bucket list. However, you can of course pick and choose as you see fit.
Bucket List Vacations: Arkansas National Parks
First up, we will discuss the eight national parks sites in Arkansas. All of these are worth visiting and each one features some beautiful views, awesome lessons, or something else that is unique and memorable.
#1. Arkansas Post National Memorial
The Arkansas Post was the first ever European establishment in the lower Mississippi Valley. It has served as an integral meeting point for hundreds of years and was proclaimed the capital of Arkansas Territory in 1819. The National Memorial is an excellent place to learn a bit about that history.
#2. Buffalo National River
All rivers are beautiful to behold, and the Buffalo National River is no exception. Our recommendation is to make a point of floating down this river while the dogwoods are in bloom for an incredible experience you won’t soon forget.
#3. Fort Smith National Historic Site
Another great place for a history lesson, Fort Smith National Historic Site allows visitors to step back in time as they explore the old fort, its two jails, the courtroom, and more. Exhibits explain a bit of the history, and a Junior Ranger program engages the kids.
#4. Hot Springs National Park
The only full-fledged national park in Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park is one everyone should see at least once. The bathhouse built over the spring is amazing, and the water that can be collected onsite and taken home is absolutely delicious.
#5. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
The only high school with the National Historic Site designation, Little Rock Central High School is an interesting place to visit, as it still runs as a school, but also allows guided tours. It was the site of the “Little Rock Nine”—nine brave black students who were a part of the desegregation movement in 1957.
#6. Pea Ridge National Military Park
Yet another fantastic history learning opportunity can be found at Pea Ridge National Military Park. This was the location of an important Civil War battle, during which the Union took control of Missouri. It’s a good idea to do a bit of reading about the war before visiting in order to get the most out of your visit.
#7. President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
Back on August 19th, 1946, President Bill Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas. These days, visitors can visit his birthplace and home and learn all about the childhood of our 42nd president.
#8. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Last but definitely not least, a visit to the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is 100% worth adding to your schedule. Be sure to do a bit of research and brush up on your history before visiting, and use your time on the trail to reflect on the terrible ways in which native people were forced from their homes on this very path.
More Bucket List Experiences
Of course, the NPS sites above are just a few of the many amazing things to see and do in the Natural State. The Arkansas bucket list ideas below should also be added to your list of must-dos.
#9. Find the Gurdon Light
First sighted in the 1930s, the Gurdon Light is a light that is seen floating above the railroad tracks near the town of Gurdon. There are many theories about what this might be, but none have been proven correct.
#10. Go on a Fishing Trip
Arkansas is home to tons of lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. For this reason, no trip to Arkansas is complete without at least one day out on the water fishing. We recommend fishing for trout on the upper White River, but really any fishing spot will do just fine.
#11. Stay at a the Crescent Hotel
The town of Eureka Springs is home to one of the most haunted places in the country. The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa is said to be home to multiple spirits, and guests can stay right in the middle of the action.
#12. Dig for Diamonds
Most people don’t know that you can dig for diamonds in Arkansas, but you absolutely can, and we definitely recommend it! Crater of Diamonds State Park gives all guests the opportunity to find their own diamonds and even has camping onsite.
#13. Go Kayaking or Canoeing
As mentioned above, the amount of water in Arkansas is astounding. For this reason, kayaking or canoes should definitely be on the agenda. The Mulberry River is great for this!
#14. Pick Wild Blackberries
Wild blackberries can be found all over the place in Arkansas in the summer. Make time to stop and pick some for yourself. You won’t regret it!
#15. Take a Hike
Just as Arkansas is full of awesome fishing spots and great kayaking waters, it also offers tons of amazing hiking trails. Some of our favorites can be found in the gorgeous Devil’s Den State Park.
#16. Attend a Peach or Watermelon Festival
Summertime fruit festivals are a favorite in the small towns of Arkansas. Attend one for yourself and you’ll understand why. The Johnson County Peach festival is a great pick, as is the Cave City Watermelon Festival.
#17. Take in the Sights Along Talimena Scenic Drive
Because it’s so full of natural beauty, a drive through the Arkansas countryside never disappoints and is an Arkansas bucket list must-do. One of our favorite dives is along the Talimena Scenic Drive. Pack a picnic and see what you can see along this lovely stretch of road.
#18. Look for the Gators in Grassy Lake
Did you know gators live in Arkansas? It’s true, and you can actually go see them. Head over to Grassy Lake, put a boat in the water, and watch carefully for these creepy critters!
#19. See a Movie at the Ozark Foothills Filmfest
Film festivals are fantastic experiences, and we especially love the Ozark Foothills Filmfest. Check out some seriously creative masterpieces and get to know some like-minded individuals at this fun event.
#20. Visit the Walmart Museum
Yes, there is a Walmart Museum. Located in Bentonville, where Sam Walton opened his very first store, the Walmart Museum follows the history of this huge chain. In addition to the exhibits, guests also have the opportunity to see Walton’s original 5&10 store building.
#21. Check out Johnny Cash’s Boyhood Home
Are you a fan of Johnny Cash? Honestly, even if you aren’t you’ll likely enjoy a visit to the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. Located in Dyess, this home is now a museum covering the life and times of the music legend.
#22. Go on a Cave Tour at Blanchard Springs Caverns
Caves are all over the place in Arkansas. Therefore, it only makes sense to go on a cave tour while you’re there. Blanchard Springs Caverns is one of the best places to do this. You’re sure to enjoy the guided tours here!
#23. Wander the Chaffee Barbershop Museum
Oddly enough, this state also boasts an entire barbershop museum. The Chaffee Barbershop Museum is located in a restored historic barbershop building in Fort Smith. Many an enlisted Army soldier had their hair cut here—as did Elvis Presley—and the modern exhibits are quite interesting.
#24. See Mammoth Springs
Mammoth Springs is the largest spring in the state of Arkansas. Watching the water roll over itself is truly mesmerizing, making a visit to the springs well worthwhile.
#25. Watch the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races
Have you ever seen a cardboard boat race? You can see one in Arkansas in Heber Springs. This is where the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races are held each summer, and they are an absolute blast to watch.
#26. Explore the Gangster Museum of America
Another interesting Museum found in Arkansas is the Gangster Museum of America. This place definitely deserves a place on your Arkansas bucket list. Here you can learn all about the gangs of the 1920s and 30s and how they influenced society.
#27. See the Louisiana Purchase Monument
Finally, we highly recommend a visit to Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park, where you can see a granite monument in the middle of the swamp marking the initial point established during a survey of lands added to the US after the Louisiana Purchase.
Clearly, there is a lot to see and do in the state of Arkansas. Wondering how you’ll fit it all in? We highly recommend renting an RV so you can travel from one spot to the next as you tick off the boxes on your Arkansas bucket list. Fortunately, there are plenty of rental RVs to choose from, meaning you’re sure to find one to suit your needs.