There are scores of historic areas in Arkansas, and few are more interesting than the dozen downtowns on this list. These downtowns are not only historic—they have also been revitalized. To find some of the best shopping and dining in Arkansas, look no further than Main Street. There’s nothing quite like shopping in a place where the history is evident in the buildings you visit, where the very streets hold the memories of a time before.
1. El Dorado
With 18 retail shops and 10 restaurants, you could spend all day in downtown El Dorado and never run out of things to do. Main Street is also host to multiple events every year, which serve to bolster downtown businesses and showcase the beautiful old buildings.
2. Fort Smith
The area surrounding Garrison Avenue extending to the banks of the Arkansas River serves as Fort Smith’s downtown. Perhaps it is best known for its nightlife, for bars that still look like saloons, but the area is also home to many restaurants, unique shops, and boutiques. Plus, the National Historic Site is located there, as well as the Park at West End.
3. Van Buren
Van Buren’s visitor center is located in a working train depot on Main Street. That’s right, you can hop on an excursion train in Van Buren, serviced by Arkansas & Missouri Railroad. Or, you can just hang out down there, eat some delicious food, browse in some truly interesting shops, and admire the gorgeous buildings.
In 2012, Arkadelphia was selected as an Arkansas Business City of Distinction for Main Street Preservation. Arkadelphia is working hard to improve its downtown area and it’s going really well. You can eat, shop, and play among the adorable old buildings.
5. Eureka Springs
The entire city of Eureka Springs is on the National Historic Register, and you won’t find a quirkier downtown area in the state. It’s beautiful, truly unique, and a great place to spend a weekend.
Main Street Rogers is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. While it works to preserve its history, it is also looking toward the future. They fully support the addition of new and innovative businesses. Though, truth be told, there are already so many awesome businesses and restaurants there that there are too many to list.
The Fayetteville town square is a gorgeous place with cool shops and delicious restaurants. It is also home to frequent, awesome, and well-attended community events, so don't forget to check the community calendar before you head up the hill.
8. Hot Springs
Part of the charm of this resort town is its history. Walk Bathhouse Row for a dose of what the town used to look like, then browse the shops lining the streets and pick up some lunch along the way.
Downtown Monticello is unique and awesome. Look for the shops down there, and don't forget to grab lunch too. The whole city is part of the Tree City, USA program, so walk around and enjoy the trees while you're there.
The buildings in downtown Pocahontas date from 1873. There are 17 blocks of them, and most are at least 100 years old. Explore the history, but don't forget to buy modern goods.
Downtown Jonesboro is an official member of the 2015 Nationally Accredited Main Street Program. One of its best features is the Alive After Five program, which takes place on the third Thursdays of months from March to November. They hold movie nights and more than 40 vendors participate.
There are historical markers located around downtown Stuttgart. You can spend the whole afternoon in remarkable shops run by friendly locals, and maybe learn something along the way.