Arkansas is proud of its natural beauty and its numerous scenic state parks, but there’s a lot more to see when you get out and about around the state. Every member of the family should have a memorable experience on a trip to Arkansas, and the Natural State provides many seasonal diversions for every age group to enjoy. Parents and their children often both find themselves enjoying the same experiences at a science museum or a water park!
1. Dickey-Stephens Park: It's the time of year for the boys of summer to shine! Home to MiLB's Arkansas Travelers, this North Little Rock, Arkansas baseball park has a capacity of 7,200 and opened in 2007 as a replacement for the former Ray Winder Field in Little Rock.
The ballpark is named after four local Arkansas brothers: Baseball Hall of Famer Bill Dickey, former Major League Baseball catcher George Dickey, and businessmen Jackson T. Stephens and W.R. Stephens.
2. Wild River Country: Also located in North Little Rock, this popular family destination is Arkansas's largest water park and was established in 1985. Many Arkansas natives can remember fun summers as a child in the wave pool or bumping around on the Wild River Rapids!
Wild River Country features 8 specialty thrill rides along with the enormous wave pool, an assortment of water slides, a sand volley ball area, and a children's play area, with small slides, water blasters & water falls.
3. Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Arguably one of the more popular parks in the Natural State, it's difficult to find a Little Rock native who hasn't hiked to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain, located just over a mile from the northwest edge of Little Rock, AR, in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains...or at least made some attempt to summit the scenic spot.
Camping inside the park itself is against park policy, yet campsites are available at Maumelle Park, which is roughly 4 miles away from Pinnacle Mountain.
4. Museum of Discovery Little Rock: Established in 1927 as the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, the Museum of Discovery is the oldest museum in Little Rock. The museum was originally accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1993 and was re-accredited in 2001. In 1998, the museum moved to the River Market and changed its name to the Museum of Discovery. The new facility provided more hands-on, interactive exhibits and programs.
In 2003, the museum merged with the Children’s Museum of Arkansas and assumed responsibility for addressing the needs of preschool children. Also in 2003, the museum became a Smithsonian Affiliate.
5. Petit Jean State Park: Those who would argue that Pinnacle Mountain is the more popular state park would likely be reminded of Petit Jean, Arkansas's first and flagship state park. Resting proudly atop Petit Jean Mountain, the park is located on the Arkansas River between the Ozark and Ouachita mountain ranges in Conway County, Arkansas. The park, popular with campers, also has several geologic features such as Bear Cave, Rock House Cave, the Grotto, the Turtle Rocks, the Carpet Rocks, and the Natural Bridge.
The scenic overlook features the grave of Petit Jean, who according to legend was actually a young 18th century French woman who disguised herself as a boy when she discovered that her fiance planned to explore the Louisiana Territory. The woman managed to find a position as a cabin boy with her fiancee's crew and sailed on the expedition. Though she survived the voyage, the young woman became gravely ill upon reaching the area of the mountain. Before her death she revealed herself to her fiance and was buried on the mountain, not under her own name, but under the name she had been known by on the ship; "Little John". The gravesite provides a picturesque view of the Arkansas River Valley.
6. Lawrence Plaza: A large multi-use facility located just north of the City Square in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Plaza features an interactive water park that features over 80 fountain jets as well as a seasonal ice rink.
Lawrence Plaza is unique to Northwest Arkansas because it changes with the seasons. The Plaza is a great place for families to beat the heat during the summer or enjoy holiday cheer on the ice rink in winter.
7. Magic Springs and Crystal Falls: An amusement park and water park located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, this park is a childhood staple for many Arkansans. Having opened in 1975, the park was revamped with a more modern style in 2000. Magic Springs features extreme roller coaster rides (including the X-Coaster, the only Sky Loop Coaster in North America) and three thrill rides. Crystal Falls features a variety of water slides and pools catering to all ages.
Magic Springs also features the Timberwood Amphitheater, a modern concert venue which offers a variety of entertainment. Concerts are held every Saturday during the park's operating season.
8. Fast Lane: This well-known spot in Rogers, Arkansas features bowling, go-karts, laser tag, and an arcade area that includes the state-of-the-art Atomic Rush game. There is also an on-site restaraunt and gift shop. The facility is available for parties and other group events.
Fast Lane also has Balladium, a fast-paced interactive ball game played in a mind-bending black light arena.
9. Mid America Museum: This Hot Springs science museum is Arkansas' largest hands-on science center and the states first Smithsonian Affiliate. The museum features over 100 hands-on exhibits, both traveling and permanent. Numerous permanent exhibits were constructed in the early 1980s, including a "ball machine" that hits billiard balls all around an elaborate track. Many of cartoonist Rowland Emett's kinetic sculptures have been at the museum since its opening.
One of the museum's permanent exhibits is the most powerful conical Tesla coil, which can produce 1,500,000 volts of electricity. The museum also now features the Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome, a theater with state of the art surround sound and a 180-degree screen for viewing the night sky and special programming offered by the museum to educate visitors about the science and history of space exploration.
10. Arvest Ball Park: Best known for summertime sports entertainment, this stadium in Springdale, Arkansas is primarily used for MiLB baseball as the home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The ballpark has a capacity of 7,305 people and opened in 2008.
Arvest Park offers 70 home games of summer fun and family entertainment every season while also serving as a spectacular Northwest Arkansas venue that has hosted festivals, fairs, and charitable events throughout the years.
Whether you’re hiking at a state park or working up the courage to ride one of the coasters at Magic Springs, there’s always something to do when you’re out and about in the Natural State. Visitors and citizens usually find they have one or more favorite spots whenever referencing things to do in Arkansas.