I thought about making a bunch of jokes for this article, quips about how people think Arkansans don’t own shoes and don’t go to school. Though that would have been hilarious, I started thinking about all the hidden gems in the Natural State and I didn’t want to neglect the treasures that most people don’t know about. From the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon to the man-made delight of the Eiffel Tower, here are 14 unexpected things you can find in Arkansas.
1. A Grand Canyon
It might not be as deep as the one out west, but the Arkansas Grand Canyon is a marvel all its own. Set in the Ozarks, this Grand Canyon overlooks the Big Creek Valley, and it makes for some of the best views in Arkansas.
2. A Grand Prairie
Perhaps it’s not as expansive as it used to be, but the Arkansas Grand Prairie still exists and it’s still wonderful. You’ll find it in Arkansas’s delta region, and it’s really a wonder you can’t miss.
3. Abbey Road
Okay, you won’t find the real Abbey Road in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. What you’ll find instead is this incredible statue that pays homage to the iconic Beatles’ album
4. A Statue of Liberty
It might not be
the Statue of Liberty, but the war memorial in Paragould has a seven foot tall version of our much larger lady liberty. First dedicated in 1924, Paragould’s statue is the oldest replication of the iconic torch-bearer on American soil.
5. An Eiffel Tower
You don’t have to travel all the way to France to visit Paris, as we’ve got a Paris right here in the Natural State. And that Paris, like its bigger and more populated counterpart, has an Eiffel Tower. This one only stands 25 feet tall, including its base, but it’s still a marvel you should visit. Frankly, I’ve been to Paris, France, and Mount Magazine, the location of Paris, Arkansas, has a kind of beauty you won’t find on the Seine.
6. An Enormous Christ
You’re not going to find a taller statue on this list, because the Christ of the Ozarks is 65.5 feet tall. This sculpture towers over Magnetic Mountain in Eureka Springs. It was erected in 1966, and Emmet Sullivan, who worked on both Mount Rushmore and nearby Dinosaur World, is responsible for this massive Christ figure.
7. An Art Park
That’s right, America. Arkansas isn’t the cultural black hole some have assumed it is. Terra Studios, located in Fayetteville is so full of art and creative energy that even the bathrooms and trash cans are full of art. Home to the original Blue Bird of Happiness, you’re going to love this sculpture garden and studio.
8. The Most Haunted Hotel in America
Another Eureka Springs landmark, the 1886 Crescent Hotel is an incredible place to stay the night. It bills itself as the Most Haunted Hotel in America, and if the stories are to be believed, it is the most haunted place anywhere. From creepy screams in the night to carts from another era being pushed through the halls by apparitions, this place is gorgeous, decadent, and totally freaky.
9. The Foundations of a Medieval Fortress
Lead Hill is home to the Ozark Medieval Fortress. Though the project has since gone bust, the original idea of building a replica of a 13th-century French castle using only 13th-century tools and materials has resulted in the foundations of something unlike anything else in the New World. If you’re made out of money, you could always fund the project and help bring a whole fortress to the Ozarks.
I don’t know about y’all, but when I think of alligators I don’t think of my home state. I think of Florida and Louisiana. We’re all wrong, though, because gators can be found in Arkansas too. And if you’re not into trolling the Natural State’s wetlands, that’s fine, because you can always drive to Hot Springs and visit the Arkansas Alligator Farm.
11. Rice Fields
You don’t have to cross an ocean or a continent to find expansive rice fields. You can simply drive to the Natural State’s delta region and find them there. Arkansas might not be the only place in the U.S. that grows rice, but we grow far more rice than anywhere else in the U.S.
12. A Festival of Murals
For the second year in a row, Fort Smith has hosted a festival of murals. The Unexpected Festival gathers street artists from all over the world, flies them to Fort Smith, and gives them blank canvasses in the form of towering downtown buildings. This effort to revitalize the hanging city’s downtown area means that whatever your reason for visiting Garrison Avenue, you’ll find art on nearly every corner.
13. Lions and Tigers and Bears
You may expect to find wildlife in the Ozarks, but you might not have thought it would be quite this exotic. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is located near Eureka Springs and it’s home to big cats and other exotic wildlife who needed rescued from dire circumstances. The best news about Turpentine Creek is that its open to the public, so you can learn all about the animals while you tour expansive habitats after paying a cover charge that supports their feed and care.
14. A World Class Art Museum
Crystal Bridges, in Bentonville, has been around for almost five years now, and it’s a totally free way to see some incredible art. This multi-million dollar facility was spearheaded by Alice Walton, of Walmart fame and fortune. Though the rest of the country may think of Arkansas as a place of back woods and backwards thinking, it’s also a place full of culture. If you ever need to prove that point to anyone, drive them up to Bentonville and show them Crystal Bridges.