Thanks, Lisa, for this guest post in our 50 states series.

Ten years ago when we were getting ready to move to Arkansas, I had never been here and knew very little about it.  I think the  only thing I knew about Arkansas was that the capital was Little Rock and President Clinton came from here.  I can honestly tell you though that whether you are just passing through and looking for a family friendly vacation, Arkansas has a lot to offer.

One of our favorite things about living in Arkansas is all of the beautiful lakes and outdoor activities.  Arkansas has several state parks that offer cabins (which by the way are very inexpensive to stay in) camp sites, lakes to boat, fish, swim, or even snorkel, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities, free educational programs, and other attractions.  You can find all of the listings at www.arkansasstateparks.com.  Some of our favorite vacations have been camping at Devil's Den, DeGray Lake and Lake Catherine State Parks.  Fun, family friendly, inexpensive, and educational.  My kind of vacation!

Lake Tour at Degray Lake
Cabin at Lake Catherine
While I'm talking about Lake Catherine State Park, I want to mention that it is located in Hot Springs Arkansas.  Hot Springs has a lot of interesting attractions to offer.  It is the smallest and oldest park in the National Park System.  Hot Springs is known for the natural hot springs that flow out of its ground at 147 degrees.  The springs were believed to have healing properties and Hot Springs became famous for its bath houses.  In the late 1800's it became quite the spot for illegal gambling and one of Hot Springs most notorious landmarks, The Arlington Hotel, was a favored retreat for Al Capone.  Hot Springs was the childhood home of President Clinton.  Popular Attractions in Hot Springs include: Bath House Row, Oaklawn Park, The Wax Museum, Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, Garvan Woodland Gardens,  Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, and Mid America Science Museum.  There are also some really neat shops to walk through on Main Street and some yummy restaurants too!  Stop for the homemade ice cream.  It's delicious!

Hands on fun at MASM
Another must see spot in Arkansas is Historic Washington State Park.  In 1863 the Confederate Government in Arkansas fled to Washington after the Union forces captured Little Rock.  Today over 30 carefully restored historic structures stand as a legacy to life from 1824-1900.  You can tour the buildings, view the antiques, even ride in a surrey.  Experience life in the 1900's by visiting Historic Washington State Park.  In addition to daily tours, they offer special programs throughout the year: Civil War Days, Frontier Days, and Carols in Candlelight to name a few.  We recently went to Frontier Days for Homeschoolers and had a wonderful time!

Visiting the Print Shop at Historic Washington
The only diamond producing site open to the public is located in Murfreesboro Arkansas.  Come to visit the Crater of Diamonds State Park and you can dig for diamonds!  There is a 37 acre plowed field that white, brown, and yellow diamonds are found in along with 40 types of rocks and minerals. You may want to know in advance that the do speak of  rocks and rock formations "in millions of years" on all of their literature and during their educational programs. You can see the list of recent diamond finds here.  The state parks also offers beautiful camp sites and a water park that is perfect for children of all ages.  Not far from the Diamond Mine is the Ka-Do-Ha Indian Village where you can visit their museum, take a self guided tour and hunt for arrow heads.

Digging for diamonds
Little Rock Arkansas is the state capital.  In Little Rock there are many things to see and do.  Visit the capital, stroll through the Market District, or jog down the River Trail.  Take the time to visit the William J Clinton Presidential Center, The Discovery Museum, The Arkansas Art Center, and the Historic Arkansas Museum.  Stop by the Central  Arkansas Nature Center.  The Little Rock Zoo is a great city zoo that we have enjoyed visiting many times. My children love the penguin exhibit.  Click here for more information on things to see and do in Little Rock.

Eureka Springs Arkansas is home of the Great Passion Play and the New Holy Land Tour.  There are also many shops and art galleries to visit in Historic Downtown. My children really loved traveling everywhere by trolley.

Not far from Eureka Springs are the cities of Fayetteville, Spingdale, Rogers, and Bentonville.  Here you will find many things to do.  The University of Arkansas is located in Fayetteville, The Home of the Arkansas Razorbacks.  The Walton Arts Center has Broadway Musicals, dance performances, and other live entertainment in a small and comfortable setting.  I had the opportunity to see Little House on the Prairie the Musical a few years ago and was very impressed with the theater.  Fayetteville also has a lot of shopping and restaurants.  and is a hop. skip. and jump from Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park where the last major Civil War battle to place in Arkansas.  If you are going by Springdale, plan a recreational outing to the Jones Center which has an indoor ice skating rink, basketball courts and walking track, indoor swimming pool, and movie theater.  The Springdale Library has a really nice park with play equipment, a walking trail, and a pond to feed the ducks.  In Bentonville you will find the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art where admission is free! (sponsored by Walmart.)  Rogers offers a lot of shopping at Pinnacle Hills and also Beaver Lake.  I wanted to mention that a drive through the Ozarks when the leaves are changing colors is spectacular!

Not far from these cities, you can go on Safari!  Yep!  In a little town called Gentry Arkansas, you can go on a drive through animal safari, visit a petting zoo which has baby kangaroos! and see other animals up close.  The Wild Wilderness Drive Thru Safari is a lot of fun!

Other places to see and things to do include: Mountain View Arkansas, Blanchard Springs Caverns, and the Delta Rivers Nature Center.  We have not seen any of these yet, but I am hoping to soon!

I hope you enjoyed my tour of Arkansas!  Click here for more information on planning a trip to Arkansas.

Lisa and her husband Art have lived in Arkansas for 10 years where they are happily homeschooling their 7 children.  Lisa's blogs at The Happy Homeschool Mom.

50 states blog posts

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