Enjoy the visual splendor of Arkansas while exploring destinations offering cultural gems in addition to outdoor adventures.
If you love to hike, go mountain biking and walk forest paths, put Little Rock, Hot Springs, Bentonville and Rogers on a travel itinerary through Arkansas. Known for its rugged mountains, rolling rivers and quaint towns, this Southern U.S. state won’t disappoint adventurers. When you’re not on a trail, Arkansas’ amazing experiences can include visiting a presidential library, soaking in a historic bathhouse and viewing artwork at fascinating museums. Beauty awaits at every turn.
Little Rock: Adventures Along the Arkansas River
In the state capital, you’ll find plenty to do downtown along the banks of the Arkansas River. Explore both sides of the river by following walking and biking trails; stop often to enjoy pretty parks, lush gardens and museums. Visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum to see artifacts, photos, replicas of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room, and interactive exhibits highlighting the work of the USA’s 42nd president. Then, just outside, use the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, open only to pedestrians and cyclists, to cross the river. (For a special treat, do this at night when the bridge glows with lights.) In Riverfront Park, browse the River Market and admire lovely pieces in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden. Step inside Nexus Coffee and Creative to talk to locals over coffee, tea or even a prosecco or local beer. If you see a trolley stop, hop aboard for a different perspective on Little Rock.
Touring the Little Rock riverfront by bicycle
Hot Springs: Nature Meets Urban Beauty in a National Park
Regale in the charm of historic Hot Springs National Park, where people have flocked for hundreds of years for rejuvenation in the natural thermal spring waters. Sign up for a ranger tour to discover the beautiful Hot Springs National Park and iconic Bathhouse Row. Spend time exploring the half-mile Grand Promenade trail to learn more about the eight bathhouses that were built between 1892 and 1923. Walk the Hot Springs Mountain and North Mountain trails leading to the mountain’s peak, where you’ll be surprised with forest, park and town views that seem to go on forever. Cycling is welcome on any of the paved roads in the national park. Mountain bikers should check out the Northwoods Trails, offering more than 40 kilometers of single track, multi-track, flow trails, jump lines and more. After exercising, reward your body with a soothing soak and spa services at one of the bathhouses. Enjoy more relaxation sipping a local brew made with spring water at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery or by visiting shops and attractions in town. Afterward, watch horse races and play games at the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. Spend the night there or at a hotel near the park.
The historic buildings of Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park
Bentonville: A Retail Empire, Magical Museum and Epic Trails
More than 200 kilometers of bike trails in and around Bentonville match the abilities of cyclists at all levels. In fact, Bentonville calls itself the world’s capital of mountain biking. Trails are easy to access from downtown and convenient to restaurants, hotels and attractions. You’ll soon learn that Bentonville is where Sam Walton started his retail career with a five-and-dime store in 1950 and, by 1962, opened the first Walmart in nearby Rogers. The company’s headquarters are still in Bentonville, and you can visit The Walmart Museum to learn more about Walton and the world’s largest retailer, then savor a butter pecan ice cream cone at The Spark Café Soda Fountain. The Walton family also gifted the area with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. It’s a place that stimulates the senses, both inside the Moshe Safdie-designed building and on more than 6 kilometers of walking and biking trails in the surrounding 48 hectares of forest. Explore the natural ravine and stroll on two bridges that cross spring-fed ponds. Inside, take an audio tour or follow a guide while viewing artwork in the outstanding collection. If you need to take a break, visit its onsite restaurant, Eleven. Want to find more trails and get bonus views overlooking Crystal Bridges? Pedal over to the nearby All-American Trail, a great outing for all ages and skill levels. You can park downtown for easy access to the trail entrance.
The intriguing exterior of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art tucked into the surrounding forest
Rogers: Mountain Biking and Downtown Recreation
One of the best ways to explore the Rogers area is with a guide leading a mountain biking excursion on Monument Trails at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area. The largest state park in Arkansas offers 87 kilometers of trails on nearly 4,900 hectares. Plan your trip in advance and reserve a tent campsite with views of Beaver Lake. There are great places for recreation that are convenient to downtown restaurants and shops. Cyclists of all levels will enjoy Railyard Bike Park’s trails and amenities, even at night, when the lights are on until 10 p.m. The bike park is part of the 95-hectare Lake Atalanta Park, which also includes walking trails and a playground. End your day with a refreshing seasonal brew at Ozark Beer Co. You’re welcome to bring along your own snacks or order something to eat from a local food truck.
Mountain biking along the Monument Trails at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area
Start exploring Arkansas after flying into either Clinton National Airport (LIT) in Little Rock or Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) in Bentonville. Rent a car to drive to any of these destinations.