20+ Essential Arkansas Bucket List Ideas and Things to Do

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Arkansas is a land teeming with things to do, adventures to be had, and activities for the whole family. The state is known for being the place where Walmart got its start and producing America’s 42nd president, among other things. What you may not know is that Arkansas is full of natural wonders, historic locations, scenic drives, and a thriving music and arts scene.

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If Arkansas hasn’t made it onto your list of destinations to see before you kick the proverbial bucket, you’ll want to add it after you read what the state has in store!

Arkansas Bucket List Destinations

If you’re making a travel bucket list, start by adding one or two major destinations you want to see. Here are several of the top destinations we think you’ll enjoy in Arkansas.

1. Crater of Diamonds State Park

Go digging for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park! First established in 1972, the park attracts people across the nation hoping to find diamonds during their stay. The best part? You get to keep any diamonds you find!

The biggest diamond found in the United States was discovered on park grounds and was a 40.23-carat rock. The next-biggest gem weighed in at 16.73 carats.

2. Pinnacle Mountain State Park

This state park has something for everyone. Enjoy over 22 miles of hiking trails or 14 miles of biking trails, float or fish in the rivers, and learn about the area’s history courtesy of programs offered at the visitor center. It’s a stunning park that you won’t want to miss.

3. Little Rock

There are so many things to do in and around Little Rock, Arkansas, that we’d be remiss if it didn’t get its own mention. Explore the Museum of Discovery, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, walking and biking trails, zoos, parks, theaters, and more.

Northwest Arkansas Bucket List Ideas

Northwest Arkansas has some incredible offerings from underground adventures to scenic day trips and beyond. This area spans Fayetteville to Eureka Springs, and you’ll be glad you included it in your travel bucket list.

4. Take a ride on the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad

Take a trip back in time when you board the Arkansas and Missouri train, sit in restored antique passenger cars from the 1920s to ‘50s, and learn about the area’s history courtesy of your conductor.

Enjoy riding in the glass dome car, nosh on delicious snacks, and take in some of the best scenery in the state of Arkansas.

5. Embark on an underground adventure at War Eagle Cavern

War Eagle Cavern in Rogers, AK, contains the largest cave entrance in Arkansas, daily tours, wide paths, cave formations, an underground lake, and two in-cave waterfalls. Fun for the whole family, kids can even pan for gems after the cave tour.

6. Kayak or fish the White River

The White River is popular for canoeing and kayaking if you want to get your blood pumping. But it’s also known the world over for trout fishing. Brown and rainbow trout have been fished from the waters with browns coming in at 30+ pounds and rainbows registering at a whopping 19 pounds.

7. Visit the old Walton 5 and Dime Store

We all know Walmart as the mega-retailer that provides home goods and groceries for affordable prices. But do you know how the store came to be? Take a tour of the original 5 and Dime store that Sam Walton set up in Bentonville Square.

Shop in the working storefront, take a look inside Sam’s office, and pull up a seat for some old-fashioned soda and ice cream at The Spark Cafe Soda Fountain.

Northeastern Arkansas Bucket List Ideas

Northeastern Arkansas is filled with rich culture, history, and stunning scenery. You’ll be glad you included these stops on your itinerary.

8. Explore Peppersauce Ghost Town

Peppersauce Ghost Town in Calico Rock is America’s only ghost town that is surrounded by an inhabited town. Only part of the town was abandoned when the cotton gin closed, a fire ravaged several buildings, and the eastern portion of Calico Rock became unwanted. 

Today, the ghost town is open to visitors. You can peek inside general stores and the cotton gin and step into the old jail. This is a must-stop location that is fun for history buffs, kids, and kids at heart.

9. Drive through Arkansas’ scenic byways

Crowley’s Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives you can take. The 212-mile road travels through farmland, national forestland, and numerous historic sites. 

Pro tip: Crowley's Ridge is a stunning drive any time of year, but is especially beautiful during the fall.

10. Check out the Johnny Cash Home

Far from what you might expect, Johnny Cash’s family was once an impoverished Arkansas family that had next to nothing to their name. With the help of a government grant, they were given a home and a piece of land that they then purchased by raising crops. 

Cash’s boyhood home has been restored and is open to visitors. Furnishings have been provided based on family memories and the home appears as it would have when the young Johnny was living there.

Fall and Winter Arkansas Bucket List Ideas

Fall and winter is a great time to travel through Arkansas. Not only are most activities in this article available, but there are also fewer tourists to contend with. In addition to those perks, there are some pretty amazing fall and winter-focused activities.

11. Photograph fall foliage

No matter where you turn if you’re in Arkansas during the fall, you’ll see stunning fall foliage. Take a stroll, go on a drive, or bring a waterproof camera on a kayak trip and you’ll get plenty of postcard-worthy scenes to take home with you.

12. Hang out at the Ozark Folk Festival

The Ozark Folk Festival is the longest-running folk festival in the nation and takes place over four days in November. There are five to six shows a day, food vendors, and plenty to do for the folk music lover.

13. Go for a vineyard tour at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars

The vineyard was first established back in 1880 by a Swiss man after the discovery was made that Arkansas had similar grape growing potential to his native homeland in Sweden. The winery has been continuously owned and operated by the Wiederkehr family, and it’s become one of the largest in mid-America.

Pro tip: Feeling hungry? Grab lunch at the Wiederkehr Weinkeller Restaurant. It’s located in the original hand-dug 1880 wine cellar!

Spring and Summer Arkansas Bucket List Ideas

Spring and summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy all the best that Arkansas has to offer. Here are just a few things you’ll want to do.

14. Check out the watermelon festival

Occurring every July in Cave City, the festival celebrates the “world’s sweetest watermelons” grown locally in Arkansas. In addition to watermelon games, there’s a 5k race, a fishing derby, a parade, down-home southern food, and all the watermelon you can eat!

15. Take advantage of plentiful biking trails

Arkansas state parks are loaded with hiking and biking trails, making this the perfect destination for mountain and trail biking enthusiasts.

16. Float on the Spring River

Spring River is one of the best float rivers in the state. Choose your preferred vessel and enjoy a lazy day on the river in an inner tube, kayak, or canoe. 

Pro tip: This is also a favorite spot for fly fishing!

17. Catch a race at Batesville Motor Speedway

This track is a favorite for Arkansasians, and, come summer, there is a full lineup of races including modifieds and hobby stock cars. The track has been recognized as one of the best dirt tracks in the States, and drivers from all over the country show up to test their skills.

Pro tip: Buy your tickets in advance, as races frequently sell out.

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Arkansas

Every bucket list needs a food bucket list section. If you’re wondering what to eat after all your adventures, here are the five top things we recommend.

18. Chow down on a hubcap burger at Cotham’s

Cotham’s is known far and wide as the home of the hubcap burger, a burger that is just about as big as your hubcap. Served with fries, the patty alone takes up more than half of your plate.

Not a fan of burgers? You can also get southern classics like fried catfish, onion rings, fried green tomatoes, and Mississippi Mud for dessert.

19. Sample finger-licking chicken during the Mt. Nebo Chicken Fry

The Mt. Nebo Chicken Fry is held annually during the summer in Dardanelle, Arkansas, and it’s been a state favorite since 1948. With over 50 vendors, there will be plenty of chicken to try, so don’t plan on eating until you arrive.

There’s also plenty to do at the festival, including a 10k run, log sawing contests, a horseshoe tournament, shopping, and listening to music courtesy of a local band.

20. Enjoy juicy peaches at the Johnson County Peach Festival

Though Georgia is most well-known for peaches, Arkansas’ peach festival is the longest-running festival in the state. Held annually in the summer, there are plenty of peachy activities to enjoy, like eating fresh-picked peaches, enjoying a peach cobbler bake-off, or digging into a peach pie eating contest.

There is fun for the whole family during this event and more vendors and foodie finds than we can list.

21. Try fried pickles at the Old South restaurant in Russellville

If you’ve never had a fried pickle, you don’t know what you’re missing. Head on over to The Old South where they’ve been dishing up this southern staple since 1947. You won’t want to miss it!

22. Eat a plate of biscuits with chocolate gravy at Calico Country

Fried pickles not your thing? Perhaps you’ll enjoy getting to nosh on biscuits with chocolate gravy, instead! Made the same way, from scratch, since 1984, this is a southern staple you might just want to take home with you and make yourself.

Enjoy Exploring Arkansas

Arkansas may not be the first place you think of when planning out destinations for your bucket list, but as you can see, there is plenty to do! Whether you want to hike, bike, explore, or learn about Ozark history, there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy. What are you looking forward to doing?

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