When you think of the best vacations in the U.S., one might think of scenic beaches on both coasts, exploring the concrete jungle of New York City or simply packing up for an all-American road trip.
One thing is for sure, and that is Arkansas doesn’t come to mind for most, but the Natural State has been experiencing record-breaking tourism since 2021.
Bordering Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi, this southern state might surprise you with its many attractions.
Anybody looking for something different than the typical beach getaway should give Arkansas a chance as it is much more than just a “pass-through state” on to somewhere better.
Charming Small Towns
Little Rock is the capital and largest city in the state of Arkansas, set along the Arkansas River.
When you cross the Arkansas River Bridge into the scenic cityscape of a handful of high-rises, you won’t be overwhelmed by its magnitude and may instantly realize even the biggest city has a cozy feel to it.
As many large capital cities go, you will find what you need here, but the real draw is Arkansas’s smaller towns spread out across the state.
The small towns of Mountain View, Hot Springs and Eureka Springs were recently voted 3 of the best small towns in the South by Southern Living Magazine.
Another town to consider is Lakeview, home to less than 800 residents as of the 2021 census. What they lack in size, they make up for with breathtaking scenery as a true outdoor paradise.
Far Fewer Crowds Than Other Popular Destinations
While many Americans flock to the beach for a getaway, crowds can be overwhelming and ruin the purpose of a beach vacation – to relax!
Coming to a state like Arkansas with wide open spaces and natural wonders to align with the Natural State motto is the perfect solution to avoid over-tourism.
Visitors find the rolling green hills, lush forests, and other natural attractions just as enjoyable as a sunny beach vacation.
However, for those dead set on having a beach escape, Arkansas does have them. It’s just not quite up to, say, Florida or California standards since they are on the lake.
Some are more packed with people than others, and it depends on the season when you visit.
One of the biggest television shows in recent years is Ozark, set in the backwoods of the Ozarks “with more coastline than California”, as they mentioned on the show.
This region of the country is shared primarily between Arkansas and Missouri, but a handful of others claim the Ozarks as well.
With lakes that seem to never end, this is a perfect way to spend the summer with much more space to enjoy your surroundings than other crowded alternatives.
Whether it’s swimming, lounging, or boating, the Ozarks are a great escape to enjoy the beautiful green hills and outdoor activities Arkansas has to offer.
According to a recent report on Arkansas’s thriving tourism numbers, many visitors are spending money on outdoor activities, entertainment and, more importantly, food.
As social media continue to take over our lives, most people’s algorithms are full of tempting food videos. Arkansas offers a unique take on food as they are truly home to southern hospitality.
Many small towns offer diners with old-school menus with a variety of comfort foods to indulge in. While Little Rock offers many restaurants with a pricier take on the classic southern dishes, such as fried chicken and waffles, for example.
Travelers will not leave this state with an empty stomach!
Arkansas is home to many natural springs to spend the day. The small town of Hot Springs lives up to its name with warm water to enjoy at a spa, multiple bathhouses to choose from, and even resorts.
Another excellent choice is Eureka Springs, set further north in the Ozarks, where the waters flow throughout town, including a popular park – Basin Spring Park.
Blanchard Springs will leave you in awe with its picturesque waterfall to take in. Visitors can wander the great outdoors along its well-kempt trail and be able to take a dip in the clear swimming hole nearby.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com