Arkansas, also known as the Natural State, offers a plethora of affordable and exciting activities for travelers on a budget. Whether you’re exploring the charming streets of Little Rock or venturing into the scenic landscapes of East Arkansas, there’s something for everyone. Let’s dive into some of the best cheap and free activities you can enjoy during your Arkansas adventure!
Cheap Things to Do in Arkansas
1. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Located in Bentonville, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a cultural gem that should be on every art enthusiast’s list. The museum showcases an impressive collection of American artworks, ranging from the colonial era to the present day. What makes this experience even more special is the breathtaking surrounding nature trails, inviting visitors to explore the beauty of the Ozarks.
2. Thorncrown Chapel
In the town of Eureka Springs, which is full of charm, Thorncrown Chapel is an architectural masterpiece. This stunning glass chapel, designed with 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass, harmoniously blends with the natural landscape of the Ozark Mountains. A visit to this serene place is a spiritually uplifting and visually awe-inspiring experience.
3. Fordyce Bathhouse
Step back in time by visiting the Fordyce Bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park. The bathhouse, now converted into a visitor center, offers free guided tours. Learn about the history of the therapeutic waters and the spa culture that made Hot Springs a renowned destination in the past.
4. Blanchard Springs Cavern
For adventure seekers, a visit to Blanchard Springs Cavern in Mountain View is a must. Explore the fascinating underground world of limestone caves and formations on guided tours, which are reasonably priced. The mesmerizing stalactites and stalagmites create an otherworldly atmosphere.
5. Crater of Diamonds State Park
Dreaming of discovering a hidden gem? At Crater of Diamonds State Park, you can try your luck at diamond hunting. This unique park is the only diamond-producing site in the world where visitors can search for diamonds and, if fortunate, keep what they find. The park offers affordable admission and the excitement of unearthing your sparkling treasure is truly priceless.
6. South Arkansas Arboretum
Located in El Dorado, the South Arkansas Arboretum is a serene escape into nature’s beauty. With walking trails meandering through various plant collections, it offers an excellent opportunity for a leisurely stroll and appreciation of the state’s diverse flora.
7. Garvan Woodland Gardens
Situated in Hot Springs, Garvan Woodland Gardens is a botanical paradise. Experience the tranquility of meticulously designed gardens, blooming with a variety of flowers and plants. The garden entrance fee is reasonable, and you’ll find yourself lost in a world of natural beauty.
8. Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
For families and thrill-seekers, Magic Springs Theme and Water Park in Hot Springs provides an exciting day out. With a combination of amusement rides and water attractions, it’s the perfect spot for a fun-filled yet budget-friendly adventure.
9. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Not only is a visit to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs an affordable activity, but it also supports a worthy cause. This non-profit sanctuary provides a safe and caring home for big cats and other rescued animals. Get up close with these majestic creatures and learn about wildlife conservation efforts.
10. Intrigue Theater
Embrace the mysterious and magical world of Intrigue Theater in Eureka Springs. This unique show combines historical storytelling, mesmerizing illusions, and mind-bending tricks. An enchanting experience that won’t put a dent in your travel budget.
Free Things to Do in Little Rock
Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas, has an array of cost-free attractions that showcase the state’s rich culture and history. Here are some free things to do in Little Rock:
- River Market District: Explore the vibrant River Market District, where you can experience the city’s local culture, arts, and entertainment scene. Enjoy a stroll through the open-air market, filled with fresh produce, artisan crafts, and street performers.
- Historic Arkansas State Capitol: Take a self-guided tour of the Arkansas State Capitol building, a historic landmark that showcases the state’s political heritage. Marvel at the stunning architecture and learn about the state’s legislative history.
- Big Dam Bridge: Walk or bike across the Big Dam Bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge specifically designed for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge offers breathtaking views of the Arkansas River and the surrounding cityscape.
- Central High School National Historic Site: Visit the Central High School National Historic Site, a crucial landmark in the civil rights movement. The visitor center offers exhibits and information about the events that took place during the integration of the school in 1957.
- MacArthur Park: Enjoy a peaceful day at MacArthur Park, the oldest municipal park in Little Rock. The park features walking paths, beautiful gardens, a tranquil pond, and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History (free admission), which provides insights into the state’s military past.
Things to Do in East Arkansas
East Arkansas boasts its own charm and unique attractions. Here are some things to do in the eastern part of the state:
- Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center: Jonesboro’s Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center lets you explore the area’s natural beauty. Visitors can learn about the ridge’s unique ecosystem through interactive exhibits, walking trails, and wildlife viewing.
- St. Francis National Forest: Explore the St. Francis National Forest, a serene oasis of nature that covers a vast area in eastern Arkansas. The forest offers opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and picnicking amidst the scenic landscapes.
- Mississippi River State Park: Experience the magnificence of the Mississippi River at the Mississippi River State Park near Marianna. Enjoy hiking through the park’s beautiful woodlands and taking in stunning views of the iconic river.
- Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and Dyess Colony: Visit Dyess’ Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and Dyess Colony Visitor Center. Explore the colony buildings, follow the legendary musician, and learn about the region’s rich cultural heritage.
- Hampson Archeological Museum State Park: Delve into the fascinating history of Native American cultures at the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park in Wilson. The museum exhibits artifacts and interactive displays that offer insights into the ancient inhabitants of the region.
Things to Do in Arkansas in March
If you’re planning a visit to Arkansas in March, don’t miss out on these activities:
- Arkansas Cherry Blossom Festival (Little Rock): Celebrate the arrival of spring at the Arkansas Cherry Blossom Festival in Little Rock. Enjoy the breathtaking sight of cherry blossoms in full bloom while participating in cultural events, live music, food tastings, and the much-awaited cherry blossom parade.
- Explore State Parks: March is an ideal time to explore Arkansas’s many state parks. From hiking in the Ozark Mountains to picnicking near scenic waterfalls, the state parks offer a wide range of outdoor activities amid the beauty of nature.
- Fishing at Greers Ferry Lake: Fishing enthusiasts will love spending time at Greers Ferry Lake, as March marks the start of prime fishing season. The lake is known for its excellent angling opportunities, making it a perfect spot to cast a line and enjoy the pleasant spring weather.
- Hot Springs Bathhouse Row: Visit Hot Springs National Park and immerse yourself in history and relaxation. Take a leisurely walk along Bathhouse Row and learn about the city’s spa culture, which has been famous for centuries for its therapeutic thermal waters.
- Wildflower Viewing: March brings an array of colorful wildflowers to Arkansas. Take a scenic drive or hike through various natural areas to witness the blooming dogwoods, redbuds, and other native wildflowers, transforming the landscapes into vibrant displays of color.
Uncovering Hidden Gems Near You
As a travel blogger, discovering lesser-known attractions and local gems can enhance your readers’ experiences. Here’s how to find exciting activities near your location:
- Local Recommendations: Interact with locals, ask for recommendations, and tap into their knowledge of the best-hidden spots in the area.
- Social Media: Utilize social media platforms to connect with fellow travelers and locals. People often share their favorite places to visit and things to do in the area.
- Travel Blogs and Forums: Explore travel blogs and online forums that focus on Arkansas destinations. These platforms often highlight unique and off-the-beaten-path attractions.
In conclusion, Arkansas is a treasure trove of budget-friendly adventures waiting to be explored. From world-class museums and enchanting gardens to captivating natural wonders and thrilling wildlife encounters, this state offers a diverse array of experiences without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re visiting Little Rock, East Arkansas, or anywhere in between, you’ll find an abundance of affordable and memorable activities to make your trip truly special. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and let the beauty of Arkansas unfold before you. Happy travels, and may your journey be filled with joy, wonder, and unforgettable moments!