From the Ouachita Mountains to the Ozarks, Arkansas is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes, including rolling hills, tranquil lakes, verdant woodlands, and cascading waterfalls. Hailed as a world-class destination for hiking, boating, and fishing, Arkansas, is a fun and affordable and an excellent place for a family vacation. Visit world-class museums, theme parks, and petting zoos, and enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences at family-friendly attractions like Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park, and Tiny Town. Here are some more fantastic spots to head to with the family for a fun day out. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Arkansas Air Museum
© Arkansas Air Museum
The Arkansas Air & Military Museum is dedicated to showcasing the colorful history of aviation in Arkansas and the American military through an impressive collection of aviation memorabilia, artifacts, and historic items related to aviation. The museum has both static and mobile exhibits and displays, many of which are still in operation. Stroll through the vast wooden hangar which was once a World War II aviator training post and explores the magnificent displays of airplanes that include Vietnam-era Army helicopters, a Stinson S Junior, and a Douglass A-4 Skyhawk. The Arkansas Air & Military Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.
4290 S School Ave, Fayetteville, AR 72701, Phone: 479-521-4947
2.Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
© Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo is a privately owned zoo in Hot Springs that has been raising alligators since 1902. The museum features a small museum with a collection of mounted alligators and houses around 200 alligators, as well as other animals like bobcats, cougars, chickens, turtles, wild boars, and ring-tailed lemurs. The petting zoo is home to pigs, goats, baby alligators, llamas, emus, and white-tailed deer that visitors can meet, greet, and pet, and there is an alligator feeding show where visitors can learn all about these ancient animals. The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo also has a souvenir shop and a snack bar.
847 Whittington Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, Phone: 501-623-6172
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3.Arkansas Museum of Discovery
© Arkansas Museum of Discovery
Housed in a historic building in the River Market district in downtown Little Rock, the Arkansas Museum of Discovery is a top science and technology center that explores math, science, and technology in a dynamic, interactive environment. Designed for visitors of all ages, the museum features 90 immersive exhibits, including a bed of nails that highlights the principles of physics and the Tornado Alley Theater which shows the power of a twister, along with a variety of engaging programs. Other exhibits include a Tinkering Studio, Earth Journeys, Room to Grow, and the musical bi-polar Tesla coil that is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records.
500 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72201, Phone: 501-396-7050
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4.Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources
© Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources
The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources is a museum in Smackover that documents the history of the petroleum and brine industries in South Arkansas. Established in the 1980s, the 25,000 square feet museum tells the story of oil and bromine production in southern Arkansas and features a large exhibition center, a re-created boom-era street scene in Smackover, operating replicas of oil machinery, and a 10,800 square feet archive and collection center. After the discovery of in nearby El Dorado in 1921, the sleepy town of Smackover boomed from 100 to 25,000 people within a year, and the ten-county area is still producing oil today.
4087 Smackover Hwy, Smackover, AR 71762, Phone: 870-725-2877
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5.Arkansas Railroad Museum
© Arkansas Railroad Museum
Located at the former Cotton Belt yard on Port Road in Pine Bluff, the Arkansas Railroad Museum celebrates the history of the railroad in Arkansas. Hailed as an upper-level railroad preservation facility, the Arkansas Railroad Museum features one of the largest displays of historic railroad equipment in the state, including massive overhead cranes, heavy repair equipment as pits, and tools for servicing large railroad equipment. Most of the equipment is housed in the former SSW shops, which was the central heavy repair and erection shop for SSW during the steam era. The Arkansas Railroad Museum hosts an annual show each year featuring a full-sized railroad with railroad equipment, old railroad cars, and locomotives.
1700 Port Rd, Pine Bluff, AR 71601, Phone: 870-535-8819
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6.Clinton House Museum
© Clinton House Museum
The Clinton House Museum was the first home of Bill and Hilary Clinton and the place where they were married and is now open as a public museum. Visitors can explore the institution, which displays the lives of the then-future president and a future secretary of state before they headed to the hallowed halls of the White House. Located on Clinton Drive, the museum features a variety of photographs, political campaign video adverts, early political speeches, and other documents that take visitors back in time and give an insight into the lives of two of America’s most famous people. The Clinton House Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
930 West Clinton Drive, Fayetteville, AR 72701, Phone: 479-444-0066
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7.Crenshaw Springs Water Park
© Crenshaw Springs Water Park
Crenshaw Springs Water Park in White Hall is a family-friendly water park that features a variety of water slides and rides and swimming pools for visitors of all ages. The park has a lazy river with tubes, two giant flume slides, a splash area and slides for toddlers, a large swimming pool with a zero-depth entry area, several diving boards, and a rock-climbing wall. Signature rides include the Cottonmouth Curse for some high-speed water fun, the Squirrel’s Nest with sliding tubes, the Diamondback Dive with heart-stopping speeds, and almost-vertical drops, and the Crenshaw Express for trainloads of fun. The inches-deep Turtle Tot Spot splash zone is ideal for toddlers, and the park has plenty of picnic spots and a restaurant.
9801 Dollarway Rd, White Hall, AR 71602, Phone: 870-247-6964
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8.Fort Smith Museum of History
© Fort Smith Museum of History
Housed in the historic 1907 Atkinson-Williams Warehouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fort Smith Museum of History is devoted to presenting the history of Fort Smith and the surrounding region. Located on Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith, the museum preserves over 40,000 artifacts and objects that document the city’s history in a variety of permanent exhibits, including a timeline that takes visitors on a journey through growth and development of the town that grew around the 1817 military fort. Other exhibitions include the William O. Darby Memorial Room in which the story of the founder of Darby’s Rangers in World War II (today’s Army Rangers) is told and the Boyd Gallery which houses temporary and traveling exhibitions.
320 Rogers Ave, Fort Smith, AR 72901, Phone: 479-783-7841
9.Fort Smith Trolley Museum
© Fort Smith Trolley Museum
The Fort Smith Trolley Museum is a streetcar and railroad museum that preserves the history of heritage streetcars and trolleys in Fort Smith and the state of Arkansas and includes a vintage operating heritage streetcar line. Opened in 1985, the museum features a collection of railcars that includes locomotives, streetcars, motor buses, and rail equipment, as well as a working 1926 electric Birney Streetcar, on which visitors can enjoy a short ride between historic Garrison Avenue and the National Cemetery in downtown Fort Smith. Regular re-enactments of the famous Robbing of the Fort Smith Trolley are put on by the Indian Territory Pistolier re-enactment group at a Western-themed village just outside the museum.
100 S 4th Street, Fort Smith, AR 72901, Phone: 479-783-0205
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10.Hampson Archeological Museum State Park
© The State Parks of Arkansas
Hampson Archeological Museum State Park is a five-acre state park in Mississippi County that exhibits an award-winning collection of archeological artifacts from the Nodena Site, a former a 15-acre palisaded Native American village on the Mississippi River dating back to 1400. Founded over 50 years ago, the 8,580 square feet museum features an incredible collection of objects and interpretive exhibitions that sheds light on this ancient civilization. Exhibits showcase the lifestyles of this ancient farming-based civilization and how they cultivated crops, hunted native game, and created their art, religion, and political structure. Visitors can enjoy hands-on experiences and visually stunning displays.
33 Park St, Wilson, AR 72395, Phone: 870-655-8622
© Imagination Station
Set on the Maumee riverfront in downtown Toledo, Imagination Station is a hands-on science museum that is designed to encourage an interest in the natural sciences and make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fun. Opened in 1997, the science center features over 300 fun and educational interactive and immersive exhibits for visitors of all ages, including the Energy Factory, Eat it Up!, the Extreme Science Theater, IDEA Lab, Mind Zone, Water Works, and Little KIDSPACE. Imagination Station also offers a range of educational programs and workshops, summer camps, think tank workshops, and scout programs throughout the year.
1 Discovery Way, Toledo, OH 43604, Phone: 419-244-2674
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12.Lake Chicot State Park
Set on the shores of a beautiful 22-mile oxbow lake within the Arkansas delta in Chicot County, Lake Chicot State Park is a 211.6-acre state park that is home to a wide variety of waterfowl and wading birds and offers outstanding birding and wildlife watching. Formed around 600 years ago, Lake Chicot is the largest oxbow lake in North America and is named for the many cypress stumps that lie along its banks. Lake Chicot State Park offers a wealth of recreational activities from hiking, mountain biking, and camping to picnicking, swimming and fishing.
2542 State Hwy 257, Lake Village, AR 71653, Phone: 870-265-5480
13.Lake Ouachita State Park
Lake Ouachita State Park is a state park in Mountain Pine that surrounds the 40,000-acre Lake Ouachita, Arkansas’s largest lake, and the picturesque Ouachita National Forest. The lake’s clear, clean waters are stocked with bream, crappie, catfish, striped bass, and largemouth bass and offer some of the best fishing in the state, as well as an array of recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, swimming, skiing, and scuba diving. Other facilities in the park include a full-service marina, campgrounds, overnight cabins, hiking trails, boat ramps, a visitor’s center, a restaurant. The historic Three Sisters’ Springs is in the park, and interpretive programs such as guided hikes, kayak tours, and eagle cruises, and are offered year-round.
5451 Mountain Pine Road, Mountain Pine, AR 71956, Phone: 501-767-9366
14.Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
© Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park is an amusement park in Hot Springs about 50 miles from Little Rock. Open daily late-May through mid-August, and on the weekends from April through October, the park features a wealth of family rides and adrenaline-rushing slides, water-based fun, and rollercoasters for visitors of all ages. The park is home to the state-of-the-art Timberwood Amphitheater, a concert venue that hosts a variety of entertainment every Saturday during the operating season. Crystal Falls is the water park in the complex and features a wide range of water-centric activities and fun for the whole family, including kid’s play zones, tube slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and seven side-by-side racing slides.
1701 E Grand Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901, Phone: 501-624-0100
15.Mid America Science Museum
© Mid America Science Museum
The Mid-America Science Museum is a science museum in Hot Springs that is designed to encourage an interest in science and technology through more than 100 hands-on permanent and traveling exhibits. The 65,000 square foot museum features individual galleries in which exhibitions are housed, such as the Marvelous Motion Gallery, the Light Bridge, and the Tesla Theater. Outdoor exhibits include the award-winning Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk and the Oaklawn Foundation DinoTrek. The Mid-America Science Museum also offers a range of educational programs and workshops for all ages from summer and winter camps, science classes and lectures, scout programs, and field trips.
500 Mid America Blvd, Hot Springs, AR 71913, Phone: 501-767-3461
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16.Plantation Agriculture Museum
Housed in a series of historic buildings in Scott, the Plantation Agriculture Museum documents Arkansas's rich cotton agriculture history from statehood in 1836 through World War II and preserves Arkansas’s farming history. Originally built as a general store in 1912, the main museum features an array of educational exhibits that interpret the cotton industry in Arkansas, including how cotton was grown, picked, and processed to when agricultural practices became mechanized. Presentations include full-sized mules and wagon on the scales in the Dortch Gin Exhibit, a seed warehouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a historic tractor exhibit.
4815 AR-161, Scott, AR 72142, Phone: 501-961-1409
Designed to encourage children to learn through play, Play Town is a creative and innovative play center that features an indoor interactive town with 16 individually-themed areas, for children up to the age of eight years. Set up and built like a whole town, the center offers a variety of spaces for all ages from a fenced-in Kiddie’s Corral with a padded floor for little ones aged six months to 36 months to a planetarium, where kids can explore the stars and the wonders of the universe. Other attractions include a Vet Clinic where kids can look after animals and a fitness center with kiddie-sized equipment for active kids to burn off excess energy.
19800 I-30 #11, Benton, AR 72019, Phone: 501-794-5677
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18.The Gangster Museum of America
© The Gangster Museum of America
The Gangster Museum of America takes visitors back to the 1920s, 30s, and 40s and the time of gambling, bootlegging, and gangsters when some of America’s most notorious criminals lived in the little valley town of Hot Springs. The 10,000 square-foot museum features spacious galleries filled with fascinating exhibits and displays that offer a historic and entertaining look at the glory days of gambling and the famous spa town’s gangster past. The Gangster Museum of America highlights the stories of notorious gangsters such as Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, and Bugs Moran and who holidayed in Hot Springs. Visitors can enjoy an award-winning audiovisual experience, play in the antique casino and listen to fascinating, informative, and educational stories from a local historian in the museum theater.
510 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, Phone: 501-318-1717
19.The Wonder Place
Located in the Breckenridge Village, the Wonder Place is a creative indoor play facility designed for children up to the age of eight years to explore, discover, dream, and create. The unique, imaginative play experience features 5,700 square feet of fun, including waterworks, building blocks, climbing areas, a drama section, swing sets, an art corner, and more. The center also has a toy store full of unique and educational toys, including Haba Toys. The Wonder Place also offers a Music Together® Program, summer and winter camps, and several events throughout the year.
10301 N Rodney Parham Rd e2, Little Rock, AR 72227, Phone: 501-225-4050
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Tiny Town is a family-run attraction that features a variety of beautiful handmade miniature villages and an interactive model railroad. Founded by Frank Moshinskie, Tiny Town is made up of buildings, landmark objects, and attractions, shops, restaurants, and houses made with all sorts of everyday objects like matches, wires, paperclips, tin cans, and other everyday items. Visitors are taken on a guided tour of the little town and shown the most distinctive aspects such as a mini floor where visitors can make the tiny figures dance and a firing range in the miniature shooting gallery.
374 Whittington Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, Phone: 501-624-4742
21.Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
© Robert Krajewski/stock.adobe.com
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (TCWR) is a 459-acre sanctuary for abused, abandoned, and neglected big cats in Eureka Springs. Surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the Ozark Mountains, the wildlife refuge houses over 100 exotic and native animals and is one of the nation's most respected big cat sanctuaries. The sanctuary was established to provide a lifetime refuge for abused and neglected big cats such as cougars, lions, leopards, and tigers, as well as other animals such as black and brown bears, bobcats, servals, coatimundis and more. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (TCWR) also offers a range of educational programs, day camps, kid’s days out, and nature workshops.
239 Turpentine Creek Ln, Eureka Springs, AR 72632, Phone: 479-253-5841
22.Wilderness Drive-Through Safari
The Wild Wilderness Drive-through is a family-friendly 400-acre park filled with exotic animals, beautiful natural landscapes, several large ponds, and plenty of picnicking areas. Located in Gentry, the safari park features a four-mile drive-through route offering visitors the opportunity to see a variety of animals such as African lions, black bears, leopards, wolves, cougars, foxes, warthogs, hippos, buffalo, several species of antelope, llamas, ostriches, and more. Children can enjoy walk-through interactions, petting various animals, and camel and pony rides, and there are many lovely spots for family picnics, as well as a snack bar selling a variety of food and drinks.
20923 Safari Rd, Gentry, AR 72734, Phone: 479-736-8383
23.Woolly Hollow State Park
Nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains on the shores of Bennett Lake, Wooly Hollow State Park is a 370-acre state park near Greenbrier in Faulkner County that offers a wealth of recreational and outdoor activities for the whole family. The park offers fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and sailing on the peaceful waters of 40-acre Lake Bennett, and visitors can rent leisure boats, canoes, pedal boats, and kayaks and there is a boat ramp for launching personal boats. Other facilities in the park include a campground with 40 sites, a bathhouse with hot showers, a picnic area, a pavilion that can be rented for private events, and several hiking and mountain biking trails.
82 Woolly Hollow Rd, Greenbrier, AR 72058, Phone: 501-679-2098
23 Fun Things to Do in Arkansas with Kids of All Ages
- Arkansas Air Museum, Photo: Arkansas Air Museum
- Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, Photo: Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
- Arkansas Museum of Discovery, Photo: Arkansas Museum of Discovery
- Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, Photo: Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources
- Arkansas Railroad Museum, Photo: Arkansas Railroad Museum
- Clinton House Museum, Photo: Clinton House Museum
- Crenshaw Springs Water Park, Photo: Crenshaw Springs Water Park
- Fort Smith Museum of History, Photo: Fort Smith Museum of History
- Fort Smith Trolley Museum, Photo: Fort Smith Trolley Museum
- Hampson Archeological Museum State Park, Photo: The State Parks of Arkansas
- Imagination Station, Photo: Imagination Station
- Lake Chicot State Park, Photo: bonniemarie/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Ouachita State Park, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Magic Springs Theme and Water Park, Photo: Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
- Mid America Science Museum, Photo: Mid America Science Museum
- Plantation Agriculture Museum, Photo: kittipong33/stock.adobe.com
- Play Town, Photo: Prostock-studio/stock.adobe.com
- The Gangster Museum of America, Photo: The Gangster Museum of America
- The Wonder Place, Photo: junce11/stock.adobe.com
- Tiny Town, Photo: Steve Mann/stock.adobe.com
- Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Robert Krajewski/stock.adobe.com
- Wilderness Drive-Through Safari, Photo: jeeva/stock.adobe.com
- Woolly Hollow State Park, Photo: wedninth/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Amy/stock.adobe.com
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