Van Buren, Arkansas has become a mecca for those searching for difficult to find collectibles, unique gifts, local Ozark crafts, original art, and much more. The Historic Downtown District features six blocks of historical attractions, restaurants, antique shops, and art galleries. Entertainment options include escape rooms, theater productions, the King Opera House, train rides, hiking trails, and plenty of other things to do. The Drennen-Scott Historic Site offers a glimpse into Van Buren’s past, and there are several sites for recreational activities.
1.Drennen-Scott Historic Site
© Drennen-Scott Historic Site
The Drennen-Scott Historic Site overlooks the scenic Arkansas River and is the originally the home of John Drennen, the Revolutionary War descendant, and his family. Today, the site is used by the University of Arkansas as a “working laboratory,” as students work to recreate the historic home. The Drennen-Scott site is also connected to the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, and the Trail of Tears. Constructed back in 1838, the over a century year old house was occupied continuously by the Drennen family up until 2005 when the university acquired the home. It’s a large single-story house with antebellum furniture.
221 North 3rd St, Van Buren, AR 72956, Phone: 479-262-2750
2.King Opera House
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The King Opera House graces Main Street in the Historic Downtown District of Van Buren, Arkansas. The Victorian-era opera house is more than a hundred years old and was extensively and beautifully restored in 1979. The building sets the stage for vibrant theatrical performances and is listed among other historical sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Built originally back in the late nineteenth century, the King Opera House hosts many performers and plays today and includes a balcony for additional seating. It is believed to be haunted backstage by a once intrepid and earnest actor still in search of work.
427 Main St, Van Buren, AR 72956, Phone: 479-474-2426
3.Lee Creek Hiking Trails
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The Lee Creek hiking trails at the Lee Creek Reservoir offer more of a unique hike than many other area hiking trails. Lee Creek can be found at the very end of Gelly Road in Surprise. The Crack in the Rock and the Homestead trails can be reached from the parking lot’s northwest corner. The Homestead Trail is a loop trail of 3.3 miles featuring scenic overlooks of the reservoir at the top. Following along the Blue Trail, hikers will find rock formations for a bit over a mile leading to the Crack in the Rock, an interesting geological feature.
Gelly Dr, Van Buren, AR 72956
4.Chapters on Main
© Chapters on Main
Chapters on Main is a locally owned and operated bookstore in Van Buren where customers will find a plethora of new and used books from many different genres. There are also many classic and rare books for book lovers looking for some treasures. The Kids Loft offers children of all ages a place where they find stories to fill their hearts and minds. Book series found in the Kids Loft include CS Lewis books, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys among other books for children and young adults. Guests can also grab a cup of coffee at the coffee bar.
816 Main St, Van Buren, AR 72956, Phone: 479-471-9315
5.Ralph Irwin Studio
© Ralph Irwin Studio
Ralph Irwin was trained in the art mediums of sculpture and painting in the classical methods. He has an expertise working with multimedia, creating architectural elements, sculptures, and paintings that blend with the owner’s environment and vision. Irwin has completed site-specific installations on commission that range from pieces for corporate marketplaces to universities. He is grateful to have gained the trust of so many clients, taking their vision and telling their story in compelling pieces of art. While those interested can view his works on his website, it’s a different experience to see them in person at the Ralph Irwin Studio.
627 Main St, Van Buren, AR 72956, Phone: 479-474-4114
6.Wheels In Motion
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Wheels In Motion is a skating rink in Van Buren, Arkansas that offers something for the whole family. The facility consists of much more than just a skating rink. There is the two-story Spider Mountain and the Rock Climbing Wall that provides fun-filled climbing opportunities. The Supermaze and quad in-ground trampoline offer even more fun for guests. For younger children, Wheels In Motion also contains two bounce houses: the Crayon Playground Bouncy and the Bouncy 2. The facility’s skating rink is made entirely out of wood. There are sometimes school fundraisers on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
1007 Fayetteville Rd, Van Buren, AR 72956, Phone: 479-474-3705
7.Stirred Catering and Coffee
© Stirred Catering and Coffee
Stirred Catering and Coffee is a coffee shop and catering company that offers an excellent experience through local, fresh, quality specialty coffee and handmade food. The shop aims to provide a relaxing, fun, engaging, and warm environment for all customers. Stirred Catering and Coffee serves a variety of tea and specialty coffee, as well as an assortment of food items, ranging from breakfast muffins to quick lunch options to take-home dinners. The shop is open Monday through Friday, from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon. Lunch options are available from 10:30am until 1:30pm.
710 Fayetteville Rd, Van Buren, AR 72956, Phone: 479-831-7847
8.Kopper Kettle Candies
© Kopper Kettle Candies
Kopper Kettle Candies is a candy shop in Van Buren that offers confections and fine chocolates. Only the freshest and highest quality ingredients are used in the sweets made by the shop, using recipes that have stood the test of time since the year 1925. The ensure that customers are receiving the best chocolates and other candies possible. Kopper Kettle Candies is owned and operated by the Greer family, who always makes sure quality it the top priority in their products. Visitors can come to the factory and watch the confections being made right before their eyes.
6300 Alma Highway, Van Buren, AR 72956, Phone: 479-474-6077
9.Great Escape Mystery Rooms
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Great Escape Mystery Rooms provides an engaging, entertaining, and fun escape room experience rights in the heart of Van Buren’s historic downtown area. Each escape room is designed to be intriguing and bring out each person’s inner detective as they try to find a way to free themselves from the room. Friends, families, and co-workers can join together for a challenging experience, searching for clues and solving puzzles to conquer the escape room, stop the ticking clock, and escape to freedom in only one hour. Great Escape is open for drop ins on Fridays and Saturdays, and by reservation Sunday through Thursday.
505 Main St, Van Buren AR, 72956, Phone: 479-689-9120
10.THOR Elite Firing Range and Gun Club
© THOR Elite Firing Range and Gun Club
The THOR Elite Firing Range and Gun Club in Van Buren, Arkansas aims to handle all of its customers’ shooting needs, and is a good place to go for any gun enthusiast. The team at the firing range consists of NRA-certified and professional staff, working hard to ensure safe operations at the range. The Pro Shop offers everything someone may need for shooting, from targets to suppressors to firearms. Gunsmithing is offered seven days a week at the THOR Elite Firing Range and Gun Club as well. Guests can also rent guns to use at the firing range.
1206 Knesek Ln, Van Buren, AR, 72956, Phone: 479-474-3434
10 Best Things to Do in Van Buren, Arkansas
- Drennen-Scott Historic Site, Photo: Drennen-Scott Historic Site
- King Opera House, Photo: Courtesy of Boca - Fotolia.com
- Lee Creek Hiking Trails, Photo: Courtesy of gilitukha - Fotolia.com
- Chapters on Main, Photo: Chapters on Main
- Ralph Irwin Studio, Photo: Ralph Irwin Studio
- Wheels In Motion, Photo: Courtesy of zhukovvvlad - Fotolia.com
- Stirred Catering and Coffee, Photo: Stirred Catering and Coffee
- Kopper Kettle Candies, Photo: Kopper Kettle Candies
- Great Escape Mystery Rooms, Photo: Courtesy of Jérôme Rommé - Fotolia.com
- THOR Elite Firing Range and Gun Club, Photo: THOR Elite Firing Range and Gun Club
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of bonniemarie - Fotolia.com