Situated in the southern part of the United States, Arkansas is the 29th biggest state in terms of physical size and the 33rd most populous. This state is therefore the 34th most densely populated, with an estimated population of just over 3 million people. Arkansas covers an area of 53,180 square miles. This state is known for its varied landscapes, including mountainous areas like Ozarks and Ouachita Mountain Range, as well as its wooded areas like the Arkansas Timberlands. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
5 of the Largest Cities in Arkansas
- Overview, Photo: Refocus Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Little Rock, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Smith, Photo: Oscar/stock.adobe.com
- Fayetteville, Photo: Sono Creative/stock.adobe.com
- Springdale, Photo: Sono Creative/stock.adobe.com
- Jonesboro, Photo: Kristen/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Felix Mizioznikov - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Little Rock Zoo
With over 725 animals spanned out across 33 acres of land, the Little Rock Zoo is one of the premier zoos in the South. Located in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Little Rock Zoo is dedicated to providing a top quality facility for animal conservation and education.
The Little Rock Zoo’s history begins in 1926 with a timber wolf and a bear. In the early 1930s the Works Progress Administration built the a few buildings for the Little Rock Zoo. These buildings became the home to various animals, such as birds and primates. Today, these buildings are renovated and still in use.
The Little Rock Zoo didn’t acquire many of their main animals or exhibit buildings until the 1980s. These exhibits include sloth bears, crocodiles, river otters, and the main cat exhibit. One decade later, the Little Rock Zoo began their initiative to provide renowned educational opportunities for visitors and the general Little Rock community. This initiative was carried out with the opening of the Civitan Pavilion and the Civitan Amphitheater.
From the late 1990s to present day, the Little Rock Zoo has experienced many changes and additions, such as the new Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe and Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost.
The Little Rock Zoo has over 725 animals that represent approximately 200 species. There are not many details available about the attractions within the Little Rock Zoo. What is known, is a general list of the Zoo’s attractions, which is shown below:
· Over the Jumps Carousel
· Lorikeet Landing
· Civitan Amphitheater
· Great Apes
· Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe
· Primates, Reptiles, Birds, & More
· Zooventure Education Center
· Asian Elephants
· Hay Barn
· Farm Animal Exhibit
· Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost
· Big Cats
· Jambo Gym Playground
· Diamond Express
· Small Carnivores
· African Savannah
It should be noted that there are a few attractions currently being built in the Little Rock Zoo. These attractions are:
· Greenhouse Exhibit
· Reticulated Python
· Arkansas Farm
· Otter Exhibit
· Bush Dog Exhibit
For more information about the current attractions and attractions under construction, check out the Little Rock Zoo’s website.
Education is extremely important to the Little Rock Zoo. The Little Rock Zoo’s dedication to education is shown within their Zooventure Education Center and the Civitan Amphitheater. The Zooventure Education Center offers many classes for kids and families. One of the most popular classes is the Animal Exploration class. This class is basically like a mini tour. During the Animal Exploration Class, participants explore six of the most popular areas within the Little Rock Zoo and learn about unique features of each of the animals.
Another popular educational program at the Zooventure Education Center is the three career day programs. Career day classes are offered throughout the spring and summer and give participants a glimpse into what a certain job entails. Participants have the option of choosing from three programs: Zookeeper, Veterinarian, and Veterinarian Type 2. It’s important to note these career day programs have age requirements.
The other main educational program at the Little Rock Zoo is held within the Civitan Amphitheater. The Civitan Amphitheater preforms special animal programs throughout the day. During these programs, participants will learn a variety of facts about different animals, and get to interact with the animals in an up close and personal setting. Many of the animals shown within the Civitan Amphitheater programs are not on display in the general exhibits.
Aside from the above educational opportunities, the Little Rock Zoo offers various specialized tours, camps, outreach programs, and internships. For more information about the Little Rock Zoo’s extensive educational opportunities, head over to the Zoo’s official website.
The Little Rock Zoo regularly hosts public and private special events. Many of the public special events at the Little Rock Zoo are annual events that are highly anticipated. Here are some of the most popular public special events hosted by the Little Rock Zoo.
Wild Wines is a wine tasting party dedicated to raising funds for the Little Rock Zoo. This two day event takes place at the Little Rock Zoo and the War Memorial Stadium. Every May 5, the Little Rock Zoo’s Café Africa hosts a VIP wine party with high-end food. The next day, May 6, the celebration continues with over 150 wine samples at the War Memorial Stadium.
Boo at the Zoo occurs every year from October 22 to October 31. Every year, the zoo is turned into a Halloween themed botanical garden filled with lights, decorations, and attractions. Although this event is family friendly, Boo at the Zoo hosts a preview night on October 21 solely for adults.
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1 Zoo Dr, Little Rock, AR 72205, Phone: 501-666-2406
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Attraction Spotlight: Crater of Diamonds State Park
Have you ever wanted to dig for diamonds? If so, then the Crater of Diamonds State park is the place to start, as it is the only public access diamond-producing site in the world. That’s right, any diamonds you find here are all yours for the taking; it’s an all-you-can-dig diamond buffet. Be prepared, however, as you will be exploring over 37.5 acres of ancient eroded volcanic crater, the eighth biggest in the world. The site is Located in Pike County, Arkansas, near Murfreesboro and situated over a lamproite volcanic pipe that is over 95 million years old.
The ground bearing the diamonds is regularly plowed once a month which, alongside a little help from the weather, brings the diamonds to the surface of the soil and into the eager grasp of many diamond hunting adventurers.
Regardless of the value of the finds by visitors, the park maintains a strict finders’ keepers policy. There is a small entrance fee but children under the age of six may attend for free.
The park has a multitude of different gems and semi-precious stones waiting to be discovered. Not a single day goes by that a diamond is not discovered by a budding diamond hunter and since 1972 th over 29,000 diamonds have been dug up here. This year, 2017, a teenager, Kalel Langford discovered a 7.4 carat dark brown diamond, which he went on to name “Superman’s Diamond,” and it is valued at around half a million dollars.
The site was made into a state park in 1972. Before then, the site was used as a tourist attraction by the Arkansas Diamond Company and Ozark Diamond Mines Corporation, and diamond hunters have been making discoveries here since 1906. The first discovery of diamonds at this site were by John Huddleston, who was the owner of the property at the time; he the first person outside of South Africa to discover diamonds at their source in this manner.
One of the sites most famous discoveries was by Shirley Strawn in 1990. Shirley found an extremely rare and colorless diamond that is considered by experts to be completely flawless and was the first diamond from Arkansas to be graded perfect by the Geological Institute of America. This stunning diamond was named the Strawn Wagner Diamond after its founder and can be viewed at the Diamond Discovery Centre; the center also includes a diamond hunter Hall of Fame, where images of other valuable discoveries are kept. The park offers several other things to do aside from diamond hunting, such as nature walks, wildlife spotting, fishing, and dining.
It’s not just diamonds you can expect to find here, the park also boasts approximately 40 different types of mineral as well as a whole host of semi-precious rocks such as garnet, quartz, jasper, amethyst, and many more. The park staff will identify your find and provide you with a certificate free of charge. This truly is the shining jewel in the crown of the American tourist industry.
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Attraction Spotlight: Fort Smith
Located in Sebastian County, Arkansas, Fort Smith is the second-largest city in the state and is a major tourism and entertainment destination in the western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma region.
The land that now encompasses the Fort Smith area was acquired by the United States as part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and first explored as part of the 1806 Pike Expedition. The following year, the first Fort Smith was founded as a military post, named for United States Army Rifle Regiment General Thomas Adams Smith. The fort’s stockade was occupied until 1822, but in 1824, the fort was abandoned in favor of nearby Fort Gibson. Following the abandonment, Army sutler John Rogers was influential in converting the fort’s small civilian settlement into a town area. Fort Smith continued to see use later in the 19th century was part of the era of Native American removal and during the Mexican War, and saw occupation by both the Confederate and Union Armies at points throughout the American Civil War. As a result of World War II, military operations at the fort were moved west of the city to the Fort Chaffee Military Reservation.
Due to its location at Belle Point, the convergence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers, Fort Smith became a major metropolitan area in the eastern Arkansas area throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Its reputation as a fur trading post throughout the 19th century established its image as a premiere “Wild West” town, earning it a historical designation as one of the top True Western Towns by True West magazine in 2014. Throughout the 20th century, the city grew to a population of more than 85,000 and became the central metropolitan area of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Today, Fort Smith is recognized as a major historical and cultural tourist center in the western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma areas. As the second-largest city in the state, the Fort Smith Valley area offers a wide variety of cultural and commercial attractions, marketed as a merger of the Old West and New South. The city has served as an inspiration for a number of films and literary works depicting the American Old West, including the feature films True Grit, A Soldier’s Story, and Biloxi Blues.
A number of historical attractions are showcased throughout the Fort Smith area, including Miss Laura’s Visitor Center, the city’s official visitor information center, which is located within a historic rowhouse that formerly housed an Old West bordello. Several historic homes within the city are operated as living history museums, including the Darby House, the former home of World War II General William O. Darby, who founded the program that became the modern-day Army Rangers unit, and the Clayton House, the 1882 Antebellum-style home of William Henry Harrison Clayton. The city’s 22-square-block Belle Grove Historic District, bordered by North Fifth, H, Eighth, and C Streets, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, showcasing a large number of restored and renovated historic properties, while the Chaffee Crossing Historic District showcases the history of Fort Chaffee and its role during World War II. Other historic sites within the city include the Fort Smith National Historic Site, which commemorates a collection of sites related to the Mexican and Civil Wars, the Trail of Tears, and the Wild West, the Fort Smith National Cemetery, and the Massard Prairie Battlefield Park.
Many historical museums are also located throughout the city, including the Fort Smith Trolley Museum, which honors the city’s railcar industry, and the Elvis Barbershop Museum, which commemorates the site of the military base barbershop where rock singer Elvis Presley received his famous haircut in March of 1958 prior to entering into service with the United States Army. The Fort Smith Museum of History showcases more than 40,000 artifacts related to the city’s social and cultural history, while the Fort Smith Air Museum honors historical military and pioneer aviators throughout the region. The city is also the future home of the planned National United States Marshals Museum, which will honor members of the United States Marshals Service.
In addition to its historical attractions, Fort Smith also offers a rich arts and culture scene. The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum showcases rotating contemporary art exhibits and hosts a number of annual artist competitions, while the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center encourages exploration of the natural world through public courses and programming. The Fort Smith Symphony is the state’s oldest organized orchestra, while the Western Arkansas Ballet and McCafferty School of Irish Dance offer professional dance performances throughout the year. Fort Smith’s active local music scene features frequent live performances by blues, country, jazz, and rock artists in the city’s downtown and riverfront areas, and a number of public art murals and sculptures are showcased throughout the city. The city’s Park at West End offers a Ferris wheel preserved from the 1935 Chicago World’s Fair, a vintage Italian carousel, and a refurbished Pullman railcar converted into a diner. Annual public cultural events include the Old Fort Days rodeo competition and the Riverfront Blues Festival, one of the longest-running blues festivals in America.
2 N B St, Fort Smith, AR 72901, Phone: 800-637-1477
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