Make the most of the end of summer with these nearby family-friendly spots
By Dwain Hebda
Petit Jean State Park
Arkansas’s first state park, Petit Jean is an Arkansas treasure with plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Within the park are three National Historic Districts containing more than 80 structures, trails and bridges. Hike or bike the trails, take in the stunning vista from one of several overlooks and experience the beauty of Cedar Falls, one of the most-photographed waterfalls in the state. You can also enjoy a kayak, paddle boat or canoe trip on Lake Bailey and Lake Roosevelt. To really add something to your stay, check out the park’s roster of programming designed to help visitors better understand and appreciate the natural wonder that surrounds them.
Petit Jean State Park
1285 Petit Jean Mountain Road, Morrilton
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Founded in 1992, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge reached verified status with the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) in 2015. Formal and self-guided tours are held daily, whereby visitors learn about the lions, tigers, bears, bobcats and other rescued exotic wildlife that live there. For a truly memorable experience, a variety of onsite overnight accommodations gives guests a taste of safari living without leaving the Natural State. Nearby, find Eureka Springs, one of the most eclectic and fascinating spots in all of Arkansas. The winding main street, built into a hillside and on the National Register of Historic Places, is home to a delightful collection of shops, galleries and cafes.
Turpentine Creek Refuge
239 Turpentine Creek Lane, Eureka Springs
Eureka Springs City Advertising & Promotion Commission
Hot Springs National Park
There’s never a dull moment in Hot Springs, from the downtown’s Historic District to the miles of surrounding lakes. Check out the city from 1,200 feet at Hot Springs Mountain Tower or ride the roller coasters at Magic Springs Water and Theme Park. Don’t miss the National Park Aquarium, or go wild with the reptiles and animals at the Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo. For tamer nature attractions, see Garvan Woodland Gardens, a 210-acre gem on Lake Hamilton. The Evans Children’s Adventure Garden, a 1.5-acre interactive garden, features 3,200 tons of Arkansas-quarried boulders, a man-made cave, wading pools and 12-foot waterfall to explore.
Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau
Garvan Woodland Gardens
550 Arkridge Road, Hot Springs National Park
Blanchard Springs Caverns
For something really different, visit Blanchard Springs Caverns near Mountain View. Operated by the USDA Forest Service, the attraction offers guided walking tours of massive caverns filled with ever-changing formations as well as a Wild Cave tour for the truly adventurous. Above ground, there’s camping, fishing the White River or floating the Buffalo River as well as miles of bike and hiking trails. Don’t miss the Ozark Folk Center State Park’s living demonstrations of the handiworks, music and lifestyle of pioneer Ozark families. And if you still haven’t had enough, find fun in the treetops with the Loco Ropes rope course, climbing walls and forest zipline.
Blanchard Springs Caverns, Mountain View
Ozark Folk Center
1032 Park Ave., Mountain View
Mountain View Tourism & Visitor Guide
122 West Main St., Mountain View