15 Fun Things to Do in Arkansas with Kids

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Downtown Hot Springs is one of the best places to visit in Arkansas
From hot thermal waters to its gangster history to mountain biking trails, downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas, is one of the best places to visit in Arkansas. Photo credit: HotSprings.org

Whether you’re looking for a unique road trip stop, a weekend getaway or something in between, the Natural State has lots of family-friendly options for fun. From exploring Arkansas’ rich history to a plethora of outdoor activities, this list of things to do in Arkansas with kids is nearly endless.

The summers in Arkansas are hot and humid, and the winters can get cold but still bearable, with low temperatures sometimes hitting the 20s and 30s. Although there are things to do in Arkansas with kids year round, spring and fall are the most pleasant times to visit in terms of weather.

Things to Do in Hot Springs with Kids

Home to Hot Springs National Park, you’ll find plenty of history and family fun in this eclectic community.

1. Explore Historic Bathhouse Row + Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park is known for its healing mineral springs, and the eight historic bathhouses are a big part of the city’s story. The park’s visitor’s center is located inside the Fordyce Bathhouse, along with a small museum that shows you what it was like to visit a bathhouse long ago.

If you want more traditional national park activities, you can also enjoy biking, mountain biking and horseback riding in and near the park. If you want more water activities, there are two lakes – Lake Ouachita and Lake Hamilton – within an hour’s drive of Hot Springs.

2. Lake Catherine State Park

Swim in Lake Catherine and hike one of the scenic hiking trails that lead to stunning waterfalls. Lake Catherine State Park is located a short drive from downtown Hot Springs. If you’re looking for natural beauty and family fun, Lake Catherine State Park is a place to check out.

3. Garvan Woodland Gardens

This lush, scenic botanical garden is a don’t miss. Explore pine tree lined walking trails, wooded shorelines and rocky inclines that remind visitors of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains. There’s something new to discover around every corner at Garvan Gardens, including a unique and beautiful onsite chapel.

4. Magic Springs Theme Park and Water Park

This Arkansas theme park and water park is a fun place to spend a warm weather day. Magic Springs has a balanced selection of family and thrill rides, including roller coasters. All attractions are included with admission, and there’s no separate ticket to access the water slides.

Things to Do in Little Rock with Kids

Little Rock has no shortage of family friendly attractions. The capital city of Arkansas, Little Rock gets its name from the small rock formation discovered on the south banks of the Arkansas River by a French explorer.

5. Splash Pad in Riverfront Park

If you don’t have time for a trip to the pool, lake or water park, this unique play environment is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. In addition to the spray pad, there are several outdoor and underground rooms to discover, large native stones for climbing and the Ozark Pavilion.

6. Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

Anyone interested in boating or naval history will enjoy this military museum. The most popular attractions are two floating Naval vessels, the tugboat Hoga, recognized for her efforts during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the submarine USS Razorback, which was in Tokyo Bay during the formal surrender of Japan in World War II.

7. Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts

This brand-new museum is open to the public starting in early May 2023. See a variety of visiting exhibits – the descriptions and dates are on their website – in several different mediums. There’s also a theater for performing arts that will feature everything from live music to film screenings to puppet shows.

8. Big Rock Mini Golf and Fun Park

If you’ve got active kids (or fun-loving grownups) in your group, Big Rock also has go karts, bumper boats, a ropes course, arcade games and more. And, of course, mini golf!

Things to Do in Bentonville with Kids

Bentonville might be famous for Walmart, but there’s much more to do here. Fun fact: there is actually a Walmart Museum, but it is currently under renovation. You’ll find fresh air in the Ozarks, epic mountain biking and lots of opportunities to immerse yourself in the arts. No matter what you are interested in, you’ll find fun for the whole family.

9. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

This unique space combines the best of nature and art. Explore a natural trail to discover a Chihuly installation and enjoy American classics such as the works of Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keefe.

And don’t miss the Momentary, Crystal Bridges’ satellite art space. Once a cheese factory, this contemporary art hub has pop-up events that include everything from culinary competitions to musical entertainment.

10. Scott Family Amazeum

This interactive museum offers  50,000 square feet of exhibit and learning spaces inside the museum to bring learning to life and enhance family involvement while evoking a sense of curiosity and discovery through hands-on activities. Check the calendar for information on special programs and workshops.

11. Take a spin in the mountain biking capital of the world

Mountain bike enthusiasts will find more than 40 miles of bike trails just a block from downtown Bentonville. Bring your own bike or check out one of the local bike outfitters to rent one.

Other fun places to visit in Arkansas with kids

If you choose Arkansas for your family vacation, here’s a list of other spots throughout the state that have fun things for kids to do.

12. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge provides lifetime refuge for abused and neglected big cats, with an emphasis on tigers, lions, leopards and cougars. Several tour options are available via their website, from affordable general admission to behind-the-scenes tours that include breakfast. It’s one of the best things to do in Eureka Springs.

There are also luxury campsites and bungalows on the property for a truly unique lodging experience in the Ozark Mountains.

13. Rafting and kayaking in Fort Smith

If you enjoy being outdoors and taking in all of that fresh Arkansas air, try spring or summer kayaking or rafting in the Arkansas River. The peak whitewater season is April through September. If you want to balance outdoor adventure with history, check out Fort Smith National Historic Center.

14. Crater of Diamonds State Park

If you want the experience of searching for diamonds in their original volcanic source, then plan a trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park. Learn about diamonds and get mining tips at the park’s visitors center, then try your luck in the 37,000-acre field, an eroded surface of a volcanic crater. What you find, you keep. Over 35,000 diamonds have been discovered since Crater of Diamonds became part of the Arkansas State Parks system in 1972.

15. Blanchard Springs Caverns

There are three tour options for exploring this living cave, from taking in the lighted rooms on a paved path with handrails to sliding through the mud on your belly in undeveloped portions of the cave. All tours are led by the U.S. Forest Service.

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