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ZZ Top performing in the Murphy Arts District in El Dorado, Arkansas

Arkansas

Entertainment in Arkansas: From Hot Springs and Cave Tours to the Birthplace of Blues

By: Idoia Gkikas

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  • States:
    Arkansas

Whether you seek entertainment in the country or the city, on the road or under the ground, Arkansas has an experience that’ll thrill you.

The scenic Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas are dotted with charming mountain towns and outdoor activities, while the Mississippi River Delta in the east is a hotbed of music history. In between, you can enjoy casino gaming, natural hot springs and even hand-built castles and mystical caves.

Spa Life to Nightlife in Hot Springs and Beyond

The aptly named Hot Springs has long attracted health-conscious travelers to its soothing hot springs. A visit to Hot Springs National Park, the first federal preserve in the USA, can easily fill an entire day. Visit the eight bathhouses along Bathhouse Row listed as a National Historic Landmark District, lace up your hiking boots to explore more than 40 kilometers of hiking trails or put on your city clothes for more fast-paced entertainment at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming and shopping in downtown Hot Springs; it’s all included in the city. If you’re in the mood for music, head two hours south to El Dorado where the Murphy Arts District (MAD) has many concerts and theater performances as well as a free Playscape playground for the kids.

A twilight view of the ornate bathhouses on Hot Springs’ Bathhouse Row

A twilight view of the ornate bathhouses on Hot Springs’ Bathhouse Row
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Curiosities in the Ozark Mountains

Located north of Hot Springs (and home to more hot springs), the artsy, quirky town of Eureka Springs is renowned for its Victorian architecture and unusual attractions. Marvel at the stone-studded façade of Quigley’s Castle, dubbed “the Ozarks’ strangest dwelling.” Visit fascinating religious sites such as Thorncrown Chapel, historic St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church (where you enter through the bell tower) and the seven-story-tall Christ of the Ozarks statue. Go for an underground tour of Onyx Cave and give your legs a workout in downtown Eureka Springs, known for its steep, winding streets. Take a haunted ghost tour, or let an illusionist mesmerize you at Intrigue Theater. Choose from memorable overnight accommodations such as the reportedly haunted Crescent Hotel or a themed treehouse (including a Harry Potter one) at Eureka Springs Treehouses, Caves, Castles & Hobbits.

Tour the charming streets of Eureka Springs by foot or carriage

Tour the charming streets of Eureka Springs by foot or carriage
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Music and More in Eastern Arkansas

The eastern portion of the state makes up part of the Mississippi River Delta, the birthplace of Blues music. To discover this rich heritage, begin at the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, dedicated to the history and music of the region. Midday, you can catch the radio broadcast of King Biscuit Time, on the air daily since 1941. In early October, thousands of music lovers flock to town for the King Biscuit Blues Festival. The center is on the Arkansas Delta Music Trail, dotted with other historic music landmarks such as Johnny Cash’s boyhood home and the town of Twist, where B.B. King named his guitar Lucille. In nearby West Memphis, try your luck at Southland Park Gaming & Racing, and refuel at Sammy Hagar’s Red Rocker Bar & Grill for a rock ‘n’ roll themed bar menu.

Cheering on one of the bands during the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena

Cheering on one of the bands during the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena
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Getting There

Fly into Little Rock’s Bill and Hillary International Airport (LIT) and rent a car to explore the state. You can also catch connecting flights into Fayetteville’s Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA).

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The Arkansas State Capitol softened by fall colors

Destination

Little Rock