I Love Arkansas: The Places

I am going to keep this one relatively short. Notice I said “relatively.” My idea of short seems to be everyone else’s idea of long-winded. The reason for the brevity is mostly related to needing to unpack and wanting to explore my new home in Oregon. I will be honest, there has been much more exploring than productive activity happening. Plus, I do not have any furniture yet and sitting on the floor to type a blog post is rather uncomfortable. And just like that, I have written a paragraph about nothing except how I am going to keep this post short. So much for that…

As I may have mentioned a few times, I feel it is my obligation to share some of the amazing things about Arkansas because it is a state so often overlooked. In fact, I met a couple the other night (when I went to a dinner concert at a vineyard BY MYSELF – who is this person and what have you done with me?) who previously lived in Texas. They had been to every state except Arkansas and something far away like North Dakota. Seriously – they had lived in Texas, had travelled extensively in the US, and yet had never been to Arkansas. See what I mean? It is totally overlooked as a destination. In the interest of trying desperately to keep this post moderately shorter than usual, I will not attempt to list every fun thing to do in Arkansas and I will not write much about each one, but I will try to provide a reasonable overview. I will say that I was glad for the monthly delivery of tactical gear throughout the trip! As opposed to the last post when apparently my goal was to list every. single. restaurant in Arkansas.

So, my (maybe) quick list of awesome places/things to do in Arkansas includes:

1. Anything outdoors: While one of my personal favorites is hanging out anywhere on the family land, I realize this is not exactly an option open to everyone. But if you have a chance, it is beautiful.

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Thankfully, Arkansas has plenty of other options. From floating the Buffalo River in the Ozark Mountains to exploring Mount Magazine to spending time on or near one of Arkansas’ lakes or rivers there is so much to do outdoors. One of the amazing things is that even if you live in or are visiting one of Arkansas’ larger cities, outdoor activities are never far away. In fact, within Little Rock, there is a portion of the Arkansas River Trail, including the Big Dam Bridge, where I spent part of a morning with my cousin and her family. It was a fun spot to let her kiddos run off a bit of their abundant energy before lunch.

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It is even more amazing at night when it is lit up and it is not a bajillion degrees outside.

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Also in Little Rock is Pinnacle Mountain State Park if you are in the mood for some hiking. Elsewhere in the state there are countless outdoor opportunities accessible from cities. For instance, Petit Jean State Park is relatively close to Conway. In fact, hiking at Petit Jean was something I had always wanted to do, but finally had the opportunity to do on my recent trip home. And, I managed to drag my brother along.

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Even though it was cloudy and rainy, we had a great time. We decided (and by we, I mean I – I do not seem to have outgrown being bossy) to hike the Cedar Falls Trail, and then used the Canyon Trail and parts of some of the other trails to loop around rather than hiking in and back. It was a wonderful day outdoors and the perfect way to catch up with my brother.

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If you need more mountains in your life (and who doesn’t), both the Ozark Mountains and the Ouachita National Forest are scenic and accessible. There are also plenty of opportunities for fishing and hunting. Of course, these are just a small sampling of the outdoor activities available in “The Natural State.”

2. Hot Springs National Park: Arkansas is home to one of the few National Parks located in the South. It is definitely worth checking out the thermal springs!

3. Mount Magazine: Okay, technically, this is outdoors, too, and I have already mentioned it, but it deserves its own category because there is so much happening here. Check out their website for more information.

4. Unique towns throughout Arkansas: Arkansas has small towns throughout the state that are unique and fun to explore. Some that come to mind right away are Mountain View, Eureka Springs, and the above mentioned Hot Springs. Of course, the larger towns like Little Rock and Fayetville (which is also in a gorgeous area) are not to be missed.

5. City Life: Speaking of Little Rock, it boasts such attractions as the Clinton Presidential Center, the Heifer Project, and a great reparatory theatre. Murry’s Dinner Playhouse is also a fun way to spend an evening (which is far more innocent than it sounds). I also love the River Market. And, I may have mentioned that I love some of the restaurants here? There are also a couple of fun music venues like Juanita’s and Stickyz (please forgive me if these are no longer cool. And also don’t remind me how old that makes me. Thanks). Plus, Little Rock is relatively close to Memphis if you need even more music and barbeque.

6. Wineries: Okay, I have to admit that I’m kind of digging being literally surrounded by wineries and vineyards. Like, literally surrounded. I could probably start walking in any direction and end up at a vineyard. But, Arkansas also has a small number of wineries. I know next to nothing about them, but I should probably correct this.

7. Crater of Diamonds State Park: Ummm, you can dig for your own diamonds. What more do you need to know? Okay, well maybe it would be helpful to know that I have done it (more than once) and it is mostly hot and dusty, but still fun, and I have known people who have actually found diamonds.

Okay, what am I missing? I know I must be missing something because I wrote this post in about 30 minutes and basically just typed whatever popped into my head. Quality blog research right there. I clearly know what I am doing. If you leave any cool Arkansas things in the comments, I will update this post with that information. Which will probably be better than anything I have written so far. Except the diamond thing. That is pretty cool. Also, there is a great tourism website (http://www.arkansas.com, strangely enough), that covers even more of the things to do in Arkansas. Which, now that I think about it sort of makes this entire post irrelevant.

That’s it for the Arkansas posts. If I were completely writing about the things I love about Arkansas, I would also have to include a people addition. But, I am guessing that the world at large is less interested than I am in my family barbecue, the cutest baby in the world (aka my nephew),

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the quiet moments I spent with my Granny, how much joy I felt meeting my best friend’s new baby for the first time,

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or the afternoon my dad and I spent hanging out on “the mountain,”

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not to mention the many other amazing people I had the privilege to spend time with during my week in Arkansas. For me, the people I love are the best part of Arkansas. No other place in the world can hold the same claim on my heart, so I admit I may have a bias. But, even if most of the people you care about do not live in Arkansas (although Tennessee, Texas, and Oregon are in the mix, too), it is still a great place to visit! And to all those people on my “People I Love Who Live in Arkansas” list, Oregon is also a great place to visit. Hint, hint.

P.S. – I do not think I did a great job keeping this post short. Maybe next time.

P.P.S. – Don’t forget to leave other fun Arkansas things in the comments and I will add them to this post.

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