While most probably think of Little Rock when picturing cities in Arkansas, the Natural State is home to many more exciting cities outside the state’s capital, ranging in size and prominence. Arkansas is in the heart of the American South and was an influential battleground during the American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movements of the mid-20th century.
Little Rock is the Natural State’s biggest and most influential city, nestled in the geographic middle of the state, whilst Bentonville in Arkansas’ northwest corner is more famous for being the birthplace of Walmart. No matter which towns or cities in Arkansas you decide to visit, there’s something unique and interesting to experience in every part of this less-travelled American state. So, stop by all the charming towns and bustling urban centres dotted throughout this one-of-a-kind Southern state.
- Arkansas Cities
- 20 Cities In Arkansas
- Zip Line Zip Tour (1.5 hours) in Hot Springs – get an adrenalin rush and have an adventure.
- Golf Cart Tour of Bentonville – discover the secrets of the city.
- Downtown Eureka Springs Walking Tour – a 70-minute guided tour with a local.
20 Cities In Arkansas
1- Little Rock
Conveniently situated in the state’s centre, Little Rock is the largest city in Arkansas and the Natural State’s official capital, making it the perfect place to kick off your journey of exploring Arkansas’ many towns and cities.
Laid back and a significant economic, cultural and political hub in the South, Little Rock’s name stems from a nearby rock formation once used as a navigational aid by native tribes and early European settlers.
Little Rock sits right on the banks of the Arkansas River and is surrounded by some of the Natural State’s most impressive scenery, such as the mighty Ozarks and the Ouachita National Forest.
The William J. Clinton Library and Museum, Museum of Discovery and Arkansas State Capitol are just some notable landmarks and attractions visitors can tour when exploring Little Rock, making it a must-visit Arkansas city.
You can discover all this and more by downloading the Little Rock Scavenger Hunt: Big Fun In Little Rock Arkansas app.
In the northwest corner of Arkansas, the seemingly inconspicuous city of Bentonville is the birthplace of retail giant Walmart, which opened its first store in downtown Bentonville back in 1951.
Apart from spawning the world’s largest retailer, Bentonville is a significant arts and culture hub in northwest Arkansas, with several world-class galleries and live performance spaces dotted throughout the mid-sized city.
Bentonville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Natural State and also regularly listed as one of its best to live in.
It features a fascinating mix of old and new landmarks and attractions, including the sprawling Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the lush peaks of the nearby Ozark Mountains.
Top tour: Golf Cart Tour of Bentonville.
With a population of roughly 100,000 people, Fayetteville is among the Natural State’s largest cities and the home of the University of Arkansas’ main campus, the state’s flagship school.
The city in Arkansas was the first in the USA to be awarded the title of “Bike City” by the Union Cycliste Internationale, the world’s cycling governing body, in recognition of Fayetteville’s cyclist-friendly culture.
Once a significant battleground during the American Civil War, modern-day Fayetteville blossoms as a tourist destination thanks to its rich culture, beautiful historic architecture and nightlife options, making it a great addition to any Arkansas itinerary.
4- Hot Springs
Hot Springs in central Arkansas has been the Natural State’s go-to spa and resort destination since the late 19th century, with plenty of rejuvenating thermal springs and stunning mountain landscapes available to help you relax and unwind.
Hot Springs was once the talk of the town during the early-to-mid 20th century, gaining prominence as the destination of choice for infamous mobsters such as Al Capone and Lucky Luciano.
While the rich and famous have long since moved on to more glitzy destinations, Hot Springs remains a popular vacation destination for many thanks to the city’s beautiful Mission-Revival, Art Deco and Neoclassical architecture, world-class bathhouses and storied past.
Top tour: Zip Line Zip Tour (1.5 hours) in Hot Springs.
5- Mountain Home
Nestled between the southern Ozark Mountains near the Missouri state border, Mountain Home is Arkansas’ outdoor wonderland, with some of the South’s best trout fishing and hiking.
The incredibly scenic mid-sized city is home to roughly 50,000 people.
It provides cyclists access to over 50 miles (80 km) of the Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail system, with unbeatable views of the Ozark Mountains along the way.
If you’re not much of a nature enthusiast, Mountain Home’s charming and historic downtown area more than has you covered, with a range of antique stores, live music spaces and even a National Register of Historic Places-listed courthouse to discover.
6- Eureka Springs
With a boatload of perfectly preserved Victorian-style cottages, manor houses and grand estates dotted throughout this idyllic Arkansas city, strolling along Eureka Springs’ winding streets is like taking a step back in time.
The city was established back in 1879 and rapidly experienced a boom in popularity due to the region’s many natural springs, which were believed to possess healing properties.
While Eureka Springs might not be enjoying the fame and fortunes as a popular resort town it once garnered, it’s still beloved among history buffs, with the entire city placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Top tour: Downtown Eureka Springs Walking Tour.
Inhabited for millennia by various Native American peoples, the city of Jonesboro was officially established and settled by Europeans in 1859 and is today one of the top-five largest cities in the Natural State.
Home to a population of more than 82,000 people, Jonesboro is a thriving cultural and economic hub in Arkansas’ northeast corner and is conveniently located just 70 miles (113 km) from downtown Memphis.
While the possibility of exploring Tennessee, Missouri and even Kentucky without travelling further than 140 miles (225 km) is an exciting feature of Jonesboro, the city’s museums, art galleries and restaurants also attract visitors.
Some of Jonesboro’s top attractions and landmarks include the Crowley’s Ridge National Scenic Byway, the Bradbury Art Museum and the Arkansas State University Museum, making it a fine city to stop at whenever you’re in the Natural State’s northeast corner.
8- Fort Smith
Nestled in the Natural State’s River Valley near the Oklahoma state border, Fort Smith is one of the largest cities in Arkansas and the unofficial gateway to the Ozarks for thousands of tourists every year.
The city has a population of roughly 90,000 and was established in 1817 as a strategic military post on the frontier before being turned into a busy resting place for westward expansionists and gold seekers during the mid-to-late 1800s.
Fort Smith’s eclectic mix of museums, shops and historic landmarks still ooze that iconic Wild West attitude which, coupled with the city’s growing live music scene and scenic surroundings, make Fort Smith a cool destination to explore in Arkansas.
Visit the Fort Smith National Historic Site, the Fort Smith Trolley Museum and the Park at West End.
One unique thing about Texarkana is that it straddles more than one state.
Texarkana is as much an Arkansas city as it is a Texan city, with one half lying in the Lone Star State and the other half packed into the Natural State.
The unique city lies in Arkansas’ southwest corner and was established as a vital railroad intersection for trade and commuting in 1873.
Texarkana is home to a mix of museums and 20th-century architecture and is conveniently located just 72 miles (116 km) from Shreveport, Louisiana, and just 180 miles (290 km) from downtown Dallas.
Attractions to visit across Texarkana’s Arkansas and Texas neighbourhoods include the Four States Auto Museum, the Perot Theatre and the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra.
Featuring the amenities and the attractions of a large cosmopolitan city with the appearance and charm of a small town, Conway offers travellers a great balance between the outdoors, history, culture and entertainment.
The city dates back to 1872 and is colloquially known as the ‘City of Colleges’ due to Conway being home to the main campuses of three fairly large higher education venues.
Conway’s among the largest cities in the Natural State, boasting a population of just shy of 60,000, making it an influential economic and political hub in central Arkansas home to the Faulkner County Museum and the Cadron Settlement Park.
Home to a population of more than 84,000 people, Springdale is an incredibly influential economic and cultural hub in Arkansas’ northwest corner.
It is part of one of Arkansas’ largest metro areas.
The city serves as the headquarters of Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat producer, and is just 18 miles (29 km) south of downtown Bentonville’s museums and world-class art galleries.
Located near Bentonville and the scenic lakes of southern Missouri, Springdale is a fully-fledged tourist attraction in its own right, with the nearby Arvest Ballpark and Shiloh Museum of Ozark History two excellent attractions to stop by in Springdale.
Founded in 1853, Magnolia is a small city in southwest Arkansas famous for hosting the annual Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cookoff.
Magnolia’s name stems from the southern magnolia or magnolia grandiflora, a flower native to Arkansas.
The city was a major regional agricultural hub before the discovery of oil nearby changed Magnolia’s industry virtually overnight.
Despite being a small city, it’s home to quite several interesting places to visit, making it a worthwhile place to explore the next time you’re in southern Arkansas.
13- Pine Bluff
With a population of roughly 40,000 people, Pine Bluff is a fairly large city in central Arkansas near the world-class museums, art galleries and shopping destinations of Little Rock.
Pine Bluff was officially incorporated in 1839 and is on the banks of the Arkansas River, providing travellers with scenic riverfront views and access to several top-notch outdoor attractions.
Pine Bluff’s most popular sights and landmarks include the colourful downtown public art murals, the Arkansas Railroad Museum and the Arts & Science Center of Southeast Arkansas, providing visitors with plenty of options.
Discover the city’s secrets by downloading this Crime Solving Detective Experience Pine Bluff Arkansas app.
With a rich history from 1808, Batesville is among the most storied cities in the Natural State.
Batesville is recognised as the oldest city in Arkansas and is the second-oldest municipality in the state after Georgetown, making it an excellent destination to explore if you’re a history buff.
An incredibly charming city to visit, Batesville’s home to three flavourful National Historic Districts and numerous National Register of Historic Places landmarks, making adding Batesville to your Arkansas travel itinerary worthwhile.
The county seat of Green County in the Natural State’s northeast corner near the Missouri state border, Paragould is a great destination to stop by if you want to discover Arkansas’ less-travelled gems.
Paragould was established during the 19th century as a major regional railway hub.
The city was named after Jay Gould and J. W. Paramore, two competing regional railroad magnates at the time.
This Arkansas city is renowned for its parks and outdoor landmarks, however, Paragould has flourished into an all-around tourist destination with the emergence of attractions such as the Bradbury Art Museum and the Collins Theatre, all great places to visit.
16- North Little Rock
Featuring all the museums, entertainment and nightlife options of downtown Little Rock without the crowds, North Little Rock is the ideal middle ground for travellers seeking to experience a little bit of everything during their trip.
Little Rock and North Little Rock are only separated by the Arkansas River, with no more than a couple of yards separating the two urban sprawls.
For a free trip through downtown North Little Rock, hop on the popular Rock Region METRO streetcars, or plan a visit to the Simmons Bank Arena for a night filled with world-class live entertainment in central Arkansas.
17- Van Buren
One of the oldest cities in Arkansas, Van Buren traces its roots back to 1818 when Thomas Phillips first settled what was then titled ‘Phillips Landing’.
The city was renamed in 1842 in honour of Martin Van Buren, the Secretary of State during President Thomas Jefferson’s time in office, and is also the second-largest city in the Fort Smith, Arkansas–Oklahoma metro.
Home to a collection of historic buildings and culturally-significant landmarks, Van Buren’s a popular tourist destination in the northwest Arkansas region, with unmissable attractions such as the Drennen Scott House and the Van Buren Downtown Historic District.
18- El Dorado
Near the Louisiana state border in southern Arkansas, El Dorado is a charming mid-sized city placed on the map when oil was discovered in the region during the 1920s.
El Dorado, meaning ‘The Golden’ in Spanish, was first established in 1843 and is a great place to visit if you’re interested in learning more about Arkansas’ 20th-century oil run.
From the Oil Heritage Park and Newton House Museum to the South Arkansas Arboretum and Main Street El Dorado, there’s so much to see and experience in this jam-packed Arkansas city.
19- Mountain View
Mountain View is the unofficial hub for traditional and folk music in Arkansas.
The city is home to the Ozark Folk Center State Park, a one-of-a-kind venue dedicated to preserving the region’s traditional music and crafts.
It sits in the northern region of Arkansas and was named for the city’s geographic setting between the Ozark Mountains and the Blue Mountain Range.
After getting your fix of traditional music, stop by the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area or the Stone County Museum, two popular attractions in the region.
The county seat of White County, Searcy, was initially known as ‘White Sulphur Springs’ before the city’s renaming in 1837 to honour prominent Arkansas legislator Richard Searcy.
Searcy lies in central Arkansas, roughly 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Little Rock and is home to the main campus of Harding University, which provides Searcy with an all-around youthful atmosphere.
Searcy’s most notable landmarks include the historic Italianate-style Black House, the White County Courthouse and the Rialto Theatre.
These three major historical landmarks are not just on the list in Searcy but all of Arkansas.
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