An Arkansas road trip will take you through some charming small downtowns where the town’s heart and soul are on full display. From hole-in-the-wall cafes to unique festivals, you’ll find tons of fun things to do at any turn of the highway. Here are small downtowns, Main Streets, and town squares that you should definitely put on your Arkansas Bucket List to visit!
- Batesville – Batesville claims to be the oldest existing city in Arkansas, and it has a lot to offer visitors and residents alike. Recent revitalizations encourage people to walk around downtown, taking in the sites like the Pocket Park and the recently renovated Melba Theater by foot. See local artwork at the Batesville Area Arts Council Gallery or buy the latest fashions at Impulse. Downtown Batesville really comes alive during the holidays, with a fall festival, haunted house and trick-or-treating at Halloween, Christmas open House, light displays and Santa at Christmas!
- Ozark – The historic square area is a great place to meet your friends. Whether you’re going for a scenic drive on Highway 23, known as the “Pig Trail” or to a wine tasting, you’ll love spending time in Ozark. Keep your eyes peeled for one of the beautiful murals, and don’t miss the river views from Aux Arc (pronounced Ozark) Park. Get lunch with a view at Mi Casita overlooking the river, or grab some slow-smoked ribs and “Possum Dumplins” (pork meatballs) at Rivertowne BBQ.
- Blytheville – Main Street in Blytheville is a blast from the past. The gate spans the road and welcomes you to wind through their unique downtown where you’ll see the historic bus station, shops and restaurants. One of the pillars of the area is That Bookstore in Blytheville, which is listed as the favorite bookstore of John Grisham! This local gem is the perfect spot to get cozy with a cup of coffee and a good book. Don’t miss Yank’s Famous BBQ, where you might have to wait, but the food is worth it. The last Saturday of the month is a big event with the farmers market, art, music and sales. At Christmastime, Main Streets is aglow with the Lights of the Delta.
- El Dorado – You can shop, play, eat and stay on Main Street in El Dorado. This continually-revitalized part of town has something for everyone. The kids will love the stone oven-baked pizzas at Main Street Pizza, where locals order the Armadillo Eggs (jalapeno poppers stuffed with cheese and wrapped in a cheese biscuit). The Mink Eye is a great spot for an after dinner drink and music, or visit during a special event like their Showtime Summer Concert Series that featured Little Texas and Jana Kramer. Keep your eye out to see who is coming to Main Street El Dorado next!
- Magnolia – At the center of the square in Magnolia you’ll find the Columbia County Courthouse, which is the centerpiece for this area. As you walk around, you’ll notice several murals depicting local history and culture, but you’ll also find plenty of things to do. Grab a bite to eat at My Kitchen Table, where they have daily specials like chicken fried chicken and pork loin. For a sweet treat, drop into the Magnolia Bake Shop where locals love the fresh butterscotch cookies. On the 3rd Saturday in May, you’ll find this area jumping with activity for the Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off. Think you’ve got what it takes to win? There’s $10,000 up for grabs for the best team at the steak cook-off.
- Malvern – As you stroll down Main Street Malvern, you may smell sugar in the air. That’s from 3rd and Main Street Sweets, where you can grab lunch specials and amazing creations like banana split cupcakes and Key lime cheesecake balls. The historic Ritz Theater has been updated and shows new releases with digital projection and surround sound. Don’t miss this area at the end of June during Brickfest. Malvern is the “brick capital of the world” and they celebrate with live entertainment, a 5K, car shows, arts and crafts and more. There are even brick-specific events like a Brick Car Derby and a Brick Toss.
- Mountain View – The Mountain View Square is the place to be for crafts and music. On a nice night, you’ll hear singing and picking coming from yards, parks and front porches. Stop and listen, or grab an instrument and join in! You’ll find jam sessions and music shows just about every night. When your stomach starts making more noise than the instruments, head over to the Rainbow Cafe for a bite to eat or enjoy one of Tommy’s Famous Pizzas. Don’t miss the Arkansas Craft Guild Gallery which showcases local art from pottery to blown glass to woodwork.
- Arkadelphia – Bustling with activity from the two local colleges, this downtown has a lot to offer. The historic area is packed with original buildings that have been updated to be restaurants, shops and businesses. Top spots to visit in Arkadelphia include The Honeycomb, a restaurant run by Group Living employing adults with developmental disabilities. Don’t miss their homemade desserts. Craft enthusiasts will love Knit Unto Others where you can shop fair trade fibers, take a class and even make some friends. Notable downtown events include Arktoberfest, Rock the Delph and several 5k races.
- Paris – Come see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Well, the Arkansas Eiffel Tower! This replica features a fountain, a mural backdrop and it lights up in different colors at night. When you’re finished taking pictures at the park, you can shop around the historic square. From antiques at Rust & Roses to women’s and children’s clothing at Island Cowgirl, Paris, Arkansas is just as much a shopping haven as Paris, France! After you empty your wallet you can fill your belly at the Grapevine where everything is homemade including the bread and honey butter.
- Eureka Springs If you are looking for a little romance, shopping, or laid back fun, Eureka Springs’ doors are always wide open begging you to come in and sit a spell.
- Siloam Springs– Main Street Siloam Springs is “where community comes to life.” Meet local farmers and artisans at the farmers market, get an ice cream cone at the old–fashioned Barnett’s Dairyette, or sip a brew at Creekside Taproom. For something a little more upscale, 28 Springs provides 4 & 5-course tasting menus with food and drink pairings. Browse the shops which range from funky furniture shops to upscale boutiques and local art. Stop by the Siloam Springs Museum to learn about over a century of local history and culture.
Which small town downtowns do you love to visit? We’re so lucky in Arkansas to find treasures tucked away on Main Streets across our state.