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Statewide Travel 0

The Ultimate Arkansas Summer Bucket List


Building our Arkansas summer bucket list is a hot topic, but what does that process look like? How about we actually sit down and create an Arkansas bucket list we can accomplish? It seems tempting to complicate the process and create a system for notation. But it can be as easy as a note tab on your phone, a sticky note on your desk, or writing on the back of a junk mail envelope.

As a self-proclaimed possibilities hoarder, having a list of places I want to go next is not far-fetched. I have a Google doc where I collect ideas, and then I transfer that list to notes on my phone, so ideas are readily available when I’m at a dinner party looking for discussion topics or sitting at a park planning with another mom.

We’ve already checked off several things on our summer plan and have a couple more on the radar this week. I’ve learned you never take the adventure if you’ve not claimed that you want to share it. Talking about our Arkansas bucket list is a topic my husband and I often drift to when we are on a winding road without phone service.

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But I’m not the only one who keeps this kind of list. We recently checked in with some of our favorite Arkansans and asked them what’s next on their Arkansas Summer Bucket lists, hoping to tackle something fun this summer!

Image used with permission from Justin Young.

Top Must-Do Summer Bucket List Outings in Arkansas

The survey says you must stop at the places in our list below. We looked at all the responses we received and found ten things in common among most people’s lists, no matter where they are in the state. Do you think they got it right?

  1. Visit the Buffalo River
  2. Hike/bike an Arkansas Trail
  3. Visit Mount Magazine State Park
  4. Tour Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Momentary, and Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
  5. Tip Toe through the tulips at Garvan Woodland Gardens
  6. Digging for Diamonds
  7. Watching Elk in the Boxley Valley
  8. Visiting Johnny Cash’s childhood home
  9. Experiencing Blanchard Springs Cavern
  10. Thorncrown Chapel by E. Fay Jones

What some Arkansas “Celebrities” think should be on an Arkansas Bucket List!

Image provided by Little Rock Zoo Keeper Chris Sauder.

Chris Sauder
Little Rock | Little Rock Zoo, Large Hoofstock Keeper 2

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Attend a Travelers baseball game with fireworks
  • See the elk in Ponca, preferably fall when bulls are bugling
  • Hike the Goat Trial to Big Bluff
  • Float the Buffalo River
  • Catch a sunset on Forked Mountain and stay late to see the Milky Way

Anna Beth Gorman
North Little Rock | Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, CEO

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Eat at Pizzeria Ruby in Johnson/Springdale, the best pizza in the state
  • Visit Crystal Bridges and take in American Art
  • Meet the Little Rock Nine, tour Central High National Park, and Daisy Bates Home in Little Rock
  • A tale of two cities, stand astride the State Line in Texarkana and then eat at Zapata’s Mexican Grill
  • Go check out the Railroad Museum in Pine Bluff, an incredible collection of locomotives
  • As one of only two purse museums worldwide, ESSE Purse Museum is more than you think. It is a tribute to women and a history museum about their lives through the decades.

Stephanie Buckley
Petit Jean Mountain | Petit Jean Coffeehouse Owner & Editor/Content Curator of OnlyinArk.com aka @TheParkWife

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Petit Jean State Park, obviously | Morrilton
  • Ozark Folk Center | Mountain View
  • Historic Washington State Park | Washington
  • Fishing on the White River | Lakeview
  • Blanchard Cavern | Fifty-Six
  •  Oark General Store | Oark
  • Scenic Drive, stop at a locally owned restaurant and grab a picnic lunch.

Haley Hays
Jonesboro | First Security Bank, Business Development/Marketing AVP

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

Must visit places in Arkansas:

Image provided by Cori Keller, Miss Arkansas 2023.

Cori Keller
Stuttgart | Miss Arkansas 2023

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Hunt in Arkansas County during duck season!
  • Hike Pinnacle Mountain (or any trail in Arkansas)
  • Visit Hot Springs, AR, for a lake day or to watch horse racing at Oaklawn!
  • Attend an Arkansas travelers game and watch the post-game fireworks over the Arkansas River!
  • Attend the Miss Arkansas competition!

Jordan Smith
Springdale | First Security Bank, NW AR Marketing Coordinator

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

  • Digging for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park
  • Hike Hawksbill Crag
  • Go to a horse race at Oaklawn
  • Go to a traditional spa in Hot Springs
  • Tour the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Attend an Arkansas Softball game at Bogle Park | Fayetteville
  • Crystal Bridges | Bentonville,
  • Eat a Chicken Philly at Herman’s Ribhouse | Fayetteville
  • Walk around the Fayetteville Square at Christmastime
  • Bike on the Razorback Greenway

Image used with permission from Julie Kohl.

Julie Kohl
Bald Knob | Owner at Seek Adventures Media, LLC & OnlyinArk.com Contributor

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

  • Central Arkansas Karting Complex | Vilonia
  • Devil’s Den State Park | Mountainburg
  • Steinhouse Keller | Hot Springs
  • Lakeport Plantation | Lake Village

Must visit places in Arkansas:


Keisha McKinney
Springdale | OnlyinArk.com Contributor and Digital Media Consultant

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

  • Eat a Hooshburger | Elkins
  • Batesville/Mountain View weekend
  • Exquisite Creatures Exhibit and The Portal: Jewel’s Art Experience | Bentonville
  • Rodeo of the Ozarks | Springdale
  • Drake Field Air Museum | Fayetteville

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Rural Doctor Museum | Lincoln
  • De Gray Lake | Arkadelphia
  • Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge | Eureka Springs
  • Turner Bend Buffalo River Area | St. Joe
  • Fort Smith National Historic Site | Fort Smith
  • Eat at Louise at Thaden Field | Bentonville
  • Petit Jean State Park | Morrilton

Heather Busch
Hot Springs | FSB Business Development and Marketing, Vice President

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

  • Elk Watching
  • Blanchard Springs Caverns
  • Dig for Diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park | Murfreesboro
  • Crystal Bridges | Bentonville
  • Take an ATV Ride around Mulberry Mountain

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Lake Ouachita – the clear water and beautiful views are second to none. Stop in at Shangri-La Resort on the lake (Mount Ida) and get a homemade pie if you have time!
  • Garvan Woodland Gardens- Hot Springs: the lights at Christmastime are spectacular, and the tulips in the Spring are incredible.
  • Stay in a Yurt at Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton
  • Visit “The Square” in Downtown El Dorado and catch a concert at The Murphy Arts District
  • Float the Buffalo River

Image used with permission from Justin Young.

Justin Young
Family Farm in Conway |Vice President of Marketing, Splash Car Wash

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

  • Dinner at Ryan’s | Leslie
  • Watch the Elk near Ponca
  • Overnight Cave Stay: Stay the night at Beckham Creek Cave Lodge, a secluded living cave in the Ozarks
  • Johnny Cash Boyhood Home | Dyess
  • Folk Music in Mountain View

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Glory Hole
  • Blanchard Springs Caverns
  • Old Washington State Park: Pro-tip: go around the same time of year as the Hope Watermelon Festival and indulge in a gigantic Arkansas watermelon!
  • Gaston’s White Water Fishing Resort
  • Farm Outside the City: Regardless of where you live, there’s likely a place within an hour of you to escape and find a spot far enough from the city to enjoy summer sounds and beautiful stars!

Image provided by artist Kevin Kresse.

Kevin Kresse
Little Rock | Sculpture artist

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

  • Mount Magazine
  • More parks in South Arkansas
  • Piggot
  • Walnut Ridge / Hoxie

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Thorncrown Chapel | Eureka Springs
  • Blanchard Cavern & Folk Center | Mountain View
  • Johnny Cash Home | Dyess
  • Levon Helm Home | Marvell
  • Historic Washington State Park

Amber Walker
Searcy | First Security Bank, Marketing Coordinator

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Mountain View/Blanchard Springs/Calico Rock
  • The Louisiana Purchase State Park in April. It’s like stepping out of the typical Arkansas-delta scenery and into something enchanted from the Lord of the Rings.
  • Hot Springs National Park for any reason- history, touring the Arlington, spas, shopping, outdoor recreation, restaurants, downtown strolls, festivals—you name it!
  • Buffalo River Float Trip
  • You must do something highfalutin like visiting the Crystal Bridges Art Museum (yes, I know it is free admission to Crystal Bridges, but the experience is *culture*)
  • A fine dining experience like the Red Apple Inn in Heber Springs or the Capital Hotel’s One Eleven in Little Rock

Image provided by Brooke Condolora.

Brooke Condolora
Rogers | Game Developer at Brain&Brain

My current Arkansas Bucket list:

Must visit places in Arkansas:

  • Buffalo River
  • Hobbs State Park, especially the Monument Trails
  • Ponca, especially in the fall
  • Eureka Springs
  • Mount Nebo
  • White Rock Mountain

Other must-visit places in Arkansas you may find interesting. 


Cover image provided by Heather Busch and her children on a fun summer family adventure!

Meet the

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

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