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Northwest Harrison
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Northwest Travel 1

A Fun-Filled Visit to Harrison


For many of us, Harrison is just a blip on the radar as we travel to Branson, Missouri. We grab a snack, fill up the car and head on our way. I’m about to let the cat out of the bag, though, because this small town, nestled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Nicknamed “The Gateway to the Buffalo River,” Harrison offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure with small-town vibes.

Our first experience with Harrison was in 2019 when we took our then-two-year-old to see the Arkansas Hot Air Balloon State Championship. What would have previously been a simple day trip for my husband and I turned into a weekend adventure simply with the hope of keeping a normal routine for our son. We booked a room at the historic Hotel Seville, enjoyed a mostly stress-free weekend and fell in love with the charm of downtown Harrison.

Miss Arkansas/Miss America Ebony Mitchell, a shining example of beauty, grace, and talent that embodies the spirit of this enchanting place. Maplewood Cemetery, Hotel Seville and the Buffalo River, beauty abounds.

Things to Do

  • Explore Downtown Harrison: Download the Natural State Natural Art Passport, stroll down the streets lined with historic buildings and admire the vibrant murals depicting the town’s rich history. Don’t miss the Boone County Heritage Museum to delve deeper into the area’s past.
  • Catch a Show at the Lyric Theater: This beautifully restored 1929 theater offers a variety of live performances, from concerts and plays to classic movies.
  • Go Antiquing: Harrison boasts a treasure trove of antique shops waiting to be discovered. Spend an afternoon browsing for unique finds and one-of-a-kind pieces.
  • Tee Off at a Scenic Course: Hit the links at Harrison Country Club for 18 holes with stunning views of the Ozark Mountains.
  • Walk Through History: Explore Baker Prairie Natural Area, a remnant of a 5,000-acre tallgrass prairie showcasing native plants and wildlife within the Harrison city limits.
  • Experience Fall Color: Stroll through Maplewood Cemetery, a historic resting place founded in 1868 and known for its vibrant fall foliage. Over 700 sugar maple trees create a breathtaking display of color.

Shop Local

Harrison boasts a unique shopping scene that’s perfect for finding one-of-a-kind treasures and supporting local businesses. Here are some hidden gems to explore:

  • Flea Market Finds: Unleash your inner treasure hunter at Harrison’s vibrant flea markets. Lovejoy Collectibles, Junk-Shun Barn and Rust Dust & Wanderlust offer a treasure trove of antiques, vintage finds and unique collectibles.
  • Boutique Bliss: Indulge in some retail therapy at locally-owned boutiques. Beautiful Mess Boutique offers trendy clothing and accessories, while Frenzy features a curated selection of home goods and gifts.
  • Beyond Boutiques: Harrison’s shopping scene extends beyond boutiques. Explore specialty stores like Honeycutt Outdoors for outdoor gear and hunting supplies, Rock Springs Tackle for fishing gear and bait or visit Psych Bike for all your cycling needs.

Hotel Seville

Places to Stay

Harrison offers a variety of lodging options to suit any budget and travel style. Here’s a glimpse to help you find the perfect home base for your Ozark adventure:

  • Historic Charm: Immerse yourself in Harrison’s history by staying at the 1929 Hotel Seville located in downtown Harrison and dining at Two Ravens at the Seville.
    Hotel Seville
  • Embrace the Outdoors: For a nature-filled stay, consider Harrison Village Campground or Shady Oaks Campground. These campgrounds offer campsites, cabins and RV hookups, perfect for those who want to wake up to the sounds of the Ozarks.
  • Modern Comfort: Choose from a variety of hotels and motels in Harrison, which offer amenities like comfortable beds, swimming pools, and free Wi-Fi.
  • Home Away from Home: Harrison boasts a healthy selection of vacation rentals listed on Airbnb and VRBO. Find a cozy cabin, a spacious house, or a unique apartment – the choice is yours!

Photo by Jamie’s Restaurant.

Places to Eat

Harrison’s culinary scene offers a delicious variety to tempt your taste buds. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find.

  • Local Flavor: Savor a hearty breakfast or a comforting home-cooked meal at Jamie’s Restaurant, a local favorite known for its friendly atmosphere and generous portions. The broasted chicken and their burgers are favorites in my family.
  • Sports Bar Fun: Catch the game and grab a bite at Buckets Sports Bar & Grill. They offer classic bar fare alongside a wide selection of beers and cocktails.
  • Sweet Treats: Indulge your sweet tooth with a slice of cake or a decadent pastry from The Cake Shop. We also like to hit up Arkansas’s own TCBY for a cool treat on a hot summer day!
  • Italian Delights: Craving some pasta or pizza? Head to DeVito’s for authentic Italian dishes made with fresh ingredients. They also have their own trout farm where you can fish during the day and have the chef prepare it for your dinner later that night!
  • Upscale Comfort Food: Neighbor’s Mill offers a unique dining experience in a historic setting. They serve elevated comfort food (soups, salads and sandwiches) with a focus on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.
  • On the Go: In addition to these restaurants, Harrison has a vibrant food truck scene offering a variety of delicious options. Craving a juicy burger? Pappy’s Smash Burgers serves up mouthwatering made-to-order creations. Looking for a taste of Cajun cuisine? The Cajun Hillbilly Wagon offers a unique blend of Cajun and Southern flavors. In the mood for some grilled goodness? Fireside Grill serves up savory tacos, nachos, quesadilla and birria.

Family Activities

Looking for some fun that’s weather-proof? Harrison has you covered! Here are some options to keep you entertained indoors:

  • Channel Your Inner Child: Bounce Mania and Urban Jungle Gym are havens for energetic kids (and adults!). Bounce Mania boasts inflatable slides, obstacle courses and jumping areas, while Urban Jungle Gym offers a climbing wall, laser tag, and a soft play zone for toddlers.
  • Strike Up Some Fun: Head to Oddball Bowl for a classic night of bowling with the family. They offer glow bowling on select nights, perfect for an extra dose of fun.
  • Catch a Flick: Golden Ticket Cinemas Harrison 8 offers a variety of first-run films. Kick back, relax, and enjoy a movie night out.
  • Roll with the Fun: Lace up your skates and hit the rink at Skate Mania! This family-friendly roller rink offers a fun and active experience for all ages.

Photo by Julie Kohl.

Festivals and Events

Harrison comes alive throughout the year with a variety of festivals and events that celebrate the town’s unique culture and heritage. Here are a few highlights to consider when planning your trip:

  • Arkansas Hot Air Balloon State Championship: Each September, witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of dozens of colorful hot air balloons taking flight during this annual event. Enjoy live music, food vendors and family-friendly activities, culminating in a dazzling night glow.
  • Ride the Ozarks Rally: Calling all motorcycle enthusiasts! This annual rally attracts thousands of bikers to Harrison each October for a weekend of scenic rides through the Ozarks, live music performances, bike shows and vendor booths. You can also check out these Ozark Motorcycle Rides.
  • Fire in the Sky: Don’t miss this magical event that transforms the night sky over Harrison. Held on Independence Day, these events include live music and several eating contests and end with a spectacular fireworks display.
  • Annual Arkansas Fiddlers Convention: Immerse yourself in the rich musical heritage of the Ozarks at this long-running event. Talented fiddlers from all over the state gather at North Arkansas College South Campus to compete in various categories, showcase their skills, and keep traditional Ozark Mountain music alive.
  • Crawdad Days Festival: Immerse yourself in Harrison’s signature event – the Crawdad Days Festival! Held the third weekend of May, this lively festival celebrates all things crawfish (mudbugs) with delicious food, cooking competitions, live music, arts and crafts vendors and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Nearby Adventures

Harrison is a fantastic jumping-off point for even more adventures in the surrounding Ozarks.  Here are a few ideas to add some extra excitement to your weekend getaway:

  • Elk Watching: Head north to the Ponca/Boxley Valley near Jasper, Arkansas, for a chance to see majestic elk roaming free in the wild. The best time for elk watching is during the fall rutting season, which typically runs from September to November.
  • Float the Buffalo National River: Embark on a scenic adventure by floating down the Buffalo National River. Rent a canoe, kayak, or raft and spend a relaxing day paddling down the crystal-clear waters, soaking up the stunning scenery. Several nearby outfitters offer guided float trips and rentals.
  • Step Back in Time at a Ghost Town: Explore the remnants of historic mining towns like Rush, Arkansas, for a glimpse into the Ozarks’ rich mining history, with abandoned buildings and eerie cemeteries to explore.
  • Delve into the Underworld: Embark on a guided tour of Cosmic Caverns, a breathtaking cave system located near Berryville, Arkansas. Marvel at the stalactites, stalagmites, and other natural formations that have been sculpted over millions of years.

So, ditch the hustle and bustle of everyday life and escape to Harrison, Arkansas.  With its natural beauty and friendly atmosphere, Harrison is a great getaway destination.

Photos courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism unless otherwise noted.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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One response to “A Fun-Filled Visit to Harrison”

  1. […] the key drop at the annual Hot Air Balloon State Championship in Harrison is a must-see event. It takes place at sunrise, adding to the pastoral scene of hot air balloons […]

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