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Life after college is a big adventure filled with many life lessons. In May 2023, I graduated from Harding University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and, two short days later, started my full-time job. Since I live in the same town as my university, I am actively learning how to mature and be my own person outside of college life. Before moving to Searcy for school, I didn’t know much about the Natural State. Now, I live here and want to explore this beautiful state and everything it has to offer.
With a full-time job, these activities and adventures mainly occur on weekends. Some are day trips, but others require a full weekend plan. It is very important for me to continue to learn and seek fun while working 8-5 Monday through Friday. I hope this list finds someone else looking to escape the real adult world.
Here is my Arkansas Bucket List of a Recent College Graduate!
An easy and somewhat relaxing Saturday exploration down the Buffalo River! From my experience, make sure to go when the water levels are not low so you don’t have to get out and push your canoe!
I am not much of an art museum person, and there are plenty in Arkansas, but Crystal Bridges was really enjoyable for me. There are many different exhibits for all kinds of art lovers. The exhibition lineup for 2024 includes Exquisite Creatures, Space Makers: Indigenous Expression and a New American Art, North Forest Outdoor Lights: Klip Collective and Knowing the West. Another great thing about this museum? IT’S FREE!
The Crescent Hotel may not be on everyone’s Arkansas bucket list. This spooky 1886 hotel and spa in Eureka Springs has a rich history, and your visit may or may not come with a little bit of ghost fun.
To go along with the ghosts at Crescent Hotel, there are two ghost towns in Arkansas that are popular to visit. Rush Ghost Town is located inside the Buffalo National River Park, where an old mining community used to thrive around 1880. Calico Rock Ghost town is a “ghost town within a town.” Historic East Calico seems like an interesting place to explore for this recent college grad, and it’s not too far from where I live.
Garvan Woodland Gardens is said to be a hidden treasure here in the Natural State. I love visiting botanical gardens, and this one in Hot Springs is a perfect weekend trip where I can explore Hot Springs. Climbing through the Tree House Adventure would make anyone feel like a kid again.
E. Fay Jones was an amazing architect and designed homes, memorials, fountains, and meditative spaces; the three chapels in Arkansas are the most intriguing designs to me. All three chapels are great weekend trips located in Hot Springs, Bella Vista and Eureka Springs. I had the privilege of being a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding in the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel in Bella Vista.
Another place in Arkansas that can feel like you’re being transformed to another place is the Louisiana State Purchase Park. This is a great park to keep learning about history after graduation. Before hearing about this park, I had not given a thought to Arkansas’s connection to France and the Louisiana State Purchase.
One of the most important parts of a weekend trip to me is finding a new, cool coffee shop and bookstore to explore. You need a place of peace while traveling, and to me, that is a coffee shop or bookstore (it would be perfect if it were a 2-in-1). When you are out and about exploring, it is nice to find a place to sit, relax and enjoy a book!
There are so many other wonderful adventures in Arkansas to explore. This is only the beginning for me! What’s on your Arkansas Bucket List?
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