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Statewide Compton Eureka Springs Farmington Fayetteville Fifty-Six Holly Grove Hot Springs Jessieville Morrilton North Little Rock West Fork
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Enchanting Fairytale Locations in Arkansas


Do you remember an imaginary friend or wonderland you created in your mind as a child? I loved visiting my Papa because he lived in the country and had land we could explore. Whether tiptoeing through the perfect lines in the garden and checking on squash vines or tomato plants, we knew if we were out there, the playdates we could dream up were endless.

Sometimes, we could tag along with older cousins to the true woods and find cattle skulls, railroad tracks, and traces of wildlife among old wagon trails and campsites. Some days, our school games of the Oregon Trail came to life. Some days, we would climb on his 1940s tractor and even turn rusty farm equipment into an ice cream shop long before mobile food stations were the norm.

In 2024, our lives are way too busy to slow down, find our fairytale space and just dream and imagine. I’m not sure if you are a vision board person, always dreaming ahead, but I know there are many benefits for us getting outside and spending time in nature.

Benefits of Being in Nature

Science will tell us the transformative power of nature enhances cognitive function, improves emotional well-being, strengthens social connections, and increases creativity and problem-solving skills. Our bodies reap the benefits when we engage in activities such as hiking, biking or even simply walking in a natural setting.

Research shows that outdoor recreation revitalizes our mental well-being and sharpens our cognitive abilities. The experience of being in nature stimulates our senses and engages our brains in a way that is different from the indoor environment. When we engage in outdoor activities, we are often required to navigate unfamiliar terrain, make quick decisions and adapt to changing circumstances. These mental challenges help to improve our problem-solving skills, increase our attention span, and enhance our ability to think creatively.

When we leave our daily routines and venture into nature’s playground, new stimuli and sensory experiences surround us. The vibrant sunset colors, the gentle rustle of leaves in the wind, and the refreshing scent of a pine forest all awaken our senses. Amid an outdoor setting, surrounded by peace and tranquility, individuals can find solace and a much-needed escape from the frenetic pace of everyday life, allowing their minds to recharge and rejuvenate.

I remember walking across the creek along the Lake Trail at Devil’s Den State Park for the first time. All I wanted to do was stand in that moment, touch the green rocks and wade through the creek.

How to Experience the Fairytale 

As simple as it sounds, stop and stand still. Close your eyes. Take in a deep breath. Open your ears and listen. Let the earth and space around you speak to you. Then, open your eyes and observe a 360-degree view of your surroundings.

It might be wise to take a notepad, journal, Bible, songbook or meditation book. Using these tools, record what you observe and experience them. Let all your senses be open to what is happening around you. Release your mind to imagine, take yourself back to a favorite childhood story, or envision spending the day with a character or imaginary friend.

You will be amazed at how much more creative you are, how your productivity will increase, your empathy will strengthen, and you might find yourself carving out time on your calendar to repeat the experience.

16 Fairytale Locations in Arkansas

Uncover the magical and awe-inspiring fairytale locations that exist right in your backyard. Arkansas offers a wonderland of adventure and imagination, from stunning castles in the Ozark Mountains to mysterious forests teeming with mythical creatures. Embark on a journey through the state’s most enchanting destinations and experience the charm and beauty of these hidden gems.

  1. Lake Trail, Devil’s Den State Park | West Fork – most trails and structures around Devil’s Den State Park look like they were built for woodland creatures, thanks to the CCC.
  2. Quigleys Castle | Eureka Springs – one of the quirkiest spots in Arkansas, this 1943 private home turned museum is an excellent example of the marriage between imagination and architecture.
  3. Davies Bridge, Petit Jean State Park | Morrilton – is an iconic spot where mythical creatures, fairytale seekers, and toadstools intersect in a serene space.
  4. Castle at Wilson Park | Fayetteville – every childhood dream comes true in a play structure made of rocks, tiles and running water.
  5. St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable | Fayetteville – this private chapel is everything little girls dream of for a dream wedding destination that transports you to the English countryside.
  6. Old Mill/Pugh’s Mill | North Little Rock – made famous in the opening of Gone with the Wind, this fairytale spot is a place of solace year-round, bearing the colors and scenery of each season.
  7. Garvan Woodland Gardens | Hot Springs – an arboretum of magical spaces exploding with spring colors, open grassy areas, and hidden Japanese gardens with koi ponds and rock structures.
  8. Mirror Lake, Blanchard Springs | Fifty-six – like many spots in Arkansas, the magic of this place grows after a rainy week. The grotto formed below Mirror Lake is dreamy.
  9. Blue Spring Heritage Center | Eureka Springs – for centuries, many have visited this sacred space for its bluff shelter and ritual site and to dip in the natural blue lagoon formed by the spring.
  10. Louisiana Purchase State Park | Holly Grove – while it’s an important National Historic Site, the boardwalk among the winding Cypress Creek transforms you into otherworldly spaces.
  11. Hemmed In Hollow | Compton – the name says it all, but this 200-foot waterfall is the tallest fall between the Rockies and Appalachians.
  12. Flatside Pinnacle | Jessieville – During the spring, covered with wildflowers, this countryside is the perfect spot to read a favorite fairytale or watch a summer sunset.
  13. Anthony, Cooper and Thorncrown Chapels – intentionally designed for the visitor to experience the outdoors while indoors, these spaces draw inspiration for spiritual experiences.
  14. White River under the Cotter Bridge – early morning fog off the river sets the perfect scene to pause and imagine.
  15. Briar Rose Bakery | Farmington – while the cinnamon rolls usually draw people for a first visit, entering the door to a new fairyland and feeling like you are in a scene from Beauty and the Beast keeps visitors coming back.
  16. Eureka Springs Houses, Castles, Caves, Treehouses and Hobbits | Eureka Springs – are the perfect place to stay for a fairytale experience – Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, and even a few hobbits set the scene for a sweet vacation.

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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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