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9 Best Towns in Arkansas for a Winter Getaway

by Staff

Arkansas, known as “The Natural State,” is in the southeastern region of the United States. Its geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and Arkansas Delta. Northern and mountainous parts of the state may see snowfall and colder temperatures in the winter, while the southern and eastern parts tend to experience milder winter weather. This climatic diversity makes Arkansas’s towns versatile destinations for winter getaways.

Hot Springs

Mineral hot water in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.

Hot Springs is a town in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. The town’s history as a spa destination dates back to the 19th century. In winter, the steam from the hot springs contrasts sharply with the cooler air. Accommodation options, such as the historic Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa and Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, cater to visitors seeking the healing hot spring waters and the tranquility of a lakeside retreat, respectively.

Hot Springs National Park is the oldest federally protected reserve in the US and home to Bathhouse Row, comprising eight bathhouse buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Two of these, the Buckstaff and Quapaw, continue to operate. Beyond this, the Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs is a 210-acre botanical garden with seasonal displays and walking trails. Lake Hamilton, another significant landmark, is ideal for fishing and taking quiet strolls along its shores.

Heber Springs

Heber Springs, Arkansas Winter Waterfall
Heber Springs, Arkansas winter waterfall.

Heber Springs, in Cleburne County, Arkansas, is within the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. The town, established as a health resort in the early 19th century, is a hot spot for outdoor recreation, particularly in the winter when the area’s landscapes are accentuated by the season. The Red Apple Inn and Country Club is a go-to for guests wanting lake views and golfing opportunities, whereas the Lindsey’s Resort is known for its fishing amenities.

Heber Springs’ key attractions include the Greers Ferry Dam, a significant engineering feat completed in 1962, creating the 40,000-acre Greers Ferry Lake, a place for fishing, boating, and eagle watching during the colder months. The William Carl Garner Visitor Center educates visitors on the dam’s history. Another landmark is the Little Red River, which has hiking trails that overlook the river. Alternatively, anglers will be interested in Collins Creek, a managed trout habitat. It is an easily accessible spot for fishing, especially in winter when the creek’s flow is augmented by the cold-water releases from the dam.

Mountain View

Mountain View Courthouse with Veteran Memorial
Mountain View Courthouse with Veteran Memorial, Mountain View, Arkansas. Image credit Sgerbic, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mountain View, located in Stone County, Arkansas, is rooted in the Ozark Mountains and recognized for its preservation of folk music and artisan crafts. The town, often referred to as the “Folk Music Capital of the World,” attracts visitors throughout the year for its live music performances, particularly in the colder months when gatherings move indoors. For those planning to stay, accommodations range from The Wildflower Bed & Breakfast on the Square, with easy access to local music venues, to the Ozark Folk Center Cabins, further from the town and surrounded by forests. 

The Ozark Folk Center State Park is the centerpiece of Mountain View’s cultural attractions, dedicated to celebrating Ozark heritage and traditional music, crafts, and folklore. Even in winter, the park hosts indoor music shows, craft demonstrations, and workshops. The Blanchard Springs Caverns, managed by the US Forest Service, is another must-visit. The limestone formations in its living cave system remain at a constant temperature year-round. Further, Mirror Lake Waterfall is particularly beautiful during winter when the water flows amidst a backdrop of potentially frost-covered foliage.

Ozark

House along the Arkansas River, Ozark, Arkansas. Home faces the river
House along the Arkansas River, Ozark, Arkansas. Image credit Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ozark, Arkansas, situated at a bend along the Arkansas River, is between the Ozark National Forest to the north and the Ouachita National Forest to the south. This positioning makes it a notable location for those interested in exploring the state’s forests and river valleys.  Accommodation options in Ozark include the Oxford Inn, comfortable lodging with easy access to downtown attractions, and Turner Bend Outfitter’s cabins, a rustic experience near the Mulberry River.

Visitors should explore the Aux Arc Park in Ozark, a locale on the banks of the Arkansas River with camping and picnicking and a setting for winter walks and bird watching. Another site is the Ozark Lake and Dam, a resource for fishing, boating, and observing the winter waterfowl migrations.

Eureka Springs

The water at the Blue Spring Heritage Center in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
The water at the Blue Spring Heritage Center in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Eureka Springs, in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, is a Victorian resort town. Known for its steep winding streets lined with Victorian-style cottages and manors, the buildings and natural springs are often enveloped in a gentle mist or light dusting of snow in the winter. Accommodations in Eureka Springs take the primary form of historic hotels. A spooky option is the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, where visitors can relax in luxury rooms and learn about the hotel’s purported ghostly inhabitants.

Among the attractions that draw visitors to Eureka Springs, even in winter, is Thorncrown Chapel, made from wood and glass and nestled in the woodland. The chapel’s structure, designed by architect E. Fay Jones, was designed to integrate seamlessly with the surrounding forest. Another notable landmark is the Blue Spring Heritage Center, home to one of the largest springs in the area, producing over 38 million gallons of water daily. The center’s gardens and trails are great for winter walks. Additionally, historic downtown, with its art galleries, like Studio 34, and cozy cafes, especially Mud Street Cafe, remains lively throughout the year, encouraging visitors to explore its streets and alleys.

Bella Vista

Homes on the lake in winter in Bella Vista, Arkansas
Homes on the lake in winter in Bella Vista, Arkansas. Image credit shuttersv via Shutterstock

Bella Vista, in the northwestern corner of Arkansas, is a town to go to if you are hoping to see snow in the state in winter. The town, originally established as an Ozark summer vacation destination in the early 20th century, has a geography that is defined by the Ozark Highlands, with forests and bluffs overlooking the surrounding lakes. Greens One at Bella Vista, a lodge with forest views of the surrounding Ozarks, is a recommended accommodation option for visitors.

Bella Vista’s attractions emphasize its natural surroundings, even in winter. The Back 40 and Little Sugar Creek trails have miles of trails through wooded terrain for hikers and mountain bikers. The Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, another notable landmark, is a glass-and-wood structure also designed by architect E. Fay Jones. When it is set against the backdrop of winter woods, it becomes a spot for reflection and meditation. Additionally, Bella Vista has several lakes, such as Lake Bella Vista and Loch Lomond, which, despite the colder weather, remain attractive for fishing and boating or simply enjoying the beauty of the season. 

Siloam Springs

Beautiful view of waterfall and rapids at the Siloam Springs Kayak Park in Arkansas.
Beautiful view of waterfall and rapids at the Siloam Springs Kayak Park in Arkansas.

Not far from Bella Vista, Siloam Springs is a town where the architecture speaks to the early 1900s. During the winter holidays, decorations and lights brighten the town. Among the standout accommodations here is the Inn at the Springs, a historic renovated inn situated in downtown Siloam Springs. This area has a variety of boutique shops, including The Ardent Exchange, and eateries, such as The Cafe on Broadway.

Beyond downtown, Siloam Springs is embraced by natural beauty, thanks to the Illinois River and Sager Creek. The Siloam Springs Kayak Park, a particular highlight, adapts to the winter season—its river rapids are beautiful in the colder months. The town’s commitment to arts and history is visible at the Siloam Springs Museum, where exhibitions celebrate the local heritage and community’s evolution. For those seeking outdoor recreation, the town’s network of trails, including the scenic Dogwood Springs Trail, are great for hiking and biking.

South of town on the way to Van Buren, Devil’s Den State Park is a stunning park to check out, especially in the winter months when icicles hang from the trees.

Russellville

Icy trees at the Boardwalk - a consequence of freezing rain. The observation deck at Petit Jean, Arkansas, United States
Icy trees at the Boardwalk at Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas.

Russellville, positioned in the center of the Arkansas River Valley, is surrounded by the Ozark Mountains and the Arkansas River and becomes a focal point for outdoor enthusiasts in the winter months. Accommodations like the Fairfield Inn & Suites have modern comforts for travelers. Meanwhile, The Center for the Arts in Russellville enriches the community with a diverse lineup of musicals and shows. Be sure to check their calendar for exact dates.

Lake Dardanelle State Park, with its expansive reservoir on the Arkansas River, is ideal for fishing, boating, and bird-watching against the backdrop of mountains. The park’s visitor center presents educational exhibits on the area’s ecology and history. For hikers, the Bona Dea Trails and Sanctuary has a network of paths through wetlands and wooded areas, with the chance for wildlife observation and photography. Petit Jean State Park is another popular park nearby that offers spectacular winter scenery.

On your way out of town, take a drive to the Alum Cove Natural Bridge. Located about 50 miles north of Russellville, it is a natural arch formed over millennia by water erosion. This arch spans approximately 130 feet, creating a bridge visitors can walk across.

Paragould

The Historic Greene County Courthouse, Paragould, Arkansas.
The Historic Greene County Courthouse, Paragould, Arkansas. Image credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock.com

Paragould, located in Greene County, Arkansas, is characterized by its setting on Crowley’s Ridge, extending from Missouri through Arkansas. This elevation not only distinguishes Paragould’s landscape from the surrounding delta region but also enriches its biodiversity, a notable point of interest for those interested in Arkansas’s nature. White House Inn B&B ensures every visitor to Paragould feels like family and is often described as a Victorian dollhouse.

Crowley’s Ridge State Park, set on Crowley’s Ridge, has trails through rolling hills and hardwood forests, ideal for winter hiking and wildlife observation. Paragould is also home to the Collins Theatre, a historic venue in the downtown area that hosts musical performances, plays, and community events. Additionally, the Greene County Museum enriches visitor experiences with exhibits on local history, agriculture, and the legacy of the area’s early settlers.

Arkansas’s geography and climate make it an appealing destination for getaways. Each town caters to different interests, be it soaking in the thermal waters of Hot Springs, exploring the folk music heritage of Mountain View, or hiking through national forests around Ozark. The winter season only enhances Arkansas, with snow-capped mountain views, peaceful forest walks, and cozy downtown cafes, inviting visitors to enjoy the quieter side of “The Natural State.”

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