Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Arkansas Bucket List - 8 Must-Take Trips for 2015.

Everyone has something they've always wanted to do.  These days, that collection of daring acts and adventures is often called a "bucket list" (things to do before you kick the bucket) -- and it usually includes a good deal of places people want to go, see and do in their lifetime.

When I talk about places I go here in Arkansas, there's usually a person in the crowd who mentions they've always wanted to go there, or eat something I had there.  Rather than wait for my next adventure, here's a suggested list of things that should be on your Arkansas bucket list (and click here to see what's on mine).

1. Dig for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park.  The only place in the world where you can pay a small fee and go search a big field for diamonds to your heart's content.  There have been some pretty big diamonds found at the park, but most folks go away without a large specimen to take home.  Still, it's fun and it's a good story for later. Click here for park information.

2.  Float the Buffalo National River. The very first national river, this free-flowing stream cuts through the heart of the Ozarks, and when the water is high enough to float (spring to early summer and fall), it's a wet path to glorious views.  There are outfitters all along the river, so you don't even need to own your own canoe.  Find one to book, here or here.

3. Ride a motorcycle through curvy, mountainous terrain.  The Ozarks and Ouachita Mountains sport great two-lane blacktop for challenging riding.  The Arkansas Dragon (Highway 123), Push Mountain Road and Talimena Scenic Byway are all really great scenic runs. Check out some great routes, here.

4.  Make a culinary pilgrimage.  While many of the places I talk about at Tie Dye Travels are great unknown diners and barbecue joints, there are a few that have obtained national renown and even presidential visits, including AQ Chicken House in Springdale, McClard's Bar-B-Que in Hot Springs, Jones Barbecue Diner in Marianna and Rhoda's Famous Hot Tamales in Lake Village.

5.  Ride the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad in the fall. The excursion train through the Boston Mountains takes passengers from Van Buren to Springdale and back, and in autumn the colors are glorious.  It's a pretty cool ride even when it's not autumn. Book your excursion here,

6. See where Johnny Cash was raised.  Head to Dyess to visit the town where the Man in Black grew up.  Visit a museum that talks about the Dyess colony and then ride out for a tour of the Cash family home, restored to the era when Cash was a boy. Learn more about the home, here.

7.  Walk in the steps of the Little Rock Nine.  Visit the Central High School National Historic Site in downtown Little Rock.  Learn about desegregation efforts in the 1950s and take a tour of the high school itself, where you'll hear tales of the nine brave black students who attended and the turmoil they experienced. Find information about the visitors center, here.

8.  See the elk at Ponca.  These majestic beasts come out to feed in fields at Boxley Valley and along the upper Buffalo early in the morning and late in the afternoon.  Viewing the elk has become very popular for folks who head out into the Ozarks.  Get educated on elk at the Ponca Elk Education Center.

Want to see what's on my personal bucket list? Click here.

Have an item you think should be here?  Leave your suggestion in the comments.



18 comments:

  1. What about celebrating in Arkansas little New Orleans for Mardi Gras - Eureka Springs! The celebration grows each year and the good times roll!

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  2. Here!Here!!!! We have spent the last three years at the Beaver for Mardi Gras!! You can complete your bucket list in ES!!!

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  3. Vist "The Kings River Outfitters". Camping, cabins, fishing in a trophy class for small mouth bass, floating a truly prestige river, The Kings River that flows north into MO. Just 8 miles from Eureka Spings, AR.
    www.kingsriveroutfitters.com

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  4. Rhoda's really?

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    1. I have met dozens of food lovers who have made their journeys to Arkansas just for those tamales.

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    2. they are really good!

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  5. National Park Service Cabin should be here somewhere...

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  6. Blanchard Springs Caverns.....Petit Jean Mountain are two other great places in Arkansas to visit!

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  7. Ms. Lena's Pie Shop in DeValls Bluff should be on this list! Definitely worth the trip.

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    1. Sadly, Ms Lena passed away recently in April 2016. I had many of her home made pies and especially loved her fried pies over the last 15 years.

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  8. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Museum and the Pfeiffer Home (home to his 3rd wife) in Piggott.

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  9. Also see The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs! Learn about the ultimate sacrifice Jesus Christ have to us so that we could be forgived of all our sins if we ask him to come into our lives and turn from our wicked ways! One of the largest amphitheaters in the U.S.

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  10. Get to the spa city for the St. Patrick's Day parade!!

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  11. I always smile, no...I always LAUGH when someone mentions all the BBQ places in Arkansas and then leave out Blytheville, AR on their BBQ list. That shows and tells me that the person did not do their homework, footwork or foodwork!

    Blytheville, a town with a population of 15,000 has no fewer than 7 BBQ stands. Of those 7 (8 or 9) BBQ stands is more than 250 years of BBQ experience and business in Blytheville. The Dixie Pig has been around for 90 years just by itself. The Kream Kastle has been in business for OVER 50 years and Penn's BBQ has been in business for OVER 40 years!! Then you have the newcomers, Benny Bobs has been in Blytheville for more than 25 years, and Yanks has been around for about 10 years (but their pit master has cooked BBQ for more than 40 years). You have another newcomer Gills and then another called the Red Trailer and both of those have been in business about 10 years. I am EXCLUDING anything less than 10 years (plus I don't know them).

    The WORST of the Blytheville BBQ sandwiches are usually much better than most any BBQ you can get anywhere else in the State. And YES, I have eaten at McClards (great history and ambience - but average BBQ sandwich), and I have eaten at Jones (their popularity is due to their cost - but I'm sorry, you DO NOT EAT BBQ on light sandwich bread). I've also eaten at Craigs in DeValls Bluff (did not like that at all), and also had the TEPID pleasure of eating some Que sandwiches in Little Rock. None, not a single one is as good as the top 6 in Blytheville, AR.

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  12. Please feel free to peruse my latest book, Classic Eateries of the Arkansas Delta, which contains lots of references to Blytheville including the history of the Dixie Pig (formerly the Rustic Inn), Kream Kastle and more -- plus stories on Hays Supermarkets and Jeri-Lin Donuts.

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    1. I will do that!! Thanks Kat!

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Be kind.