Wednesday, July 15, 2015

4 Trips You Can Pack Into What's Left of this Arkansas Summer.

Have you missed out on summer? Been avoiding the really hot weather, or the really wet weather before that? Well, wake up... there are just a few weeks of summer left before the kids go back to school.

Need an idea for what you can still book and do here in Arkansas?  Here are four ideas.  Book some place to stay, get in the car and get going, even if it's just for a few days, before summer is gone.

Click here to check out waterparks and splash pads around Arkansas.
Click here to find great swimming holes in Arkansas.

I wasn't kidding about the makeup table.
Pack in a lot of history at Hope and Historic Washington. Face it, it's hot.  Why not spend some time in air conditioned museums.  Head to southwest Arkansas and tour the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Birthplace. See where the 42nd President of the United States spent his earliest years, learn about his grandparents and view Virginia Blythe's bedroom and makeup table.

Hope Watermelon Festival.
Downtown, you'll find the Hope Visitor Center and Museum, where you can learn about the town's history and pick up all the information you'll need to enjoy a good time. The Hope Watermelon Festival takes place August 6-9th, if you need more incentive to head that way.

Printing press at Historic Washington State Park.
While you're in the area, take the time to head six miles to the northwest and visit Historic Washington State Park. The tiny town was, for a brief period of time during the Civil War, the capitol of Arkansas.  Visit all sorts of neat places on-site, including the print shop (air
Better than a sauna, the working
blacksmith shop gets really hot during the
summer, but where else can you learn the
awesome history of the Bowie knife?
conditioned), the candlemaking shop (air conditioned), the bank that's now a really cool gun museum (air conditioned) and the state's largest magnolia tree (if you're lucky, it'll be windy).  There's also a really fantastic blacksmith shop where you can learn how the Bowie Knife came to be (it's very, very hot there), a couple of (air conditioned) courthouses and more.  You can ride a surrey around the park for a tour, and dine at Williams Tavern Restaurant, which is housed in the second oldest restaurant building in Arkansas.  Make your stay in Hope and Washington special and a real treat by staying on park at Grace Cottage.

The Mark Martin Museum, inside Mark Martin Ford.
Speed up and slow down in Batesville. Visit the oldest city in Arkansas! The comfortable town lies along the White River and offers excellent fishing. Learn about one of the city's most famous residents, NASCAR superstar Mark Martin, at the Mark Martin Museum.  If you can tolerate the heat, rally on for the Summer Slam Street Stock Sizzler at the Batesville Motor Speedway July 24th and 25th.  Learn all about north central Arkansas at the Old Independence Regional Museum, enjoy a siesta at Elizabeth's downtown, and have fun at one of the state's last Putt Putt Golf Courses (and for quilters, a stop at Marshall Dry Goods is a must).

Watermelon relays at the Cave City Watermelon Festival.
Pair the visit with a drive up to nearby Cave City, which celebrates its Watermelon Festival August 7-9 in Cave City City Park.  Even if you're not up for the amazing and free watermelon feast on the 8th, you can still pick up one of the sweetest watermelons in the world at one of several stands along US Highway 167.

Dive into cool water and hot dishes in Lake Village. Spend a few days on the largest oxbow lake in North America at Lake Chicot State Park.  The lake's well known for fishing and swimming both.  Wake up each morning with a Bean Boy omelet at JJ's Cafe, grab some of those well-known
One of Rhoda's famous hot tamales.
tamales at Rhoda's Famous Hot Tamales and Pies on St. Mary's Street, and close the evening out with steak and Chip and Dip at The Cowpen south of town.

In the heat of the day, take a tour of Lakeport Plantation (yes, it's air conditioned!) and take in art at the (also air conditioned) Guachoya Art Center. Of course, you should also shop at Paul Michael's.

An exhibit at the World War II Japanese American Internment
Museum in McGehee.
Double your fun with an extended stay and take in the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee... and a visit to the Rohwer Relocation Center National Memorial nearby. And you can't stop in McGehee without a visit to Hoots BBQ.

If the heat doesn't bother you, consider a
trip around the River Trail, including a
ride or walk across the Clinton Bridge.
Spend days or a week in downtown Little Rock. Even if you live in Arkansas's capitol city, you may not know about all the really interesting things you can do in the air conditioning.  Book a room at one of the city's downtown hotel and hop a trolley to hit so many great museums.  Start with the Heifer Village at Heifer International's World Headquarters.  Head on to the Clinton Presidential Museum, where you can learn all about the 42nd President of the United State's term in office, discover all sorts of cool things about the 1990s and visit a replica of the Oval Office.  Grab the Clinton Museum cart and head to the gift shop for souvenirs, then tuck into the Arkansas Museum of Discovery, where
The Arkansas Museum of Discovery, or AMOD.
you can stay and play all day while learning about tornadoes, crazy facts and the human body and maybe meet a celebrity.  Down the street, you'll find the Old Statehouse Museum, one of the coolest (yes, the temperature is quite cold) free museums in the state, documenting much of Arkansas's history.  Three blocks
There's a great exhibit dedicated to Arkansas-filmed movies
and TV shows on the second floor of the Old Statehouse Museum.
away, there's the Historic Arkansas Museum, which offers tours of several very old buildings, including that of the state's first restaurant, the Hinderliter Grog Shop.  You may also find showings of documentaries or old movies at the Ron Robinson Theater, pick up fresh fruits and vegetables at the Little Rock Farmers Market or enjoy a steamy walk through the Bill Clark Presidential Wetlands.

Bagels at Andina's Cafe.
This eight block area also has some of the most varied dining in the city, including 42 (the cafe at the Clinton Presidential Center), Flying Fish, Damgoode Pies, Cache, One Eleven at the Capital, Capital Bar and Grill, Copper Grill, Brown Sugar Bakeshop, Andina's Cafe, Dugan's Pub, Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro and much more.  Don't miss a visit to River Market Books and Gifts for great book deals, too -- and if you really can't make up your mind, drop in at the Little Rock Oppenheimer Market Hall for all sorts of good things to eat and drink.

Best of all, even if you don't manage to fit any of these trips into your summer, they're still all there and waiting for you this fall.  Need more suggestions?  Email me at or drop me a note on Twitter @TieDyeTravels. Have a great vacation!

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