Located between Arkadelphia and Texarkana on Interstate 30, the small town of Hope, Arkansas has been immortalized as the birthplace and home of William Jefferson Clinton, the former president of the United States.
Surrounded by natural beauty and an easy drive from a number of neighboring states, the Hope area is full of outdoor recreation activities. Due to its proximity to larger urban areas, it’s also easy to see lots of historical and cultural attractions when you’re visiting the area.
Below are 14 of the best and most convenient things to do in and around Hope Arkansas.
1. Visitors Information Center
No matter where you find yourself, if you’re new in town and looking for things to do see and do, it’s always a good idea to check out the visitor information center if you can find one.
Located on East Division Street in Hope, the town’s visitor center is also a museum. It’s housed in a historic train station that still sees its fair share of railroad traffic.
The museum includes lots of paraphernalia on the town’s history – especially as it relates to Bill Clinton. Like most visitor’s centers, it’s full of brochures and travel magazines that are yours for the taking.
2. President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home
If you’ve ever heard Bill Clinton referred to as ‘The Man from Hope,’ it’s because he was born in the small town in the southwest corner of Arkansas.
Though he and his wife are controversial figures, to say the least, visiting the president’s boyhood home will give visitors a unique and fascinating glimpse into the humble beginnings of a man who rose to the pinnacle of the national and international political stages.
If you’ve got time, plan on spending an hour or so in the house. You may just leave with a different perspective on the man you thought you knew.
3. Klipsch Museum of Audio History
Though his name isn’t too well known outside certain audio and technology circles, Paul W. Klipsch was one of the founding fathers of the country’s audio revolution that swept the nation in the years immediately after World War II.
The museum is inexpensive to visit and conveniently located on Hempstead Road in Hope.
Many of the museum’s exhibits focus on Mr. Klipsch’s life. The building in which it’s housed was an old telephone exchange facility, on what was once the grounds of the Army’s Southwestern Proving Ground.
It was the site of the company’s first factory and is full of fascinating photos, historical accounts, and equipment.
4. Hempstead Hall
Hope’s Hempstead Hall is a relatively new addition to the town and has become a favorite destination for locals looking to take advantage of all the amenities the facility has to offer.
Sporting a theater with more than 1,500 seats, it’s a regional hotspot for live performances and is available to rent for special occasions as well.
It includes multiple dressing rooms, an impressive industrial kitchen, and an outdoor amphitheater.
Throughout the year, the hall hosts live theatrical performances, concerts, guest speakers and a host of education and instructional courses.
It’s located on South Main Street in downtown Hope.
5. Fair Park
Parks are great places to visit after a day of running around checking out the area’s famous tourist attractions.
Located on South Mockingbird Lane, the park is where the town’s regionally famous Annual Watermelon Festival is held. It includes plenty of walking paths, treed areas and a few ponds that are named after former Arkansas governor and his wife, Mike and Janet Huckabee.
If you’ve got little ones with you, they’ll enjoy feeding the ducks. There are plenty of fish swimming near the lake’s shore too.
The park is an excellent place for a picnic on a cool spring or fall day.
6. Dos Loco Gringos
Nothing quite fills the stomach like a deep-fried burrito and a side of refried beans. If you’re famished after a day of running around, stopping at Dos Loco Gringos for a meal and margarita would be a great way to end the day.
The comfortable, family-friendly restaurant is located on North Hervey Street in Hope, and rumor has it that most of their entrees are big enough for two adults. That means you can take some home with you or share with your significant other.
They’ve got all the dishes you’d expect and a kid’s menu as well.
7. Big Jake’s BBQ
People in the American southeast take their BBQ seriously. There are more than a few different kinds, and nearly everybody has their favorite; Big Jake’s BBQ on West Commerce Street in Hope is one of the town’s most popular restaurants.
Whether you’ve been craving chicken, ribs, or pulled pork, you’ll find it here. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, making it a great place for families.
Considering their portion sizes, the prices are pretty inexpensive. For those with kids or who are watching their waistlines, there’s a junior menu with smaller offerings.
Big Jake’s can get crowded on weekends and during lunch hour.
8. Lake Columbia
If you’re a diehard angler and want to test your luck against the state’s largemouth bass, a day spent on Lake Columbia in Magnolia Arkansas would be unforgettable.
Columbia Lake is relatively shallow and full of submerged vegetation, making it difficult to fish; but it’s also home to some of the area’s biggest bass, many of which tip the scales in the seven to nine-pound range. Those are big bass by any standards.
If you’d like to spend an evening or two onsite, there are plenty of campsites, full RV hookups, and bathrooms.
9. Logoly State Park
In addition to its regular role as a State Park, Logoly State Park in southwest Arkansas has also been designated as an education center; you’ll find lots of educational and instructional activities offered that you won’t find elsewhere.
It’s located near the junction of Road 47 and Highway 79 near the town of McNeil. The park sports a new visitor center which is full of exhibits, displays, and educational resources, many of which were made specifically with children in mind.
The park is full of easily walkable trails. If you’d like a tour with a park ranger, it’s a great way to learn about the area’s flora, fauna, and geology.
10. Magnolia Murals
If you’re passing through Magnolia on your way to or from Hope, consider making a short detour to check out the town’s murals.
They’re large, bold works of art created by talented locals, and depict the lives of townspeople in years past, some milestones in Hollywood moviemaking, and historical events with state and national significance.
The murals are close to one another near downtown. Some of the favorites include tributes to Charlie Chaplain, The Wizard of Oz, and Gone with the Wind.
Magnolia’s quaint downtown is a great place for a leisurely stroll too, so check it out if you’re not rushed for time.
11. Hot Springs
Though it’s a bit of a drive from Hope, if you’ve got the time, a set of wheels, and some aching muscles and bones, a trip to Hot Springs would be a wise way to spend a day.
The town of Hot Springs is full of museums, historical areas, and quaint shops, cafés and eateries; it’s a place you can spend an entire day without getting bored.
If it’s hot spring water therapy you’re after, there are plenty of options available inside Hot Springs National Park. There’s even a small-batch distillery onsite if you’d like to relax with a refreshing cocktail after a good soak.
12. Anthony Chapel
Before you pack up and head back toward Hope, consider swinging over to the Garvan Woodland Gardens just outside town.
The 200-acre botanical gardens are full of winding paths leading guests to professionally cultivated gardens that include both native plants and flowers and those from other parts of the world.
The Anthony Chapel located near the shores of nearby Lake Hamilton is one of the most contemporary and architecturally unique chapels you’re ever likely to see; it’s free to visit with admission to the botanical gardens.
The entrance to the Garvan Woodlands Gardens is on Arkridge Road in Hot Springs, and the chapel is easy to reach on foot.
13. 1894 Gallery
With one of the area’s finest collections of art, the 1894 Gallery includes paintings, carvings, blown glass, pottery, and a host of other art in a variety of mediums.
The gallery is located inside a refurbished building that, for much of its life, was a grocery distribution warehouse. Though that may not sound aesthetically pleasing, it has been turned into a contemporary open-air space that’s perfect for a gallery.
The gallery is located on Olive Street in Texarkana. When you visit, you’ll stand a good chance of running into a few of the artists whose work is on display.
14. Haunted Texarkana Ghost Walk
Texarkana is supposedly one of the most haunted towns in Arkansas. If you’re not overly squeamish or easily spooked, signing up for the Haunted Texarkana Ghost Walk would be a great way to spend a few twilight hours.
Your guide will impress you with his knowledge of sordid local tales that often end in murder or missing persons – and you may be surprised to learn that the stories are true.
Tours begin on Saturday night, and guests meet the guide at the Lindsey Railroad Museum in town.
Consider showing up an hour early for a free tour of the museum.