Located midway between Little Rock and Texarkana on Interstate 30, the small town of Arkadelphia is ideally located to give visitors convenient access to some of the state’s most visited natural, historical and recreational areas.
With a population of slightly more than 10,000, the town is home to two universities, which offer a variety of activities on campus that are definitely worth checking out.
The world-famous Hot Springs and Ouachita Mountains are nearby as well, though you’ll need to spend moderate amounts of time in the car to reach them.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Arkadelphia.
1. Donald W. Reynolds Science Center and Planetarium
The cosmos and deep space are often overlooked parts of our natural world that are full of amazing wonders, many of which can only be seen through telescopes or in a planetarium.
Located on the campus of Henderson State University, the Donald W. Reynolds Science Center and Planetarium gives guests comfortable seats, air conditioning, and relaxing music – all blended with a guided tour of the galaxy and beyond.
Admission is inexpensive, and the downtown location is easy to get to. It’s especially loved by kids, so consider taking them on a once in a lifetime trip through the galaxy and beyond.
2. DeSoto Bluff Trail
Offering the most unobstructed vistas of Arkadelphia to be found anywhere, DeSoto Bluff Trail looms hundreds of feet above the town and is a favorite with hikers and amateur photographers looking to enjoy the outdoors and take in the view.
The trailhead is located on North 10th Street in town, and though the overlook is easy to get to, there have been a few careless hikers who’ve gone over the edge in the past, so be careful.
It’s a long way down; in addition to the town, you’ll be able to see the nearby river and an old iron train bridge that’s been around for a while.
3. Clark County Historical Museum
Local museums in small-town USA are often in pretty shabby condition and light on meaningful exhibits, but the Clark County Historical Museum on South 5th Street in Arkadelphia is the exception to the rule.
It hasn’t been around for ages, which means the building isn’t run down. For traveling history buffs, it’s one of those places that shouldn’t be passed up.
You’ll learn more about Clark County history than you’d ever dreamed possible, and admission is free, though donations are accepted and appreciated.
According to their website, they’re only open from Wednesday until Saturday, so plan ahead to make sure you won’t miss out.
4. DeGray Lake Resort State Park
Comprised of nearly 14,000 acres of recreational water, DeGray Lake Resort State Park is in the scenic and majestic Ouachita Mountains.
The lake is a mecca for fishermen, boaters, swimmers and nature lovers of all stripes. It includes more than 100 campsites for those who’d like to spend a night or two under the stars.
As the name implies, it’s a resort in addition to a state park, so golf, tennis, cycling and boat rentals are available too.
There are plenty of accommodation options ranging from yurt rentals to more traditional and upscale lodging for those who’d like to be pampered.
5. Carpenter-Haygood Stadium
Located on M.H. Russell Road in Arkadelphia, the Carpenter-Haygood Stadium hosts local high school football games during the season, and other sports and events throughout the rest of the year.
Some of the big rivalry games can cause quite a stir locally, and the seating can be scarce too, though it’s usually not a problem.
Make sure to bring cash for admissions, food and drinks at the concession stands, and dress warmly – especially during winter and fall football season, as the stadium is prone to stiff winds that can make it feel a lot colder than it really is.
6. Arkadelphia Arts Center
The Arkadelphia Arts Center is located on Main Street downtown. In addition to providing the facilities for a number of local arts organizations, it also offers a variety of instructional and educational activities.
It’s the county’s premier destination for all things related to the arts. Throughout the year, they host many different arts and crafts shows, which primarily feature items created locally.
It’s a great resource for artists looking for inspiration or helpful tips to master a technique that they find particularly tricky. The best way to keep abreast of what’s going on is to check their website periodically.
7. Grant County Museum
Sheridan is just down the road from Arkadelphia and is home to the Grant County Museum, which has an impressive collection of exhibits and artifacts for a small town.
Many of the items on display are related to automobiles, military history and the unique plants and animals that live locally.
The museum is housed in a historic building with impressive architecture; there is a historical schoolhouse, Victorian-era home, church and log cabin nearby as well.
It’s located on Shackleford Road and you’ll probably want to spend an hour or so checking out the buildings and the downtown area.
8. B-17 Memorial Park
The B-17 Flying Fortress was a long-range heavy bomber used by the United States during World War II, and there’s a memorial built to this aging warbird in nearby Sheridan Arkansas.
There’s a full-size replica on display, and no detail has been spared recreating this once lethal flying machine.
The memorial also pays tribute to the scores of men who died in the air war over Europe.
It’s a place of historical significance and quiet contemplation. Though it’s a bit off the beaten path, stopping to take a look will be time well spent, especially for amateur war and history buffs.
9. Battle of Jenkins Ferry Memorial
Due to its strategic location between western states – like Missouri – that had split loyalties, the area around Sheridan and Arkadelphia saw their fair share of battles during the Civil War.
The Battle of Jenkins Ferry was one such battle that’s not too well known outside the area, but it’s an interesting piece of American and Arkansas history that you may find intriguing.
The battlefield can turn into a swamp during rainy stretches, so consider wearing waterproof footwear if you go during the spring.
The memorial includes informative plaques that highlight the battle’s key points and key officers who were controlling the opposing infantry forces.
10. Lake Catherine State Park
Located just off Catherine Park Road in Hot Springs, Lake Catherine State Park is one of the area’s most tranquil settings that’s usually not too crowded.
If you’d like to escape Hot Springs and spend a night or two in nature, there are quaint cabins available to rent inexpensively.
One of the park’s most enjoyed features is the waterfall that lies at the end of a moderately challenging and relatively short trail.
If your trip coincides with a rainy stretch, watch your step on the way to the falls; the trail and rocks nearby can get slick and treacherous.
11. Adventureworks Hot Springs
If you’ve never tried it, zip-lining is an exhilarating activity that’s relatively inexpensive. In addition to giving you an amazing rush, it also offers bird’s eye views of the surrounding landscape that you won’t find elsewhere.
Adventureworks in Hot Springs includes a dozen different lines of varying heights, so finding one for nearly every one of your travel partners shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re a total rookie, you’ll get all the safety tips and equipment you’ll need to have a safe and fun experience.
There’s also an elevated observation deck attached to a sky bridge that’s great for pictures.
12. Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs is just an easy drive west from Arkadelphia. In addition to being an interesting town from a historical perspective, it’s also home to some fantastic therapeutic natural hot springs that are thought to possess curative powers.
Consider taking a self-guided tour of Hot Springs Row before entering the park; it’ll give you an in-depth overview of the town’s past that included lots of interesting figures, like gangsters on the run and crooked politicians spending their ill-gotten gains.
The national park is probably unlike any other you’ve visited; there’s even a microbrewery and small-batch distillery onsite.
13. Thai-Me Spa
Thai-Me Spa on Hot Springs’ Central Avenue provides visitors with a calm and comfortable atmosphere that’s perfect for those with stiff joints and sore muscles. For the ultimate experience in luxury, consider booking a massage before you head to the hot springs.
The Thai décor, music, and aromas will make you feel like you’re in the Orient. They offer a wide array of massages and treatments, so take a few minutes to browse their offerings before deciding on which you think is best for you.
There are even massages for kids, and they offer waxing, anti-aging, and skin cleansing services as well.
14. Kringles in the Park
Also located on Central Avenue in historic downtown Hot Springs, Kringles in the Park is the state’s only year-round Christmas shop. Since it’s never too early to start looking ahead to next Christmas, it’s one of those places that’s worth a visit on your trip.
Even if it’s the heart of summer and the heat and humidity are making you wilt, a blast of air-conditioning and pumpkin spice scent will get you in the spirit. It’s a great place to pick up a few gifts or stocking stuffers to stash away until December.
Plan on spending an hour or so to get the full effect.
15. Garvan Woodland Gardens
Spread over more than 200 acres and managed by the University of Arkansas, the Garvan Woodland Gardens includes eight distinct garden areas, many of which are considered the best of their kind in the country.
The Asian garden is a perennial favorite, and there are more than five miles of well-marked trails on the grounds leading guests to different viewing areas marked with informative plaques that will let you know about the beautiful things you’re seeing.
The gardens are next to a lake, and there’s a truly unique glass-walled chapel nearby that’s worth a look too.
They’re open seasonally, so check online for their schedule before making a special trip.