Located northeast of Little Rock on Route 167, Searcy is the county seat of Arkansas’ White County.
Though it was originally called Sulphur Springs, the town’s name became Searcy in the late 1830s, just a few years after the creation of the county in which it now resides.
Due to its relative remoteness, Searcy and the surrounding countryside are home to some of the area’s most popular rivers, lakes, mountains, and forests, which are magnets for sportsmen, bird-watchers and nature lovers of all kinds.
In addition, because of its proximity to Little Rock, guests visiting Searcy will have the opportunity to take advantage of the city’s art, historic and cultural sites, which are less than an hour away.
1. Pioneer Village
To get familiar with a new area you’re visiting, it helps to know its history. For those visiting Searcy, there’s no better place to peek into its historic past than Pioneer Village.
Pioneer Village is part museum, part old homestead, and has been designed to give visitors a fascinating insight into the lives of the brave and tough families who explored and settled in the area more than a century ago.
It’s free to visit, and in addition to its cool displays, exhibits, and artifacts, you’ll find many unique local products for sale, like honey, blankets, and other arts and crafts.
2. Harding University
Unlike a lot of college campuses across the country, visiting the campus of Harding University won’t risk exposing your young ones to drunk coeds hanging from dorm windows or streaking across the campus without clothes.
That’s because it’s a Christian University, and previous visitors have commented on how friendly everyone is.
All kidding aside, college campuses are great places to visit. They usually have well-manicured grounds, charming treed areas, and lots of paved paths – and often host lots of interesting events and workshops for free.
The university is on East Market Avenue, so stop by and take a look.
3. Searcy Art Gallery
For budding artists, art lovers, or those who have trouble finding the motivation and inspiration to create their own masterpieces, a visit to the Searcy Art Gallery would be a wise way to spend an hour or two.
The gallery is located in a historic house, and exhibits change frequently, so you never know what you’ll see.
If you happen to show up when the museum is between exhibitions or isn’t open, tours of the house are offered and are well worth it; visitors will gain an interesting insight into the area’s history.
The gallery is located on East Race Avenue, and it’s best to check their website before you go, to see what’ll be on display.
4. Tailwater Fishing Company
If you’re a diehard fisherman, there’s no better way to spend a day in a new area than exploring the outdoors and fishing some beautiful stretches of water that you’ve never seen.
Arkansas’ Little Red River is one of the region’s premier trout rivers; if you’d like a guided fishing tour, Tailwater Fishing Company is the place to go.
They’ll provide all the guidance and equipment you need to wet a line and hopefully land a few fish, but remember, you’ll need a fishing license, whether you’re an Arkansas native or not.
Their headquarters is on West Center Avenue in Searcy.
5. Hourglass Escape Rooms
No matter where you go in remote and rural America, it seems you’re never far from an escape room.
If you’re not familiar with that term, then consider spending a few hours at Hourglass Escape Rooms to get up to speed.
Escape rooms are favorite new recreational activities that work the brain, create a sense of suspense, and foster lots of friendly competition and team-building skills.
The idea is to decipher clues and find items hidden around the room, which will hopefully lead to your team escaping before your competitors, or avoid being devoured by hungry zombies.
6. Harding University Theatre
Before heading out to the campus of Harding University, check online to see if the university theatre has something on their schedule that might interest you and your travel companions.
From plays and music to lectures, the theatre hosts a wide variety of events; they’re mainly known for their fall, spring, and Easter variety shows, which are typically held in the Benson Auditorium.
They also offer a fair number of productions that are specifically tailored to children, but remember, it’s a Christian University, so no matter what you see, it’s sure to be family friendly.
There’s also a dinner theatre during the summer months.
7. Old Hippy Antiques
They say that old hippies never die, they just fade slowly, like tie-dye t-shirts that have been laundered too frequently.
Who knows whether that adage is true or not, but if you’re visiting Searcy and would like to check out some pre-owned treasures, a trip to Old Hippy Antiques would be a great stop.
Like many antique shops, the real deals are usually found by those with patience and a careful eye. With friendly and knowledgeable staff that’ll point you in the right direction and answer your questions, you may just find that one of a kind item you’ve been looking for.
8. Rialto Theater
Conveniently located in downtown Searcy near the intersection of Race and Spring Streets, The Rialto Theater is a historical nod to the art-deco movement that swept the country in the early 20th century.
The historic theater was built in the ‘20s and has been lovingly refurbished and restored numerous times since then; it’s the best example of period architecture of its kind in the region.
Though the architecture isn’t contemporary, it somehow never goes out of style, and you can still expect to see modern shows inside.
Look for the iconic neon marquee out front; it’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
9. Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery
During the Civil War years, Arkansas and neighboring Missouri were considered vital states in the fight between Union and Confederate forces.
Troops frequently occupied Arkansas from both sides; not surprisingly, there were a number of battles that took place as well.
Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery in nearby Cabot is the final resting place for nearly 1,500 Confederate troops who died nearby. For Civil War buffs and amateur historians, it’s a place that really shouldn’t be missed.
Sitting on a beautiful section of treed ground, it is free to visit. Though it’s difficult to read the markings on many of the graves, it’s still fun to meander through them.
10. Greers Ferry Lake
Resting in the foothills of Arkansas’ majestic Ozark Mountains, Greers Ferry Lake is comprised of nearly 40,000 acres of water that’s home to an abundance of wildlife and some of the region’s most picturesque scenery.
The lake was formed in the ‘60s when the Greers Ferry Dam was completed at the whopping cost of nearly $50 million.
The land around the lake is full of bluffs and dramatic rocky outcrops, many of which are reachable by hiking and climbing; they’re great places to snap a few photos and take in the unobstructed views.
Swimming, camping, fishing, and boating are a few of the lake’s most popular activities.
11. Sandy Beach
Located in nearby Heber Springs, Sandy Beach is one of the region’s longest stretches of lakefront beach and is quite a popular hangout in the summer months.
Though the park can be crowded at peak times, visitors have commented on how clean and orderly everything was.
Visiting during the week is the perfect way to beat the crowds. The park is full of hiking trails and forested areas that are great places for a morning or afternoon walk.
Sandy Beach is on the eastern shore of Greers Ferry Lake near the town. For those who don’t mind hoofing it a bit, there are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby that are easy to get to on foot.
12. Joyland Skating Center
During the dog days of summer and the middle of winter, the weather around Searcy can be rather unpleasant. Finding fun indoor activities becomes important, especially for travelers with kids.
Joyland Skating Center on South Second Street in Cabot is just such a place.
It’s the area’s only roller skating rink, and the facilities offer all the amenities you’d expect. Regardless of your shoe size, they’ll have a pair of rental skates that’ll fit.
They’ve got a great sound system and concession stand, and it’s a popular place for birthday parties and other special events as well.
13. Cabot City Park
City Parks are great places to get away from the crowds, enjoy the outdoors, and do it all with a minimum outlay of that precious vacation cash.
The Cabot City Park is located on Richie Road and gives visitors access to a wide array of facilities and activities that are intended to give users a good workout.
The community center includes swimming pools, a tennis court and a track for walking.
Like a lot of parks and community centers, they often offer instructional and educational classes for children and adults, so check their website to see what’s on the horizon.
14. Splash Zone Water Park
For those travelers with children who happen to find themselves in central Arkansas during the brutally hot and humid summer months, a trip to the Splash Zone Water Park in Jacksonville would be a great way to beat the heat for a few morning or afternoon hours.
The park includes all the features you’d expect, like slides, sprinklers, and dump-buckets. For the parents that would rather view all the fun and frolicking from afar, there are plenty of umbrella-covered lounge chairs close by.
It can get crowded during peak times, so if you’d rather visit when it isn’t so busy, consider a weekday instead.
Considering all that’s included, admission is very reasonable.
15. Jacksonville Museum of Military History
Jacksonville is just a short drive from Searcy, and its Museum of Military History is a fun and educational place to check out.
Sporting an impressive collection of exhibits, displays, and equipment, it even includes a real helicopter and an F-105 Thunderchief, which was a Vietnam-era fighter-bomber capable of reaching nearly 1,500 miles per hour at high altitude.
The museum includes material that covers all the wars and conflicts the United States was involved in from the Civil War up to Afghanistan and Iraq.
There’s also an interesting section on a Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile mishap that happened in the ‘60s and killed more than 50 people.