The town of Morrilton is located in Arkansas’ Conway County a little more than 50 miles to the northwest of the state capital of Little Rock.
The town has a population of about 6,000 and was originally little more than a trading post in what was then the Arkansas Territory.
As far back as the 1820s, the small settlement on the banks of the Arkansas River was a supply depot that facilitated river transportation. It wasn’t until 50 years later that a regional railroad built a line through the city which aided its development greatly.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Morrilton.
1. Museum of Automobiles
Located on Jones Lane in Morrilton, the Museum of Automobiles is modest in size but contains a surprising variety of old automobiles and trucks from past decades.
Previous guests have noted that they’ve been refurbished nicely and that the museum is very well done and cared for.
Each exhibit includes an interesting historical description describing what it is you’re seeing; many of them have been written by history majors from the local university.
A few favorite exhibits are an authentic DeLorean from the ‘80s and cars that were owned by Elvis and President John F. Kennedy.
An hour is all you’ll need to see everything on display.
2. Petit Jean State Park
Since the early ‘20s, Petit Jean State Park has been a favorite destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, and it’s still one of the state’s most popular natural attractions.
Covering nearly 3,500 acres, it’s managed by the state’s Parks and Tourism Department and is nestled in the region between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, making it a picturesque locale year-round.
A few of the park’s main attractions include Cedar Falls, The Petit Jean Mountain overlook area, and the gravesite of the young French woman after whom the park is named. It’s a fascinating story and a unique bit of Arkansas lore.
3. Movie House Winery
Named after a historic movie house that was built onsite in the ‘30s, the Movie House Winery is now a vineyard, winery, and tasting room that’s open to guided tours.
Located on Sandtown Road in Morrilton, it has been in business for nearly a decade and has been producing some of the region’s most tasty and popular wine ever since.
The beautiful rural facilities are available for special events. In addition to tours and tastings, they also offer a large selection of their wines at their gift shop – as well as home wine and beer-making accessories.
Check out their website for their seasonal tour hours and directions.
4. Mount Nebo State Park
For those rugged travelers looking to spend a night or two in the wild, Mount Nebo State Park in Dardanelle would be a great fit.
Unlike most state parks which offer campsites only, Mount Nebo State Park boasts lakeside cabins as well.
Some of them even include fancy amenities like hot tubs, fireplaces, and decks overlooking the lake.
The park is a favorite for bird-watchers, fishermen, and wildlife photographers; it’s not uncommon to see deer, raccoons, and a variety of bird species from your cabin windows.
There are plenty of nearby trails and a waterfall that’s relatively easy to reach after only a moderately strenuous hike.
5. Cedar Falls Trail
Conveniently located just off Interstate 40 in Morrilton, the Cedar Falls Trail is accessible year-round and is the perfect place to stretch your legs, breath some fresh country air, and snap a few shots of the most beautiful scenery you’re likely to see on your trip.
The trail is located within the Petit Jean State Park, so consider stopping at the visitor center first to get familiarized with the park’s layout.
If you think the hike to the falls is a bit more than you’ve bargained for, it’s also viewable from an easier to reach vista area.
The park and falls are especially beautiful during the fall.
6. Potts Inn Museum
Built in the mid-19th century and located in the town of Pottsville, Arkansas, the Potts Inn Museum was originally the home of a wealthy couple who spared no expense making it one of the most well-appointed homes in the area for its time.
In addition to being their home, the old inn was a favorite place to spend the night for weary travelers on the stagecoach route that ran through town.
Many of the home’s furnishings are original and include housewares, furniture, art, and clothes that belonged to the family.
There are other buildings on site as well that include exhibits on children’s toys and the 19th-century medical profession.
7. Arkansas River Visitor Center
Located on Lock and Dam Road in Russellville, the Arkansas River Visitor Center is a worthwhile place to stop by, especially for visitors who aren’t sure what there is to see and do in the area.
In addition to being full of maps, brochures, and travel magazines that are free, you’ll also get a historical overview of the area, and a thorough insight into how the Arkansas River has played a significant role in the region’s development.
The visitor center is located at the river’s edge. It’s a great place to sit back and watch some of the impressive riverboats and barges doing their daily work.
8. Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge
Originally established in the 1950s, the Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest dedicated sanctuaries for migratory waterfowl in the United States.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of fowl stop in the area to rest and eat before continuing their journey to the warmer southern states.
The refuge is located about ten miles downriver from Dardanelle and is an easy day trip from Morrilton.
Holla Bend is also a hotspot for Bald-Eagle, hawk and owl enthusiasts, and boasts permanent populations of these majestic predatory birds.
Hunting and fishing are allowed but not year-round, so check for open seasons and license and permit requirements before heading out.
9. Little Rock Central High Historic Site
In the late-1950s, Little Rock was under a national magnifying glass as the order came from The White House to desegregate schools.
The city’s Central High School was ground zero for the conflict that followed. It was full of tense moments when the ‘Little Rock Nine’ made their way past the National Guard troops that had been called in to prevent the order from being carried out.
The site is now a national park; it’s best to stop at the visitor’s center first to get a historical overview of this interesting and troubling time in American history.
Free, ranger-led tours are available but must be booked in advance as they often fill up quickly.
10. William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Since 2004, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library has been a favorite stop for visitors interested in learning about the history of the man who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most well-known figures on the national and international political stages.
The library is located on the shores of the Arkansas River, near the University of Arkansas School of Law, where both Bill and Hillary studied and earned their law degrees.
The River Market District in which the library is located in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. It’s full of quaint shops, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that are worth a visit while you’re in the vicinity.
11. Museum Of Discovery
The Museum of Discovery is located on President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock and is an especially good place to visit for those who are traveling with kids.
It’s full of hands-on exhibits and displays that’ll keep children engaged and excited while teaching them about the wonders of the natural world.
Previous guests have commented that they spent two or three hours at the museum with kids no older than ten and they never got bored.
During the summer and winter months, the Arkansas weather can be pretty harsh and uninviting, so consider a trip to the Museum of Discovery to get out of the elements.
12. River Market District
Little Rock’s River Market District is a neighborhood that’s experienced a renaissance in recent years. It’s now full of trendy shops, eateries, galleries, and coffee shops that draw crowds year-round.
From Thai to Mexican and nearly everything in between, finding a place to relax in comfort and enjoy some good food won’t be an issue. During the spring and fall, there’s plenty of live entertainment, especially on weekends.
Many of the vendors are open for the lunch crowd only, so consider a late morning or early afternoon trip if you’d like to have the most options at your disposal.
13. Rock Town Distillery
Little Rock’s Rock Town Distillery has the distinction of being the first distillery to open legally after prohibition was repealed in the early 20th century.
Tours of their facility on Main Street are available nearly every day, giving visitors an interesting look into the distilling process that turns relatively mundane ingredients into wonderfully complex spirits.
Their high-quality products are beginning to get recognized outside the area and include bourbon and vodka, to name a few.
Check out their website for hours of operation and tour schedule, and remember that these can book up quickly, especially on weekends in the summer, so book in advance if possible.
14. Baum Gallery at Uca
Located in Conway, the University of Central Arkansas’ Baum Gallery is one of the region’s most complete collections of contemporary art and includes exhibits from a variety of artists using an array of materials and techniques.
The gallery includes three distinct areas. In addition to their permanent collection, they also host temporary ones as well, many of which are from local and regional artists or on loan from other institutions.
The museum is managed by the university’s art department and is free to visit. Many of the exhibits include historical and biographical components as well, which make them more personalized and engaging.
15. Pickles Gap Village
Pickles Gap Village is a unique slice of Arkansas that shouldn’t be missed for those who find themselves in Conway with an hour or two to spare in their busy schedules.
Pickles Gap Village is part country store, part farmer’s market, and part restaurant. In addition to their namesake pickles, they’re known for their fresh, homemade fudge, pies, honey and apple butter.
Nearly all their products are made locally with fresh ingredients. No matter your taste buds, you’ll likely find something that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth.
Located on Highway 65 just north of town, rumor has it that Pickles Gap got its name from a German immigrant who flipped a wagon load of pickles over while crossing a local creek nearly a century ago.