Return to a Natural State, Arkansas
Inviting, centrally located and temperate year-round, Arkansas has been bringing groups and families together for generations. The stunning Ozark and Delta landscapes are home to endless acres of state parks to explore, galleries to browse and fine Southern cooking to taste. All combine to make an Arkansas reunion one you and your group will always remember.
A day’s drive from anywhere in the central United States, Arkansas is served by Interstates 30, 40 and 49. These roads will bring you to the state’s largest cities (Little Rock, Fayetteville and Fort Smith) and pass by many of the area’s natural wonders. For those farther away or who prefer to fly, Little Rock’s Bill and Hillary Clinton International Airport receives daily flights from both coasts and everywhere in between. Shuttle service to local hotels is provided, eliminating squirmier group members who might not love a rental car.
If your group is staying in Little Rock, a trip on a trolley to the River Market District is in order. An old market neighborhood revitalized and expanded with restaurants and concert venues, this strip of development along President Clinton Avenue should have something for everyone in your party. Grab a bite from a vendor in the market building, take the walk along the mighty Arkansas River, or catch a concert at First Security Amphitheatre.
The thrills of the big city aren’t for everyone. For groups more interested in unplugging and exploring the state’s natural beauty, there’s nowhere better than Bayou Bartholomew in the southern half of the state. The longest bayou in the world, it can be traveled on craft suitable for any interest or ability level, from kayaks to speedboats. Campsites and cabins are located along the route, so group members can relax for a day or go out on another adventure when the mood strikes, and a temperate Southern climate assures that the water is comfortable most of the year.
The Natural State got its name from the abundant state and national parks in all of its regions. Standouts include Buffalo National River, which is known for its massive limestone bluffs and cabins perfect for large groups, and Ozark National Forest, home of hiking trails and ancient caverns to explore. Fans of waterfalls and rapids will be thrilled with the Ouachita National Forest. Trails follow the Little Missouri River and bring visitors to the picturesque Little Missouri Falls.
Mount Magazine is the premier state park in Arkansas, with a variety of accommodations for large groups. The Lodge overlooks the Petit Jean River Valley from the highest point in the state, with guest rooms and excellent restaurants for groups on any budget. For a more rustic atmosphere, try the cabins that stretch along the mountain’s southern bluff. The park has acres of rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking for adventurous parties and has numerous picnic benches and pavilions for day trips.
At Mount Nebo State Park, your group can set up tents in any of the park’s 34 campsites, or go more upscale in one of the fully equipped cabins. Rising over 1,300 feet, Mount Nebo offers far-reaching views of the Arkansas River Valley and has miles of trails to explore.
Not every reunion is about wall-to-wall activities; some groups just want to relax. If that’s the case, Hot Springs features world-renowned spas to relieve your aching body (and mind from all your planning). Bathhouse Row, a collection of eight spas built between 1911 and 1923, features museums and guided tours of elegant baths and springs that relaxed the rich and poor alike for decades. You can try one for yourself at Buckstaff Bathhouse, in business since 1912, and take a dip in therapeutic waters pumped in directly from Hot Springs National Park just outside of town.
Straddling the line between the culinary traditions of the Deep South and Gulf region, Arkansas is the perfect location to introduce your group to both authentic barbecue and seafood. One only has to walk a block in any city to find a premium barbecue joint, with ribs, chicken and wings slathered in the state’s traditional sauce of red peppers and tomato paste. Invite your group out for a barbecue with music and entertainment for all ages and see your reunion reach the next level before your eyes. For seafood-lovers, Arkansas also offers premium catfish fresh from the area’s many lakes and rivers. Try some beer battered with traditional sides like fries or hush puppies, or try bolder accoutrements that reflect the state’s growing gourmet scene, like sweet vinegar-soaked red onions.
Regardless of the size of your group, Arkansas Tourism is here to help make your trip unforgettable. Arkansas Tourism is happy to provide referrals for local service providers, itinerary planning assistance, photos and videos, parking instructions and much more.