Arkansas — Shopping and Leisure
While no mecca of high fashion, Arkansas excels in locally made crafts, art, and other fun mementos. Modern shopping malls and big name retailers are common in the state’s largest cities like Little Rock, while the hundreds of small towns typically have a historic downtown core lined with diverse and offbeat independent shops. The arts in Arkansas are fantastic, offering great value for some really nice pieces of craftsmanship.
Souvenirs are a big part of the shopping in Arkansas and often involve local natural resources like gemstones and fruit. From the whetstones of Hot Springs to quartz items found around Mount Ida and iron art hand-forged in the town of Mountain View, there is plenty of diversity. Arkansas black apples sell at roadside stands throughout the Ozarks and an insanely tasty array of jams, molasses, wines, and other treats are common in every town.
There are craftspeople in every region of the state, from the Delta country in the east to the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains. Arkansas quilts are legendary, and it’s not uncommon to find a traditional potter’s shop on the main street of a town like Murfreesboro. There are jewelers and artists everywhere you venture, and crafts festivals where you may be able to barter for your prized purchase sprout up across the state throughout the year.
The wealth of natural hot springs that bubble up underneath Arkansas has made the state a surprising premier spa destination. Where there’s a mineral well, there’s likely a spa. Some are simple soaking pools, while others provide full-service spa treatments and resort facilities. Prices are quite reasonable compared to other popular resort areas in the US.
Such spas are situated are all over the state, though the aptly-named Hot Springs is the hub for a holistic escape. In this busy tourist town, there are historic spas like the Buckstaff Bathhouse and the Spa on Bathhouse Row, to more modern facilities in the Embassy Suites. The Quapaw Baths and Spa is particularly nice in its 1922 Spanish Revival building.
Mount Ida’s Turtle Cove Spa at Mountain Harbor Resort along Lake Ouachita is one of America’s top-ranked destinations. Northwest Arkansas also has spas at Eureka Springs. The town has a dozen or more options, from day spas to resorts. Many are located in quaint, historic buildings like the New Moon Spa, which is housed inside the 1886 Crescent Hotel, or the Serenity Day Spa at the 1905 Basin Park Hotel.