Hanging Out in Arkansas - Full-Time RV Life
Let's take a little tour!
Other than our home base of Colorado, where we have lots of roots, family and friends, we have officially spent the most time as full-timers in the beautiful state of Arkansas. It's a place that was never on our radar and, frankly, I had misconceptions about it. Arkansas is a beautiful state, with some rough spots, like any other state. If you appreciate natural beauty, rolling hills with scenic views, a variety of culture, and both rural and larger city experiences plus plenty of recreational opportunities, we highly recommend the Ozarks and Northern Arkansas.
Our base of operations has been in a tiny little town called Oak Grove. Actually, the resort where we purchased an RV lot is about 8 miles from Oak Grove perfectly situated on Table Rock Lake. Another small town, Blue Eye, which is a little closer to us than Oak Grove, straddles the state line between Arkansas and Missouri. I've heard that some people's property in Blue Eye is also located in both states. Fun facts! Nearby is the incredibly beautiful Dogwood Park.
This area in Northern Arkansas is about 25 miles from Branson, MO, which is our go-to for most shopping. If you haven't been, Branson is definitely a must for at least one visit and is very family-friendly. Since we are here in late fall and winter, we've missed most of the touristy things..however, they are kicking back up again soon and we'll get some in before we head down the road. The historic downtown is definitely worth a stroll. Come hungry because there are lots of fun goodies to try along the way. Be sure to wear good walking shoes... "it's hilly" is an understatement. The scenic train ride is on our list and we plan to hop on the free trolley and take it for a spin around town. Table Rock State Park is a must! We found a cute little coffee shop/wine bar called Vintage Paris on the road to the State Park that has a great, eclectic atmosphere, tasty treats, and a fabulous selection of wines and coffee drinks. Table Rock Lake provides great walking paths and miles of hiking trails, along with typical campground and marina-type experiences.
Here are some of our favorite and interesting finds in the Branson/Hollister area so far:
Green Forest is a sleepy, older Arkansas town that has a lot of character and could use a boost. We didn't find a lot there for tourists, but have stopped in for groceries and the hardware store. It seems like there could be lots of stories found there if one were to dig a little deeper.
Berryville is an alternate to Branson for grocery and other shopping. It seems to be a vibrant and growing town with lots of new businesses alongside the old.
Kimberling City, Mo. is north of us on the other end of Table Rock Lake. It's a great place to grab a bite to eat overlooking the water. We found ourselves at Castaways for a nice pub meal.
Eureka Springs is one of our favorite finds. We first found this fun and funky town when looking for something to do around Halloween. So naturally, the Zombie Crawl seemed the perfect fit! It was a once in a lifetime experience for sure. Thousands of people lined all of downtown, in the rain, for several hours, to witness this annual event. We have since returned to Eureka Springs several times for nature hikes, rambling walks through downtown and the iconic Thorncrown Chapel.
Not so Nearby:
Bentonville, the home of Walmart, along with Springdale, Rogers and Fayetteville, create an unexpected metropolitan mecca in Northwest Arkansas. I have been making trips over for medical appointments, so haven't explored as much as I'd like, but if I need a serious city fix, I now know where to go! The drive over Highway 86 in Missouri is stunning and runs right through several wilderness areas, including Roaring River State Park. An alternate route, also stunning is to go through Eureka Springs and Hobbs State Park Wilderness area. Hobbs is a fantastic place to stop for a hike - from easy to difficult, take your pick!
Little Rock- what can I say. It's a city. The downtown area has some fun and quirky shops and restaurants. We loved the Nexus Coffee Shop , Gus's Fried Chicken and the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden. It also has Costco, Trader Joe's and Aldi, so that's a win in my book!
Hot Springs is so interesting. Tons of history with the old bathhouses and mobster ties. An enormous abandoned sanitarium looms over the downtown area and its presence is palpable. A walking tour downtown is well worth the effort and you'll find springs bubbling up in the park along the way. On the outskirts of town is the horse track and casino which provide entertainment for many, including major live concerts and regional bands. We have been told that the botanical gardens are stunning in the spring.... perhaps we will see!
We spent some time touring south of Little Rock, mainly around the Pine Bluff area. There are some beautiful and interesting spots to explore including the Toltec Mounds, the Arkansas River, River Bottom Winery, and so many more that we didn't get to.
All in all, we found we much prefer the hilly country of the Ozarks to the southern parts of Arkansas that we have visited. It might have something to do with being spoiled by 25+ years in the Rocky Mountains. Driving here can feel a bit frightening at first, as there are so many curvy, windy and hilly rounds EVERYWHERE. It's a motorcyclist's heaven! The payoff is incredible views at almost every turn.
We will be spending much more time here in the Ozarks! Let us know if you've been or if you decide to visit. We'd love to hear about your experiences too!
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