When we plan our vacation, we have to remember that children aren’t enthused about old battlefields, touring ships or looking at scenery. Kids need something to do and the faster the better. Or the wetter the better. Family friendly places to visit in Arkansas can promise all that, and more. From Civil War battlefields to Native American burial mounds, and from water parks to amusement parks, the whole family will find wondrous things to see and do.
The Ozark Mountains host some of the most stunning lakes and hiking paths. Woolly Hollow State Park, near Greenbrier, boasts Woolly Cabin, which was the home of the first settlers. It also includes swimming, boating, fishing and camping around 40 acres of Lake Bennett. Canoes, kayaks, pedal boats and fishing boats make this vacation beautiful.
Devil’s Den State Park, near West Fork, is in the Lee Creek Valley, which is also in the Ozarks. The mountains are ancient and were preserved in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Ancient materials were used to form the structures and the dam in Lee Creek that forms Lake Devil. Hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking are among some of the activities available in this breath-taking park. Water bikes can be rented here, as well as kayaks, canoes and pedal boats. When you’re tired of mountain biking, go water biking.
Now that you’ve seen the mountains, why not see what’s inside them? Before you leave the Ozarks, drop in at Harrison, Arkansas to tour Mystic Caverns and Crystal Dome Caverns. Crystal Dome Cavern was found in the 1960s. Both caverns have interesting history as well as some amazing formations. Wear non-slip shoes, though, because the stone floor of the caverns can get wet.
Imagine the stories the kids can take back to school after they see the elephant sanctuary. In Greenbrier is the Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, in which elephants they describe as genetically different are studied for their habits and genetic makeup. This sanctuary provides a home for all elephants and teaches proper elephant maintenance.
In Hot Springs, parents will get a chance to show the kids the other end of the spectrum at the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. The parents will have some funny stories of the kids’ faces as the actually pet an alligator, a pygmy goat or any of the other animals from around the world.
Before you leave Hot Springs with it’s guaranteed bored-kid National Park Aquarium, Crystal Falls Water Park, and Mid-America Science Museum, ask the kids if they’d like to see Tiny Town or Itty Bitty City, two places where (Jeffrey should excuse the expression) a kid can be a kid.
Just one more attraction before Mom and Dad can visit the Civil War battlefield and the archaeological digs. The children will love North Little Rock, Arkansas and have their friends green with envy when they tell about Wild River Country and Jump Zone. Wild River Country is about water, with every kind of ride a kid could love including a wave pool, tad pool and toddler pool. Jump Zone is about air, so the children can jump on all sorts of inflatable goodies and let off some summer steam.
In Scott, Arkansas, near Little Rock, it’s Mom and Dad’s turn to see Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park. The Indian mounds there are prehistoric, dating from 600 A.D. to 1050 A.D. This park serves as both an archaeological studying site as well as a state park. Then it’s off to Pea Ridge, the Civil War battlefield in Garfield, to see the film and tour this still intact site.