Being the state capital, Little Rock is a moderate-sized town of about 200,000 people. Located in Pulaski County in the middle of Arkansas, Little Rock has quite a bit for everyone to do no matter what you are into. The family will love the museums such as the Museum of Discovery, which gives you hands-on experience with technology, history, and science. The lady of the house will enjoy the ESSE Purse Museum that shows the history of handbags. The kids will love the animals and other fun at the Little Rock Zoo. The city is also full of eclectic shops, eateries, and theaters to enjoy.
If you are a nature lover, they don’t call Arkansas the natural state for nothing. Little Rock has over two dozen parks including the Pinnacle Mountain State Park, which has over 2,300 acres of wild space with the Pinnacle Mountain right in the middle. Start with a hike on one of the many trails in the park such as the 0.5-mile Kingfisher Trail or the two-mile Rocky Valley Trail. Then cool off in one of the two large rivers running through the park where you can take a float trip, fish for some lunch, or cool off in the water. Be sure to bring some sunscreen.
Approximately an hour to the northwest on I-40, the Ozark National Forest has over 1.2 million acres to enjoy. You may not be able to do it all in one day, but you can do a lot. If your road trip is in the summer, prepare for some swimming and boating at any of the 11 recreation areas in the forest. Blanchard Springs near Mountain View even has a waterfall and the Blanchard Springs Caverns to explore. And Cove Lake near Mount Magazine has a 160-acre lake in the Paris area.
You can also choose from dozens of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, or ATVing. These trails are also perfect for the wintertime if you want to do some snowshoeing. Some trails may be available for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling as well. In the fall, check out the vibrant colors of the autumn leaves before they hit the ground. This is the perfect time to plan a picnic at one of the many parks in the Ozark National Forest before heading to Branson.
Known all over the country for its shows and parks, the City of Branson in southwestern Missouri is just an hour up US-65. There is so much to do in this Ozark town, most people choose to stay for a whole weekend. But since you only have a few hours, make yourself an itinerary and stick to it. If you are into comedy, check out Buckets N Boards Percussion Show, Yakov Comedy Show, or the Pierce Arrow Show. Looking for something different? The Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai Show is a top pick. For some animal adventures, enjoy the animal tricks at the Amazing Pets Show or the astounding Dolly Parton’s Stampede where you can see an animal show with horses, dogs, and even ostriches while you eat a delicious meal.
If you are into outdoor fun, visit one of the parks on Table Rock Lake such as the Table Rock State Park, a 356-acre recreational area with biking, hiking, and tons of water fun on the lake. The Shepherd of the Hills has a plethora of fun things to do such as ziplining, ATV adventures, and live shows. They even have a special section for the little kiddos with mini-golf, a petting zoo, treehouses, an obstacle course, and more. Branson also has dozens of restaurants, boat rides, and several golf resorts.
You are about two hours from your final stop of Joplin in southwestern Missouri. This city in the Ozark Mountains is a beautiful and historic place incorporated in 1873. If you need a place to camp while you are in town, make reservations at Joplin KOA, which has over 60 campsites for rigs up to 80 feet long. They also have full utilities, showers, a pool, fishing, and even a dog walking area for your furbabies to enjoy.
Joplin also has several museums like the Joplin Mining and Historic Museum, Superman Museum, and the Battle of Carthage Civil War Museum. And the kids will love the Lazer Force laser tag park and the Escape Joplin escape rooms. With about two dozen parks in Joplin, you and the family will surely be able to find one that is just perfect for you. From the tiny and secluded Leonard Park with a playground to the larger Devils Den State Park, there is something for everyone in Joplin.