We were impressed by Little Rock’s craft breweries and the town of Hot Springs exceed our expectations. Visiting in March, the forest was still brown from a long winter but the hikes in Ozark National Forest weren’t comprised by the sepia landscape.
Petit Jean State Park
- Arkansas’ first state park, Petit Jean Park, has more than 2,600 acres to explore. The park’s stone and log buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps as early as 1933 transport visitors back in time. The park offers swimming pools, picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, tennis and basketball courts, an amphitheater, cabins, and hiking trails. The hiking trails map can be found here.
- Take in this view from Palisades Overlook at the intersection of Highway 155 and Highway 154.
- From Red Bluff Drive, pass through Turtle Rocks along the .25 mile trail to Rock House Cave in the Cedar Creek Canyon. The rocks’ design resembles a turtle shell. Over millions of years, water caused oxidation of minerals and created unique crevasses and cracks in the sandstone.
Rock House Cave
- The Rock House Cave isn’t technically a cave, but a rock shelter. Faint pictographs can still be seen on the ceiling and back wall.
Ozark National Forest
Glory Hole Waterfall
- 2 hours north of Petit Jean Park is Ozark National Forest with more than 1 million acres and home to Arkansas’ tallest mountain, Mount Magazine.
- The trailhead to Glory Hole Waterfall is difficult to find. With the dirt parking area on your right, walk along AR-21 N in the direction of AR-412 to a dirt road through the forest (also on the right side). Hike 1.8 miles along the retired dirt road or opt for a footpath along Dismal Creek on the trail to Glory Hole Waterfall. Before trekking to the base of the waterfall, follow the stream to the top of the falls where it disappears through a hole in the rock ledge.
Pedestal Rock Trailhead
- At the Pedestal Rock Trailhead continue straight to the 2.2 mile Pedestal Rock Loop Trail or to the right for the 1.7 miles King’s Bluff Loop Trail. A portion of both trails follow the bluff line with views of the Ozark Mountains beyond the cliffs.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: From Pedestal Rocks, access County Road 1313 to the 15 mile Falling Water Scenic Drive.
Hot Springs National Park
- Drive along Hot Springs Mountain Drive to access overlooks, hiking trails, and climb the Hot Springs Mountain Tower for panoramic views up to 40 miles. The cost is $10 per person to access the open air deck at the top of the tower.
- The Grand Promenade is .5 mile trail behind the historic bathhouses parallel to Bathhouse Row. Many hiking trails are accessed from the Grand Promenade as well as Display Springs (behind Maurice Bathhouse).
- Walk along Bathhouse Row to view 8 grand bathhouses constructed between 1892 and 1923. Only 2 of the bathhouses are still operating while the others have been converted to a brewery, giftshop and office building, cultural center, visitor center, hotel, and 1 remains vacant awaiting its next journey.
- Quapaw Bathhouse, the longest bathhouse on Bathhouse Row, first opened 1922. After closing in 1984, the bathhouse was vacant for 24 years before transforming into a family focused spa.
- The Quapaw and Buckstaff Bathhouses are the only bathhouses offering an opportunity to soak in thermal spring water. Buckstaff Baths has been providing traditional bathing experiences since 1912.
- Superior Bathhouse, the smallest on Bathhouse Row, operated from 1916-1983 boasting superior service at the lowest rates.
- Superior Bathhouse Brewery is the first brewery in a U.S. national park and to use hot spring water during the brewing process. Located in a 100 year old bathhouse, it can get quite noisy. Order a Beer Bath to sample all 18 draft beers. A menu offers appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, and sides. We recommend ordering wings or a chicken sandwich with the chili-lime dry rub and a Foul Play Oatmeal Stout with chocolate and coffee flavors, G-Thang Beach Juice, a ginger seltzer, Spicy Ride Jalapeño Ale, or The Beez Kneez, a honey basil Kolsch.
- Check out the Ohio Club, once a popular hangout for baseball players and gangsters with live music on the weekends.
Diamond Bear Brewing Company
- Order a flight to sample 4 of the nearly 10 beers of draft at Diamond Bear Brewing Company. In addition to the large taproom there is a small gift shop, brewseum, and an outdoor, pet friendly petio. The menu offers appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. We recommend Little Red Strawberry Lager.
Stone’s Throw Brewing
- Stone’s Throw Brewing has 2 locations, MacPark and Sifft’s Station. At MacPark, sample the 10+ beers with a flight of 8 in the small taproom or outdoor patio. A limited menu from Distant Relatives is available in addition to Loblolly Creamery ice cream. We recommend the Pear Guavara, a pear cider with hints of guava, and for a unique beer Lichtenhainer Weiss, a German smoked sour. All drafts are available in tasters, glasses, crowlers, and growlers.
Lost Forty Brewing
- Enjoy the 10+ beers and a selection of PUNCHY hard seltzers on draft in the spacious taproom at Lost Forty Brewing. A small menu offers cheese and bean dips, pizza, and Sunday brunch. We recommend Blackberry Bramble Wheat Ale.
Flyway Brewing Company
- Flyway Brewing offers a unique menu of pretzels with lavender, espresso, sriracha, or bacon salt, appetizers, and giant sliders. Order a feather to sample 4 of the 10+ drafts. We recommend Lord God, a triple chocolate imperial stout, and Bluewing, a blueberry wheat.
- The brewery is named after the largest bird migration route in North and South America, Mississippi Flyway, stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The most difficult portion of the migration is above Arkansas where the narrow landscape causes a bottleneck for the migrating birds.
Additional Park Recommendations:
- Hike to the Old Mill in T.R Pugh Memorial Park, featured in the opening scenes of Gone With the Wind.
- The North Shore Riverwalk Park is part of the Arkansas River Trail connecting a pedestrian and cycling bridge on the North side of the Arkansas River.
- For more views of the Arkansas River, hike the 5 mile side trail in Emerald Park.
- Hike to the summit of Arkansas’ landmark, Pinnacle Mountain rising 1,011 feet above sea level at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
- We give Soul Fish Café 5 stars. The food was flavorful, hot, and crispy, our meals arrived quickly, and our waitress kept a smile on our face.
- Dig out that singing Big Mouth Billy Bass from the basement and bring it with you to the Flying Fish. Give Billy a new home on the Billy Bass Adoption Wall where he will be sheltered, loved, and protected (promised by the Flying Fish) and receive a free basket of catfish.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: We arrived in Little Rock Saturday around 12:00pm and returned home Monday afternoon.