Visiting the United States? There are 50 states to see. If you enjoy sweeping mountain vistas, Arkansas should be on your itinerary. 

There are 52 state parks in Arkansas (pronounced “Arkansaw”), testifying to the region’s abundant natural beauty. Stop by and you’ll see why Arkansas is known as the Natural State — its beautiful scenery, which includes the Ozark and Ouachita mountains, clear streams and hiking trails, makes it a popular destination for outdoor activities. Another local attraction: the thermal waters of Hot Springs, which draw people from all over the world.

Read more about Arkansas and check out the other 49 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.

(State Dept.)

Water therapy

Hot Springs National Park and the city of Hot Springs, where the park is located, are jointly nicknamed “the American Spa,” because Native Americans believed the thermal waters had medicinal properties. This park, established in 1832, is the first land preserved by the federal government. You might want to treat yourself to a relaxing soak in the park’s mineral baths after a long day of sightseeing and shopping.

(Brandonrush/Creative Commons)

Scenic wonders and adventure

Buffalo National River is home to the state’s only elk herd. Visitors can explore the extensive hiking and horseback-riding trails. The river’s wilderness areas are also ideally suited for bird-watching and nature photography.

Camping, canoeing, rafting and fishing are permitted at the park. Some campers even go fishing for their own dinners!

But for many visitors, nothing rivals watching the Arkansas elk herd. During the elks’ mating season, running from mid-September to November, elk bulls (adult males) bugle morning and evening, thrilling the thousands of people who travel to see them each year.

Antlered elk can be seen almost year-round in the Boxley Valley area of Buffalo National River. (latteda/Creative Commons)

History, fashion and art

For a dose of history, plan a trip to the city of Little Rock, home to the Clinton Presidential Library. A treasure trove for scholars and tourists alike, the library compound showcases mementos from Bill Clinton’s presidency (1993–2001) and features a replica of the Oval Office.

(Thomas R. Machnitzki/Creative Commons)

Fashion lovers shouldn’t miss the Esse Purse Museum in Little Rock. It’s one of only three purse museums in the world and traces the evolution of the handbag. And in Bentonville, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art highlights the unfolding history of the United States through a collection of outstanding artwork in a variety of media.

Have a passion for fashion? The Esse Purse Museum in Little Rock is calling your name. (ESSE Purse Museum/Nancy Nolan)