The permanent collection focuses on five
centuries of American art, from the earliest
works of colonial times to edgy contemporary pieces. Exhibitions have included masterworks from the Hudson River School,
as well as the works of Andy Warhol and
Norman Rockwell. Future exhibitions will
include collections of Native American art
and a show dedicated to photography and
the American road trip.
In addition to the collection and changing
exhibitions, the museum is surrounded by
120 acres of trails and grounds for groups to
explore, including a sculpture trail. Groups
can arrange for private tours of the museum, have lunch on-site and walk the trails
Downtown Historical District,
Another town made famous by its waters is
Eureka Springs, located just an hour from
Bentonville. Eureka Springs became a spa
town in the 1870s, and stories of healing by
drinking from the cool-water springs made
the fast-growing community a must-see for
health-seekers and adventurers alike.
Today, the entire downtown district is
on the National Register of Historic Places,
where visitors walk past brightly colored
Victorian homes and historic buildings of
brick and limestone. Eureka Springs’ downtown curves around hills and narrow streets
and is filled with boutique shops, restaurants, art galleries and clubs. Hundreds of
artists live in and around the area, and the
art scene has been recognized as one of the
best in small towns across the nation.
There are three levels to the downtown
business district: Spring, Center and Main.
While Spring Street runs through the heart
of town, Main Street is full of possibilities
for groups as well, according to Jack Moyer,
general manager of the 1905 Basin Park Hotel and 1886 Crescent Hotel, and chairman
for the Eureka Springs Downtown Network.
“The Eureka Springs Main Street program
is well known for coordinating interesting
and engaging scavenger hunts that incor-
porate not only the unique shops but also
historic sites,” he says.
There are sites visited by characters from
the past, such as Belle Starr, the Dalton
Gang and Carry Nation, who not only had a
home in Eureka Springs, but also discovered
Fort Smith National Historic Site,
For nearly an entire century, Fort Smith
shaped history along the Western frontier.
Perhaps the most famous years were from
1872 to 1896, when “Hangin’” Judge Isaac
Parker ruled court with an iron will. His
courtroom, the dark Hell-on-the Border
Jail and the well-used gallows are on display
at the Fort Smith National Historic Site.
Groups can sit in the courtroom, explore
artifacts and even walk under the gallows or
step inside the jail, which was often a criminal’s last home before Parker condemned
him to death.
“The facility is shaped by a diverse cast
of colorful characters—soldiers, Indians,
outlaws and lawmen—and preserves nearly
80 years of turbulent and highly significant
history on the Western frontier,” says Russ
Jester, communications/event services manager for the Fort Smith CVB.
He adds that visitors can explore remnants of two frontier forts during the town’s
early days, and also walk along a portion
of the Trail of Tears. Even the area’s visitor
center has a historic and colorful past: Miss
Laura’s Visitor Center is the only former
bordello listed on the National Register of
Historic Places, and visitors can tour the
building with a reenactor. Other historic
destinations include the Frisco Railroad
Depot and the Fort Smith Trolley Museum,
where guests can hop onto a vintage electric
Mount Magazine State Park, Paris
When it comes to amazing natural beauty,
nothing shows off Arkansas’ assets like
Mount Magazine State Park. The mountain
itself is the state’s tallest peak, at 2,753 feet,
and visitors can take in the incredible views
of hills, valleys and bluffs from the comfort
of the Lodge at Mount Magazine.
“Mount Magazine is a perfect location for
a relaxing conference or retreat,” says Becky
Bariola, superintendent for Mount Maga-
zine State Park. “We have two interpreters
on staff, and groups can set up programs
Eco-tourism and biodiversity are important
themes at Mount Magazine, but there’s also
Fort Smith National Historic Site
➤ The $60 million renovation of the Robinson Center ( www.robinsoncenter
secondact.com) is slated to wrap up this
year, with a soft opening this fall and the
grand opening scheduled for November.
Also, the adjacent Double Tree Hotel
Little Rock ( www.doubletreelr.com) is
undergoing a $5.5 million renovation
and will be physically connected to the
Robinson Center when complete.
➤ The 140-room Aloft Little Rock
Downtown ( www.starwoodhotels.com/
alofthotels) will offer 4,000 square
feet of meeting space, a restaurant
and a rooftop pool. The hotel is being
constructed inside the historic Boyle
building, and is slated to open later this
➤ The Austin Convention Hotel and
Spa ( www.theaustinhotel.com) has
been purchased by a new owner and is
currently undergoing renovations. It will
emerge from renovations as the Hotel
Hot Springs and Spa this spring with 196
rooms, 12,000 square feet of meeting
space and a new restaurant, lounge,
lobby bar, pool and fitness center.
➤ The Lodge at Mount Magazine (www.
completed renovations to the exterior of
the building. Future projects at Mount
Magazine State Park include construction of a new amphitheater on the
grounds of the old WPA amphitheater.
The new project is currently under design
to closely replicate the original structure.
➤ Last summer the new Amazeum (www.
amazeum.org) opened near the Crystal
Bridges Museum of American Art in
Bentonville. The family-friendly museum
offers approximately 50,000 square
feet of exhibit, meeting and learning
spaces inside, and an acre of ground
space outside for seasonal experiments
and events. It also offers teambuilding
exercises for meetings and groups.
➤ In Fort Smith, fundraising progress continues toward the realization of the U.S.
Marshals Museum ( www.usmarshals
museum.com). A construction date has
not been set.