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State Bucket List: Arkansas

10. Crystal Bridges Museum

10. Crystal Bridges Museum

Bentonville

Spearheaded by Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges has become a cultural beacon of Northwest Arkansas with modern looks that belie its love of Americana. The gallery houses American artists from Rockwell to Pollock. A collaboration with the Louvre, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Terra Foundation for American Art has also resulted in an enormous cultural exchange and a chance for art from all over the world to tour the state.

(image via pagedooley, CC)

9. Crater of Diamonds

9. Crater of Diamonds

Murfreesboro

This state park has a unique draw - yes, you really can find diamonds here. Somebody finds one just often enough to remind people that the park is here, and that the diamonds aren't all gone. Located near Murfreesboro, Arkansas, the park also holds lesser pieces of geological curiosity, as well.

(image via nanoprobe67, CC)

8. Float the Buffalo River

8. Float the Buffalo River

Gilbert

The Buffalo is enormous. Flowing freely for 135 miles, it's one of the few undammed rivers in the contiguous U.S. Canoe rentals are available allowing you to take advantage of the serene, empty stretches as well as the quick rapids. Arkansas foliage is some of the most beautiful in the country, and the river is one of the best ways to take it in.

(image via Buffalo Outdoor Center, CC)

7. Johnny Cash Boyhood Home

7. Johnny Cash Boyhood Home

Dyess

Johnny Cash grew up here. His family moved in when President Roosevelt carved out a farming colony in Mississippi County as part of the Great Depression rehabilitation. The house has been lovingly restored by Arkansas State University and contains exhibits about the social experiment that led the Cash family to the area. The building was even featured in the movie Walk the Line.

(image via Will Huff)

6. Toltec Mounds

6. Toltec Mounds

Scott

"Toltec Mounds" is actually a bit of a misnomer. The owner of the property, Mrs. Gilbert Knapp, believed the Toltecs to have built the mounds here, but research indicates that they were actually pre-historical structures, built by members of the indigenous Plum Bayou culture. Used as gathering places for religious and ceremonial purposes, these mounds form a key part of our understanding of early life on the continent.

(image via Herb Roe, CC)

5. Thorncrown Chapel

5. Thorncrown Chapel

Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs is sort of a hippie enclave in the middle of Arkansas. It's home, for instance, to a robust tree house hotel scene. It also houses this beautiful church. Thorncrown contains some 6,000 square feet of glass, was designed in accordance with Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School aesthetics, and was built using only indigenous Northwest Arkansas materials.

(image via brad_holt, CC)

4. Bathhouse Row

4. Bathhouse Row

Hot Springs

Hot Springs is known for its bathhouses. The mineral water here doesn't carry the sulphur stench most natural hot springs do, and the town trades almost as much on the history of the area as they do the springs themselves. In the roaring '20s, Hot Springs legalized gambling, and mobsters like "Lucky" Luciano and Al Capone sought refuge and good times here, where they became an integral part of the cultural landscape.

(image jdickert, CC)

3. Blanchard Springs Caverns

3. Blanchard Springs Caverns

Stone City

It's hard to describe the beauty of caves to people who haven't experienced them. From the lack of light to the bizarre calcite formations, being in a cave feels like stepping into another world. Blanchard Springs offers three trails to explore and is considered a "living" cave, as the limestone formations are still in progress.

(image via Tabish Fayyaz, CC)

2. Arkansas River Trail

2. Arkansas River Trail

Little Rock and North Little Rock

The Arkansas River Trail circles both sides of the Arkansas River and cuts right through the downtown area. Apart from the beauty of the scenery and the Big Dam Bridge, the River Market area boasts the main campus of Heifer International, the Clinton Presidential Center, and some of the best dining in the state.

(image via nostri-imago, CC)

1. Mount Magazine and Lodge

1. Mount Magazine and Lodge

Paris

The tallest mountain in the state looks out over river valleys teeming with trees, a view that stretches for miles in every direction. The lodge is a mixture of luxury accommodations and a destination for ATV riders and hang gliding. The only thing better than watching the canyons give way to the river from your balcony at the lodge is looking at the same thing in the air from a hang glider.

(image via latteda, CC)