Retiring in the Natural State? Naturally!
By Stacy Hurst
One of my goals when I was appointed Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism was to visit all 52 State Parks, including staying overnight in as many lodges as possible. I’m making pretty good progress on this, but the pandemic slowed me down. Only 28 parks to go!
When I have opportunities to be incognito as a tourist and not as the head of the department, I always try to visit with our guests, and it has been fascinating to meet so many out-of-state folks visiting and considering retiring to the Natural State. But why not? We enjoy a low cost of living compared to other states. Plus, Arkansas is geographically diverse and rich with natural beauty and interesting cultural opportunities.
Hiking and biking? Arkansas State Parks boasts more than 300 miles of trails, and that’s not including the many cities across our state adding pedestrian-friendly paths and bike lanes.
Do you like the arts, culture and museums? We’ve got them in abundance. From the world-renowned Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the Northwest corner of our state and the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in the Capital City, to heritage sites in the Delta and folk artists in the Ozarks.
Rivers and lakes? We are blessed with many. You can fly-fish the Little Red or dust off your skis on Lake Hamilton. If you’re more of an adventurer on the water, don’t forget about white water rafting at Cossatot State Park or chasing waterfalls in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains.
Fancy yourself a foodie? So do we! Arkansas Heritage launched the Food Hall of Fame initiative to celebrate the rich history of our state’s culinary treasures, and we’re proud to say that the food movement is alive and well from corner to corner of Arkansas.
And you certainly can’t discount the state-of-the-art medical facilities and moderate housing market, which makes Arkansas an attractive place for families as well as retirees.
As a lifelong resident and ardent Arkansas supporter, I may be a little biased, but I think the best way to find out if Arkansas is ideal for your retirement is to come for a visit. Let the good people of our state show you what life here is all about.
Stacy Hurst was appointed secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT) in July 2019 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Prior to that, she had served as director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage since January 2015. She is responsible for the work of ADPHT’s three main divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism.