Summer is here, and it’s time to crank up the fun.
We are fortunate that our Natural State offers so many wonderful opportunities for us during this season. Check out wild animals at the Little Rock Zoo or Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, or float down the exciting waters of southwest Arkansas on the Cossatot River. Take a tour of history in Stuttgart, where the ducks and rice are as plentiful as the heritage. No matter what your summer flavor is, Arkansas can deliver.
Here are some of our favorite places for an Arkansas Summer Getaway.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Would you pounce on the possibility of seeing lions and leopards in the African savanna? Do you love learning about tigers native to the jungles of Asia? How far would you go to get an unforgettable experience surrounded by — but safe from — apex predators and other breathtaking beasts? As it turns out, you may not have to go that far at all, especially if you live in Northwest Arkansas.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (TCWR) in Eureka Springs is an ethical animal tourism destination where you can experience all the wilds of Africa and Asia without the jet lag or price tag of a globetrotting trip. The 459-acre, nonprofit sanctuary provides lifetime refuge to survivors of the exotic animal trade, and they’re the good guys in terms of animal welfare.
The organization is also one of only a handful of big cat facilities in the nation accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. So visiting the refuge is appropriate for all animal lovers interested in advocating for animals in need. Legitimate sanctuaries like TCWR are a sharp contrast to exploitative roadside operations, too. So don’t let negative experiences at other facilities keep you from visiting this true Arkansas treasure. Just check out their social media — or better yet, go to TripAdvisor and other online review sites — to learn why the refuge has earned praise from hundreds of thousands of guests.
Taking a tour at Turpentine Creek is a fun and educational option to be sure, but the sanctuary also offers some of the most unique family-friendly and adults-only lodging accommodations in the area. So consider staying overnight at the Refuge for an unforgettable “Africa In The Ozarks” experience!
During your visit, you’ll see how happy and healthy the sanctuary’s animals are as they enjoy their large grassy habitats which feature enrichment toys, swimming pools and other items that promote mental and physical well-being. And unlike some facilities, you’ll be glad to know that admission and lodging fees, as well as program income and retail sales, go right back to helping the animals within their care. So spending your dollars really makes a lot of sense at TCWR.
Plan a trip to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge this summer and go wild for wildlife! You’ll be glad you did!
Little Rock Zoo
The Little Rock Zoo is back, and it’s roaring with more fun than ever before.
It was a long couple of months not being able to visit our friends of fur and feather at the Little Rock Zoo, which has been closed since March due to the current pandemic. But on Monday, June 29, the Zoo reopened its doors to the general public, excited to showcase some new attractions for anxious Arkansans.
As highlighted in its Virtual Safari series, which the Zoo initiated to remain a part of our lives while we were safe at home, there are a number of new animals waiting to finally say hello in person. Some new kids are on the block at various exhibits, including Dory, a baby penguin; Bukavu and Jumoke, baby gorillas; Kasih, a baby orangutan; and Zaara, a baby sloth bear. The Zoo has also acquired a few more adult animals to add to its already healthy family, like a new male eagle, female chimpanzee and two new porcupines, both female.
And it’s not just the animals that are new for you. During the past few months, various aesthetic and functional improvements have been made, such as in its fencing and pathways, the building of a new nature playground and additional signage for its Blue and You Sensory Garden.
But the proudest accomplishment of the Zoo’s might be in its reopening, exhaustively planned to ensure the health and safety of all who visit. While it will be open seven days a week from now on, it will require tickets to be purchased in advance which will limit unnecessary gathering at its entrance and help the Zoo effectively monitor the number of people on-site at one time, which will be conserved to encourage social distancing.
Additional proactive safety measures will also be conducted. All guests will be required to wear masks; it has added hand sanitizing stations throughout; and it has created a one-way footpath to further limit congestion and help guests maintain a safe distance between each other.
However, if you are still feeling cautious about visiting, the Zoo is still here for you. The Virtual Safari program will continue to broadcast on its Facebook page every Friday at 2 p.m.
Make the Little Rock Zoo part of your summer plans, where it’s always OK to #growwild.
Arkansas’s Great Southwest
If you could take a journey to a place where the possibilities are endless, ranging from exciting rapids to historic heritage, would you go? What if that adventurous locale was right here in the Natural State? It’s all there for you in the Great Southwest.
The southwest nook of the state might often get overlooked for the likes of Central and Northwest Arkansas, but it has just as much to offer, if not more.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the white caps of the Cossatot River provide some of the most fun days on the water as any, with thrilling rapids for experienced canoeists. The river is also known for its stock of smallmouth bass and rainbow trout for the anglers among us. It’s also the namesake behind the park, Cossatot River State Park, which is home to the Cossatot Falls, a river splitting canyon, picnic and tent sites, hiking trails and much more.
The region also offers plenty more than just outdoor adventures. There’s the legendary histories of the past at the Historic Washington State Park, where battlefields from the Civil War remain as reminders of our state’s history. A number of annual festivals bring in thousands of visitors from across the map, including the Prescott-Nevada County Fall Festival and the Hope Watermelon Festival.
And we would never forget the shopping. One-of-a-kind boutiques and antique shops are in abundance in the region. As they say, “You can shop until you drop and never run out of options.”
The region boasts an intricate weave of history, events, metros and forests. From Nashville to Texarkana, DeQueen to Fouke, your next great adventure begins in the Great Southwest.
870-703-7515 • agsw.org
Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie
Everyone knows the city of Stuttgart for its ducks and its rice. But there’s another magnet within the town, one that pays tribute to the county’s rich and legendary heritage.
The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie was created in 1974 by lifelong Arkansas County residents, Bennie Burkett and Jack Crum. Over the years, the museum has expanded, but the original vision has remained in keeping it a preservation and celebration of the past.
And it has plenty of the past to go around. From its original inception as a humble space of 1,500 square feet, the museum now encompasses more than 20,000 square feet of exhibit space and you’d be hard-pressed to find more unique heritage anywhere else in Arkansas than within its walls. Some of the most notable on-site ventures include the Prairie Church, which is a replica of the original Emanuel Lutheran Church that was active in the area from 1886 to 1950. The Waterfowl Wing features all things feathers, showcasing the birds of the Mississippi Flyway that have made Stuttgart a renowned destination as the Duck Capital of the World. The Wing features the sounds and mounts of different species, indigenous art and other historical artifacts. And in remembrance of rice, the agricultural sector that has been the region’s largest industry for decades and recently was named the Food of the Year by the Department of Heritage, there is a collection of old farm equipment, including hay balers and tractors more than 100 years old.
If you’ve visited the museum in years past, don’t feel like you’ve already seen all that it has to offer. The museum is currently under an expansion project and will hold the Arkansas Waterfowler Hall of Fame.
Altogether, more than 10,000 artifacts are on display in a total of five buildings at the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie, each as unique and historic as the last. Mark a trip to the museum on your calendar to see for yourself what makes Arkansas County so special.
870-673-7001 • grandprairiemuseum.org