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Old 05-04-2010, 08:15 PM
Location: WA
2,910 posts, read 3,996,255 times
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My wife and I have 2 weeks off in June and were thinking of driving over to the gulf coast to vacation with the kids at one of the Florida beach towns like Destin.

However with the oil spill threatening to lay waste to beaches throughout the Gulf I'm having second thoughts about making a deposit on a beach condo someplace and considering alternative destinations.

I've always been curious about the hill country of NW Arkansas which I've never explored. And it's an easy day's drive for us here in Central Texas. A bit of googling pops up Eureka Springs and Hot Springs which sound interesting. But I think what we'd really want is some sort of nice cabin on a lake where the kids can hike, fish, swim, and canoe (we have a canoe to bring). Perhaps with dining and shopping nearby. But that isn't so crucial. Our kids are ages 4, 7, and 11 and are just as happy with hot dogs and peanut butter & jelly than any fancy restaurants. Probably more so.

So what do you Arkansans recommend? Is there a particular lake or destination that is perfect for a family that wants some beautiful secluded cabin with lots of wild country around to explore? Preferably a smaller lake without lots of fast noisy watercraft. Even better one in which motor boats are banned or highly restricted?
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:15 PM
Location: Fort Smith, Arkansas
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Buffalo River.

Buffalo National River (U.S. National Park Service)
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Old 05-05-2010, 06:29 AM
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The Buffalo is a great choice. A very popular destination for families in June and plenty of cabin rentals in the area.

Another suggestion would be the Kings River near Eureka Springs - similar to the Buffalo with clearer, cooler water, better fishing and less crowded. The float from Rockhouse to Triggers Gap is an enjoyable float for all paddling experience levels. Find more info at: Kings River Arkansas Canoe Trip Arkansas Vacation Rental Kings River

As far as a cabin on a lake with hiking, fishing, swimming I would suggest Lake Leatherwood just west of Eureka Springs. The lake is a no wake lake with minimal motor boat activity. Paddle boat rentals were available last summer and they have facilities with hot showers / toilets for campers - and its a quick trip into Eureka for food / shopping. Find more info at: LAKE LEATHERWOOD (http://www.cityofeurekasprings.org/lake-leatherwood.html - broken link)
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Old 05-05-2010, 06:51 AM
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Greers Ferry Lake if you like camping and outdoors sports.

Petitjean Mountain would probably be cool too.

Never been to Hot Springs. Used to be a semi legal gambling town and former home to Bill Clinton.

Branson Missouri is a famous place. What Vegas would be if Southern Baptists built it. It seems like it would be such a kitchy place, but what the hell.
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:06 AM
Location: Ouachita Mtns of Arkansas
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On your way up to NW Arkansas check out the Talimena Scenic Byway from Talihina, Ok. to Mena, Ar. It's not as secluded as what you are looking for but it's a beautiful drive. Lots of scenic overlooks.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:04 AM
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I second Hognoxious.

Besides Lake Leatherwood, there are numerous cabin rentals around Beaver Lake and along the White River in the area.
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:56 PM
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I think Eureka could still be good; they have cabins and rivers and such. Mountain Home, between the Norfork and Bull Shoals lakes could also be a possibility. But...Eureka has a better tourist center and more to do, for sure. Good luck!
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Old 05-06-2010, 12:04 AM
Location: Exeter, NH
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The White River and the Norfork River are big for trout fishing, flowing south from the Bull Shoals Dam on the top border with Missouri. The Lakes on the border are huge and pretty cool; great fishing, camping and other stuff.
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Old 05-11-2010, 09:58 AM
Location: Chicago, IL
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Hot Springs and Eureka Springs are must visits. Northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR- UofA, Beaver Lake, Walton Arts Center) also has a lot to offer. For large lakes and rivers, the Mountain Home area in North Central AR has a lot to offer- Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes as well as the White and Buffalo Rivers. Little Rock is fun too, with the presidential library, Heifer International, River Market area and parks, and museums. Lots of hotels in NWA, Hot Springs, Little Rock and Eureka Springs. Plenty of resorts/cabins at Lake Catherine, DeGray Lake, and Lake Ouachita near Hot Springs. Cabins and Lakeside rentals also abound near the Mountain Home lakes, as well as some near Beaver Lake. If I were you, I'd do a multi-stop kind of vacation. Spend a couple days in Hot Springs, a day at Eureka (nice town, but small. I can fill a day, maybe two there, but not as easily as Hot Springs), maybe a day in NWA or Little Rock (or both), and a day or two at a lake or river. It's all within a reasonable distance of each other and driving through that section of the state is beautiful.

Some helpful (I hope) links:
State Park cabins: Arkansas cabin rentals – cabins in Arkansas – Arkansas cabin
State Park lodges: Arkansas lodge – Arkansas lodges – visit Arkansas
Hot Springs Tourism: Hot Springs, Hot Springs Arkansas, Hot Springs AR
Eureka Springs Tourism: Eureka Springs, The Extraordinary Escape
Mountain Home Tourism: Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce
Northwest Arkansas Tourism sites: Experience Fayetteville - The vacation, recreation and sport capitol of Northwest Arkansas
Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce
Little Rock Tourism: Little Rock, Arkansas: City Limitless - CVB, hotels, attractions, history, info

Last edited by thewizard16; 05-11-2010 at 10:35 AM.. Reason: added links
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:16 PM
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Destin was a singular destination. I would expect that you would have taken day trips to Pensacola and to Mobile but mostly sit and bury your feet in the sand.

So you are looking for low stress downtime for 2 weeks in the Ozarks with kids 4,8, and 11. OK

Arkansas is for campers and hikers and river runners and fishers and nature lovers. It is the natural state. But camping with kids your age makes that difficult unless you are fully outfitted. And the lakes though very beautiful are rather limited on beaches surrounded by woods and rocky shoals.

But there is one place that might just be like Destin but not Destin and that is Lake Dardanelle which is actually the Arkansas River. I remember it had miles of beaches and still some it looks like. It has been years.
Lake Dardanelle - Things To Do - Arkansas River Valley Tri-Peaks Region (http://www.arvtripeaks.com/things_display.php?id=10&t=things_to_do - broken link)
And you can rent cabin here close to the lake
Russellville Marina Boat Repair & Cabins

But the other reason I choose Lake Dardanelle is that it is ideally located for day trips to streams, amusement, history, and outdoor activities
Winrock Farms atop Petit Jean Mountain
Petit Jean Mountain
Winthrop Rockefeller home
Mt Nebo state park
Upper Buffalo river
Hot Springs
Dardanelle Dam
Magazine Mtn.
Ozark folk center and Mtn. View Arkansas

I can't recommend Hot Springs as a base of operations as Obama has monopolized the healing waters and you can't get a mineral bath anymore except in government facility. Check out the mid America Museum and Garvin gardens and the historic downtown though.

Stay with the Arkansas state parks. They are done right and operated by friendly Arkansans.

I noticed State Park cabins on Mt Petit Jean and Nebo and Mt. Magazine.
Arkansas cabin rentals – cabins in Arkansas – Arkansas cabin
I have stayed in the old CCC cabins up in Missouri and they are memorable.
I don't know if these Arkansas cabins were built by the CCC in the 30's or not.
I think I would go with a mountain cabin rather than the lake side one I linked above

Roosevelt's civilian conservation corp CCC did nothing to relieve the depression but the cabins those kids from the inner city built make for great destinations today.

Happy vacationing. Enjoy them while you can.

PS Dardanelle and Yell County Arkansas doesn't look like the backdrop to "True Grit" where Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn were from but the Ozarks are very beautiful in their own way. Rent the movie while you are there. I love it and I love the Ozarks.
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