Fort Smith, Arkansas’ second largest city after Little Rock, has a population of nearly 90,000 people. The city, which sits on the banks of the Arkansas River, has a history that dates back to the frontier era, when a number of Native American tribes lived in the area.
Arkansas, known for its natural beauty, was once a French territory known as New France, and was part of what would later become the state of Louisiana. For amateur historians interested in learning more about the Civil War, the city is especially exciting.
Whether you’re searching for a fast road trip or a pleasant weekend break, this lovely city could be the answer. There are numerous parks and beautifully decorated spots to meander through during the day or explore at night. For history buffs and art collectors, this city is a must-see. There’s so much to see and do in this area: learn about the local history, traditions, and culture, and admire the architectural marvels.
Best Things To Do In Fort Smith Arkansas
• Downtown Splash Pad
Because Fort Smith has so many historical buildings, it may not be a big hit with kids, so if you want to reward them with a day in the sun, take them to the Downtown Splash Pad.
The park, which is free and located in the city’s West End, has ten splash fountains with a variety of kid-friendly elements.
It’s a terrific spot to cool off in the summer, when Arkansas’ weather can be oppressively hot and humid. You’ll admire the brilliant LED lights that spotlight the swirling water if you arrive after the sun has set.
• Fort Smith Trolley Museum
The Fort Smith Trolley Museum, located on South 4th Street downtown, is within walking distance of the convention center, making it a convenient spot to visit if you have a few spare hours.
Even if the museum isn’t open, you’ll be able to go around and admire the ancient trolleys on display.
They’re amazing peeks into past ways of public transit. Recent visitors have mentioned that there are several friendly cats who reside on site and are cared for by employees who are especially fond of children.
• Rivervalley Artisan Market
Starting your Fort Smith excursion with a visit to the Rivervalley Artisan Market, which is free and open to the public, is a great way to meet some locals, see some fantastic locally made products, and have a nice time.
There are paintings, pottery, and jewelry among the arts and crafts on offer, as well as health and body goods and prepared cuisine.
It’s a terrific way to support the community because nearly everything is created locally by city people.
The market is open on the first, third, and last Saturdays of each month, although hours vary depending on the season, so check online before going.
• Fort Smith National Cemetery
If you’re a history buff or just want to pay your respects to those buried here, the Fort Smith National Cemetery, located near the intersection of Garland Avenue and South 6th Street, is worth a visit.
The grounds are well-kept, and fresh wreaths and flowers are frequently placed on the graves, making it an especially moving location.
The cemetery is open to the public and is full with historic headstones, many of which date back to the Civil War era.
Many of the headstones are unnamed and are most likely those of soldiers slain in the bloody battle between nations.
• The Clayton House
The Clayton House on North 6th Street is one of the destinations you absolutely shouldn’t miss if you’re in town, whether you want to go on your own or join a guided tour.
Plan on spending about an hour to visit the historical exhibits and items on show; the ticket is reasonable, so it’s a good opportunity to gain a historical perspective of the area without going broke.
The Victorian-style residence was erected in the 1880s and was the pinnacle of opulence and sophistication at the time.
The little settlement was on the fringe of mostly uncharted Indian Territory at the time.
• Fort Smith National Historic Site
Fort Smith, Arkansas, lay on the edge of the American frontier a century and a half ago, in a no-man’s-land between the civilized and uncivilized parts of the country.
The Fort Smith National Historic Site, located on Parker Avenue, is dedicated to preserving the area’s rich history and traditions.
The cost of admission is modest. Consider watching the orientation video before showing yourself around.
The site features a jail, gallows, and relics from an old courthouse where one of the area’s harshest judges once sat.
There’s also a nice strolling trail that leads down to the river.
• The Park at West End
Downtown Fort Smith is quaint and pleasant, and it’s a lovely area to stroll about in the afternoon or early evening.
The Park at West End is one of the area’s most popular attractions, complete with a Ferris wheel from the 1935 World’s Fair in San Diego.
There are historical displays such as train cars and an ancient bus, in addition to amusement rides.
There is no admission price, but each ride must be paid for separately, making it a fun and cost-effective way to spend the day.
The park is also recognized for its delectable cuisine.
• Fort Smith Museum of History
The Fort Smith Museum of History, located on Rogers Avenue, has two floors of relics, antiques, and exhibitions from the city’s history.
An old piece of telephone exchange equipment from a time when telephones were rare luxuries, as well as vintage portraits, weaponry, and even an old fire engine, are on show.
One of the most popular displays in the museum is dedicated to the local men and women who served their country during WWII.
It’s a low-cost approach to get to know the city. Even the little ones will find plenty to keep them occupied and interested.
• Saint Scholastica Monastery
The Franciscan nuns who oversee the Saint Scholastica Monastery may have the lovely structures open for visitors if you go at the correct time, but this isn’t always the case because it’s an active cloister.
Nonetheless, the tranquil surroundings are well worth a visit, and the building’s design is equally impressive.
The neighbourhood is well-kept and filled with birds, squirrels, and other local wildlife that are entertaining to children.
Inside, there’s a pond with a grotto, statues, and a gift store, but you’ll only be able to see everything if you’re there when it’s open.
• Elevate Trampoline Park
Kids adore trampolines, and Elevate Trampoline Park is the best location to take them if they’re in need of some fitness and excitement.
It features trampolines for people of all ages, and it’s a terrific spot to have birthday parties.
Though it appears to be all fun, jumping on trampolines is similar to getting a cardiovascular exercise, so you’ll be burning calories in addition to having a good time.
Before you go, check their website for hours of operation and cost.
• Fort Smith Farmer’s Market
Farmer’s markets are, without a doubt, the ideal venues to meet intriguing and enthusiastic residents, learn about the area’s geography, and view a wide variety of unique and locally manufactured products that you won’t find anywhere else.
The Fort Smith Farmer’s Market is famous for its locally grown food, but it also sells honey, jams, sweets, and biscuits.
Of course, there’s plenty of steaming coffee and local arts and crafts, such as paintings, jewellery, and clothing.
The market is rapidly expanding as more sellers join the ranks; it’s a fantastic opportunity to support local businesses.
• Chaffee Barbershop Museum
The Chaffee Barbershop Museum is a must-see sight in the area, dedicated to the brave men and women who have died cutting the hair of Fort Smith citizens throughout the years.
Okay, so that opening was a little dramatic, but the Chaffee Barbershop Museum is a fun and eccentric Fort Smith institution that demands at least a quick look.
It’s famed for being where Elvis Presley got his hair trimmed, and it also has a significant military background.
If you attend when the museum is open, you might even get to meet the institution’s enthusiastic curator.
• Fort Smith Regional Art Museum
The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum is a great site to visit if you want to see a wide variety of professionally displayed art.
The museum’s mission is to promote community appreciation and education. They accomplish this through providing a variety of activities, cultural events, and a world-class collection of art.
The museum was founded in the 1950s and has been showcasing the work of local and regional artists ever since.
If you’re an art fan coming through town, this is a must-see. Check their website to see what other events they have planned for you while you’re in town.
• Massard Prairie Battlefield Park
The Massard Prairie Battlefield Park provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the region’s Civil War history.
It’s manned by enthusiastic and knowledgable docents, and it might just pique your curiosity enough for you to stop by the gift shop and pick up a book or two.
The battlefield itself is a historic landmark and the ultimate resting place for many of the soldiers who fought here, despite its location amid a sea of advancing neighbourhoods.
There is minimal parking, however depending on where you are staying, you may be able to walk to the site.
• Rolando’s Restaurant
The restaurant, which is named after the late Dominican musician Rolando “El Canario” Alarcon, will take your taste buds on a gourmet adventure like no other.
It’s in the heart of the city’s charming historic district. The restaurant is housed in a historic brick structure that goes back to the 1850s and has previously housed antique stores, pubs, and other enterprises.
Shrimp quesadillas, handmade tamales, Platos De Aventura, which includes enchiladas, quesadillas, tamales, taquitos, black beans and rice, and guacamole, and their homemade chilli are just a few of their diverse cuisine options.
• Fort Smith Coffee Co. : Things To Do In Fort Smith Arkansas
Come in for a cup of tea or a latte. This elegant, family-owned coffee shop is a great location to stop for a cup of coffee, tea, or a baked good. Your journey will be made if you sip a cup of hot chocolate while observing the gorgeous city.
• Doe’s Eat Place : Things To Do In Fort Smith Arkansas
Doe’s Eat Place serves mouthwatering fresh-cut steaks, broiled & fried seafood, and delta hot tamales. These aren’t ordinary “doughnuts”; they’re fried doughnut-like rolls stuffed with a spicy, flavorful beef stuffing!
They’re served on an iron griddle with honey mustard sauce on the side, or you can add a slice of cheese to form a sandwich.
So this was our list of some of the best things to do in Fort Smith Arkansas, hope you found it a little useful.