This summer in “Trails Less Traveled” and in every “Exploring Arkansas” episode, Chuck Dovish gives us great ideas for getting outside and taking a closer look at The Natural State. But what are some of his favorite places for families to visit together? Take a look!
Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park
This Arkansas State Park — also known as Knapp Mounds, Toltec Mounds Site or Toltec Mounds — was occupied by Native American ancestors known as the “Plum Bayou” culture and who built the mounds that are the largest in the state of Arkansas. The name we know it by today was mistakenly given to it by a landowner in the mid-1800s, and it stuck! But, whatever name you call it by, Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park offers great activities for families. From interactive exhibits, a chance to explore dugout canoes, and plenty of space to walk and hike to see the mounds, there are plenty of sights to see and place to go. We’ve always loved the guided tours with park interpreters but, for this bonus feature, be sure to call ahead! Find out more here: arkansasstateparks.com.
The Bob and Sunny Evans Tree House at Garvan Woodland Gardens
Tree houses of all kinds are near and dear to Chuck’s heart, but the Bob and Sunny Evans Tree House at Garvan Woodland Gardens is not just any tree house! “Floating” and bending in a small group of pines and oaks, this amazing structure celebrates a theme of dendrology — the study of trees and wooded plants — that inspired its form and structure. But the adventure doesn’t stop at design. This Hot Springs wonder is also a great, interactive education experience for visitors. Learn more at garvangardens.org.
Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary
Dedicated to the preservation of Asian and African Elephants, Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary — just outside of Guy, Arkansas — provides a home for elephants regardless of their species, gender or disposition. On top of their important caretaking and conservation work, the Riddles also host a Visitors Day on the first Saturday of every month between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
While visits currently look a bit different due to COVID-19 safety precautions, tours are still available! Find details and reservation instruction on their Facebook page: facebook.com/riddleselephantsanctuary.
Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari
With 400-acres outside of Gentry, Arkansas, the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through is home to a variety of animals from black bears and prairie dogs to warthogs and Bengal tigers! Open daily from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., the safari is offering drive-through viewing of its animals on four-mile route. Learn more about this family travel destination and the COVID-19 safety measures they’re taking at wildwildernessdrivethroughsafari.com.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
It’s the only place in the whole world where you can dig for diamonds and keep what you find! Although Chuck still hasn’t uncovered a rock of his own to take home, he’s visited Crater of Diamonds State Park countless times and always enjoyed it. The 37-acre Diamond Searc Field is a great adventure for kids of all ages and is a rock hound’s paradise. Pack your play clothes, and get ready to dig in! 800 tickets are offered daily — and they’ve been known to sell out — so be sure to plan ahead at arkansasstateparks.com/parks/crater-diamonds-state-park.
Looking for even more ideas? From hiking and biking ideas to spelunking and swimming holes, “Exploring Arkansas” has a host of The Natural State’s destinations to dive into at myarkansaspbs.org/exploringarkansas.