12 Things To Do in Springdale, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled in the gorgeous Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, Springdale offers visitors gorgeous scenery, friendly locals, fascinating history, and plenty of things to see and do. This vibrant city has a rich culture rooted in pioneering spirit, showcasing Native American history,MX heritage, and good old Southern charm. The downtown area especially retains its old-fashioned appeal along Emma Avenue, featuring original brick buildings housing antique shops, galleries, restaurants, and more.

Outdoorsy types will delight in the ample parks, trails, and streams that allow visitors to hike, bike, fish, kayak and simply bask in the beautiful landscapes that earned the state its nickname as “The Natural State.” Foodies won’t want to miss the diverse culinary offerings, ranging from authentic tacos and pupusas to creative takes on Southern staples.

And families traveling with kids needn’t worry about keeping the young ones occupied, as Springdale offers plenty of interactive museums, hands-on attractions, and family-friendly entertainment.

To help visitors make the most of their time exploring Springdale, here are the top 12 things to see and do in the city:

Marvel at an Architectural Wonder – Thorncrown Chapel

One of Springdale’s most iconic attractions, Thorncrown Chapel is a magnificent architectural achievement. The chapel was designed by renowned architect E. Fay Jones and opened in 1980. Jones used glass, wood, and native stone to create a peaceful space that blends harmoniously with the surrounding Ozark woodlands.

Lit entirely by natural light from its enormous glass walls and soaring ceiling, the 48-foot-tall chapel seems to float magically amongst the trees. Visitors marvel at how Jones was able to make such an impressive structure feel so intimate and serene. Even those who aren’t religious or spiritual can’t help appreciating the chapel as a work of art and one of the most beautiful buildings in America.

Learn Local History at Shiloh Museum of Ozark History

To fully appreciate the culture of Springdale and greater northwest Arkansas today, it helps to understand the history that shaped the region. The Shiloh Museum of Ozark History collects, preserves, and shares the compelling stories that made Springdale what it is now. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits detailing how pioneers, Native Americans, Latino immigrants, Marshallese islanders, and others influenced Springdale.

Popular exhibits showcase traditional Ozark arts and crafts, early settler life in the 1800s, day-to-day living in typical Ozarks homes, and more. The Shiloh Museum also hosts regular speakers, demonstrations by master craftsmen, and special events like Pioneer Days to bring history to life.

Tour the Arts Scene Along Emma Avenue

Downtown Springdale retains plenty of small-town charm, thanks in large part to historic Emma Avenue. Many original 19th-century brick buildings have been beautifully restored and now house art galleries, antique stores, specialty boutiques, creative restaurants, and other businesses that showcase local talent.

Visitors can chat with local artists at galleries like The Studio, Windgate Art Gallery, and Maestro Gallery. After browsing arts and crafts at shops like Henhouse Antiques, Nostalgia, and County Seat Mercantile, grab a bite in eateries like Tontitown Winery, Dry Mill Brewing Co., Core, and Pedaler’s Pub. With new shops and attractions constantly popping up, there’s always something new to explore along Emma Avenue.

See Arkansas from Aloft on Lake Springdale trails

Beautiful Lake Springdale offers visitors gorgeous natural scenery just minutes from downtown. The peaceful lake surrounds the Jones Center campus, home to popular hiking and biking trails perfect for admiring lovely Ozark vistas. Especially delightful are the new boardwalks and suspension bridges threading through wetland areas and across coves.

From the meandering trails and bridges, you can spot beavers busily building dams, turtles sunning themselves on logs, songbirds flitting through the trees, and butterflies sipping wildflowers in the grassy meadows. Benches along the way invite quiet contemplation amid the tranquil beauty. Interpretive signs describe the plants and wildlife, the lake’s history, and conservation efforts.

Play and Explore at Jones Center Recreational Facility

Situated on Lake Springdale, the Jones Center campus has something fun for visitors of all ages and interests to enjoy. Outdoor enthusiasts take to the trails, disc golf course, and kayak park surrounding the serene lake. Inside the sprawling recreational center, families splash in the pools and lazy river, scale the rock-climbing walls, zip down water slides, or play in ball pits in the interactive Kids’ Zone.

Fitness buffs take fitness classes in the studios or work up a sweat in the well-equipped workout rooms. Seniors keep active with senior water aerobics and active aging classes tailored just for them. Special events like kids’ camps, races, concerts, and festivals go on throughout the year. With so much to do on one campus, visitors could easily spend an entire day or more having fun at the Jones Center!

Shop for Mexican Treasures on Emma Avenue

One of Springdale’s claims to fame is having the largest population of Latinx residents in Arkansas, so it’s no surprise that the city boasts fabulous Mexican shopping. Visitors will want to explore Emma Avenue to discover authentic imports, handcrafted items, spices and sweets, and other special finds.

At La Huerta, El Mercadito, Plaza Latina, and other colorful shops, browsers are sure to spot gorgeous Talavera pottery, embroidered textiles, sturdy leather huaraches, festive sombreros, handblown glassware, painted wooden animals, and vibrant serapes to take home. Savvy shoppers will want to brush up on their Spanish to chat with shopkeepers about unique wares and negotiate the best deals on their purchases.

Chow Down on Authentic Cuisine

All that shopping and exploring is bound to work up an appetite! Luckily, Springdale offers outstanding cuisine reflecting the diversity of its residents. Foodies find mouthwatering menus highlighting flavors from across Latin America and Asia at hole-in-the-wall taquerias, bustling bistros, and fine dining establishments.

Of course, the endless options for sublimely satisfying Mexican fare top most visitors’ lists. Tacos, enchiladas, tamales, tortas, burritos, flautas, salsa and more tantalize tastebuds at eateries like Taqueria Samantha, Tacos 4 Life, Taqueria Guanajuato, and HUBX. Adventurous eaters shouldn’t miss the chance to try uniquely Oaxacan specialties like tlayudas, chapulines, grasshoppers sautéed with chilies and lime, found at Sabor Oaxaqueño Restaurant and La Playa Maya.

Two-Stepping and Mechanical Bulls at George’s Majestic Lounge

Even cowboys and cowgirls need to kick up their heels after a hard day wrangling doggies. Since 1927, George’s Majestic Lounge has been Springdale’s premier spot for boot scootin’ fun and entertainment. What started as a small wood shack has grown over the decades into an expansive country music dancehall complete with a giant dance floor and a barn-style bar larger than most folks’ living rooms.

Visitors mosey in early to grab a bite from the restaurant menu featuring All-American favorites with a Southern twist. As the evening rolls on, the venue transforms into the region’s hottest honkytonk. Local bands and nationally-touring musicians keep the joint jumpin’ with boot stomping beats as patrons practice their two-step and line dancing skills. Brave souls queue for their chance to hang on tight atop the mechanical bull out back!

Reflect at The Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

Another stunning architectural masterpiece by lauded Arkansas designer E. Fay Jones, the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel provides a peaceful spot to reflect amid nature’s beauty along the Crystal Bridges Museum Trail. Built in 1988, the petite chapel features Jones’ signature style of elevating structures to seemingly float in natural surrounds through extensive use of glass and native wood beams.

Lit by the sun’s shifting rays, the peaceful space has an almost ethereal glow, especially when the light hits the glowing altar. The chapel contains no religious iconography, allowing visitors of all spiritual leanings to use the space for quiet introspection. Many come to remember lost loved ones, pray, journal, or just sit silently absorbing the calming ambiance. Even nonreligious guests can’t help but be deeply moved by the little chapel’s exquisite design and restorative atmosphere.

Tour the Headquarters of America’s Poultry Leader – Tyson Foods

As the largest employer in northwest Arkansas and provider of one out of every five pounds of chicken, beef and pork across the country, Tyson Foods plays a huge role in feeding families nationwide. Visitors can learn more about Tyson’s fascinating history and operations with a free tour of their global headquarters right in downtown Springdale.

Expert guides walk guests through interactive exhibits explaining Tyson’s innovation in developing tasty, nutritious, and sustainable protein products to feed the planet. Visitors gain insight into each step along the supply chain, from high-tech hatcheries to state-of-the-art facilities utilizing blockchain technology to ensure quality control and workplace safety.

Tours conclude with a cooking demonstration of Tyson products by a professional chef before guests stop by the gift shop. They can bring home Tyson’s leading brand items and specialty apparel mementos.

Catch a Show at Arts Center of the Ozarks

As a major center for Ozark arts and culture, Springdale offers no shortage of popular community theaters, orchestras, and creative events to enjoy. The Arts Center of the Ozarks serves as the hub bringing artists and audiences together in the intimate 214-seat auditorium or versatile outdoor spaces hosting concerts, plays, musicals, and more.

Visitors planning their trip around the ACO performance schedule can catch crowd-pleasing comedies, thought-provoking dramas, family-favorite musicals, dance showcases, and workshops. Free gallery exhibits feature works by local visual artists in mediums spanning painting, sculpture, ceramics, fiber art, photography, and jewelry. The gift shop sells handcrafted items to benefit member artists.

Sample at Sassafras Springs Vineyard

Though Arkansas wine may be an unexpected discovery, oenophiles shouldn’t miss a stop at Sassafras Springs Vineyard & Winery just outside Springdale city limits. Owned by retired pediatric neurologist Dr. John House and his wife Tour, Sassafras Springs produces smooth, vibrant vintages crafted from cold-weather hybrid grapes ideal for Arkansas terroir.

In addition to estate-grown grapes, the vineyard incorporates other fruits like blackberries and peaches into its lineup of whites, blushes, reds and dessert wines. The casual Tasting Room offers free samples, tours and bottles for purchase. Out on the expansive patio overlooking peaceful vineyards, visitors can further relax over a glass and cheese boards or grab picnic provisions from the deli case to enjoy al fresco. With friendly staff and jawdropping views, it’s a perfect glimpse of Arkansas wine country.

Conclusion

Boasting spectacular outdoor recreation, fascinating historical attractions, a vibrant arts scene, diverse shopping and dining, great entertainment, and plenty of Southern hospitality, Springdale truly has something for every interest and age. Whether traveling solo, with family or friends, visitors can easily fill an enjoyable trip itinerary to appreciate this charming city nestled in the gorgeous Ozarks. With so many options for things to do, travelers may just keep extending their stay to pack everything in!

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