First things, first: We love Little Rock!

We always find plenty of fun for families right here in the city, but don’t forget another big check mark in the metro’s pro column: its central location in the state and country.

As the weather warms, take time to explore these drivable destinations.

COVID-19 safety smarts: Make sure to keep your distance, mask up and find outside fun when you can.

We organized our guide by travel time. So first, choose how long you’d like to be in the car and explore our list there. We teamed up with the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism for amazing photos and their top picks for family-friendly things to do. Look for their starred recommendations to start planning your next trip.

Day Trippers

1-2 Hours

Hot Springs, Arkansas
Travel time: 56 minutes

No matter if you come for the shopping or stay for the sites, you have plenty of options to fill a day (or two) in Hot Springs. On one hand, you have Bathhouse Row, Magic Springs Theme Park and the Mid-America Science Museum. On the other, lakes, trails and Garvan Woodland Gardens. Don’t miss Garvan Gardens Daffodil Days & Tulip Extravaganza this spring!

Stroll Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs to enjoy gorgeous architecture and rich history dating back to 1892.

Petit Jean State Park
Morrilton, Arkansas
Travel time: 1 hour 8 minutes

As Arkansas’ first state park, Petit Jean earns a place of honor on any must-see list in the Natural State. Families can explore more than 20 miles of trails and discover breathtaking spots like Cedar Falls.

Hope, Arkansas + Historic Washington State Park
Washington, Arkansas
Travel time: 1 hour 46 minutes

Zip down Interstate 30 West to visit the boyhood home of Arkansas’ only native president, Bill Clinton. Make a day of it by driving another 8 miles to Historic Washington State Park. Step into living historical sites with park employees in period character and costume.

Crater of Diamonds State Park
Murfreesboro, Arkansas
Travel time: 1 hour 52 minutes

Truly a local gem, this park is one of the only diamond-producing sites in the world where the public can search for diamonds. The best part: any diamonds you find are yours to keep. Tickets are required, and do sell out — so it is best to plan ahead.

Mount Magazine State Park
Paris, Arkansas
Travel time: 1 hour 56 minutes

Mount Magazine is a (literal) high point in the Natural State. Those seeking adventure or relaxation will be equally pleased. You can hang glide, rock climb, mountain bike and more.

Mountain View, Arkansas
Travel time: 1 hour 59 minutes

Mountain View offers an inviting mix of natural beauty and local charm. Adventurous families can fly high at Loco Ropes in Ozark Folk Center State Park or take a joy ride on scenic Push Mountain Road.

The Ozark Folk Center of Mountain View offers families a peek into the region's art, music and culture.

2-3 Hours

Helena, Arkansas
Travel time: 2 hours 3 minutes

Get to know Arkansas’ Delta region with a visit to Helena. First, take a deep dive into the region’s history at the Delta Cultural Center. Then, bike or hike the Arkansas Delta Heritage Trail or enjoy the sights on local scenic byways like the Great River Road and Crowley’s Ridge Parkway.

Memphis, Tennessee
Travel time: 2 hours 4 minutes

Barbecue and blues are just the beginning of Memphis fun. Kids of all ages will enjoy the Memphis Zoo and spacious Children’s Museum of Memphis. You could go for the day or stretch your trip to last a weekend.

Texarkana, Arkansas/Texas
Travel time: 2 hours 9 minutes

Did you know that Texarkana is home to a premier family water park? Take the quick trip and discover other hidden treasures like the state line, Four States Auto Museum and the Scott Joplin Mural.

Weekend Worthy

3-4 Hours

Northwest Arkansas
Travel time: about 3 hours, depending on your destination

Whether you come for biking, hiking, eating or a little bit of all of the above, you’ll find it in northwest Arkansas. Some family-friendly highlights include the Razorback Regional Greenway, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville and the Scott Family Amazeum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Museum of Native American History in Bentonville.

The Amazeum of Bentonville offers families hours of indoor and outdoor fun.

Branson, Missouri
Travel time: 3 hours 12 minutes

You can spend the day at Silver Dollar City, take in a show or enjoy a museum in Branson. Nestled in the Ozarks, this vacation spot also offers plenty of free, outdoor fun.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Travel time: 3 hours 29 minutes

In Eureka Springs, families can wander through the Victorian-era historic district, take a tour of Thorncrown Chapel, visit Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and explore Kings River.

Thorncrown Chapel is a Eureka Springs must-see.

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Travel time: 3 hours 58 minutes

Checking out The Gathering Place, a park that spans more than 100 acres, is worth the trek for family fun. Tulsa also offers museums, planetariums and minor league baseball.

5-6 Hours

Dallas, Texas
Travel time: 4 hours 40 minutes

Visit Six Flags over Texas for high-speed thrills or LEGOland for hours of indoor fun. The metro also features aquariums, a zoo, museums, parks and water parks, including the Great Wolf Lodge.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Travel time: 4 hours 56 minutes

OKC offers some Wild West fun for even the smallest travelers with the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The whole family will find something they enjoy at Brickopolis, a spot with a mini golf course, arcade and more.

Nashville, Tennessee
Travel time: 5 hours 6 minutes

Take in all that Nashville has to offer while enjoying outdoor attractions like the Nashville Zoo and iconic Centennial Park.

St. Louis, Missouri
Travel time: 5 hours 22 minutes

Kids can burn energy at the one-of-a-kind City Museum as they explore and climb miles of tunnels, slides and more. Families also can enjoy free admission to the zoo and the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Kansas City, Missouri
Travel time: 6 hours 15 minutes

Kaleidoscope, a top attraction and free art-making spot, is set to re-open this spring. Baseball lovers can go cheer on the Royals.

Long Weekenders

7-10 Hours

New Orleans, Louisiana
Travel time: 6 hours 52 minutes

Enjoying new flavors as a family is worth the trip to New Orleans. Take a daytime tour of the French Quarter and make sure to treat the kids to beignets and chocolate milk at Cafe du Monde.

Houston, Texas
Travel time: 6 hours 55 minutes

There’s no problem filling a weekend with Houston fun. Aspiring astronauts will love visiting the Houston Space Center.

Austin, Texas
Travel time: 7 hours 37 minutes

Austin is a family-friendly hub for food (can you say Tex-Mex?), music and exploration. One of their top attractions is actually underground. Budding geologists can take a guided tour of the Inner Space Cavern to spy Ice Age fossils.