Southeast

7 Romantic Getaways in Arkansas from the Streetcars of Little Rock to the Ozarks

Local writer Rebecca Bingham shares eight romantic getaways in Arkansas.

As we drive into downtown Little Rock on I-30, a milky mist hovers over the Arkansas River like a bridal veil blowing in a summer breeze. Giggling in the backseat of my car sounds more like teenagers at a prom than an octogenarian couple celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. Having met George and Adaire three decades earlier at a conference in Little Rock, I soon adopted them as surrogate parents and professional mentors. Now, we are returning to Arkansas’ capital city to celebrate serendipity and to let them enjoy an encore honeymoon to jumpstart our week-long jaunt around the state.

Lovers of every stripe find open arms in Arkansas. Outdoor adventurers can backpack, bicycle and hike to caves and curated trails systems along the Ozark and Ouachita mountain ranges. Water lovers flock to a variety of crystal lakes, rivers, and streams throughout the state for boating and fishing, and to historic bathhouses for old school clinical spa treatments. Nature fanatics meditate at peaceful labyrinths, meander through extensive botanical gardens, and mull over conservation and sustainability in continuing education classes. Arts and culture aficionados find their tribes congregated at world-class museums, monthly gallery walks, and eclectic music festivals. Foodies discover everything from picnics to plated service, barbecue to baba ghanoush.

Whether you’re looking for an intimate getaway or a chance to share a couples’ experience with a group of like-minded souls, The Natural State is brimming with hospitable residents eager to share their passion for all that makes Arkansas inviting – especially for couples in love. Dive in with these romantic getaways in Arkansas.

Beaver Lake

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Less than a half-hour west of downtown Eureka Springs, Beaver Lake sparkles along 487 miles of shoreline. One of Arkansas’ most scenic and spacious recreational venues, the clear water lake is popular for camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, paddling, and picnicking. At Beaver Lake Cottages, you get the best of both worlds — access to lake amenities when you want them and privacy when you’re ready.

No matter which cabin or suite configuration you choose, the intentional design puts modern amenities and lake views front and center. Share your coffee on the deck as the sun slips over the horizon. Or bundle up at night for dark-sky views of the stars, soak in your Jacuzzi tub for two, and sip a glass of wine in front of the fireplace. Special romance packages–including long-stemmed roses, engraved souvenir champagne flutes, and signature chocolates–will spice up your evening and fit nicely into your Instagram gallery.

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Beaver Lake Cottages

9.1 Excellent (167 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.4 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Air conditioning
Hotel CTA

Bentonville

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Yes, Bentonville is the world capital of Walmart. It’s also a hip small town with a cool cosmopolitan vibe created from the eclectic mix of corporate employees who have moved to the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. Less than a decade ago, Bentonville lept onto the world art stage when the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened to international acclaim, thanks to funding by Walmart heiress Alice Walton. As a result, visual and performing arts infuse nearly every aspect of this town. And no hotel reflects that concept better than the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville.

As the name suggests, 21c is part 21st-century art museum, part luxury hotel, part snazzy restaurant, and part upscale retail. Of course, everything is inspired by and infused with original art. (You can even do a yoga class in one of four 21c first-floor gallery rooms.) And because the hotel is located on the town square, you’re only steps away from metropolitan-style shopping, dining, and entertainment. Ask about special packages that include your preferred combination of complimentary parking, tickets to Crystal Bridges’ current exhibit, credit at the Museum Shop or credit at The Hive — a buzzing restaurant featuring the “High South” cuisine of Matthew McClure, five-time James Beard Award-Winning Semifinalist.

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21c Museum Hotel Bentonville

Top rated
9.5 Excellent (979 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.7 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Gym
Hotel CTA

El Dorado

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El Dorado became known as the “City of Gold” following a 1920s oil boom that brought a flurry of industry to this sleepy town near the Louisiana border. Over the next century, swaths of industry evaporated; but Murphy Oil Corporation survived. Now, thanks to their stewardship and generosity, one of the hottest new entertainment venues in Arkansas is El Dorado’s thriving Murphy Arts District. And Union Square Guest Quarters is the only lodging property within walking distance of the action that includes 50 specialty shops and 10 restaurants, in addition to the performance venues.

The first thing you’ll notice at Guest Quarters is modern technology juxtaposed with retro design, which makes stepping back in time an adventure. Listen to the creaks in original hardwood floors. Admire the craftsmanship of restored plaster walls and intricate crown molding. Browse their collection of prints from the 1920s boom era and relax in roomy suites furnished with period antiques. For an extra touch of romance, book one of four superior suites in the historic George Washington Mason House, circa 1875, lavishly designed with fourteen-foot ceilings and a grand hallway arch.

As a USGQ guest, you’ll enjoy complimentary admission to Healthworks, a first-class facility where you and your partner have access to a full line of training equipment, an Olympic-sized pool and a variety of group classes, including yoga and Pilates.

When you’re ready for entertainment, hold hands for the easy stroll to Murphy Arts District. Be sure to check out Griffin Restaurant, where farm-to-table fare and live entertainment on their cozy cabaret stage every Thursday evening gives you an excuse for an extra date night. First Financial Music Hall at the Griffin hosts full-size stage performances and concerts for audiences up to 2,500. Larger shows and festivals are scheduled at the outdoor M.A.D. Amphitheater. Shakespeare said, “If the food of love be music, play on.” In El Dorado, Murphy Arts District and Union Square Guest Quarters provide the venues. Love makes it fun.

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Union Square Guest Quarters

8.6 Excellent (22 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

Eureka Springs

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About an hour east of Bentonville, the village of Eureka Springs is tucked along the two-lane curves of Highways 62 and 23 in the Ozark Mountains. This is the only town in the country with their entire downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Offices and housing around town showcase a mix of Queen Anne, Second Empire styling as well as Romanesque and Italianate architecture. What’s more, plan to slow down when you arrive. Streets are narrow, parking is limited, and that’s the way folks like it.

A great way to cozy up to the intimate ambiance of Eureka Springs is to book your stay at Cliff Cottage Inn, smack dab in the heart of historic downtown and the restaurant district. Designated parking guarantees a safe spot for your car or motorcycle so that you’re free to stroll at your leisure. A trio of colorful cottages, each with two roomy Jacuzzi suites and private entrances, gives you plenty of breathing room. Want more privacy? Ask for the standalone Zelda Fitzgerald studio with a secluded outdoor hot tub overlooking the valley. And don’t worry about having to gaggle with a group for breakfast. A quiet knock at your door is the signal innkeepers Justin and Asheli Robins have delivered breakfast: hot French bread stuffed with cream cheese, hiding under a trio of fresh berries piled in a delicate Romanoff topping.

The Robbins enjoy arranging thoughtful extras – like fresh flowers and special-occasion mini-cakes – to add a personal touch. (Even more options are available for elopement weddings.) Ask about their concierge services, like reserving tickets to popular seasonal attractions like lunch or dinner excursions aboard a restored passenger train or to an outdoor religious drama.

If you prefer a breath of fresh air, the Innkeepers will make arrangements for horseback riding, canoeing on the White River, zipline experiences or guided fishing trips on nearby Beaver Lake. While you’re away, they’ll prepare a special welcome for your return to Cliff Cottage Inn.

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Cliff Cottage Inn

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (73 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

Hot Springs

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Nearly five centuries ago, Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto visited the thermal springs for which Hot Springs is named. Long before that, native tribes considered the area a place of healing and peace. In 1832, the U. S. Park Service set aside land to protect 47 underground springs and subsequently named it Hot Springs National Park in 1921. Ever since, this area has continually been regarded as a place where people come to rest and recuperate.

A row of historic bathhouses commemorates Hot Springs’ rich history and anchors the city’s resurrected entertainment district with a plethora of dining, shopping, and bathing experiences. Superior Bathhouse Brewery, for instance, is the first U.S. brewery to make a craft beer with thermal water as the primary ingredient. The Buckstaff, on the other hand, still offers the same traditional bathing experience as when it opened in 1912. The Fordyce Bathhouse, built in 1915 and now restored to its former glory, serves as the National Park Visitors Center.

A 15-minute drive south of downtown, Lookout Point Lakeside Inn resurrects the original peaceful character of Hot Springs. A bed and breakfast property on the shore of Lake Hamilton, the Inn’s craftsman architecture comprises different but complementary décor for each of its 10 luxuriously-appointed guest rooms. Likewise, the library, sun lounge, and dining areas are designed with relaxation in mind.

Each patio at Lookout Point overlooks Lake Hamilton, which extends from the Inn’s gardens like an infinity pool cradled by a 1,300-foot mountain. Throughout the seasons, Mt. Riante’s mix of pine, hickory, oak, and maple guarantees a kaleidoscope of evergreen, chartreuse, sunflower, russet, magenta, and sable–all reflected in the sparkling waters below.

During warmer months, savor a sunset on the water during your private wine and cheese cruise. Destress with a jaunt along the meditation path which anchors the Inn’s gardens. Modeled after the 13th-century labyrinth at Our Lady of Chartres Cathedral in France, the Inn’s pathway was planted in 2003 and is surrounded by flowering shrubs and perennials that line the perimeter. Then, take a nap in a lazy hammock or watch ruby-throated hummingbirds sip nectar from Butterfly Bushes and Cardinal Flowers. Or, simply retire to your room to enjoy soaking in a whirlpool tub before settling into a quiet conversation around the fire.

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Lookout Point Lakeside Inn

Top rated
9.3 Excellent (230 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.7 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Air conditioning
Hotel CTA

Little Rock

1/3

Little Rock residents say Arkansas’ capital delivers big-city amenities with a hometown feel. For more than 140 years, the Capital Hotel has offered a similar combination of flair and comfort. An air of sophistication fills the stately lobby, where the grandeur of the Capital’s complete historic restoration is on full display. And yet, the hotel staff greet you by name as part of their corporate commitment to “be huggable.”

Take a selfie with the massive marble columns, elegant coffered ceilings, and extensive gilded molding as your backdrop. Or, sip a hand-crafted cocktail from Capital Bar & Grill, where casual comfort food emerges as weekly blue-plate specials made with locally-sourced ingredients, and people-watching is a favorite pastime. Alternatively, make reservations at One Eleven for elegant bistro dining prepared under the direction of James Beard Award-winning chef Joel Antunes. His handpicked culinary team from around the world translates international flavors into upscale Southern favorites like roast duck breast with figs and gnocchi romaine,

Outside the hotel, you can hop aboard a historic streetcar trolley to explore Little Rock’s River Market District for food, entertainment, and nightlife; the Creative Corridor for galleries and studios; and North Little Rock’s historic Argenta District for a smattering of everything — all along the 3.4-mile route. For an extra dose of history, be sure to visit the Clinton Presidential Library and Old State House Museum, the oldest surviving capitol building west of the Mississippi River, both within easy walking distance.

Back at the hotel, you’ll rest like royalty inside spacious guestrooms with 14-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. No two accommodations are identical, so you’ll feel welcome wherever you are – especially with customized in-room amenities available by request to help you celebrate special occasions, such as decorating a suite with rose petals that spell out “Will You Marry Me?”

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Capital Hotel

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (160 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.5 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Restaurant
Hotel bar
Hotel CTA

West Little Rock

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When your getaway itch calls for an upscale modern boutique, huddle up at The Burgundy Hotel, An Ascend Hotel Collection Member in West Little Rock. With a little advance planning, you and your partner can soak away stress in the solitary 550-square foot King Whirlpool Suite that also includes a roomy jetted walk-in shower and cozy fireplace. To help set the mood, choose a package that adds romantic touches like chilled champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and rose petals. At your leisure, head downstairs for an intimate dinner at Table 28, where farm-to-fork Modern American Cuisine is de rigueur.

Ready for a little nightlife? Take in a show at nearby Loony Bin Comedy Club or keep it quiet with a lovers’ stroll across the lighted Big Dam Bridge, the longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in North America. During the day, you can shop together at nearby Promenade at Chenal and Pleasant Ridge Town Center. Or, schedule massages at one of the several day spas less than 10 minutes by car or a 20-minute bike ride from the hotel.

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The Burgundy Hotel

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (1657 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Gym
Outdoor swimming pool
Hotel CTA

Feature photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash