The spARK Report

Welcome to The Special Places in Arkansas (spARK) Report.  I have been looking for a way to share some of the wonderous and beautiful spaces in Arkansas that I have seen and the ones that I plan to see soon.  Sometimes you just have to hop in the car or bus or train and do something unexpected.  I know what some of you are thinking, “That’s expensive”. However, traveling does not have to break the bank.  Here are a few examples of adventures I have done for well under $200.00.

Strawberry Picking and the Underground City of Monte Ne (Northwest Arkansas)

Arkansas has its own little Atlantis.  Monte Ne was once a popular vacation destination that now sits on the bottom of Beaver Lake. I wandered out here one summer while looking for a place to go pick fresh strawberries.  Want strawberries too? Check out this site to find the right place for you.

Most farms have you pay by the weight of what you pick.  So for the cost of gas and the price per pound, this is a VERY affordable (and tasty) Saturday adventure.

Opera in the Ozarks in Eureka Springs (Northwest Arkansas)

Eureka Springs has a beautiful historic downtown and a strong artist vibe.  I had a chance to spend my birthday enjoying Opera in the Ozarks.  There is also an amazing little eatery called Local Flavor Cafe with a baked brie that will leave you happy and big bellied. (YUM!)

Springdale to Van Buren — Arkansas Missouri Railroad (Northwest Arkansas)


I stumbled into this amazing Arkansas adventure while I was hanging out with the area chapter of  There are times of the year when tickets are cheaper than others.

Magnolia Blossom Festival and the World Championship Steak Cook-Off (South Arkansas)



Arkansas has so many cool festivals throughout the year but I just couldn’t say no to this one at all.  A Steak Cook-Off competition.  It was delightful and delicious.  One pro tip, I would encourage you to get a hotel or AirBNB room for Saturday night so that you do have to drive home after eating all of that delicious beef.  Here’s my write up on the 2018 festival.

I’ll be back with more super affordable ideas for exploring special places in Arkansas as the spirit moves me.  I am also happy to take requests of fun things to do in spots you’d like to explore.


Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Hot Springs, Arkansas. For more information on her current projects visit




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