Autumn in the Ozarks

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courtesy Arkansas Tourism Department

Autumn in the Ozarks is a magnificent season. Small towns dot the sprawling mountains like scattered leaves across an open field, each defined by its own local color, making a lovely drive for those with a wandering spirit. You’ll find towns all around the Ozarks that provide weekends of wonder with gourmet dining and welcoming accommodations that offer relaxation after a full day of exploring the places that exude Southern charm. Here are two of our favorite small towns.

Harrison, Arkansas

With its downtown lake and historic town square, Harrison has been recognized as one of the “Best Small Towns in America”. As the gateway to the Buffalo National River, numerous opportunities await outdoor lovers on land and water. And when it’s time for a fall festival, Harrison’s got you covered with a full calendar of events planned throughout the season.

View Fall Foliage in Harrison

A short 20-minute drive from Harrison you will find Buffalo National River. Here, you can spend your day hiking trails, floating down the river and exploring the gorgeous fall colors in all their glory.

Dining in Harrison

· Jamie’s Local Flavor offers an experience in the flavors of the Ozarks from fried catfish to fall-off-the-bone ribs.

· Devito’s is known for its local trout prepared in eight different ways, plus numerous Italian specialties.

Harrison Lodging

Hotel Seville

Hotel Seville is a historic inn in the heart of downtown Harrison. The boutique hotel opened in 1929 and features elaborate Spanish Revival/Mission-style architecture. A magnificent chandelier hangs over the lobby resplendent with plaster carvings and a grand split staircase. Seville Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the mid-1990s and is now one of Choice Hotel’s Ascend Collection properties. The rooms are generous in size. You will also be delighted to find a fine dining option at on-site the Terrazzo Dining Room.

Cloud9 Tip: With just 81 rooms, Seville Hotel books up quickly, particularly in the fall when leaf peepers come to view the colors, bikers come to ride the roads and the cooler air offers a wonderful break for all. It is best to book a room in as far in advance as possible.

Additional area accommodations are as follows:

Holiday Inn Express and Suites

Hampton Inn Harrison

Hot Springs

Take a step back in time in historic Hot Springs. You’ll fall under its spell once you get into town, but once you come to, you’ll want to soak in its healing waters, something people have known about for hundreds of years. While shopping its antique markets is a classic favorite, visiting the Gangster Museum of America should be at the top of any visitor’s bucket list as few know about the town’s connection to notorious fellows such as Al Capone and Lucky Luciano.

Hot Springs outdoors is gorgeous and offers a bounty of recreational possibilities. The town boasts one of the country’s oldest national parks where you can tour Bathhouse Row and its eight historic bathhouses built over naturally occurring hot springs in the late 1800s. Two bathhouses, Quapaw and Buckstaff, are still functioning and allow guests to soak their cares away in warm thermal waters.

View Fall Foliage in Hot Springs

Hot Springs National Park is known for viewing those beautiful fall colors. This national park is unique from others across the country because the downtown area of Hot Springs and the historic bathhouses are included inside this park. Due to these inclusions, most people do not think of this park as a great place for fall foliage but it is one of the best places in all of Arkansas to experience those bountiful fall colors.

Hot Springs Dining

Foodies will fall in love with Hot Springs, from the barbecue at McClard’s to deep-fried catfish from Fisherman’s Wharf. In addition to these local favorites consider trying the following:

· Luna Bella is a chic Italian eatery that consistently ranks as a favorite in the city. Lobster and shrimp risotto is a top-seller right along with veal osso buco and pan-roasted halibut.

· Steinhaus Keller creates culinary magic that will transport you into the heart of Bavaria with dishes such as Black Forest Schnitzel and braised beef roast sauerbraten.

Lodging in Hot Springs

When night draws near, settle into a room at Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa. A magnificent hotel that opened in 1875, boasts 500 elegant rooms and is the largest in the state. Adjacent to Bathhouse Row, the hotel is conveniently located across the street from museums, art galleries, antique shops and more.

Other top picks include:

· The Waters Hot Springs, a member of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection.

· Hotel Hale, offering a one-of-a-kind experience in one of just nine guest rooms with mineral water piped into each.

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