Entry to Janet Huckabee Nature Center.

Mini-Vacation in Ft. Smith, Arkansas

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. Deuteronomy 32:7

By: Melissa Pope

This summer our family couldn’t get away for a long trip, but we were able to enjoy a few short excursions. Click here to take a look at our 2013 summer fun. For one last summer fling we decided on a two day, one night stay in Fort Smith, Arkansas. While doing research on what family activities were available, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good list of things I thought my family would enjoy. (My girls are now 12, 10 and 7.)

First on our list was the Fort Smith National Historic Site. There are several spots and buildings on the grounds to visit and learn what took place and history of the old fort. The focus of our visit was the red brick building that once house Judge Isaac Parker’s court house and a jail. Admission is only $4 for adults and children 15 and under are free.

Ft. Smith National Historic Site - inside the jail.

Ft. Smith National Historic Site – inside the jail.

Since we couldn’t yet check in at the hotel for the highly prized “hotel swim” , we strolled along the river trail and through part of downtown back to where we parked. Fort Smith National Cemetery is near this area. Instilling a sense of American history and respect for those who have fought for our country are important to Mark and I. A peaceful drive through the cemetery was in order.

After dinner and just in time for sunset, we capped our evening with several rides at The Park at West End. An Italian hand-painted carousel was our girls’ favorite and we all rode the Ferris wheel that had spent a previous life at the 1935 World’s Fair. Rides were only $1 each!!

The Park at West End - hand painted Italian carousel.

The Park at West End – hand painted Italian carousel.

The next morning we loaded up to visit the Janet Huckabee Nature Center. This nature education area has canoes, kayaks, fishing, archery, guided nature hikes and animal feeding times outdoors. Indoors is an Arkansas nature educational area with live and preserved native animals. Admission to the center and activities are funded by a 1/8th cent conservation sales tax. We could have spent more time there but decided to head home so Chloe could attend a birthday party.

Entry to Janet Huckabee Nature Center.

Entry to Janet Huckabee Nature Center.

Kayaks, canoes, fishing and archery are available at the nature center.

Kayaks, canoes, fishing and archery are available at the nature center.

Inside the Janet Huckabee Nature Center near Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

Inside the Janet Huckabee Nature Center near Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

Total money spent on activities for our family of five was $19!! You could easily make this a day trip from Northwest Arkansas and avoid hotel costs. There were a few places we didn’t get to see – the area has several historic homes as well as beautiful churches. We didn’t get to Zachary Taylor’s Chimney. The trolley was closed for repairs. Next visit we will spend more time at the nature center. My family gives Fort Smith, Arkansas five thumbs up for family friendliness, affordability and variety of activities.

Related Article: Let’s Make a Day of It: Jennifer’s Top 5 Day Trips in NWA

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3 thoughts on “Mini-Vacation in Ft. Smith, Arkansas

  1. Mel Lockcuff (@MamaBuzz)

    Looks like such a fun time, and you only spent $19; that is amazing! We’re always looking for fun things to do locally or not too far away. We may have to visit Fort Smith. Thanks so much for sharing on Inspire Me Wednesday!

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Come visit the Natural State (a blog roundup of Arkansas places to visit) | Jamie's Thots

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