The Best is Yet to Come in Arkansas
From the bustling Northwest Arkansas metro to the small town of El Dorado, Arkansas is making quite the buzz with new museums, flourishing arts districts, ever-expanding bike trails and more. Here are just a handful of the recent developments putting Arkansas on the map.
National U.S. Marshals Museum
The future National U.S. Marshals Museum will find a home along the banks of the Arkansas River in Fort Smith. The museum will serve to honor the past and future service of U.S. Marshals through interactive galleries. The design timeline estimates the museum will open its doors on Sept. 24, 2019.
“Festival City of the South”
El Dorado Festivals & Events, Inc. aims to transform El Dorado into the Festival City of the South by revamping nearly six blocks of the city into an arts and culture hub. The group has already held the 30th annual MusicFest in 2018 with big-name acts like ZZ Top, Brad Paisley, Smokey Robinson and the X Ambassadors. In May 2018, the Murphy Arts District debuted the MAD Playscape, which is the largest children’s destination outdoor playscape in Arkansas and completed phase one of the revitalization program. Phase two will bring the renovation of the historic Rialto Theater that will serve as the stage for traveling shows from Broadway and the South Arkansas Symphony.
Wildly Growing Trails System
Arkansas is quickly becoming known as a premier cycling destination in the country. The continuously growing trails system boasts the Razorback Regional Greenway, linking the Bella Vista Trail in north Bentonville to south Fayetteville over the course of 36 miles. A new addition to the trails system is the Back 40 single-track mountain bike trail in Bella Vista. The Back 40 is the first of a multi-phase project that plans for 150 miles of natural-surface trail through Bella Vista. Plus, Bentonville just debuted a one-acre bicycle playground featuring tunnels, bridges and a pump track to encourage riders of all ages to develop their cycling skills.
The long-awaited “second act” for Little Rock’s Robinson Center is in full-swing after undergoing $68 million worth of renovations. The performing arts center, in addition to an ongoing Main Street revitalization and the establishment of a Creative Corridor downtown, adds to the capital city’s growing list of impactful economic and recruitment endeavors. But the projects don’t stop there — the Arkansas Arts Center revealed a $70 million renovation plan slated to start in fall 2019. Other notable additions-to-come downtown include an AC Hotel by Marriott, along with a 5,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge, set to open in summer 2019, and the Rock City Yacht Club that will be home to party boats and barges as well as a floating restaurant and bar.
In 2014, Hot Springs’ entire downtown was listed on the Preserve Arkansas’s list of most endangered places. After a fire burned down the Majestic Hotel in 2014, the Downtown Game Plan Task Force leapt into action working on plans to make downtown a better place. Since then, Bathhouse Row, home to beautiful spas and hotels dating back to the 1800s, has gone through a beautiful transformation. In May 2018, the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce celebrated the 100th business, the Vault restaurant, to open since the fire. Another big project in the works is the more-than $40 million renovation of the historic Arlington Hotel.