Is it the heat or the humidity? In Arkansas it is BOTH! Summer in Arkansas is hot, y’all. Occasionally the temperatures are pleasantly warm, but more often they are scorchingly hot…and humid.

However, we don’t let the heat stop us! Arkansans have found plenty of ways to beat the summer heat. There are plenty of great things to do in the summer in Arkansas!

What is Summer in Arkansas Really Like?

  • No matter what the calendar tells you, summer is the longest season in the state. It can begin as early as April and last into October.
  • In the peak of summer from July through September the average highs are 93 degrees and temperatures in often exceed 100 degrees.
  • Arkansas is in the top 15 of the most humid states in the US.
  • The average humidity is over 70 percent and is typically much higher.

Although those of us who live here LOVE to complain about the heat – we actually really enjoy Arkansas in the summer and we think that you will too as long as you are prepared!

So how do locals overcome the heat? Here are some ideas for the best things to do in Arkansas in the summer time.

Things to do in the Summer in Arkansas

As you might imagine Arkansans have developed their own ways of dealing with the summer temperatures. We are pretty much experts at finding cool ways to enjoy the summer.

And yes, some of our coping mechanisms involve staying inside a lot and going from air-conditioned space to air-conditioned space.

Hey! Don’t judge if you have never lived in the south.

However, if you want a little more adventure here are some of our favorite suggestions for fun things to do in Arkansas in the summer!

Visit a Beautiful Arkansas Lake

A visit to a lake is most locals top choice for a summertime activity in Arkansas. Arkansas has many gorgeous lakes and several of them are rated among the cleanest in the country.

There really isn’t much better than being on the lake in the middle of a hot Arkansas summer day.

Go to this post to read all about the best lakes in Arkansas!

Here are just a few of our favorites!

  • Lake Ouachita is the largest lake fully within the boundaries of the state and is where we go most often.
  • Greers Ferry Lake near Heber Springs, Arkansas is also gorgeous and pristine.
  • In the Ozark mountains you will find Bull Shoals Lake which is near the White River.
  • Beaver Lake is near the storied town of Eureka Springs.

Many of these lakes have sandy beaches that can be used by the public, but if at all possible you really get out on a boat!

Ski, tube, relax on a raft…there is really no better way to beat the summer heat in Arkansas.

Lake Ouachita in Arkansas in the summerPin

By the way we also have posts about the best things to do in Arkansas in the spring and some great things to do in Arkansas in the winter and, of course, amazing things to do in the fall!

Enjoy Cold Food: Like an Ice Cream or a Popsicle or a Pineapple Whip – Quickly, Before it Melts!

One of the best ways to spend an Arkansas summer day is to have a delicious, sweet, and icy treat. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Yarnell’s is old-fashioned ice-cream made right in Searcy, Arkansas. You can find it at almost any grocery store in the state. All the flavors are good, but I suggest that you try the butter pecan or the peanut butter tracks.
  • Loblolly Creamery is a Little Rock favorite. It is SO good. This is small batch ice cream made with 15% butter fat with natural, organic, local ingredients. No preservatives or stabilizers…y’all this is ice cream made with love and you can taste it.
  • Le Pops Gourmet Iced Lollies in Little Rock is a great place to stop when you are doing a little summer boutique shopping on Kavanaugh in the Heights neighborhood. They create gourmet and delicious popsicles including some non-dairy options!
  • Arkansas Pineapple Whip is a seasonal food truck in Conway, Arkansas that serves a delicious pineapple concoction. Have you ever had a Dole Whip from Disney World? This is like that. Maybe even better. Icy, sweet, pineapple-y, so good.
Girl with Dole Whip. A dole whip is one of the best treats for summertime in Arkansas.Pin

Float an Arkansas River

Our very favorite thing to do in Arkansas in the summer is to go a “float trip.” The state has some glorious rivers for floating.

NOTE: Do be aware that not all rivers are accessible to float at all times. The waters can be too high or too low depending on the amount of rainfall that we have received so always check before you plan your float trip.

  • The Buffalo River was the first river in the US to be designated a national river. The water is clear and beautiful with forests on one side and towering bluffs on the other. You will definitely want to call before you go as the Buffalo does tend to get low quickly during dry weather. Buffalo River Outfitters can give you all the information that you need.
  • The Spring River is one of the best bets for floating year round. It is fed by Mammoth Springs which keeps this river nice and cold for a summer float with plenty of water year round. This is where I spent most of my time growing up and I love it.
  • Saline River: If you live in central Arkansas this is a quick and easy float that is good for the whole family. It runs right through the city of Benton and is a fun place for floating, swimming, and fishing. Saline River Canoe can tell you about river conditions. They offer a 4-mile float from Peeler Bend to Lyle Park.
  • The Mulberry River is known for having the most beautiful blue green water. It is a free flowing stream without dams. It can usually be floated into June after which it sometimes becomes too low. Depending on the water levels this can definitely be a river for more experienced paddlers. You will want to talk to Turner Bend Outfitters to get more information about The Mulberry RIver.

Visit the Siloam Springs Kayak Park

A grant from the Walton Family was given to the City of Siloam Springs to create this kayak park on the Illinois River.

The flow of the river along Fisher Ford Road has been engineered to create a series of whitewater rapids and “standing waves” for kayakers.

It was completed in 2014 and has quickly become a hotspot for white water paddlers in the region. It is free to use the park. Do be aware that currently there are no commercial outfitters so you will have to bring your own kayak.

There are also no life guards. Life jackets, helmets, and close-toed shoes are highly recommended.

Other park amenities include a swimming area, climbing boulder, accessible walking trails, picnic tables, changing station, and two rain gardens.

Seek Lower Temperatures on Mount Magazine State Park

Mount Magazine State Park is the home of the highest point in Arkansas. It is a great place to spend a hot day in Arkansas in the summer.

I’m not going to tell you that the mountain isn’t hot in the summer months, however, the temperatures do average about 10 degrees less than in the valley below. In fact, temperatures on the mountain have not reached 100 degrees since data has been collected there.

In addition to cooler temperatures you will find gorgeous views, hiking, rock climbing, hang-gliding, and mountain biking. There is also a lodge, cabins, and a restaurant on the mountain.

You can also check out the second highest point in Arkansas which happens to be Queen Wilhelmina State Park on Rich Mountain. There are usually nice breezes there even in the summer months!

Relax with a craft beer

The craft beer scene has really boomed in Arkansas in recent years. There are craft and micro breweries popping up everywhere.

We have written an entire post about the brewpubs and breweries in Little Rock but you will find them all over the state especially in the northwest corner.

Many of these new breweries are winning national awards.

There’s not a much better way to spend time in Arkansas in the summer than relaxing with an icy cold beer on a hot day.

Bear at Diamond Bear. one of the best breweries in Little RockPin

Take a Dip in an Arkansas Swimming Hole

Obviously swimming pools are excellent, but one of the best things to do in Arkansas in the summer is to visit a swimming hole.

A swimming hole is defined as a place in a river, stream, creek, spring, or similar natural body of water, which is large enough and deep enough for a person to swim in.

We have plenty of swimming holes in Arkansas. Here are a few of our favorites:

(Please note that these are natural areas used both by people and wildlife. Remember to clean up your trash, don’t bring items that can be broken, don’t leave anything behind, don’t build dams…basically just be respectful of both other people and nature.)

  • Kings River Falls is not only a nice place to hike but a very popular place to swim. This out and back trail is about 1.2 miles round trip. There is a nice pool at the bottom of the falls that is perfect for a cooling swim.
  • Charlton Recreation Area is one of our favorites. We go there at least once or twice a summer. It is said to be the swimming hole with the coldest water in the state. It is a spring fed deep water swimming hole that is cold, clear, and clean.
  • Falling Water Falls is a very popular spot with good reason. It has a beautiful waterfall and is located right by the road so you don’t even have to hike to get to it. It can get busy on the weekends in the summer.
  • Long Pool Recreation Area lies along the beautiful Big Piney Creek which is a nationally designated Scenic and Recreational River. This is a beautiful spot with a large natural pool, high bluffs, and forests.
  • There are several great places to take a summer time dip along the Buffalo River. The river near the Steel Creek Campground is one of our favorites! There is a spacious and nice gravel bar and a clear pool at the foot of a gorgeous bluff.
  • There are a couple of fun swimming holes on the North Sylamore Creek in the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area. Check out both the upper and the lower pool on the creek!
Falling water falls is a perfect swimming hole for spending a summer day in arkansasPin

Visit an Arkansas Cavern

The temperatures outside might be nearing 100 degrees but a cave is naturally climate controlled. Caves are always cool to visit in every sense of the word!

This makes a visit to a cavern one of the best things to do in Arkansas in the summer.

We have a great list of the caverns that are open to the public in Arkansas.

Blanchard Springs Caverns located in north central Arkansas is considered to be one of the best cave experiences in the US.

We also love the smaller lakeside War Eagle Cavern.

Do note that several of these close for the winter months. DO check for opening days and hours.


Wet Your Feet in Icy-Cold Collins Creek

Collins Creek is a great place to cool your feet on a hot day in Arkansas in the summer. This water in this creek comes from the bottom of Greers Ferry Lake. It is cold and clear, cascades beautifully down the mountain side in a wonderfully shaded area, and doesn’t dry up in the summer.

There is even a nearby playground for children.

This is one of our favorite short hikes.

Fish on the White River

The White RIver runs 720 miles through the gorgeous Ozark Mountains. Certain sections of the river are nationally renowned for trout fishing. We love the area near the Bull Shoals Dam.

The dam here releases water from the bottom of the Bull Shoals Lake into the river. The water is always cold and provides the perfect habitat for trout. Our favorite place to stay on the White River is Gaston’s Resort.

On this section of the river you can fish from the bank, fly fish from the shallows, take a boat out on the river to make your catch, or just sit at the waters edge and enjoy the cool breeze coming off of the water.

Spending the day on the White River is a perfect thing to do in Arkansas in the summer.

fishing on the white river is a great way to spend a summer day in arkansasPin

Cool off Inside a Museum

When it is just too hot to be outside try visiting one of the great Arkansas museums!

  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is one of the premiere art museums in the US. It is even free to the public. It is located in Bentonville, Arkansas and has amazing art both inside and out.
  • Scott Family Amazeum is a great place to spend a day with children as they learn through fun. The Amazeum is in Bentonville.
  • The Mid-American Science Museum in Hot Springs is a wonderful place to spend a hot summer day in Arkansas. It is spacious and perfect for the children and, of course, air-conditioned.
  • The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock. Want to see a submarine on a river? Visit this maritime museum.
  • Museum of Discovery in Little Rock. This children’s museum has something for everyone, from scientific wonders, to historical marvels your children (and you) will enjoy this museum.

Take in a Baseball Game

Summertime is practically synonymous with baseball. Arkansas does not have a major league team but they do have two minor league teams.


Attend a Summer Food Festival

Although the summer festivals in Arkansas will be outside – you will have so much fun enjoying the summer delicacies from the state that you will forget all about the heat.

Here are some of our favorite summer food festivals in Arkansas.


We hope that this list of great things to do in Arkansas in the summer helps you to cool off in the summer heat and to realize what a special place the state of Arkansas is during any season of the year.

A treehouse set amid lush green leaves might just be the perfect place to stay in summertime in Arkansas.

If you plan to visit Arkansas in the fall here is a post about the best places to see fall color in the state.

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