Fort Smith is Arkansas’s second-largest city, with about 90,000 citizens.
The city sits on the banks of the Arkansas River. It has a long history extending back to the frontier era when it was home to various Native American tribes.
However, the state of Arkansas is also known for its natural beauty. Historically, the City was formerly a French province known as New France.
For the most part, Fort Smith is filled with tradition, history, and culture, from the Italianate-style Clayton House mansion to many other historic features.
Also, for amateur historians interested in learning more about the Civil War, the city is exceptionally interesting.
Here’s our list of the 20 best and most fun things to do in Fort Smith (Arkansas).
Things to do in Fort smith
1. Miss Laura’s Visitor Center
Miss Laura’s Visitor Center, also known as “Miss Laura’s Social Club,” is situated alongside the Arkansas River in Fort Smith’s historic downtown neighborhood.
It is the only house that has survived the test of time among the houses that bordered Fort Smith’s Old West red light area.
It is now the only former bordello listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And the house has been completely restored to its former glory.
The house is a Victorian mansion that has essentially become a symbol of this once-raucous border town’s colorful past.
When you visit, you’ll be able to explore the property extensively.
Some of the staff here will guide you, and you will get to see the home in its original grandeur. Coupled with that, you’ll also see many exhibits and artifacts.
Complimentary tours of the Victorian mansion hold daily for visitors to get an in-depth view of the prominent structure.
Address: 2 N. B St.Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States
2. Fort Smith Regional Art Museum
Fort Smith Regional Art Museum is one of Fort Smith’s best tourist attractions.
This fine arts institution features rotating contemporary exhibitions, annual competitions, and permanent collection items.
Some of the Regional Art Museum events include galas, members-only events, artist-led workshops, children’s art camps, and many more.
The opening of the museum at 1601 Rogers Avenue in the heart of Fort Smith in January 2013 marked a turning point for the organization. And today, The Museum offers far more programs and exhibitions than its predecessor.
The Regional Art Museum has received the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas’ 2013 Preservation through Rehabilitation Award. As well as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Gold Award in 2014.
Additionally, the museum has a specialty gift shop. The shops are filled with one-of-a-kind goods created by local and regional artists. The museum also makes its facilities available for rentals.
It’s especially delightful to know that this state-of-the-art museum surpasses national standards and offers a unique chance for the region’s cultural development.
It’s an excellent place for tourists to have a fantastic experience in Fort Smith.
Address: 1601 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States
3. Fort Smith Little Theatre
Fort Smith Little Theatre is Arkansas’s longest-running community theatre. It has been entertaining local audiences in the city since 1947!
What more? They’ve been in their 200-seat building in downtown Fort Smith since 1986. It’s old and classic yet tuned to accommodate modern taste to the very best.
This thriving theater is an all-volunteer organization. And for the most part, they put on 6 to 8 shows per year. The different shows range from comedies to musicals to mysteries and dramas.
To get more details about the Theatre and purchase tickets, you should visit fslt.org.
They have all the details about the concert and tickets.
Often the performances are during the evenings on weekdays and Sundays. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and the doors open at 6:45 p.m. At the same time, Sunday Matinee performances start at 2:00 p.m.; the doors open at 1:15 p.m.
Visit here to enjoy a unique Theatre experience.
Address: 401 North 6th Street, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States
4. The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center is located on 170 acres of former Fort Chaffee grounds in Fort Smith.
The structure looks out over Wells Lake, a favorite fishing and picnicking spot in the area!
This place is an excellent park loaded with lots of fun.
The nature center is located in the rich Arkansas River Valley. And it focuses on the diverse range of animals and birds that live here.
For the most part, many colorful songbirds stop by on their way to and from wintering grounds. In addition to this, there are the resident Canada geese, small animals, and turtles.
Many tourists come to the center for the fascinating displays inside, but many also enjoy the paths and native vegetation on the grounds and canoeing or fishing in the lake.
There are a lot of explorations you can have here.
The educational center consists of live native snakes, turtles, fish, and many more exhibits.
Generally, the building only opens up on Tuesday-Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. However, the grounds are always open.
For tourists interested in water-related activities, staff members can provide assistance. They will assist boaters on Wells Lake.
Furthermore, participants must wear life jackets, which will be provided.
Other fun activities you can do here include archery, swimming, fishing, Picnicking, and many more.
Address: 8300 Wells Lake Road, Fort Smith, AR 72916, United States.
5. The Unexpected Project
The Unexpected project is a downtown revitalization project in Fort Smith that began in 2015. It was launched by 64.6 Downtown.
Since the project began, Downtown Fort Smith has been converted into a world-class destination for urban and contemporary public art.
More than 30 pieces by highly sought-after international artists are here.
Artworks by renowned artists such as D*Face, Ana Maria, Askew, Okuda San Miguel, Bordalo II, Maser, Hoxxoh, and others have been added to the increasing collection of permanent/semi-permanent outdoor art.
The artworks are beautiful, and many tourists find them highly fascinating.
You can take a stroll or bike around downtown to see these beautiful artworks, and you could also take some fantastic pictures of them.
Additionally, you can pick up a printed copy of The Unexpected artwork map at Miss Laura’s Visitors Center.
Address: Garrison Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72901
Planning a road trip outside of Fort Smith? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Springdale, Rogers, Hot Springs, and Texarkana!
6. McClure Amphitheater
McClure Amphitheater is located near Chaffee Crossing Historic District. It was established by the US Army as a training facility in 1953.
It now serves as a City of Fort Smith specialty park and outdoor gathering spot.
The McClure Amphitheater can be used for reunions, performances, meetings, and other special events.
They charge a fee for rent, and you can have the place to yourself for all the exciting events you have planned.
You can also enjoy the entertainment and events the Amphitheater has to offer.
The Amphitheater also provides a beautiful view of the River Valley, and it’s a lovely spot for a picnic lunch or small gathering.
If you’re fortunate to be around in summer, there are concerts and events which hold in the Amphitheater that you’d love to take part in.
This place should be one of the spots you visit in Fort Smith.
Address: 7201 Massard Road, Fort Smith, AR 72916
7. Fort Smith National Historic Site
Fort Smith National Historic Site offers you the opportunity to walk where Mexican War and Civil War soldiers drilled.
In this place, you can pause along the Trail of Tears. And you can stand where justice was administered to some of the Wild West’s most terrible outlaws.
The park contains the following attractions:
Belle Point (First Fort Smith):
This place was founded in 1817 on a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers.
It was then named by 18th-century French fur trappers as Belle Point, the French word for “beautiful sight.”
Visitors can stroll the foundation remains of the first Fort Smith and enjoy a spectacular view of the two rivers.
Overlook of the Trail of Tears:
You can take a stroll along the mighty Arkansas River while viewing display panels that explain the narrative of the five civilized nations. The information boards are exciting, and it’s good to learn the history of the location.
The Commissary, Fort Smith Gallows, and Second Fort Smith Grounds:
The Commissary is Fort Smith’s oldest structure.
Judge Parker’s chambers were upstairs during federal court time. Today, you can see it as it was in the 1850s when it served food to military forces.
A recreation of the Fort Smith Gallows may be found on the park’s grounds. According to history, a startling number of Wild West outlaws met their end with ropes to their necks.
Address: 301 Parker Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States
8. Massard Prairie Battlefield Park
Massard Prairie was a favored grazing pasture for Union troops and residents during the Civil War. It was added to the Arkansas Register of Historic Places on November 7, 2001.
Confederate troops launched a surprise attack on Union troops stationed at the site on July 27, 1864. Therefore, completing one of their most effective raids on Union troops in Arkansas.
Today, the site honors the men who died in the war by conserving the four principal portions of the camp.
These principal portions of the camp are the Parade Ground, the kitchen or “mess,” and the camps of Companies B and D.
However, you can also find historical markers, a monument, a memorial flagstaff, and a walking track in the park.
You can visit here to learn more about the history of Massard Prairie and the Civil War.
Address:4999 Morgans Way, Fort Smith, AR 72916, United States
9. Fort Smith Air Museum
The Fort Smith Air Museum is a really fascinating place for lovers of aircraft.
When the new Fort Smith Regional Airport Terminal was finished in September 2002, the Fort Smith Air Museum moved there and established itself.
Currently, there are sixty-four display cases dedicated to western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma pioneers, and wartime aviators in this museum.
Generally, the display cases are near the main entrance and by the Baggage Claim area.
As a matter of fact, a Piper J-3 “Cub” on loan from Ann Weaver of Roland, Oklahoma, once hung in the main entrance to Central Mall on Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith. But now, it’s currently in storage and is also on display at the air museum.
The exhibits celebrating Arkansas’s aviation heroes are fantastic. And if you’re lucky enough to be present when the museum’s curator and tour guide are available to explain some of the exhibits, you’ll have the best of times.
Address: 6700 McKennon Blvd, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States.
10. Fort Smith Symphony
The Fort Smith Symphony. A home of astounding performances and magical melodies. Simply music at its finest.
The ArcBest Performing Arts Center at the Fort Smith Convention Center hosts the performances.
The Fort Smith Symphony was founded in 1923. They are one of Arkansas’ finest orchestras. As a matter of fact, they have a loyal following and sold-out concerts throughout the state!
For rehearsals and concerts, the orchestra brings together approximately 100 professional musicians together. Musicians from Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, Iowa, New York, Florida, and, of course, Arkansas.
The orchestra is continuously recognized for its artistic accomplishments. And also for its award-winning educational programs at regional, national, and worldwide levels.
You can buy a ticket to one of the performances and listen to the most melodious and magical sounds created by the talented maestros here.
The performances are simply magical.
The orchestra’s three-CD/downloads on the well-known Naxos label, for example, contain the first full cycle of recorded symphonies by William Grant Still.
Also, a full-length motion picture documentary and a television pilot have both been made about the Symphony. And you can get a copy at the venue.
In summary, this place is so remarkable that you’ve got to visit it at least once in your lifetime!. And a lot more than once if you’re chanced to.
Address: ArcBest Performing Arts Center, 55 South 7th Street, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States.
11. St. Scholastica Monastery
This is one of Fort Smith’s most iconic places. It’s a place the city is proud of and it’s one of their best tourist attractions.
St. Scholastica Monastery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And this is due to its influence in the areas of Education, architecture, and religion.
The original structure was designed by F.W. Redlich of Oklahoma City in 1923. Ordinarily, It was a 5-story buff-colored brick building, ornamented with Carthage and Bedford stone with a green clay tile roof.
The purchase in 1925 of an additional 28 acres adjacent to the old “Barnes Place” tract increased the site to a total of 67 acres.
Over time, In 1928, a second wing was added, including a chapel with a seating capacity of 300, a gymnasium, and an auditorium.
On the west end of this addition is a six-story tower that has two decorated-style buttressed towers. These towers rise nearly 7 stories.
Also, the towers are right on the verge of an elaborate cut-stone Gothic-arched entry to the monastery.
One thing that will strike you when you visit here is the magnificence and beauty of the place.
The grounds are remarkably beautiful. Coupled with that is also the sense of order and harmony that is throughout the entire campus.
One more thing, you’ll love walking around this place. Especially through the beautifully kept labyrinth.
To arrange an interior tour of the new monastery building, you need to call and book at least one day in advance.
Address: 1315 S Albert Pike Ave, Fort Smith, AR 72903
12. The Clayton House
Take a tour of the Clayton House and travel back in time to 1882.
The year when William Henry Harrison Clayton, owner of the Clayton House, and his family traveled to Indian Territory to join in the genuine, courageous fight for peace and justice (modern-day Oklahoma).
The Clayton House boasts an excellently maintained collection of 19th-century furnishings. It also has historical features such as coal-burning fireplaces, as well as an antebellum (pre-war) residence.
Henry Clayton rebuilt the residence into an Italianate-style mansion with a somber and grave appearance.
The Clayton House serves as a living history book of Fort Smith’s elegant Victorian period. Visiting here simply launches you to the past and makes you treasure elegance and beauty.
The Italianate-style mansion also provides a perfect setting for weddings and private gatherings with its stately parlors and expansive grounds.
“My wife and I have toured many of these antebellum homes in different states, but none quite like the Clayton house, especially with many of the original furnishings. And our tour guide was just amazing with her knowledge of the house, the owners, and the history of the area. We truly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.”
Admission into the house costs $6 for adults, $5 for seniors (65+), $3 for children ages 6 to 17. And it’s FREE for children under the age of 6.
Address: 514 North 6th Street, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States.
13. The Gallery on Garrison
The Gallery on Garrison is a one-of-a-kind art and gallery space. The gallery hosts traditional art exhibitions as well as paint-and-sip parties, art classes, residency programs, and many more activities.
In addition to these services, Melody Smith’s personal art studio is located on-site. Here she creates one-of-a-kind pieces for exhibition and sale.
You can take art lessons here. Just pour yourself a glass of wine, put on your apron, and take a seat in front of an easel! The Artist here will guide you through the process of creating a work of art that you will be proud to hang in your home.
Alternatively, you could just participate in the paint-and-sip parties. Besides, these parties are a fun way to celebrate birthdays, bridal showers, and other special occasions.
The Gallery provides private paint and sips events for groups of 10 or more people, as well as corporate team-building activities.
You can also bring your pet to the gallery/studio and make a unique piece of art with them. They’ll use your pet’s paw print to produce a one-of-a-kind work of art that you’ll cherish for years.
All in all, The Gallery has such a beautiful collection of paintings and different arts. It is an absolutely beautiful and classy place.
You should make it a topmost priority to visit here.
Address: 914 Garrison Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72901
14. Temple Live
Temple Live is a 53,000 sq-ft Masonic Temple. It first opened in 1929 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
The building is made of Bedford Stone and has four stories. It also features three huge banquet halls, a full basement with a commercial kitchen, and a full auditorium that seats 1,200 people.
The historic building has been carefully restored to give a unique ambiance for meetings, gatherings, special events, and stage plays by utilizing its original architectural features.
Additionally, the elegant theatre features a cutting-edge temperature management system for the audience to enjoy their time here. As well as a superior audio and video system that meets or surpasses the requirements of all big touring productions and acts. You get to watch world-class performances of the best quality without having to spend so much.
This place offers you some of the most amazing once in a lifetime experience
Address: 200 North 11 Street, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States
15. Creekmore Park
Creekmore Park is located in Fort Smith’s downtown area. It is directly across from the main branch of the Fort Smith Public Library.
The Creekmore park features the Creekmore Express Train and Creekmore Holiday Express.
It also features an 18-hole miniature golf course, a fitness trail, a tennis center, and courts.
It’s also including playground equipment, a community center, and the region’s largest outdoor Olympic-sized swim and dive facility.
Throughout the summer, the park hosts a range of indoor and outdoor activities and programs that you can get involved in, such as Movies in the Park, Pop-Up Play Days, and more.
This is why birthday parties, reunions, meetings, and other events can be held at the park and community center.
The train is also a popular attraction among park visitors of all ages.
Creekmore Park is home to three miniature trains in total. A conventional diesel train is also available, and it is conveniently placed in the heart of Fort Smith.
There is a fantastic running/walking path in the park where you can just take a stroll. You could also test your speed and endurance in a run. And for the kids, there is a nice playground.
In addition, there are also numerous picnic places here. And at the same time, there are numerous tennis courts and a large swimming pool.
And then there’s the train, which is such a charming addition to the city park.
Besides, Creekmore Park is also home to the region’s only Olympic-size outdoor lap pool, a diving facility, and a large community pool.
Other Amenities provided to serve the public include a shallow-depth splash area for smaller children.
With its inflatable obstacles, public bathrooms, and lifeguards are available to help ensure safety.
Address: Creekmore Park Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States
16. Arkansas & Missouri Railroad Excursions
The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad‘s special passenger train services provide a glimpse into the past, allowing you to travel in the style of a bygone period.
You can travel through the massive Arkansas River Valley and the majestic Boston and Ozark Mountains to experience nature at its best.
The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad is one of the few remaining commercial railroads in the United States that transport both freight and passengers.
In renovated vintage passenger or parlor coaches, all passengers travel on the regular operating rails.
For some, the trip brings up memories of a bygone era. Others see it as a way to realize a childhood dream of allowing their children and grandkids to experience the Golden Age of Travel as they did when they were young.
Whatever brings you to the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, you’ll almost certainly leave with a nostalgic joy in your heart
You can choose from three popular trips, each with its own distinct flavor. An adventure that is sure to transport you back to the Golden Age of Travel!
And you can rest assured that you will have a great time.
Address: 813 Main Street, Van Buren, AR 72956, United States.
17. Fort Smith Museum of History
The Fort Smith Museum of History is one place you should visit in Fort Smith. This establishment works to preserve about 40,000 objects from the city’s history and as well care for the museum’s home.
There are lots of different things to see and learn about in this museum.
The first-floor chronology takes visitors through the creation and development of the city that formed around the 1817 military fort. It is one of the permanent exhibitions.
The William O. Darby Memorial Room relates the narrative of the man who founded Darby’s Rangers. The forerunners of today’s Army Rangers, during World War II.
Also, the Boyd Gallery hosts both temporary and visiting exhibitions that draw on the museum’s extensive artifact collection.
Similarly, the second floor features furnishings from Judge Isaac C. Parker’s courtroom, as well as an exhibit on the building’s history.
It records the progress in this small Frontier Town. And also features an excellent collection of 19th-century woodworking tools.
On the Air, playing consistently is an interactive display depicting the region’s broadcast history, and an exhibit on Fort Smith’s African-American history.
It’s really an outstanding museum with a good history of Fort Smith. And we would totally recommend this place as a must-see if in town.
As a bonus, there is also an active trolley outside the museum if you want to ride an antique trolley.
Address: 320 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States.
18. United States Marshals Museum
The United States Marshals Museum is a museum built to honor the U. S. Marshals.
It features a unique exterior, with a modified star-shaped design signifying the star badge worn by courageous U.S. Marshals.
Inside, five immersive galleries educate guests about the critical, ever-strengthened role in which the Marshals have played in upholding the Rule of Law. And they do this driven by the virtues of justice, integrity, and service.
The Museum’s National Learning Center combines the Museum’s experience with education programming focused on the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and civic literacy. So it isn’t just a mere tour, you get enriched with more knowledge and you get to appreciate the constitution and the Country more.
In the first gallery, visitors will be led to understand the role of a marshal. The guides will tell you how the agency was founded, its principles and duties, and a broad overview of its history.
You’ll also get to explore a high-level timeline of the history of the Marshals. Beginning with the inception of their role in the Judiciary Act of 1789 and continuing to the vital work of the Service today.
Set into the timeline, a series of interactive exhibits will uncover the different type of work for which the U.S. Marshals are responsible. From supporting the courts to protect witnesses, also from tracking down fugitives to managing operations for disaster relief.
Address: 14 North 3 Street Suite D, Fort Smith, AR 72901
19. Fort Smith Farmers Market
If you’re looking to get the best deals and great quality at that, then you shouldn’t miss visiting Fort Smith’s Farmer’s market.
There are more than 90 traders in different trades here. From growers, craftsmen, and other sorts of merchants. They provide an abundant supply of different farm produce.
The different farm products range from fresh vegetables, flowers, handcrafted chocolates, baked products, canned jams, and preserves.
There are also high-quality wood-turning items, gourmet coffees, organic eggs, grass-fed beef, and so much more on each market day.
In addition, street performers and local musicians liven up the atmosphere in the market.
Regularly, community organizations, tourists, and locals all congregate at the Saturday market.
There is ample parking nearby, as well as on-site handicapped parking.
However, from late spring through fall, the Fort Smith Farmer’s Market on Garrison Avenue is open.
Generally, the opening time is usually from 7 a.m. to noon every Wednesday and Saturday, and on Saturdays from early winter through early spring.
They have delicious local honey, as well as the freshest herbs, vegetables, and organic meats.
You’ll find a lot of foods, and plants for all seasons at the Farmer’s market. And it’s a lot of fun shopping here as well.
Address: 2nd and Garrison Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72901, United States.
20. Spartan Adventure Park
Spartan Adventure Park includes a range of activities, and on the following attractions, they give you the biggest bang for your buck!:
How would you like to explore the Dodge Ball Arena?.
Here they offer much fun for kids. Much more fun than you had as a kid on the playground.
Dodge ball provides family entertainment and also introduces younger generations to friendly competition. This means, in this place, your kids can now create their own wonderful and enjoyable memories.
If you’re a basketball fan, you could also try shooting some hoops in the Basketball Zone. Even if you’re not a basketball superstar, don’t worry.
The launch zones here will lift you higher than superstars, allowing you and your kids to demonstrate your dunking prowesses.
How about riding a Zip Line? As a matter of fact, it can actually be a frightening experience.
However, Spartan Adventure Park takes away the fear and makes it all about joy. Children don’t have to worry about being wounded when flying through the park because they have an integrated foam pit.
Or maybe you are actually a Spartan and would love to get involved in jousting. With this fun activity, you can channel your inner Spartan.
Other fun activities here include Climbing Walls, a Ninja course and competition, and many more.
There’s also a small Kids zone for children. Children under the age of six are allowed to jump at their own pace at here without fear of being knocked down by older children.
Above all, it’s a great place to have the best of fun with friends and family.
Address: 7601 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72903, United States
Fort Smith is an amazing and unique city with many wonderful attractions.
You can visit all 20 places or pick your favorites among the 20 best and most fun things we’ve listed out for you.
Let us know which place you loved the most after your visit there.
And above all, ensure you have a great time.