The scenic drive that passes through Harrison, Arkansas, is so beautiful that you may not want to stop driving. You’d be making a big mistake by passing up a small town with almost endless charm and lots to do.
Next time you’re in northern Arkansas, make time for Harrison. It may not be as famous as some of its neighbors, but it has a winning personality all its own. Follow our fun-filled itinerary for a memorable day in this jewel of a community in the southern Ozark Mountains.
About Harrison, Arkansas
Motorists along Interstate 65 might know Harrison as the more-or-less midpoint between Little Rock and Branson, Missouri. It’s about a two-hour drive from either of those larger cities, just 90 miles from Fayetteville, and less than 50 miles from Mountain Home.
Many travelers crisscrossing the Ozarks from east or west know Harrison as a stop along the Scenic Arkansas Highway 7. In fact, it’s a popular gathering place for motorcyclists touring the area.
But hospitable Harrison, Arkansas, is much more than that. Incorporated in 1876, the historic town has many restored buildings that are central to its downtown area’s vibrant rebirth. The welcoming small city of about 13,000 is a favorite of retirees lured in by its amazing natural beauty, relaxed atmosphere, and affordability.
Traveler’s Tip: Looking for more unique towns to visit? Check out our list of the 7 Best Small Towns in Arkansas.
To take in all that Harrison, Arkansas, has to offer, you’ll have to start early. And here’s one of the best places for getting your day going.
Breakfast at Jamie’s Local Flavor
Address: 1212 Highway 62/65 N, Harrison, AR 72601
Menu options: Get off to a strong start with some classic Southern flavors from Jamie’s, or go a bit lighter and save room for lunch. Buttermilk pancakes and Belgian-style waffles are popular, along with custom omelets and two-egg plates with a choice of sides. The veggie omelet has bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes. They stuff the specialty French toast with cream cheese and bananas and top it with a drizzle of caramel and whipped cream.
Reasons to Love It: Known for its “local flavor,” this homey restaurant’s classic, mostly Southern flavors consistently draw a crowd. Service is friendly and professional, and you won’t feel rushed even though there are probably others waiting for a seat.
Tour the Boone County Heritage Museum
This converted three-story high school building has hundreds of photographs and relics bringing the town’s past to life. Passionate history-minded folks who love sharing their hometown’s stories staff theBoone County Heritage Museum.
Brace yourself because sadder stories like the heartbreaking Mountain Meadows Massacre are part of the experience. You’ll learn more about Harrison, Arkansas, and those staircases will give you a workout, too.
It’s time to fuel up for an afternoon of adventure. If you went for the lighter fare at Jamie’s, here’s your chance to try some fresh flavors.
Eat lunch at Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe
Address: 1012 Highway 65 N, Harrison, AR 72601
Menu Options: This contemporary café in a historic grist mill serves up hot and cold sandwiches along with flavorful soups and salads. Its fresh-baked crusty black pepper bread is the backbone of its popular french dip with asiago cheese. Neighbor’s Mill serves its fresh-made honey pecan chicken salad on its famous bronze honey wheat bread.
Salad lovers may rejoice over the bleu apple. It has mixed greens and a combination of diced chicken, crisp Fuji apples, onions, craisins, roasted pecans, and bleu cheese crumbles, and a cranberry-mustard vinaigrette. (And, of course, the croutons are house-made as well.)
Reasons to Love It: Neighbor’s Mill has a “fresh and natural” flair and an inventive attitude. The hearth-style artisan bread is its foundation, but its creatively blended fillings are what take the offerings to the next level. The antique brick and exposed timbers remind you of the building’s century-old heritage.
Canoe Down the Buffalo National River
People come from all over the world to float down this gorgeous, untamed river, but it’s a quick, easy drive from Harrison. The 135-mile Buffalo River was the first river in the U.S. to be designated as a national river (in 1972).
That means the National Park Service protects and maintains it like national parks. Rent a canoe (or launch your own) to float along the cool, clear waters in the shadows of the iconic limestone bluffs. Paddle slowly enough to stop and experience enchanting waterfalls like Twin Falls and Hide-Out Hollow.
Tour the Mystic Caverns
Mystic Caverns contains two awe-inspiring caves just seven miles south of the city. While settlers stumbled upon Mystic Caverns sometime in the early 1800s, the almost 70-foot-tall Crystal Dome remained a mystery until 1967.
Take a guided tour to view incredible stalactites and natural limestone columns, as well as a towering “pipe organ” feature. These fascinating 80-minute tours start every 40 minutes or so. With a constant cave temperature of 59 degrees, they’re a comfortable and educational way to spend part of your afternoon.
You might want to have a little downtime to clean up and relax before hitting the town again in Harrison, Arkansas. Pace yourself for a night of dinner and drinks followed up with a quirky free-wheeling nightcap at a roller rink.
Dinner at DeVito’s Restaurant
Address: 350 DeVito’s Loop N, Harrison, AR 72601
Menu Options: Authentic Italian is the name of the game here, but many regulars swear by the rainbow trout that’s fresh from the owners’ own farm. The best of both worlds might be the broiled trout Italiano. It’s a broiled butterflied boneless trout served with an Italian-seasoned cream sauce. Other favorites from DeVito’s are the toasted ravioli filled with salami and cheese and classics like grilled chicken fettuccine and eggplant parmesan.
Reasons to Love It: Chef and owner Jim DeVito, from Wisconsin, is from a long line of Italian cooks and brings his family passion to the table. You can eat here every night for a week and still not sample all of his takes on trout. That’s because he married into a local family that raises rainbow trout. For half a century, DeVito’s has been a big part of Harrison’s dining culture.
Drinks at The Pour House
Address: 114 N. Willow St, Harrison, AR 72601
Drink Options: The Pour House, overlooking Harrison’s historic town square, calls itself a wine bar, but it’s a lot more. There’s a fine selection of coffee drinks and teas, as well as a carefully curated variety of wines and craft beers. If your tastes run toward something stronger, there’s a full range of cocktails, too.
Reasons to Love It: Much like the overall vibe in Harrison, Arkansas, The Pour House has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. In cooler months, the fireplace place adds to the cozy ambiance. You’ll want to relax with a drink (or a few) and catch some live local music.
Try Out Four Wheels at Skate Mania
You’re never too old to skate the night away. Maybe this nightcap experience will take you back to your childhood or give you a flashback to your teenage years. The rink has a nicely stocked concession stand and a wide assortment of arcade games.
Choose from classic rink-style skates or inline skates so you can move to the groove. The playlist hopes to appeal to all generations, but they’re open to requests.
Where to stay?
Now that it’s finally time to call it a night, we’ve got three great options for you. Two are popular RV campgrounds, and the other is a cool retro hotel in town.
Harrison KOA Holiday
Address: 3629 Highway 65N, Harrison, AR 72601
About the Park: Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Harrison, this KOA campground has large, level RV sites with full hookups and lots of extras. The roads are paved throughout, and it’s big-rig friendly. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table, and there’s cable and Wi-Fi along with a camp store.
Why You’ll Love Staying Here: This neatly maintained campground is close to town and many of the other attractions. The grounds have lots of shade, and there’s a laundry facility, a recreation room, and a covered pavilion.
Harrison Village Campground & RV Park
Address: 2364 US-65, Harrison AR, 72601
About the Park: Like the KOA campground, there are both pull-through and back-in sites. Some are full hookups, and others are partial. (Three premium sites have 50-amp power, and others are 20-amp or 30-amp.) There’s also a dump station on-premises. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring. There are clean bathrooms and showers, a laundry, and a swimming pool.
Why You’ll Love Staying Here: Harrison Village Campground is just off the interstate and only a mile south of Harrison, Arkansas. It’s quiet, clean, and reasonably priced, and the owners seem eager to go the extra mile to provide good service. There’s some highway noise, but very few other negatives.
Address: 302 N Main St, Harrison, AR 72601
About the Hotel: This historic property opened as a hotel in 1929 and was the go-to for elegant lodging for decades before being converted into private residences. Now it’s seeing a second life as a boutique hotel. Rooms feature a pillow-top mattress, flat-screen TV, coffee maker, and workspace. There’s a restaurant on-site: Marie’s at the Seville.
Why You’ll Love Staying Here: If this looks like something you’ve seen on a vintage postcard, maybe it is. It’s a classic example of the Spanish Revival architecture popular in the early part of the 20th century. The interior spaces have been modernized, and it’s still just minutes from downtown.
A Day in Harrison, Arkansas
Spend a day and a night in Harrison, Arkansas, and you’ll realize it’s way more than a waypoint. Even though it sits sandwiched between better-known destinations, it’s making quite a name for itself. Maybe you’ll wind up like the many people who visit once and decide they want to live here forever. What are your favorite places to visit in the Ozarks?