What to do on Spring Break in the Ozarks

It’s the most magical time in the Ozarks, Spring Break! I was super lucky to grow up near Pangburn, Arkansas and spend every free moment out in the Ozark Mountains. I’ve put together a list of my favorite childhood activities (and current adult activities – hello local breweries!). From someone who grew up in the Ozarks, here is what you should do with your kids during Spring Break in the Ozarks.

1. Have dinner and watch a movie at the Drive-In

$5-$8 / Mountain View, Arkansas

The Stone County Drive-In Theater is one of Mountain View’s greatest secrets, you really wouldn’t know it’s there. Grab dinner at one of the many choices at the historic square, listen to a few jamming banjo’s on the steps of the Courthouse, then grab the kids and head a few minutes away to enjoy a true old-school experience of a movie under the stars!

They always have great movies showing, and most are suitable for children. Check their website or Facebook for updated schedule! Such a treat to have an old timey drive-in theater and it’s so close to town.

2. Hike the famous Sylamore Trail, Mirror Lake, and Blanchard Springs

FREE / 26km linear trail

With options to start at Allison Trailhead, Gunner Pool, or Barkshed Access – this linear trail is a local staple. You can start and stop whenever you like. Because it’s nice rolling hills, it’s great for families with small kids or dogs, and likewise for trail runners! There are a few steep parts but you can always take a swim break then continue along.

Option 1: Allison Trailhead

Easy access from Mountain View, Calico Rock and Blanchard Springs Caverns. Be careful turning off of Hwy 14 onto this road, it’s at the top of a hill with a curve! Follow the dirt road for about a minute and you’ll arrive at a large parking area and wonderful little pasture. This is a popular trailhead for the Sylamore Creek Trail. Our property, Blanchard Cabin in the Woods is just around the corner.

Option 2: Gunner Pool Recreation Area

Gunner Pool is a long-standing local favorite. Half your group can go for a shaded hike along the North Sylamore Creek Trail while you stay and jump in the glorious dammed section. It’s such a beautiful blue color. Of course, the creek itself is incredible for a swim – cliffs to jump off and shallow sections for the kids and pups. You can explore up or down the creek and have the water to yourself. It’s paradise. Information here.

There are 3 miles of dirt road to access, but they are routinely graded and always in great shape.

Option 3: Barkshed Recreation Area

This section of the Sylamore Creek is very dear to me – my parents used to bring us here to play as kids and my little sister and I camped here for our first sister camping adventure! it’s just a little longer drive than the Gunner Pool area but so worth it! There is a beautiful old bridge that was built by the CCC in the 1930s, it’s pedestrian-only so be careful! In late August the creek is usually a little low, but there’s always enough water against the bluffs for a great cool dip. There are primitive bathrooms here. To get here, there are 3.5 miles of dirt road if you’re coming from Cartwright Road, and 5 miles of dirt road if you turn off at Fifty-Six and pass through Gunner Pool.

Option 4: Blanchard Springs Area

This area is great to spend the day with the entire family. There are cavern tours, paved trails + the Sylamore Creek Trail, clear waters for swimming, plus someone can even fish for rainbow trout in Mirror Lake! If you walk towards the lake and a bit above it, you will find the actual spring coming out out from the caves. A little busier than the others due to the cavern traffic but magical nonetheless. To get here, it is paved all the way down from Hwy 14 – a very nice treat for those who might not want to dirty up their car. There is a $3 parking fee.

3. Take a Class at the Arkansas Craft School

Fees vary / Mountain View, Arkansas

One of the best decisions I made a few years ago was to join a weekend class at the Arkansas Craft School to learn how to weave! It was just a 2 day course, but the incredible teacher had us all whipping out dishtowels in a jiffy! You know the teacher was good because years later, I’m still a-weaving away.

It was such an easy process from start to finish. You can sign up online, and they have a wonderful schedule of classes ranging from a morning Stained Glass Course to an 8-week clay workshop! My husband keeps thinking about signing up for one of their bladesmithing or woodturning courses.

Check it out here: https://arkansascraftschool.org/worshop-schedule

4. Mini Roadtrip to Norfork, Arkansas

Loop Route / 1-2 Hours

Whether you’re staying in Calico Rock, Mountain View, or Heber Springs…driving up to Norfork is never a bad idea. On your way up there, stop in Calico Rock, Arkansas and check out City Rock Bluff – it’s just a short detour off the main route. There is an amazing outdoor adventure store (Norfork Adventure Supply) with great camping gear, trail shoes, and bike selection. If you’re an adult on Springbreak, I’d recommend you join them for one of their group cycling outings – usually on Saturday mornings. Or take a guided fly-fishing trip on the Norfork Tailwater with Two River’s Fly Shop, Dru will get you hooked up with an excellent local guide, in a boat or wading. Or take your kids (16 and under) to fish the special Dry Creek!

To satisfy your hunger after your adventure, stop in at Heidi’s Ugly Cakes where you will find the best sandwich in the world > the Rueben is my all-time favorite, but save space because she also makes amazing pies. Top it all off with a stop in at the nearby Norfork Brewing Company for a great local beer. Can you tell I love this little town?

5. Swim at Angler’s Holiday Mountain Resort

PRIVATE / $5 DAY USE FEE / Mountain View, Arkansas

A great section of the South Sylamore Creek right before it joins with the North Sylamore. Right above you will be the famous wire cable 200ft Swinging Bridge! It was first constructed around 1914 and is one of only two suspension bridges open to car traffic in Arkansas.

You must pay and register at the campground front desk or Angler’s Restaurant front desk. With $5, you get access to the creek, bathhouse, and pool! Ideal for family beach swimming in Mountain View or even if you’re coming from the Calico Rock area.

5. Cliff Jump at Sandy Beach in Heber Springs


Located about 12 minutes from Heber Springs, this is a wonderful spot to spend the afternoon. There is a large parking lot, picnic tables, and bathrooms. Not for the faint of heart but a thrill for the brave! This area is a little peninsula near the dam, on one side there are cliffs ranging from 4ft to 40ft (dependent on lake levels too), and on the other side is a little sandy beach – so everyone is sure to be happy. I love to picnic + sunbathe while watching others jump 😉 Be ever so careful here.

This area is close to our properties in the Red River Territory: Wildflower Homeplace on the River, Little Dunham Cabin, Dripping Springs Retreat, and Reel Comfort Cabin.