Fort Smith, Arkansas Things to Do
- Miss Laura's Visitor Center At Fort Smith
- Arkansas University At Fort Smith
- Fort Smith Convention Center
- Fort Smith Chaffee Crossing
- Fort Chaffee At Arkansas
- Fort Smith Downtown Entertainment District
- Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
- Museum of History At Fort Smith
- Fort Smith National Historic Site
Miss Laura's Visitor Center -Located in historic downtown Fort Smith, the Visitor Center is housed in a former bordello, known as Miss Laura's Social Club. Take a tour of this beautifully restored Victorian mansion, which is the first bordello listed on The National Register of Historic Places. www.fortsmith.org/visitors/welcome-center.aspx
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith -An excellent institution of higher learning, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith is just four miles from our full-service hotel. Degrees are offered in a multitude of majors, including biology, history, theatre, music education, mechanical engineering, and psychology. www.uafortsmith.edu/Academics/MajorsAndMinors
Fort Smith Convention Center -Connected to the Holiday Inn City Center, the Fort Smith Convention Center features 40,000 square feet of column-free exhibition space plus additional meeting and breakout rooms. The center can comfortably accommodate anywhere from five to 5,000 people. www.fortsmithar.gov/conventioncenter/default.aspx
Chaffee Crossing -When Fort Chafee was closed in 1995, the United States government gave a portion of the land to local communities for redevelopment. One of those communities is Chafee Crossing, which is destined to become a mixed-use neighborhood combining work, play, exploration, and learning. www.chaffeecrossing.com/Default.aspx?PID=262
Fort Chaffee -Built in 1941, this 72,000-acre military base was the training site for thousands of troops heading overseas during World War II. It served as an annual reserve training center and was the "Ellis Island" point of entrance for Vietnamese, Laotian and Cuban refugees coming to the United States. In 2005, Fort Chaffee temporarily housed thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.
It was also a location used in the movies Biloxi Blues, The Tuskegee Airmen and A Soldier's Story. Several memorial plaques honor World War II units formed here. The area of the camp that includes the barrack facilities is now part of the 7,000 acres being developed for commercial, residential and industrial purpose known as Chaffee Crossing. Be sure to stop by the Chaffee Barbershop Museum where G.I.'s, including Elvis Presley, received their famous "buzz" cuts. The Enchanted Doll Museum and Vietnam Veterans Museum complete the district. See details about the Chaffee Barbershop Museum HERE.
Downtown Entertainment District -It is where you'll discover a myriad of restaurants, specialty shops, and theaters. What's more, several bars feature music and dancing, such as Bella Italia Piano Bar, and Hangin' Judge Saloon. www.fortsmith.org/dining-nightlife/nightlife.aspx
Arkansas River Valley Nature Center -Encompassing 170 acres, the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center is where you can see a wide array of animals and birds, from small mammals to turtles to Canadian geese. What's more, there are exhibits, hiking trails, and a lake for canoeing and fishing. www.rivervalleynaturecenter.com
Fort Smith Museum of History -Adjacent to the Historic Site is the Fort Smith Museum of History, a three-story building containing numerous exhibits, displays and artifacts that tell the story of Fort Smith's colorful history: from the first fort in 1817, through the westward expansion, the Civil War, Fort Chaffee, and the emergence of a modern city.
One of the highlights is an old-fashioned drug store and a working soda fountain. Closed on Sunday and Monday.We encourage you to contact us if you have questions regarding directions, where to stay or what to do while you're visiting our town. For additional details, visit www.fortsmith.org, or call the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau at 479-783-8888 for a visitor guide or event planner package.
Fort Smith National Historic Site (Judge Parker's Courthouse) -Perhaps the most prominent stop is the Fort Smith National Historic Site, which includes the remains of the original 1817 fort on the Arkansas River. One of the highlights is the two-story barracks from the second fort, which in the early 1870s became the Federal Courthouse for the Western District of Arkansas.
Inside is the restored courtroom of the famed "Hangin' Judge" Isaac C. Parker, and the dingy frontier jail aptly named "Hell on the Border." Open daily except Christmas and New Year's / 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. / Admission $5.
Ages 16 and under, Free.