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Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

New Orleans...
Level Contributor
470 posts
72 reviews
Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

Good evening -

My husband and I are heading to Branson in August this year with our almost 3 year old. We will be staying a night in Hot Springs on the way to Branson. The day we leave Hot Springs we are looking for a nice place to stop on the way to Branson. Any scenic towns? Any recommended places to eat? We like hiking as well so wasn't sure about a short hike or cave along the way that might be interesting. We are staying at Petit Jean State Park for a couple of nights on a the way back from Branson so that would not be an option heading to Branson.

Thanks for any tips or suggestions!

7 replies to this topic
New Orleans...
Level Contributor
470 posts
72 reviews
1. Re: Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

And I'm open to any route to take that might be interesting between Hot Springs and Branson.

New Orleans...
Level Contributor
470 posts
72 reviews
2. Re: Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

Might have answered my own question... maybe the route of Pams Grotto, Alum Cove and Mystic Caverns might work for us.

Still open to other ideas too!

Any suggestions on food stops for breakfast and lunch along the way or should we just pack a picnic? Thought about eating breakfast in Hot Springs but I think I would prefer to get an early morning start and eat after driving for awhile. I'm just not familiar with the towns along the way and options available.

Thank you!

Little Rock...
Level Contributor
1,230 posts
141 reviews
3. Re: Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

Highway 7 up to Harrison is scenic and you'd probably make the best time of any route you can come up with. North of I-40 Jasper will be the largest town you'll pass through and it's not big at all. So many scenic options, take a look at this one: Hot Springs to Jasper via Hwy 7. From Jasper, take Hwy 74 over to Ponca, take the drive down to Steele Creek on your right before crossing the Buffalo. If you have some time, turn left after crossing the Buffalo and take a short drive down to Lost Valley. If not, continue into Ponca and take Hwy 43 into Harrison. So many scenic drives in that area. Hard to make a bad choice.

New Orleans...
Level Contributor
470 posts
72 reviews
4. Re: Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

Thanks so much, John! I'm going to look up this route that you have offered. It's good to know there are lots of scenic routes to take along the way :)

Little Rock...
Level Contributor
1,230 posts
141 reviews
5. Re: Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

Lost Valley has some easy hikes. Check out Eureka Springs as well. It's a little West of your route but it's a nice place to visit.

New Orleans...
Level Contributor
470 posts
72 reviews
6. Re: Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

I was considering Eureka but I just wasn't sure if we would have the time. It didn't appear to be a big detour. But now that you have recommended Lost Valley, I have looked into it that and it looks right up our alley. I think we might do that on the way to Branson and then Mystic Caverns on the way to Petit Jean. Thanks for your input!!

Saint Joe
Level Contributor
6 posts
258 reviews
7. Re: Nice stop between Hot Springs & Branson

As a native of the Buffalo River area and frequent traveler to both Hot Springs and Branson, I can give you recommendations that by-pass heavy traffic and interstate highways.

Leave Hot Springs on Hwy. 7 north, take Hwy. 5, then Hwy. 9 through Morrilton to U.S. Hwy. 65 just south of Clinton. Follow Hwy. 65 to Branson. Highways 7, 5 and 9 take you through sparsely populated areas and beautiful forests; the 2-lane roads are very good and lightly traveled. There are a few small towns along the way. You will cross I-40 at Morrilton as you travel Hwy. 9. There are several chain restaurants, Wal-Marts and fast food in Morrilton and Clinton. The next town is Leslie where there are some excellent eating places--Ryan's, Skylark Cafe, Serenity Farm, and the brand new Wade's Exxon station . A few restaurants in Marshall and fast food at Sonic and McDonald's.

Three hours from Hot Springs to Buffalo River where there is hiking, picnic areas and Tyler Bend visitor center. A few miles north of Buffalo River, the tiny town of St. Joe has 5 restaurants and a gas station nearby--all are safe, locally-owned/operated, family-friendly and serve good food at reasonable prices--Ferguson's Country Store & Restaurant; Coursey's Smoked Meats; Alicia's River Market & Grill; Big Springs BBQ Meats & Restaurant and Haskell's Place (newly remodeled restaurant, convenience store and independent gas station). All I listed are places I would take a 3-year old.

Following U.S. 65: in Pindall, Dry Creek Mercantile sells sliced meats and cheese, groceries, antiques & collectibles. They serve excellent country-style breakfasts, salads, hamburgers and other sandwiches.

Further north is Harrison, Arkansas, where there are many restaurants and a super Wal-Mart. Next town is Branson, Missouri.

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