Local Area Attractions
Old Frisco Depot Train Ride
Embarking from historic Van Buren’s Old Frisco Depot, the Ozark Scenic Railway vintage train will take you on a breathtaking ride through the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Every weekend from April through mid-November, a three-hour round trip ride from Van Buren to Winslow offers you spectacular views of the Boston Mountains. There’s no better way to experience the majesty of the Ozarks!
Fort Smith National Historic Site
Fort Smith National Historic Site embraces the remains of two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Commemorating a significant phase of America’s westward expansion, it stands today a reminder of 80 turbulent years in the history of Federal Indian policy.
Van Buren Old Town
A stroll down Van Buren’s beautifully restored Victorian Main Street is a walk through a more gracious and elegant time. The exceptional collection of fascinating shops that line this quaint and picturesque street contain shopping treasures of almost every description. And at prices that will make you feel like a river pirate.
Wineries: Wiederkehr, Post Familie, Mount Bethel and Cowie
This area known as Altus area has a wine making heritage dating back to the 1880s and is famous for its historic vineyards and award-winning wines. The German and Swiss immigrants who settled here passed on their traditions and knowledge of wine production to the present families. Hundreds of acres of vineyards surround the Altus area and contribute to its European culture. Each winery has a tasting room and gift shop, and offers free tours daily.
Old Fort Museum
From the founding of the first fort in 1817 to nearby Fort Chaffee’s role in the 1980’s, the tumultuous history of Fort Smith’s presence on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border is brought to life in a series of fascinating exhibits and displays. They tell the area’s story through the westward expansion, the Civil War, the Gay Nineties -- and the emergence of a modern city in the 20th century. Don’t miss the old-fashioned drug store and working soda fountain.
Fort Smith Trolley Museum
Streetcars were the way to get around in most cities 60-70 years ago. A fully restored 1926 streetcar rides the rails between the Trolley Museum and the Old Fort Museum, bringing back memories for some and new thrills for others. The museum also contains old railroad passenger cars, engines, early Fort Smith buses and other transportation memorabilia.
Phone # 479-783-0205 or 479-783-0145
Miss Laura's Historic Brothel
Built just before the turn of the century as the city's unique Riverfront Hotel, the ornate building soon became widely-known as "Miss Laura's," the premier bawdyhouse in the rough-and-tumble part of Fort Smith along the Arkansas River. After legalized prostitution ended in 1924, the building was bought and sold several times and fell into disrepair following the death of the last madam in 1949. A local benefactor, Donald W. Reynolds, purchased the building in 1963 to save it from the wrecking ball. Add it to your list to do visit Miss Laura's while in the area!
Phone # 479-783-8888
Post Familie Winegrowers
Since 1880, five generations of Posts have cultivated and harvested their grapes to make Post Familie wines. The founder of our wine heritage and Altus viticulture was Jacob Post, a German who arrived in America in 1872. From his cellar, he sold the first Altus wines to passengers on the Iron Mountain Railroad, when the train stopped by his farm for fuel and water. His daughter-in-law, the colorful Katherine Post, was rumored to have served wine with her meals at her very popular restaurant during the Prohibition Era. After Prohibition, the state legislature turned to her son James for help in writing laws to make winegrowing legal once again. He and his son Mathew formed the Post Winery at its present location. By adding new grape varieties to the vineyards and improvements in the winemaking process, combined with increasing storage capacity, Matt made the winery a successful business. His 12 sons and daughters ensure the familie tradition of making fine wines will continue. Today it is this fifth generation that is continuing this winegrowing tradition of excellence. Incorporating the latest technology has improved both vineyards and winery. Our resulting wines have been Gold Medal Winners. Taste the tradition and "Toast with Post."
Phone # 479-468-2741
Miss Laura’s - Historic Brothel/Visitor Center - Fort Smith
Once called the "Riverfront Hotel" to be proper, the city’s Visitors Information Center is the only former bordello listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built just before 1900, it was once the most popular place on the city’s bawdy Front Street. The "house" later renamed "Miss Laura’s," is now magnificently restored in Victorian splendor.
Fort Smith National Cemetery - Civil War
Laid out during the founding of the first fort in 1817, it was granted national status in 1867. The 15-acre cemetery contains approximately 9,000 graves, among them Judge Isaac Parker, and General William O. Darby, founder of the "Darby’s Rangers." The cemetery is especially beautiful on several patriotic holidays each year when the colorful "Avenue of Flags" is displayed.
Built in 1848 by German immigrant Joseph Knoble, this three-story stone structure contains an original underground cellar where the beer was stored. An outdoor beer garden made it a popular 19th century gathering place. Now fully restored as Weidman’s Old Fort Brew Pub Restaurant, you can still watch real beer being made in the tiny brewery. Tours welcome.
Spiro Mounds Archaeological Park - Spiro, OK
The Spiro Mounds Site is one of the most important archeological discoveries in North America and Oklahoma's only state archeological park. Spiro is the westernmost site of a complex cultural tradition in the Southeast called the Southern Cult or Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. The site, occupied from AD 850 to 1450, was home to powerful leaders who directed the building of the nine platform and burial mounds on the 80 acre site. These leaders governed farmers in outlying villages who probably provided labor for mound-building.
Self-Guided Driving Tour/Walking Tours - Fort Smith
Visit the Tourist Information Center at North "B" and Clayton Expressway and pick up a brochure describing these historical tours of downtown Fort Smith.