Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Calico Rock, AR

  • Published 2022/08/19

In Izard Country, near the renowned White River, lies the beautiful and picturesque city of Calico Rock, Arkansas.

Cliffs that rise over the White River define the Calico Rock in north-central Arkansas.

Various specks of color in the shades of blue, black, gray, red, and orange, resembling a calico fabric, mark these cliffs.

Calico Rock started as a landing for steamboats in the 1880s.

Later, it developed into a booming town when the railroads started crossing the city.

Nowadays, Calico Rock is a charming small town that’s teeming with history and natural beauty.

Below are the best things to do in Calico Rock, whether you’re looking to explore the outdoors or learn more about the town’s rich history.

Stroll through Calico Rock’s Historic Downtown Area

Buildings along Calico Rock's Historic Downtown

Valis55, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1985, the National Register of Historic Places added Calico Rock’s historic downtown area to its record.

The historic downtown area is home to several well-preserved and exciting buildings.

For instance, you can see the Bluff City Bank Building, which now houses the Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center.

The area contains properties on Rodman Street and one block of Main Street (Arkansas Highway 5) between Rodman Street and Walnut Street.

Shops at Calico Rock's Historic Downtown

Valis55, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Riverview Hotel and the first block of Calico Rock (Izard County) north of the White River also belong to the Calico Rock Historic District.

These buildings, constructed between 1903 and 1924, showcase early 20th-century architectural influences.

The Calico Rock Historic District stands on top of a hill, setting it apart from other historic districts.

Explore the Calico Rock Museum & Visitor Center

The Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center formally opened in 2014.

You can find it inside two of the city’s oldest still-standing structures: the E. The Bluff City Bank Building and the N. Rand Building.

Likewise, the Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center owns the 1906 Calico Rock Progress Building, which houses a café and ice cream shop.

In addition to preserving and presenting local art and history, the museum also works with the City of Calico Rock to provide tourist center services.

The Jesse James exhibit at the Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center is one of its most popular displays.

Back then, the notorious bandit lived in Calico Rock with his brother Frank.

The Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center also has an exhibit on the area’s Native American heritage.

Before the European settlers arrived, Native Americans initially inhabited the Ozark Mountains.

Located on Calico Rock Main Street, the museum contains several displays about the early European settlers.

The Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center also feature the steamboat Ozark Queen, the White River, the Calico Rock Depot, and a one-room school.

The museum also runs a souvenir shop and the adjoining Trimble House.

Likewise, it operates some of the earliest still-standing houses in the area, giving you an idea of how the people lived in Calico Rock back then.

Catch Fish with Calico Rock Trout Dock

With the White River as your backdrop, experience the exhilaration of catching fish with Calico Rock Trout Dock.

Located in Mullets Landing, Calico Rock Trout Dock is a reputable trout guide service near Calico that provide guided boat tours, fishing excursions, and boat rentals.

Besides fishing in the White River, Calico Rock Trout Dock also offers guided fishing in the Norfork River.

All you need is your Arkansas State angling license (with the trout stamp), a hat, and sunscreen.

Calico Rock Trout Dock will supply everything else.

They can handle large groups as well as lone visitors.

Book half-day and full-day tours with Calico Rock Trout Dock.

They hire only the best instructors for a memorable and safe experience.

Feel the Thrill at the East Calico Historic District

The East Calico Historic District is a ghost town within a city.

In the 1900s, this district was a true boomtown as the hub for timber and coal production.

East Calico was also a crucial railway and river center for local zinc mines, logging, and cotton production.

However, the people abandoned the town due to various unfortunate events, such as fire and flood.

Today, only a few buildings remain.

Although no one lives in East Calico Historic District anymore, you can still explore some of its well-preserved buildings.

The tour includes around 20 different buildings and other structures that still survive in some form in the oldest part of town.

This place is the United States’ only genuine ghost town within a city’s borders.

The East Calico Historic District is an excellent place to explore if you’re interested in history.

See what remains of the once-bustling town.

Bring Your Kids to the Calico Rock Public Library

The Calico Rock Public Library is a great place to bring your kids during summer break.

The library offers a reading program and challenges where kids can join different activities and earn prizes.

Activities include crafts, stories, and games to help kids improve their reading skills and have fun at the same time.

The Calico Rock Public Library also has a wide selection of books that kids can borrow and take home with them.

The Calico Rock Public Library has three public access computers, free wifi, and more than 16,000 titles available for loan.

If you need somewhere to go to keep your kids entertained and engaged during summer break, check out the Calico Rock Public Library.

Cool Down at the Printing Press Cafe & Ice Cream Parlor

Enjoying hand-dipped, old-fashioned ice cream is the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day.

You will find something nice with the different flavors served at the Printing Press Cafe & Ice Cream Parlor.

The cafe also serves breakfast and lunch, so you can come early and enjoy a meal before indulging in a sweet treat.

Try their homemade savory barbecue chicken sandwich, flavorful shredded chicken, cheese quesadillas, and mouthwatering meatloaf.

If you want to enjoy some ice cream and relax with a good book, go to the Printing Press Cafe & Ice Cream Parlor.

Revel in the Magnificence of the City Rock Bluff

Daytime view of City Rock Bluff

Bonita R. Cheshier /

One of the most spectacular landscapes in the state is the City Rock Bluff.

Native Americans once used a spot along the calico-colored bluffs as a lookout.

Then, the colonists used the same spot as a trading post.

City Rock Bluff is just a short walk away from the parking lot and provides some of the most majestic views.

Located on Culp Road, City Rock Bluff is perfect if you want to meditate before sunrise, have a picnic for lunch, or admire the White River.

City Rock Bluff also shows stunning sunsets, so catch it when you can.

Today, City Rock Bluff makes an excellent location for family outings and photography.

Have a Blast at the Woo-Hoo on the Piney Creek

If you want a weekend getaway, look no further than Woo-Hoo on the Piney Creek.

This family-friendly campground is at Piney Creek Way and offers a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy.

You can stay at the Tree House at the Woo-Hoo on Piney Creek; bond with your family inside the air-conditioned rooms with satellite TVs.

The 600-square-foot shaded area is perfect for cooking, playing games, and relaxing.

The Woo-Hoo on Piney Creek also features a general store that offers snacks and drinks, water toys, and floats.

For a fun-filled weekend getaway with the family, check out the Woo-Hoo on Piney Creek.

Win a Game at the Pirates Ridge Disc Golf Course

The Pirates Ridge Disc Golf Course opened in 2019.

It has become one of the most popular places to play disc golf in Calico Rock.

The course is at the top of a ridge with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Likewise, it features challenging yet fun holes for players of all skill levels.

While holes 2 and 3 are alongside the roadway, hole 1 begins at the top of the hill.

By hole 4, you’d have started playing in the woods.

Most holes sit amid thick forests, and a few sit on elevations of 30 to 40 feet.

White stones serve as markers, and wooden frames serve as the borders of natural tees.

You can use a cart to complete the entire course; however, the terrain presents some difficulties.

If you’re looking for a place to test your golf skills, check out the Pirates Ridge Disc Golf Course.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at the Calico Camp

If you love to spend time outdoors, stay at Calico Camp.

Nestled two miles from Calico Rock’s Main Street, this campground offers a variety of activities for guests to enjoy.

The camp’s amenities include electrical, water, and sewage hookups, plus campfires, Wi-Fi, and picnic tables.

Bring your boat to explore the surrounding area and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Enjoy the river scenery from your RV or tent, and take in the fresh air while you relax at Calico Camp.

Cherish the Serenity at the Shoals White River Retreat

The Shoals White River Retreat is the place to go for everything the White River and Ozarks have to offer.

Catch a legendary brown trout, or paddle the river and streams.

Otherwise, unwind in a hammock and gaze at the river rolling past you.

The Shoals White River Retreat is the perfect place to do all of the above.

Situated on a treeless bluff in Race Track Shoals Road, this retreat overlooks the river, providing visitors with stunning views.

Likewise, you can use a firepit, private porch, and a charcoal grill.

The Retreat is the ideal place to relax and enjoy nature’s peace nature.

Practice Target Shooting at the Sylamore Shooting Range

The Sylamore Shooting Range is open to the public for target practice in Calico Rock.

This shooting range features 12 shooting benches and target stations at different distances.

It also has eight firings lanes for easy pistol range, one shooting bench, and covered firing lines.

You will have to bring targets, tapes, and ammunition, however,

Perfect your marksmanship atSylamore Shooting Range while having some fun.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Discover the Wonderful History of the Jacob Wolf House

Pathway leading to Jacob Wolf House

Bonita R. Cheshier /

Jacob Wolf House is a historic house built in 1829.

You can find it in Norfork, Arkansas, 18 minutes from Calico Rock.

Jacob Wolf was the first white settler in the area, and he built the log structure.

This two-story dog-trot building was the first permanent courthouse in Izard County, Arkansas Territory.

The Wolf House sits above the junction of the White and Norfork rivers in modern-day Norfork, now part of Baxter County.

Exterior of Jacob Wolf House

Skullrik, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Jacob Wolf House served thousands of settlers making their way into north Arkansas’s central highlands.

It is one of the country’s two remaining dog-trot public buildings, making it a significant piece of Arkansas history.

The house is now a museum open to the public for tours.

Explore the Norfork National Fish Hatchery

The Norfolk National Fish Hatchery is in Mountain Home, Arkansas, 21 minutes away from Calico Rock.

Since 1871, it has addressed conservation issues that threaten American fish and other aquatic species.

There are 96 outdoor raceways at Norfork National Fish Hatchery where guests can stroll through, observe, and feed the fish.

You can also enter a visitor center with educational animals and details on the hatchery.

Likewise, check out Dry Run Creek, which includes a boardwalk with access for people with disabilities.

The Norfork National Fish Hatchery hosts events all year round as well.

Take a Stroll through the Ozark Folk Center State Park

Exterior of the Ozark Folk Center State Park building

Brandonrush, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ozark Folk Center State Park is in Mountain View, Arkansas, 28 minutes from Calico Rock.

This park boasts of preserving the Ozarks’ crafts, music, and culture.

There are various shops at the park where you can purchase gifts and souvenirs.

You can start exploring the Heritage Herb Garden and enjoy live Southern mountain music, opening from mid-April to late October.

You can even participate in folkloric activities or watch folk music and dance performances.

More than 20 active artisans display, produce, and market their handcrafted goods at the Craft Village at the Ozark Folk Center.

On-site craftspeople create items including copper jewelry, leather handbags, and accessories, stained glass, pottery, weavings, soap, quilts, and spun yarn.

You can also join Ozark Highlands Radio, a national show that features songs and tales from the Ozark region recorded at the park.

Listen to the show on Soundcloud, iTunes,, and several public radio stations.

Spend the day at the Ozark Folk Center State Park!

Final Thoughts

Calico Rock is a beautiful place to visit, with plenty to do to keep you busy.

From exploring the White River’s majestic shoreline to perfecting your aim at the Sylamore Shooting Range, you will not run out of activities.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Calico Rock!

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