things to do Mt Ida Arkansas - Heritage House Museum

10 Favorite Things to Do in Mt. Ida, Arkansas – Vacation Guide!

Recently, I found myself traveling around Mt. Ida with my husband and three children. We had a blast! We packed so much fun and adventure into 4 days and we can’t wait to return.

I highly recommend a vacation to Mt. Ida. There is so much beauty in Mt. Ida in addition to excellent food and activities!

Here are all of my suggestions to help you plan your visit. Included are the best places to stay, eat, swim, resupply, learn and caffeinate!


1. Where to stay – Favorite Vacation Rental

I highly recommend staying at The Hidden Gem when you visit Mt. Ida. It’s the perfect place for a family or even a group of friends to relax and be near all of the activities and restaurants but still be secluded.

best place to stay in Mt. Ida - Hidden Gem
  • This house sleeps 6.
  • It’s 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom and a hide-a-bed couch in the living room.
  • Beautiful, big kitchen with everything you need to prepare a meal when you’re just too tired from digging crystal to go out.
  • Office with a nice desk for all of us who work from the road.
  • Big kitchen table with room for everyone.
  • Laundry room so you can throw a load in each evening and not go home with dirty laundry.
  • Big screened porch (We hung all of our beach towels out to dry there.)
  • Back covered deck with picnic table.

Book it here.

2. Best family friendly places to swim (with amenities!)

If you visit Mt. Ida in the summer, there are several beautiful swimming areas on Lake Ouachita.

My favorites are: Crystal Springs Day Use Area and Charlton Recreation Area. Both of them have restrooms and picnic tables.

Crystal springs rec area mt ida arkansas
Crystal Springs Swimming Area

Crystal Springs has a playground right on the beach so your kids can swim and play.

Charlton Rec Area has a dam that was built by the CCC. The water is cold so it is perfect for hot summer days!

Picnic, swim, hike, and fish along picturesque Walnut Creek, a cold, spring-fed mountain stream in the heart of the Ouachita National Forest. This historic recreation area features a captivating native stone dam that forms the swimming area and rustic bathhouse built by the Civilian Conservation Corps federal work program in 1935. –source

Charlton Rec Area and Dam
Charlton Rec Area and Dam

Read this: Crystal Springs on Lake Ouachita – My Favorite Swimming Hole This Summer!

3. Dig for free quartz & take it all home!

There are a lot of “pay-to-dig” mines around Mt. Ida but, if you’re like me, you like to save money when you can and have some adventure too!

So, check out Crystal Vista Trail.

This digging area is on top of Gardner Mountain. You will begin at the parking lot that is at an elevation of 900 feet and you will climb to an elevation of 1,200 feet.

Crystal Vista Trail in Mt. Ida Arkansas

That might sound terrible, but it’s only a mile and it will only take you about 20 minutes to get to the top.

You can take home everything you find!

hiking crystal vista trail mt ida arkansas

Details here: Dig For Quartz Crystal for FREE at Crystal Vista in Mt Ida, Arkansas

4. Favorite quartz crystal and rock shop

Mt. Ida also has plenty of quartz crystal and rock shops. We stopped in several of them and my favorite was Jay’s

Jay sells more than Arkansas quartz crystal. In fact, he has rocks and gems from all over the world!

Jay's rock shop Mt. Ida Arkansas
Jay’s Rock Shop

Jay knows everything about rocks and gems. Literally everything.

The best part? He’s not pretentious about his prices.

Check it out here: Best Quartz & Rock Shop in Mt. Ida Arkansas – Jay’s Bonanza

5. Best resupply grocery store

No matter where I travel, I always prefer to resupply at small town grocery stores and Mt. Ida has one of the best I have ever seen.

Bob's Food City in Mt. Ida Arkansas

There is no need to drive to Hot Springs for groceries!  Bob’s Food City is well supplied!

Bob’s Food City is a family owned grocery store that was established in 1963 by Bob and Willia Mae Rutledge. Their granddaughter, Stormy Cooper, is continuing this legacy along with her husband, Rex Cooper. –source

6. Delicious restaurants

There are several great places to eat in Mt. Ida and we tried two of them!

The Dairyette

The Dairyette came highly recommended by so many people. We were able to stop in for ice cream, and let me just say that ice cream was amazing.

Not only that, everyone there was so friendly!

Dairyette in Mt. Ida, Arkansas
Dairyette in Mt. Ida

Besides all sorts of ice cream treats, they are famous for their hamburgers. You won’t want to miss this!

“A nostalgic Ice Cream and Burger Diner, Est. in 1958. We are proud to be family owned and operated.” –source

Burl’s Smokehouse

Burl’s Smokehouse in nearby Royal, Arkansas is known for their smoked meats, jerky and giant cinnamon rolls!

We tried a BBQ sandwich and one of those famous cinnamon rolls. Both were excellent!

Decorations in front of the actual restaurant - Burl's Smokehouse
Decorations in front of the actual restaurant

7. FREE museum that everyone loves

One day, we stopped at the Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County for some history and air conditioning. 

We received plenty of both and it was refreshing!

Photo op at the Heritage House Museum
Photo op at the Heritage House Museum!

Indoor Exhibits include Arkansas State Quarter, Quartz Crystal Mining, Forestry/Logging, General Store/Church/School, Post Office/Barber Shop, Pharmacy Office, Home Life and Genealogy. Heritage House Museum has a collection of oral history tapes available for the public to listen and hear stories from the past. –source

The Heritage House Museum is fun, interactive and informative. There is also an old pioneer cabin outside that is amazing. Inside you will find information that explains the history of the pioneer cabin including how it was built and what life was like in it.

Heritage House Museum Cabin Mt. Ida Arkansas

Our family had so much fun here. The museum even has an old rotary phone that they let the kids call their grandparents on!

8. Best coffee shop in town

We didn’t have time to stop for coffee but I wanted to let you know that WaySeekers Coffee is apparently the place to be! It has been recommended by so many people.

WaySeekers is a delightful coffee shop and a ministry all rolled into one. 

When we return to Mt. Ida, you better believe I’m going!

9. Where to find unforgettable views of Lake Ouachita

Want to have your breath taken away by something amazing? Check out the views at Hickory Nut Mountain Vista.

“The Hickory Nut Mountain Vista offers one of the most panoramic views of the sparkling waters of Lake Ouachita.  The Vista was constructed over fifty years ago to provide visitors to the National Forest an opportunity to enjoy unobstructed views of the lake from the highest point above the lake’s shoreline.” –source

The View from Hickory Nut Mountain Vista
The View from Hickory Nut Mountain Vista.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Sweeney from Only In Arkansas

10. Live music on Saturday nights!

Do you know what happens on Saturday nights in Mt. Ida? Live music on the courthouse lawn!

The Front Porch Stage hosts live music from various bands. Everyone has a great time. Don’t miss it!

Check the schedule here.

Front Porch Stage in Montgomery County
Front Porch Stage in Montgomery County

Thank you, Jennifer, for extending an invitation to visit Mt. Ida and opening our eyes to the beauty of this town and the surrounding area. I’m looking forward to returning! There is still so much I haven’t seen!

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