Historic Washington State Park
Historic Washington State Park has over 30 restored structures filled with collections of pioneer tools, furnishings and housewares. Visit the town to place yourself in the era from 1800 to 1900 while interpretive guides in period costume explain how early residents lived.
The town of Washington was established in 1824, on February 22, George Washington’s birthday. It became a popular spot for travelers on the Southwest Trail on their route to the western frontier. The 1836 Hempstead County Courthouse served as the Confederate Capital of Arkansas during the Civil War. See varied town architecture ranging from homes with hand-hewn timber framing to Southern Greek Revival and Italianate public buildings.
Excellent period depiction and preservation have earned Historic Washington a designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Step inside the town buildings to view exhibits on weapons, period architecture and daily 19th-century life. Take an old-fashioned surrey ride around the town and stop at the restored cotton gin, smokehouse and print museum. Step inside the candle shop and dip a souvenir candle in colorful wax.
Stop at the Williams’ Tavern Restaurant for a midday meal. The building was constructed as a tavern in 1832 and relocated to the park in the 1980s. Sample hearty Southern cuisine including chicken-fried steak, fried okra and black-eyed peas or opt for hamburgers and desserts.
Check the park’s website for information on special events. Bring lawn chairs to enjoy free concerts on several Saturday evenings in the summer. Reserve a spot for a cooking workshop or dance lesson or visit the farmers market and watch the annual watermelon weigh-in to select the area’s largest watermelon.
Purchase tour tickets at the park’s visitor center, the 1874 Hempstead County Courthouse, which also features a gift shop. The park is open daily, with tour sites closed for 30 minutes at midday.
Historic Washington State Park is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Hope, Arkansas. Continue driving north for about 50 minutes to Murfreesboro, where you can dig for precious gems in Crater of Diamonds State Park.