El Dorado is a town built on an oil boom. When oil was discovered in 1921 the town grew exponentially. Downtown El Dorado showcases these oil roots.
The historic commercial district, bordering the neo-classically styled Union County Courthouse, is listed on the National Register of Historic places. A downtown walking tour highlights several other buildings that are listed on the register. Examples of original and restored 1920s and '30s architecture, including the art deco Rialto Theatre, abound in the downtown area where shopping, dining, and cultural venues mingle with commerce. Forests surround the town, population 22,000.
The town hosts a variety of festivals each year. In June, the Oil Town Festival celebrates the town's boom mentality. During May, the Crawfish Boil and Mayhaw festivals honor the town's love of food. On Saturdays, June through August, the Showdown at Sunset commemorates an historic love triangle gunfight. Festivals celebrating music and the holidays follow fall through winter.
Natural diversions in the area include the South Arkansas Arboretum. This 13-acre park showcases azaleas and camellias. Hunting, fishing, and hiking are available within a 30-minute drive at the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge. The Ouachita River and Calion Lake offer additional boating and fishing opportunities.
El Dorado is located in southern Arkansas near the Louisiana border. It sits at the intersection of state scenic highway 7 and highways 167, 82 and 63. It is 30 miles southeast of Camden and 35 miles east of Magnolia. El Dorado has several national hotel chains, local lodgings, and bed and breakfasts.