12 Attractions in Jacksonville, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Jacksonville is a medium-sized city located just north of Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas. The city has a lot to offer visitors with its blend of outdoor recreation, historic landmarks, family-friendly attractions, and unique museums. Jacksonville serves as an ideal getaway for Little Rock residents looking for a quick weekend trip as well as families and outdoor enthusiasts traveling through central Arkansas.

Jacksonville has a rich history tracing back to 1850 when it was established. Some key moments in the city’s past include serving as a confederate arsenal during the civil war era and later becoming home to Little Rock Air Force Base which brought economic growth and diversity to the area. Evidence of Jacksonville’s history can still be seen today in well-preserved homes, landmarks, and museums.

While historical tourism plays a role, Jacksonville also provides opportunities for biking, hiking, water sports, and wildlife viewing. The city is surrounded by the lush forests and winding rivers that make central Arkansas such a scenic state. Popular outdoor attractions range from the Little Rock Air Force Base Park for walking trails to the Murray Lock and Dam for boating and kayaking enthusiasts.

This list covers the top 12 attractions and activities in Jacksonville that showcase the best of the region’s history, culture, cuisine, arts, and natural landscapes. From unique museums and one-of-a-kind sightseeing opportunities to outdoor recreation perfect for families, these are the must-see spots for both tourists and Little Rock locals.

Jacksonville Museum of Military History


The Jacksonville Museum of Military History should be one of the first stops for visitors interested in the city’s connection to aviation and wartime efforts throughout history. Detailed exhibits depict each U.S. military conflict from World War I to modern-day operations with artifacts, photography, aircraft, uniforms, weapons, and more.

Visitors will come away with a newfound understanding of Arkansas’ crucial role in the nation’s air power as well as the sacrifices made by the state’s brave service members over the past century. Be sure to allow enough time to fully explore the extensive collection and chat with knowledgeable docents for personal stories about the museum’s treasures.

Rankin House


For an authentic look into 19th century life in Jacksonville, make plans to tour the historic Rankin House. Constructed in 1843, the Rankin House utilizes architecture typical of that timeframe including regimented symmetry, rounded pillars, transom windows, and mehrin-style chimneys. The two-story house remained in the Rankin family for four generations until Mary Rankin bequested the estate to the city for historic preservation upon her death.

Tour guides will escort guests through the estate illustrating what life was like for the Rankin family including a stroll through the still-intact slave quarters onsite. From the antique furnishings to quirky architectural details, visitors will take away a newfound understanding of Jacksonville’s early years.

Little Rock Air Force Base Park & Vet Memorial


Boasting over 1,800 acres of Arkansas forests and wetlands, outdoor enthusiasts flock to Little Rock Air Force Base Park located just a few miles outside city limits in Jacksonville. The park offers ample opportunities for fishing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing.

Families will especially love the scenic picnic areas, playgrounds, bike trails, and open green spaces where kids can run free and get back to nature. An added highlight is the War Memorial Walking Trail which pays tribute to all Arkansans who died in the line of duty across all military branches with an educational and sobering stroll past monuments.

Old State House Museum


History buffs should dedicate an afternoon to exploring the artifacts and stories on display at Jacksonville’s Old State House Museum. Housed in an 1889 courthouse that once stood on the grounds of the state capitol, the museum’s exhibits depict Arkansas history spanning indigenous settlements through modern developments.

Notable displays focus on the Trail of Tears and resulting displacement of Native Americans from Arkansas, early European exploration of the territory, the pivotal civil war Battle of Little Rock, and defining political events. Guests can even view documents bearing the signatures of Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and other legendary American pioneers tied to Arkansas’ past.

Two Rivers Park


Spanning over 1,000 acres between the captivating Arkansas and Little Maumelle rivers, Two Rivers Park provides endless opportunities for enjoying the outdoors just minutes from downtown Jacksonville. The park truly has something for everyone when it comes to recreation and relaxation including camping grounds, hiking trails, playgrounds, pavilions, athletic fields, and some of the best fishing access in Pulaski County.

Families often spend full days picnicking and exploring the trails or casting fishing poles into the converging rivers from one of the many river access points within the park. Two Rivers Park presents a perfect low-key adventure to experience Jacksonville’s splendid natural side.

Jacksonville Museum of Arts


Despite its modest size, Jacksonville is home to a thriving arts scene largely attributed to the visionary artists who first sought inspiration from the area’s landscapes over 50 years ago. The Jacksonville Museum of Arts serves as the ideal starting point for learning about this energetic local art movement.

The museum’s permanent collection includes painting and sculptures from Arkansas artists plus rotating exhibits that feature contemporary regional works across various mediums. Visitors can even watch local artisans producing pottery, jewelry, and textiles within the museum’s workshops.

For a wholly-immersive artistic adventure, join one of the museum’s frequent guest lectures, community art classes or festival events that celebrate Jacksonville’s standing among Arkansas’ most creative cities.

Petit Jean Mountain Trails


Adventure seekers and avid outdoorsmen regularly make the quick 30-minute drive from Jacksonville to Petit Jean Mountain’s breathtaking scenery and exceptional hiking trails. As part of Petit Jean State Park, one of Arkansas’ most popular and picturesque protected areas, the expansive mountain provides over 20 miles of hiking for all levels of ability and ages.

Must-see sights include the 7-mile Canyon Trail loop that winds past a scenic 95-foot waterfall, the iconic Rock House Cave with ancient Native American and pioneer inscriptions, and lush forests overlooking the Arkansas River Valley countryside for miles.

With stunning natural beauty and fascinating ecological diversity around every corner, an afternoon escaping to Petit Jean Mountain trails promises an unforgettable memory making experience.

Jacksonville Farmers Market

For fresh-picked produce, artisan goods straight from the source, and tantalizing ready-to-eat creations, locals and tourists agree Jacksonville Farmers Market can’t be beat. Taking place every Tuesday and Saturday morning from April through October in the heart of Jacksonville, the lively open-air market brings area growers, bakers, makers and craftsmen together in one vibrant venue.

Market-goers will find rows upon rows of peak season fruits and vegetables, farm-fresh eggs and dairy products, artisan breads and pastries, gourmet condiments and preserves, honey products sourced from local beekeepers and an ever-changing array of hot foods to eat al fresco Picnic tables welcome visitors to take their time gathering ingredients for upcoming meals or enjoying a quick snack while soaking up the contagious energy. The Jacksonville Farmers Market epitomizes Arkansas hospitality at its finest.

Winged Deer Park


Winged Deer Park’s exceptionally well-kept grounds, wealth of family-friendly amenities and easy access from Jacksonville’s city center secures its spot as one of the most popular gathering spots for locals across generations.

The expansive park complex contains playground equipment suitable for all ages, plenty of open grassy areas perfect for flying kites and tossing balls and a splash pad to help cool off on hot summer days. Visitors will also find hiking trails, a frisbee golf course, volleyball net setups and a picturesque duck pond complemented by benches strategically placed for relaxing while enjoying natural beauty and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Families congregate to Winged Deer Park daily for impromptu picnics and get-togethers as well as scheduled seasonal events like free summer concert performances and the annual Easter egg hunt extravaganza.

Murray Lock and Dam

The Arkansas River winds past Jacksonville’s borders on its nearly 1,500 mile course, defining the city’s landscape and providing recreational opportunities for river rats and sightseers alike to enjoy. One of the most popular and accessible spots for accessing the river is within the Murray Lock and Dam recreational area maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Visitors flock to Murray L&D for boating, jet skiing, water skiing and simply soaking in unmatched views of the dynamic river from walking trails weaving along the shoreline and atop the dam itself. Anglers also frequent the space hoping to reel in monster catches from the river’s current.

Educational signs posted riverside share fascinating facts about the Arkansas River’s ecology, the benefit of theriver system to commerce and trade and explanations of how the lock and dam equipment works to control water flow on this cruical waterway.

Rockin’ Robinson


Nostalgia and 1950s pop culture run rampant at Rockin’ Robinson, Jacksonville’s one-of-a-kind diner and rock n’ roll museum hybrid. Upon entering, visitors are immediately transported back to the era of soda fountains, jukeboxes and sock hops with Rockin’ Robinson’s vibrant neon decor, checkerboard floors and colorful booths reminiscent of the iconic 1950s diner esthetic.

However, a closer look at the novelty restaurant’s interior reveals extensive framed collections of some of music’s greatest 20th century pop culture artifacts including vintage concert posters, costumes worn by Elvis himself, and guitars signed by the likes of Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Rockin’ Robinson also pays homage to local celebrities like Levon Helm with mounted Levon memorabilia and a digital jukebox program allowing diners to select classic Levon and The Band hits to play throughout the restaurant.

With servers clad in poodle skirts and roller skates, mile-high ice cream sundaes and a menu packed with retro malt shakes, chili cheeseburgers, patty melts and chicken fried steaks, visitors to Rockin’ Robinson soon find non-stop smiles and giggle fits to be inevitable.

Theatre of Voices


Among the pillars of Jacksonville’s vibrant arts community stands the innovative Theatre of Voices, a one-of-a-kind black box theatre focused on multi-disciplinary and experimental performance art productions. Those seeking a truly novel evening’s entertainment can expect to experience thought-provoking original shows fusing together dance, music and theatrics crafted to showcase themes relevant to modern society.

The intimate 50-person theatre allows pieces to connect on deeply personal levels through intentional and often unconventional performer-patron interaction. Additionally, Theatre of Voices lives up to its name by welcoming new artists to develop and debut works on its non-traditional stage with current pieces created by the likes of renowned area choreographers, composers, actors, and mixed-media artists.

For arts aficionados visiting Jacksonville or simply locals looking to immerse themselves in impactful creative expression, an evening at the Theatre of Voices promises to expand perspectives on how the arts communicate messages vital for our times.

Conclusion

From its small town charm and deep military roots to an abundance of outdoor recreation and flourishing local artistry, Jacksonville offers visitors a wonderfully unique and enriching getaway destination that marries rich history with modern attractions and culture. The twelve locations covered in this piece merely scratch the surface of sites to explore within Jacksonville and its surrounding areas. Foodies will relish the homegrown eateries spotlighting Arkansas cuisine and ingredients across this fertile region while shoppers adore the vintage boutiques and antiques showcasing local craftsmanship and artistic talents.

Families quickly fall in love with Jacksonville’s blend of educational sightseeing and entertainment creating memories to last long beyond any single visit. Whether visiting Jacksonville for a much-needed breath of fresh air or an immersive dive into culture, history and nature, the city undoubtedly exceeds expectations with an incredible variety of attractions suiting travelers of all ages and interests.

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