12 Attractions in Jonesboro, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Jonesboro, Arkansas may not be on most people’s radar for a vacation destination as it doesn’t have massive tourist attractions or theme parks like some larger cities. However, Jonesboro and the surrounding area has plenty of history, culture, and natural scenic areas that make for a unique and memorable getaway.

There are plenty of great outdoor activities and amazing food to enjoy as well in Downtown Jonesboro. Here are 12 attractions in and around Jonesboro, Arkansas that are worth checking out when visiting this part of the Natural State.

Crowley’s Ridge State Park


Crowley’s Ridge State Park is located just a short 15 minute drive from Jonesboro and offers stunning natural scenery including a mature forest, trails, and views of a scenic lake and the St. Francis River. This 1,200 acre state park is perfect for outdoor adventurers who want to go hiking,mountain biking, or horseback riding with over 15 miles of scenic nature trails and paths.

The park also has two scenic lakes where visitors can fish, boat, kayak, swim, or just relax and enjoy the views. There are several great scenic overlooks within the park to take in panoramic views from high atop Crowley’s Ridge. Camping facilities are available at the park for both RV and tent campers. Cabins can also be rented to have a very convenient home-base for exploring the area’s many attractions.

Craighead Forest Park (The Discovery Center)


Craighead Forest Park, also known as “The Discovery Center,” is a 103 acre forest park located right in central Jonesboro. This city park has many great recreational facilities for the whole family including a modern playgound, themed treehouse, bike trails, illuminated walking trails, and much more.

The Discovery Center features great museums and attractions for visitors of all ages. You can view wildlife exhibits featuring animals native to Arkansas and learn about regional history and nature through many hands-on exhibits. The park also features a memorial rose garden and hosts various community events throughout the year.

A visit to Craighead Forest Park makes for a convenient and exciting attraction right in the heart of Jonesboro if you need a break from the great outdoors.

Arkansas State University Campus + Museum

The campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro is a beautiful local attraction to explore. The campus features gorgeous red brick architecture and tree lined walkways. When school is in session, the whole campus feels lively and vibrant with all of the students going about their day.

Visitors can check out the Arkansas State University Museum to dive into various exhibits related to Delta heritage, regional nature, archeology finds, and more to learn all about the history of this area of Arkansas. Art exhibits are also featured year-round at the museum.

Downtown Jonesboro Historic District


Downtown Jonesboro has a great historic district with preserved buildings dating back as far as the late 1800s and early 1900s. The historic Craighead County Courthouse still stands at the center of Downtown Jonesboro along with two other historic registered buildings: First National Bank and the Alumni House.

Visitors can walk or drive through the Jonesboro Historic District to view the preserved red brick buildings and imagine what life used to be like back in Jonesboro’s early days. Some historic buildings now house modern shops, cafes, and restaurants to browse.

And if you visit Jonesboro in mid-September, the Downtown Jonesboro Association hosts a Craft Beer, Wine, and Food Truck Festival that celebrates the historic downtown district.

Crowley’s Ridge Parkway


A National Scenic Byway just north of Jonesboro called Crowley’s Ridge Parkway features gorgeous rolling hills and scenic pastoral landscapes. The route travels for just over 100 miles showcasing the beautiful and unique Crowley’s Ridge geographical land formation. This elongated hill was formed thousands of years ago and makes for stunning topography unlike anywhere else in Arkansas.

Besides just driving the route and enjoying the scenery, the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway offers opportunities to pause at various pull-offs and recreation areas for hiking and picnicking. Two parks situated along the route are good for hiking: Crowley’s Ridge State Park and Lake Poinsett State Park both offer scenic nature trails.

Bono Family Fun Center + Drive-In Theater


For some family-friendly fun while visiting Jonesboro, head over to the Bono Family Fun Center located just a 20 minute drive west of Jonesboro. This entertainment center offers games and attractions for all ages including go-karts, bumper boats, batting cages, mini-bowling, laser tag, and more!

The Bono Family Fun Center also operates a 1950s-style Drive-In Movie Theater that shows classic films as well as modern movies on the giant outdoor screen. Load up the family in the car and experience this retro activity that’s perfect on nice evenings. The drive-in theater at Bono is one of only 5 remaining in Arkansas so be sure to catch a flick during your visit to the Jonesboro area.

Unicoi State Park


Located in scenic Helena-West Helena which is about a 45 minute drive from Jonesboro, Unicoi State Park is a gorgeous recreation area situated right along the St. Francis River. The 1,100 acre park offers visitors scenic hiking trails that traverse rocky cliffs, forested hillsides, and historic sites. Mountain biking trails are also available ranging from easy to difficult skill levels.

In addition to wooded trails, the park grounds offer many great scenic views and photo opportunities. The observation deck at Sunset Point overlooks the sparkling St. Francis River below. You can also explore the abandoned 1910 railroad tunnel or climb high up on Devil’s Elbow for panoramas of the river valley.

The Legend of Boggy Creek Monster Tour


The “Legend of Boggy Creek” monster movie filmed in the 1970s brought worldwide attention to the small town of Fouke, Arkansas which is located just a short 30 minute drive from Jonesboro. The low-budget docudrama-style horror movie told tales of residents spotting a Bigfoot-like swamp creature they called “The Fouke Monster” lurking around the local creeks and woods.

Today, the legend still lives on and visitors to Fouke can join guided bus tours given by “Doc” the expert cryptozoologist. Tours take you to various spots around Fouke and surrounding towns where monster sightings occurred and you’ll hear first-hand accounts from locals. Definitely a unique and one-of-a-kind attraction for mysterious travelers!

The diversity of birds and wildlife found at the North Pulaski Refuge draws nature lovers from all around. Over 270 different bird species have been recorded here along with deer, beaver, river otters, and more. The best times to spot feathered inhabitants are during Spring and Fall migrations when the area becomes an important rest stop for traveling birds.

While meandering along the trails keep an eye out for woodpeckers, eastern bluebirds, prothonotary warblers, and even bald eagles that frequent the refuge habitat along the Little Maumelle River.

Plantation Agriculture Museum


Gain insight into Arkansas’ agricultural heritage at the Plantation Agriculture Museum located on beautiful farmland in Scott, Arkansas – about a 30 minute drive from Jonesboro. This living history farm and museum focuses on telling the story of cropland farming and rural life in Arkansas from the early pioneer days up to modern times.

Stroll through the grounds to view over 20 preserved historic buildings including an old country store, one-room schoolhouse, tenant farm houses, barns, and more. Many buildings feature interactive displays and exhibits showing various farming equipment and techniques used throughout history. Frequent special events and demonstrations bring the history to life even more. Definitely a uniquely Arkansas attraction to experience just outside Jonesboro showcasing an integral part of the state’s heritage and history.

Lake Frierson State Park


Nestled amongst the historic town of Pocahontas about 35 minutes north of Jonesboro lies scenic Lake Frierson State Park. This recreational destination centered around a beautiful 336-acre lake is perfect for boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, picnicking and more.

The sparkling blue waters beckon visitors to swim, water ski, or slowly paddle across by kayak or canoe while taking in lush views. A swimming beach along the lakefront allows you to simply relax along the shores. There’s also a one-mile hiking trail encircling the lake that passes through serene Arkansas woodlands.

Five family style cabins are available to rent if you want to overnight and have easy access to all the scenic lake’s amenities and recreational opportunities. It makes for a perfect natural getaway with pristine lake views while being under an hour drive from Jonesboro.

Conclusion

While Jonesboro, Arkansas itself doesn’t contain massive theme parks or huge crowds, the history, scenery, and attractions in Jonesboro and the surrounding towns offer plenty to see and do on a nice mellow vacation. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound between great state parks that allow you to hike, camp, fish and boat against the backdrop of the stunning Crowley’s Ridge topography that’s unique to the region.

Quirky attractions tied to local folklore, heritage, and history help you get insight into what makes this special pocket of northeast Arkansas so unique. And the preserved historic buildings and refurbished attractions showcase how modern amenities can still highlight what once was in Jonesboro. So take the opportunity while visiting Jonesboro to venture just beyond city limits to soak up the history, culture, and natural beauty that the whole area has to offer.

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