12 Attractions in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Pine Bluff is the largest city and county seat of Jefferson County, Arkansas. This historic river port city is home to just over 42,000 residents and offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, outdoor recreation and southern hospitality.

Pine Bluff’s many attractions range from unique museums and historic sites that chronicle its past to botanical gardens and a large regional park for enjoying the natural beauty of “The Natural State.” The city also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year.

Below are 12 of the top attractions that Pine Bluff has to offer visitors:

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas is a multi-purpose facility with galleries, a museum and space for arts education programs. The complex includes the Martha Mitchell Watercolor Gallery, which hosts works from nationally recognized watercolor artists. Visitors can also view works from emerging regional artists in the Newton Smith Oil Painting Gallery.

The ARTSpace on Main also has rotating exhibits in various mediums along with gift shop featuring arts, crafts and jewelry from local and regional artists. In addition to visual arts, the Center includes the Adam B. Robinson Jr. Black Box Theater which hosts drama and musical productions.

Saracen Casino Resort

The Saracen Casino Resort opened in late 2019 as Pine Bluff’s first official casino. This major development along the city’s riverfront includes a 300-room, 20-story hotel and an 80,000 square feet casino with over 1,000 slot machines and table games.

In addition to gambling, Saracen has multiple food and drink options like the Wall Street Steakhouse, Bet Sure Sports Bar and Ultra Lounge. The resort also attracts top name musical acts and comedians to The Venue for live entertainment.

UAPB Aquaculture & Fisheries Department

Pine Bluff is home to the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), which dates back to 1873 and ranks as Arkansas’ second oldest public university. Visitors interested in aquatic ecology can tour the UAPB Aquaculture and Fisheries’ research facilities by appointment.

Established in the 1980s, this pioneering program focuses on training students and conducting research to advance sustainable fish farming practices and conservation. Tour stops include the outdoor Aquaponics Research Station containing massive commercial-scale water tanks for raising fish integrated with hydroponic vegetable production.

Arts & Science Museum Collections

Also found on the UAPB campus, the Arts & Science Museum includes thousands of exhibits related to anthropology, archaeology, botany and history. Highlights include extensive Native American artifact and basket collections along with displays chronicling African American heritage and achievements.

The UAPB/AMC Solar System Walk Scale Model along the Charles J. Thomas Agricultural Pavilion allows visitors to visualize just how vast our cosmic neighborhood is by demonstrating the huge distance between our planets.

Southeast Arkansas Regional Archives

The Southeast Arkansas Regional Archives preserves over 150 years’ worth of the region’s historical records, manuscripts, photographs and more under one roof. Visitors can request an appointment to access materials or even volunteer to help digitize rare documents ensuring they are preserved for future generations.

Researchers have used this expansive collection covering 12 counties to author books along with television and film productions chronicling the area’s past. Be sure to view the Historic Jefferson County Plat Maps exhibit featuring some of the oldest property maps in Arkansas dating prior to the Louisiana Purchase.

Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum

Located inside the 1927 Union Station train depot downtown, this museum managed by the Jefferson County Historical Society immerses visitors in the city and county’s storied past. Enjoy self-guided tours featuring exhibits like an early 20th century country doctor’s medical office, 1920s kitchen, military display and a large model railroad depicting the state’s railroad history.

The W.A. Young & Sons Machine Shop collection found in the museum’s annex offers a rare look at this pioneering 19th century African American family business that operated over 100 years fabricating parts for steam engines, wagons and more.

Pine Bluff Commercial Historic District

Take a walk around downtown to explore blocks of historic commercial buildings now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Pine Bluff Downtown Commercial Historic District. Notable structures include the Hotel Pines, The Main Building, Trust Company of the South and the 1920s era Saenger Theater which hosted vaudeville acts, silent films and talkies over its lifetime.

While observing the architectural details, consider stopping by one of the restaurants, shops or coffeeshouses that line the walkable streets. Many establishments have preserved their retro signage and interiors adding to the historic ambiance.

Splash Zone Water Park at Regional Park

Pine Bluff Regional Park comprises over 700 acres of outdoor recreation space catering to a variety of interests by encompassing diverse amenities all in one place. The Splash Zone Water Park here featuring play areas, slides and a lazy river makes it a popular spot to cool off during Arkansas’ hot and humid summers.

Other attractions at the park include rental pavilion space, disc golf course, batting cages, walking trails, RV camping sites and sports facilities like softball, soccer, football and tennis courts. Visitors can even try their hand at mining for diamonds and other gems via sifting equipment.

The Great River Road Scenic Byway

The Arkansas segment of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway closely tracks the mighty Mississippi River for 85 miles within the state revealing dramatic bluff lined landscapes along this historic transportation route.

The Jefferson County section near Pine Bluff offers multiple vantage points to view the river along with several stops to explore like the Arkansas Post Museum detailing the state’s colonial era and Confederate Memorial Park, which includes an historic cemetery.

Don’t miss the Scenic Overlook featuring interpretive panels highlighting visible landmarks spanning the Mississippi River channel plus windows into ecologically vital Arkansas delta wetlands.

SS Inagris Ghost Ship at Regional Park

The unusual sight of a beached paddle wheeler located deep inland along a Pine Bluff waterway often causes passersby to do a double take. This vessel named INAGRIS was originally constructed in 1928 to haul cotton bales along the Mississippi River before being repurposed over the decades.

The deteriorating yet still majestic ship came to rest along the channel banks in Regional Park during the late 1980s and morphed into a phantom relic with an air of mystery that visitors can self-tour when park waters recede.

Saints Delight and Rickeys Soul Food Feast

No trip to Pine Bluff is complete without sampling at least one of its soul food establishments serving up comfort cuisine in generous portions with gracious hospitality. Two of the most popular options include Saints Delight and Rickey’s Soul Food Feast.

Saints Delight excels at southern classics like fried chicken, ox tails, candied yams and collard greens with mac and cheese so rich it’ll stick to your ribs for days. Meanwhile Rickey’s utilizes family recipes featuring made-from-scratch staples like smothered pork chops, fried catfish, baked chicken andtangy greens augmented with impressive homemade desserts.

Postmaster’s House and Butterfly Garden Trail at Regional Park

Amidst Regional Park’s scenic beauty, you’ll also discover remnants of a bygone era with historic buildings now interwoven into the landscape. The WPA-era Postmaster’s House has been converted into park office space while retaining its 1930s architectural style with original fireplace and decorative rock masonry.

Adjacent trails like the Butterfly Garden Path contain interpretive panels highlighting native plants, trees and their ecological roles within the park plus benches for resting during nature walks. The area attracts vibrant butterflies during warmer months offering photographers plenty of winged subjects among vibrant wildflowers.

Conclusion

Pine Bluff’s array of unique attractions truly encapsulates the rich culture, heritage and natural splendor found within this historic river city and throughout the state of Arkansas. From immersive museums to scenic recreation, delectable soul food to ghostly relics and funky festivals to eco-education, Pine Bluff offers memorable experiences Visitors frequently find themselves lingering longer than expected.

The hospitable local community takes great pride sharing their stories, traditions and spaces with outsiders while embracing the opportunity to keep these regional treasures vital for future generations. Anyone seeking an authentic slice of “The Natural State” away from congested tourist corridors will find Pine Bluff well worth exploring.

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