12 Things To Do in Jonesboro, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Jonesboro is the fifth-largest city in the bustling state of Arkansas. Located in Northeast Arkansas along the Crowley’s Ridge, it serves as an economic, cultural, and transportation hub of the region. Jonesboro offers visitors plenty of attractions, outdoor adventures, museums, performing arts, sports, shopping, and restaurants.

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, Jonesboro has something for everyone. This article highlights the 12 top things to see and do when visiting Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Go on a Shopping Spree at The Mall at Turtle Creek

The number one place to shop in Jonesboro is The Mall at Turtle Creek located at 3000 E Highland Dr. This mega 410,000-square-foot enclosed shopping mall features over 80 stores and eateries. Retail giants like JCPenney, Belk, Buckle, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Forever 21, and American Eagle offer fashion, accessories, shoes, cosmetics, and more.

The expansive food court has plenty of quick-service dining options when you need a shopping break. Make a full day out of exploring everything this exceptional mall has to offer.

Tour Downtown Jonesboro

Downtown Jonesboro stretches along Main Street and features restored historic buildings, locally-owned shops and restaurants, performing arts venues, and cultural attractions. Start your visit at the Craighead County Historical Museum to learn about the city’s origins and view exhibits displaying artifacts from the region’s Native American heritage and more.

Grab lunch on Main Street, with crave-worthy options like Skinny J’s, Main Street Pizza, and Eleanor’s Pizzeria. Afterward, browse home decor stores like the Cotton Gin, River Valley Goods, and Design & Wine. Don’t miss checking event schedules at the Fowler Center and Foundation of Arts for concerts, theatre shows, exhibits, and other performing arts happenings held at these illustrious downtown venues.

See a Show at the Arkansas State University Fowler Center

The beautiful Robert W. Fowler Center at Arkansas State University brings exceptional performing arts shows to Jonesboro. Touring Broadway productions like Wicked, Jersey Boys, Lion King, and Phantom of the Opera have graced the stage here.

Nationally renowned music, dance, and comedy acts also perform at the 1,200-seat Riceland Hall. The center houses the Balcony Bistro, an upscale dining venue overlooking the scenic pond. Visitors can enjoy a pre-show drink or meal on the picturesque patio. Check the Fowler Center website for upcoming concerts, live performances, speakers’ series, and other exciting events happening during your Jonesboro visit.

Tour the Beautiful Arkansas State University Campus

Arkansas State University’s lush 870-acre campus provides a scenic spot for taking a relaxing stroll. Visitors can access a free map online highlighting walking paths, historic buildings, monuments, fountains, and hanging floral gardens around campus.

Must-see landmarks include the 158-foot tall Carl R. Reng Student Union Mesa and Waterfall, the expansive Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, and two notable athletic facilities including the convocation center and football stadium. Guided tours run weekdays with advanced reservations, providing an inside look at facilities and insight into departments and programs. With lovely scenery and architecture, an afternoon walk or tour makes for a pleasant Jonesboro activity any time of year.

See Exotic Animals at the Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center

Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center occupies 281 acres along the geological wonder known as Crowley’s Ridge that runs 150 miles across the region. This family-friendly attraction lets visitors observe native wildlife in their natural habitats. Walk the scenic 1.25-mile Wetland Wildlife Trail with boardwalks and observation platforms winding through wetland, forest, and grassland ecosystems.

You may spot red foxes, river otters, turtles, waterfowl, songbirds and more. Their Interpretive Center houses educational exhibits and a gift shop. Guests can check schedules for live animal programs and naturalist-guided walks tailored for all ages to enrich your experience. With ample trails to explore on foot, bike, or leashed pets are welcome too.

Explore Aviation History at the Arkansas Air & Military Museum

Located at Jonesboro Municipal Airport-Ellis Field, this museum run by Vietnam Veterans showcases Arkansas’s role in American aviation history. Visitors can climb aboard aircraft and military vehicles, including massive helicopters and a billion-dollar B1B bomber.

Over 10,000 artifacts are displayed providing insights on topics spanning World War I era to modern times, including the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, and Desert Storm. Noteworthy exhibits feature Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) from WWII, the Flying Tigers, an authentic P51 Mustang plane, flight simulators, and more. Guests can watch restoration work underway at the Restoration Hangar. Educational exhibits, speaker series, and annual air shows aim to preserve aviation heritage for future generations.

Tour Historic Downtown Paragould

Nestled at the base of Crowley’s Ridge just 25 minutes from Jonesboro lies the quaint downtown Paragould district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Downtown spans several blocks filled with restored buildings housing shops, restaurants, museums, a children’s science center, and performing arts theatre. Start at the Greene County Historical & Genealogical Society to learn about the region.

Grab lunch at one of the local eateries, then browse home decor stores, book shops, boutiques, antique malls, and art galleries that stock locally made items. Be sure to check schedules for concerts, plays, festivals, a farmer’s market, and community events happening seasonally downtown as Paragould provides a perfect side trip for history buffs and vintage shopping fans.

Relax at Craighead Forest Park

Craighead Forest Park spans over 500 acres just five minutes from downtown Jonesboro, offering plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Outdoor recreation options include hiking and biking paths, disc golf, tennis and pickleball courts, batting cages, fishing and paddle boating on Lake Frierson, picnicking facilities, and a dog park. Kids love the massive wooden Expression Swing Structure and Liberty Park playground.

Other amenities include restrooms, walking trails, an 18-hole golf course, meeting rooms, pavilions, and a lodge available for event rentals. Seasonal activities range from music concerts to holiday light displays, festivals, outdoor movies, races, and youth sport leagues. With so much natural scenery and ways to stay active outdoors, Craighead Forest Park makes an excellent inclusion while visiting Jonesboro.

Watch the Arkansas State Red Wolves Play College Sports

Arkansas State University fields competitive Division I NCAA teams that sports fans won’t want to miss seeing in action. The headline event is Arkansas State Red Wolves football played at 30,400-seat Centennial Bank Stadium. Diehard fans fill the stadium to cheer the team on Saturdays in the fall.

The 10,000-seat First National Bank Arena hosts ASU Volleyball along with Men’s and Women’s basketball games from October through March. State’s baseball, softball, and soccer teams also compete on campus with separate ticketing. Visitors should check game schedules online for available tickets or stop by the Athletics Ticket Office during business hours. Catching a spirited Arkansas State sporting event completes the quintessential Jonesboro experience.

Tour Historic Davidsonville State Park

Stepping into Davidsonville Historic State Park transports visitors back to a 19th century frontier logging town. Costumed interpreters depict daily life through living history exhibitions from February to November. Original log buildings house authentic artifacts, stories, and skills like blacksmithing and churning butter. Davidsonville offers 8 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Rangers lead guided nature walks and historical tours on select days. Guests can picnic, geocache, camp overnight and join special heritage skills workshops. With so much rich history and natural scenery just minutes west of Jonesboro off Highway 166, Davidsonville State Park makes an educational and refreshing outdoor excursion.

Catch a Movie at the Malco Hollywood Cinema Grill

When you’re seeking indoor entertainment, Malco Hollywood Cinema Grill combines first-run movies and chef-inspired dining. This modern cinema located at 2206 Red Wolf Blvd features recliner seating, state-of-the-art sound systems and screens in all 14 auditoriums.

The extensive menu at your seat includes pizza, burgers, entrees, appetizers, desserts, specialty drinks and more for ages 21+. Matinee and weekly discounts help you save. Hollywood Cinema Grill offers the dinner and a movie night out experience perfect for individuals, couples, families or groups with reasonable ticket prices.

Conclusion

From world-class shopping and performing arts to an array of museums highlighting local history, outdoor recreation in beautiful parks and collegiate athletics, Jonesboro offers remarkable attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. The city provides a great base to explore the larger Northeast Arkansas region as well.

Whether traveling solo, with your significant other or the whole family, Jonesboro’s blend of urban conveniences and small-town charm makes it an excellent vacation destination that should be on your radar for your next Ozarks getaway. Use this list of top things to do in Jonesboro to help guide your travels for a memorable trip discovering the very best Northeast Arkansas has to offer visitors.

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