You might not know much about Jonesboro, Arkansas, but prepared to be wowed by it! From nightlife to the multitude of State Parks nearby, Jonesboro has something for everyone making their way to Northeast Arkansas. Here are the best things to do in Jonesboro, Arkansas, plus important Jonesboro travel tips!
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About Jonesboro, Arkansas
Jonesboro is an up-and-coming college town that is home to the Arkansas State University Red Wolves. Originally founded due to its location along the Crowley’s Ridge and the Mississippi Delta, Jonesboro is now the fifth-largest city in Arkansas.
But while it is one of the larger Arkansas cities, the small-town feel still helps to make you slow down and enjoy the nature!
How to Get to Jonesboro
There are two main ways to get to Jonesboro. The easiest, and most common, is to drive.
If you are new to this part of the world, you might be shocked at just how hard it is to get around without a car. If you are flying into Arkansas, I have tips for renting a car below.
Driving in Arkansas is pretty easy. Roads are well marked and maintained other than in very rural areas. I get skittish driving in the mountains in winter, but that might just be me.
The second way is to take the Greyhound Bus from Little Rock to Jonesboro. The bus takes about two and a half hours and costs around $30.
Google Maps and other navigation apps work great in this part of the country, though navigation systems in cars can miss some major landmarks if they haven’t been updated.
Tips for Renting a Car in Arkansas
It’s awfully hard to get around Arkansas without a car. Whenever I don’t drive my own car over from Oklahoma, I will pick up a rental car at whichever airport I fly into when I get to Arkansas.
If you’re also looking to rent a car, I use Discover Cars when I rent cars on my travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.
Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.
The Best Things to Do in Jonesboro, Arkansas
In no particular order…
Craighead Forest Park
Craighead Forest Park is an ideal place for a day of exploring the nature in Jonesboro, while also providing plenty of space for a picnic and play. The park features areas to play basketball, disc golf, hiking and biking trails, fishing, softball, volleyball, and a campground.
The 692-acre park has fifteen miles of mountain bike trails throughout the wooded areas, a 2.5-mile chatted trail around the edge of Craighead Forest Lake, and a 2.9-mile paved trail just off the edge of the water.
Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center
The Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is a short walk from Craighead Forest Park and features interactive displays teaching visitors all about the formation of Crowley’s Ridge and the nature that surrounds it.
The Nature Center has several native live animal displays, interactive displays, an observation tower, a discovery center, walking paths, and a feature film about the history of Crowley’s Ridge.
Whether you are a Northeast Arkansas native, or just in town for a visit, the Nature Center provides a fun afternoon of exploration and discovery about the region.
Sage Meadows Golf Course
Sage Meadows is proclaimed as one of the top ranking semi-private golf courses in the state of Arkansas and is featured as a course along the Arkansas Golf Trail.
The course features 18-holes that offer a variety of skills and power. The course is sure to challenge players of all levels. Sage Meadows Golf Course also features a full practice facility, pro shop, clubhouse, and bar and grill to provide all visitors with anything they may need while playing along the course.
Arkansas State University Museum
If you’re looking for free things to do in Jonesboro, the Arkansas State University Museum is a free museum for visitors to learn about the natural history and cultural heritage of Northeast Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta.
The museum offers custom tours, interactive exhibits, and unique gallery activities to captivate visitors of any age. The A-State Museum strives to bring an inclusive approach to the education of the history and development of the region.
The permanent collections of the museum feature a range of topics from natural history to the Arkansas Frontier to the influence of Rockabilly music, and there is even a skeleton of a Mastodon.
Bradbury Art Museum
Also featured on the campus of Arkansas State University is the Bradbury Art Museum. Originally founded as a gallery in 2001 and then reestablished as a museum in 2015, the Bradbury Art Museum features contemporary works of all media that work to promote the understanding of art and its impact on society.
Regional, national, and international artists are featured to maintain an open dialogue about what art says about the events of the world.
Sara Howell Studio and Gallery
The Sara Howell Studio and Gallery have been open since 1995. The gallery opened as a place to not only feature the art of Sara Howell, but to provide a location for local artists to be featured and highlighted.
The first show featured nine local artists, and the gallery now features over 15 artists from a variety of mediums. There are shows regularly throughout the year and the gallery is open to visitors Tuesday through Thursday. It is an opportunity to view and learn about the artists within the region.
Hijinx Family Entertainment Center
Hijinx is your go-to place for family fun. Hijinx has a little bit of everything the family will enjoy, such as bowling, Lasertag, an arcade, the Foam Factory, indoor play area, and a ropes course!
There are a variety of packages that let you customize your visit and allow you the opportunity to do as many of the different activities as you would like.
Your entire group is sure to have a fun-filled day or evening when visiting Hijinx. There is even a grill inside that features a variety of fresh classics that will keep you fueled for your fun.
Civil Axe Throwing
Axe Throwing has increased in popularity over the last few years, which prompted the establishment of Civil Axe Throwing in downtown Jonesboro. There are open hours throughout the week to stop in and have fun with a small group or you can rent out for a private throwing group.
No matter what your choice or reason for stopping by, Civil Axe always has professionals around to give advice and pointers to improve your throws. It is a great way to let out some stress and channel your inner warrior.
Ultimate Air is a trampoline park in the heart of Jonesboro open to all ages. There are no specific times needed to come in and play, but reservations are available for use of private rooms.
There are plenty of large trampolines to bounce across, a foam pit, a dodgeball area, a trampoline for high dunks, and many more awesome features within the park.
Passes are available for 1-hour or 2-hour jumps, and they will go by in the blink of an eye as you make your way around all the trampolines.
Locked Away Escapes
Locked Away Escapes is a fully immersed, interactive escape room that gives guests 60-minutes to solve the puzzles and escape the room.
There are 6 different escape rooms of differing levels of difficulty designed to put you and your group to the test of how well you can work together and solve the puzzles before time runs out.
From escaping The Psych Ward to finding your way out of Lost in the Ozarks, Locked Away Escapes has unique puzzles created to keep you on your toes.
Twilight Skating Rink
The Twilight Skating Rink is a classic skating rink. Roller skate rentals, some arcade games, and greasy food will give you a nostalgic feel.
The Twilight Skating Rink is open on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to the public with hours varying based on the day. No matter which day you visit, though, you are sure to have fun skating as the music plays.
Creegan’s Irish Pub
Creegan is Gaelic for “little rock,” so it seemed fitting for the founders of the Pub to open the original Creegan’s Pub in Little Rock. The popularity of the pub then spread to the Northeast region by way of Jonesboro, and Creegan’s is now one of the most popular places to spend an evening with friends.
The weekends are regularly filled with music from local artists and the atmosphere makes it feel as if you are surrounded by friends. The atmosphere is also complimented by classic pub food and proper pints. It is a great place to go for a laidback evening of enjoying Jonesboro’s nightlife.
The Brickhouse Bar and Grill was founded in 2007 as a go-to place for great food and great entertainment. The Brickhouse features three musical stages, a large presentation stage, and a balcony overlooking downtown Jonesboro.
Throughout the year, artists big and small come to play at the Brickhouse and entertain guests. It is a very popular place to be when classes are in session at Arkansas State.
J-Town’s Grill is the go-to place in Jonesboro for the best burgers around. Across the street from Centennial Bank Stadium, J-Town’s is what you would expect out of a little college town bar and grill.
Several TVs are hung around the restaurant to show a variety of sports games. The dining area is small, but it is full of life on a weekend, especially when the Red Wolves are on the football field.
The menu at J-Town’s, though, is what draws customers to the restaurant. You can get anything from a classic cheeseburger to the “Gooby Burger,” which features peanut butter and jalapeno jelly on a burger. It is a must-stop when you come to town.
Omar’s Uptown is one of the best steakhouses in Northeast Arkansas. Located in the heart of downtown Jonesboro, Omar’s has been producing culinary excellence for the past 8 years. The chefs combine Southern classics with a French preparation to turn local, fresh produce into a culinary experience. Omar’s is one of the more upscale restaurants in town, but it is one to not miss if at all possible.
The 501 Steakhouse is another prized restaurant of Jonesboro. The romantic, yet casual, atmosphere welcomes guests to experience some of the best food around. The 501 is known for their prize-winning steaks, but they also feature delicious pasta and seafood.
There is a large variety of types of food and an extensive menu of great choices. The 501 Steakhouse will offer a culinary experience you will be talking about later.
Earl Bell Community Center
The Earl Bell Community Center is named after Olympic pole vaulter and Jonesboro native, Earl Bell. The community center features community rooms, basketball and volleyball courts, tennis courts, a large gymnasium, dance rooms, and the only indoor rock-climbing wall in Jonesboro open to the public.
Rock-climbing is a popular sport within the Natural State but living around Crowley’s Ridge does not provide enthusiasts the same climbing opportunities that can be found in the Central and Northwestern regions of the state. The Earl Bell Community Center provides a place for those who want to continue practicing and exploring the world of rock climbing a place to climb safely.
Lake Frierson State Park
Lake Frierson is about 10-miles north of Jonesboro on the small, 2-lane highway 141. The 335-acre lake is a relaxing place to enjoy year-round fishing, kayak or canoeing, camping, picnicking, and hiking.
The visitor center features interactive exhibits to teach visitors about the wildlife and foliage that can be found around the park. Lake Frierson is one of the smaller state parks in Arkansas, but it provides a nice, laidback location to enjoy the outdoors with the family.
Lake Charles State Park – (Powhatan, AR)
Lake Charles State Park is a 30-minute drive from Jonesboro in the small town of Powhatan, just outside of Black Rock. Lake Charles is a 645-acre lake that is one of the best fishing destinations in Northeast Arkansas.
Lake Charles is the place in Northeast Arkansas with the largest number of 20-inch bass caught. The park also features campsites, four hiking trails, an archery range, and a visitor center with a full line of bait and tackle available.
It is an easy drive from Jonesboro to spend the day out on the water, enjoying the nature of Northeast Arkansas.
Paragould Community Center (Paragould, AR)
For one of the larger towns in the region, Jonesboro does not have a public swimming pool or water park, but luckily, the Paragould Community Center is only a 20-minute drive from Jonesboro.
The Paragould Community Center features basketball and volleyball courts, soccer fields, softball fields, an outdoor playground, a paved walking path, and an outdoor water park area.
Open throughout the summer from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, the family can enjoy escaping the heat with the variety of pool sizes, water slides, and diving board. It is a great place for the family to enjoy a summer day in the pool.
What to Pack for Arkansas
A camera so you can take photos of the special moments from your trip. Whether you bring a point-and-shoot like my Sony ZV-1 or rely on your cell phone like my iPhone 12 Pro, make sure you have at least one camera (though I always travel with two)!
Arkansas Travel Resources
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Kirsten Hazlewood is from Paragould, AR and graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR. She still remains in Paragould with her husband, two stepchildren, and their clowder of cats and raccoons.