Forrest L. Wood Crowley's Ridge Nature Center offers visitors a chance to learn about the natural history of Northeast Arkansas. Photo by Marcia Schnedler
Category: Worth the Drive

Jonesboro, the state’s fifth largest city, is home to Arkansas State University (A-State) and a variety of athletic, cultural, and culinary delights.

The A-State Red Wolves football team plays three games this month at 33,000-seat Centennial Bank Stadium: September 9th vs. Memphis, September 16th vs. Stony Brook, and September 23rd vs. Southern Mississippi. Meanwhile, fans await the Red Wolves’ long-desired football match-up with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, scheduled for 2025.

A skeleton of a prehistoric mastodon greets visitors to the Arkansas State University Museum. Photo by Marcia Schnedler

Also on campus, musical electricity is in the air at the A-State Museum (, thanks to a lively exhibit that celebrates rock ‘n’ roll’s early heyday in the state’s northern Delta region during the 1950s.

“Rockabilly: The Northeast Arkansas Story” sparks interest in stars of this post-World War II genre, including Johnny Cash, Sonny Burgess, Levon Helm, Billy Lee Riley, Conway Twitty and Ronnie Hawkins. These high-voltage legends and others are aptly spotlighted in the headquarters city of Craighead Electric Cooperative.

The first sight for museum visitors heading to the wide-ranging exhibits in the main galleries is a massive relic of the last Ice Age, 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. The skeleton of a prehistoric mastodon, standing about 10 feet tall at the shoulders, makes an eye-catching backdrop for selfies. Arkansas is the site for 20 among the 29 mid-South finds of bones from this extinct species.

The Bradbury Art Museum on the campus of Arkansas State University displays contemporary art. Photo by Arkansas Department Of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

A second museum on the campus stages changing exhibitions of contemporary work. Opening at Bradbury Art Museum on September 14th is “Sweet Dreams,” a group show “of fantastical, surreal and dreamy contemporary art,” and “Memento-Mori,” sculptures by Arkansan Michael Warrick. Both A-State museums have free admission and are open to the public.

Brews and Bites

Visitors to Jonesboro can enjoy a growing mix of restaurants and entertainment venues. Although package-liquor retailing is still banned in Craighead County, some 70 private-club licenses have been issued for alcohol sales in the city. There’s even a brew pub, Native Brew Works located at 515 South Gee Street.

One of Jonesboro’s busiest dining and music venues is the original Skinny J’s, (205 South Main Street Jonesboro), where the menu features steaks and burgers — and oysters when available. Bands play on weekends, while Wednesday is trivia night.

Steaks and live music are also the focus at Omar’s Uptown located at 301 South Main Street Jonesboro; Brickhouse Grill located at 218 South Main Jonesboro, and JTown’s Grill located at 2610 East Johnson Avenue.

Those with a taste for tacos can get their fill at Uncle Taco located at 211 South Main Street.

Shadrach’s Coffee has 6 locations across the city. The Recovery Room Coffee House & Bistro, (223 South Main Street), is a downtown favorite. Barbecue enthusiasts are sure to be in hog heaven this month at the Downtown Jonesboro BBQ Festival from September 29th to September 30th.

History and Activities

A distinctive downtown work of architecture is Craighead County Courthouse, 511 South Main Street, opened in 1934 as the fifth courthouse at the site, it is the city’s only public building designed in art deco style.

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center offers visitors a chance to learn about the natural history of Northeast Arkansas. Photo by Marcia Schnedler

Outside the courthouse, a plaque describes the Battle of Jonesboro. The Civil War skirmish took place on the courthouse lawn in July 1862. Ranked as a Southern victory, it left seven Union soldiers and one Confederate dead.

Near the courthouse entrance stands the World War I memorial “Over the Top,” which depicts a doughboy heading into combat. Designed by John Paulding and dedicated in 1920 on Decoration Day (now Memorial Day), it supposedly was the first of its kind erected in a Southern state.

Youngsters who fidget at historical sites can jump with joy at Ultimate Air Trampoline Park located at 3223 Shelby Drive. The colorful trampolines are designated for jumpers of different ages and are monitored for safety. The setting is a good bet for birthday parties and other family occasions.

Located in downtown Jonesboro, a World War I memorial stands near the Craighead County Courthouse. Photo by Marcia Schnedler

For outdoor recreation within Jonesboro’s city limits, one haven is 700-acre Craighead Forest Park located at 4910 South Culberhouse Road. Facilities include basketball, volleyball, and softball courts; a disc golf course; a softball field; hiking and biking trails; and camping facilities. The park’s lake is known for bass and bream.

Just southwest of the park, the state-operated Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center located at 600 East Lawson Road, focuses on the natural history of the unusual north-south formation that runs from southeast Missouri to near Helena-West Helena. The center’s three-story building brims with enlightening exhibits on the ridge’s fauna and flora. The surrounding landscape includes about 100 acres of woods, a 5.5-acre prairie, and a 2.5-acre pond.

“Rockabilly: A Northeast Arkansas Story” is currently on exhibit at the Arkansas State University Museum. Photo by Marcia Schnedler

Set atop Crowley’s Ridge, 10 miles north of Jonesboro, is 114-acre Lake Frierson State Park located at 7904 Arkansas 141. A renowned fishing location, it is also designated as an Environmental Education Park with programs focused on energy for the future, pollution, and waste disposal. On September 16th, visitors can join the “100 Hours of Centennial Service” cleanup project to do a good deed as part of their day outdoors.

Jonesboro Facts

Incorporated: 1883
City population: 81,969
Metro population: 135,287
Size: 80.2 square miles