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Jonesboro is the home of Arkansas State University which draws many people to the region, but the town is worth visiting even if you aren’t watching the Red Wolves play. Whether you want to explore the outdoors, play with your kids, feast on some tasty grub, or take a break – you’ll have a howl of a weekend in Jonesboro.
The area which we now know as Jonesboro was first inhabited by Native Americans, likely as early as the mid-1700s. The area was a prime location for French and Spanish traders and trappers, drawing people to the site to trade furs and pelts with the Native American tribes in the area. People began to settle the area permanently around 1815, and by 1859, Jonesboro was established as the county seat.
Education has always been important in Jonesboro, and the Arkansas legislature established a regional agricultural training school in 1906. The school was later renamed Arkansas State University in 1967. The school had an enrollment of nearly 14,000 students in Fall 2020. Most people now recognize the Red Wolves as the A-State mascot, but that wasn’t always so, and the mascot has changed several times throughout the years.
Embassy Suites Jonesboro Red Wolf
This brand-new 203-room hotel and convention center opened in January 2020 and is located beside the Centennial Bank Stadium.
Intersect Three Eleven Apart-Hotel
The only non-chain hotel in the region and the only hotel in downtown Jonesboro, guests who stay here are in for a real treat. Lodging options include one-bedroom suites/studios or double studios located in the boutique hotel, two-bedroom townhouses at Monroe Place, or three-bedroom townhouses at Madison Place. The variety of options allows guests to choose the space that meets their needs.
The Farmhouse at Sun Ridge Farms
This newly renovated 1940s farmhouse is situated on a working horse and goat farm, offering guests a unique stay.
The Lodge at 6 Mile Lake
This Airbnb farm-stay allows you to experience all the joy of country life just miles from downtown Jonesboro.
The Coco-Cola Loft
This sleek loft has a modern yet comfortable look and is located in the heart of the Jonesboro entertainment district. You’ll be just steps from restaurants, bars, shops and St. Bernards Hospital.
Jonesboro’s dining options continue to grow throughout the city and especially in downtown Jonesboro. The eclectic mix of restaurants means there is something for everyone.
Native Brew Works
This brand-new brewery is scheduled to open later this year. They will offer handcrafted brews and a selection of tacos and other menu items.
This old-fashioned diner has been in business for over 40 years. Their menu includes all your favorite breakfast foods and standard diner fare. They are only open until 3:00 but save room for dessert. They have a tasty selection of tornadoes and shakes.
Tacos 4 Life
This Conway, Arkansas-based company is expanding across the southeast, but it’s totally worth a stop at their Jonesboro location if you don’t have one in your area. The gourmet tacos and housemade guacamole, salsa and cheese dip are some of the best you will ever taste, and you can feel good knowing that part of your purchase will feed hungry kids.
Photo courtesy of Lorado Grill
Lorado Grill and Grocery
Family-owned restaurant located just outside of Jonesboro city limits, but you won’t regret making the drive. Be sure to call ahead if you want to dine on one of their weekend specials because they are pre-order only.
Known for their fine dining, Kevin Shalin (AKA The Mighty Rib) recommends the Hawaiian Ribeye in 5 Great Steaks from Around Arkansas. Shalin has eaten many steaks around Arkansas, so for this unique take on the ribeye to be named on his list is quite an honor. Omar’s is also one of Shalin’s 10 Favorite Restaurants in 2020.
The memorial arch is the oldest structure on the A-State campus.
The ASU Museum is full of unique treasures, including a giant Mastodon replica that celebrates the discovery of Mastodons throughout the geographic area. The museum also houses displays devoted to Arkansas’s natural history, native people, and Arkansas’s land and towns.
Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway
Take a drive along Crowley’s Ridge, one of Arkansas’s unique geological formations. The scenic road travels 198 miles from St. Francis, Arkansas, through Jonesboro and ending at Helena-West Helena.
Jonesboro’s Historic Homes
There are many historic homes surrounding downtown Jonesboro. The history is rich and interesting, and history buffs will enjoy taking a walking or driving tour to view the homes.
Play Disc Golf
Disc golf continues to grow in popularity, and there are several courses located around Jonesboro.
Craighead County Courthouse
The third rendition of the courthouse was built as part of the public works program in 1935.
Just Settling In
This gorgeous artwork depicting a mother red wolf and her pup was sculpted by Dale Weiler, a well-known advocate for saving the critically endangered red wolf. He created the piece to bring awareness of the red wolves’ plight to the people of Jonesboro. View the beautiful and moving piece and take a moment to learn a bit more about A-State’s role in saving the red wolves.
Big Arkie is a 13-foot alligator that spent many years on display at the Little Rock Zoo. Upon his death, he was taxidermized and eventually moved to the A-State Museum until plans were to dispose of the alligator in the 1980s. A professor rescued him, and he is now on display in the Science and Engineering Complex.
Jonesboro is a hub of outdoor activities, including three Arkansas State Parks, the Arkansas Game and Fish Nature Center and several fantastic city parks.
Crowley’s Ridge State Park
The CCC built the park in the 1930s and offers a variety of activities to visitors. Along with several miles of hiking trails (try the Dancing Rabbit trail with the swinging bridge), guests can camp in one of the 24 campsites, stay in a cabin, fish in Lake Wolcott or swim and boat in the park’s swimming pond.
Lake Frierson State Park
If you are looking to fish, Lake Frierson is the place to be. The 335-acre lake is open year-round for fishing bream, catfish, crappie, saugeye, and bass. They have several campsites, hiking trails, boat rentals and an on-site bait shop. Bring some charcoal, and when you finish fishing, you can grill your catch in one of the picnic areas.
Lake Poinsett State Park
For the last several years, Lake Poinsett has been empty. The lake was drained in 2017 as part of a massive shoreline restoration project. They completed the project in mid-2021, and the lake is full again. Visitors to the park can hike, camp and fish in the newly-restocked waters of the lake.
Forrest L Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center
Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is a popular destination for school groups, scouting groups and families. The center offers displays to learn about Arkansas wildlife, hiking trails, and many programs to encourage Arkansans to take advantage of our wonderful outdoor environment.
Craighead Forest Park
This city park is one of the coolest parks in the state and offers a little bit of everything. There are extensive hiking trails, mountain bike paths, horseback riding, several playgrounds, fishing, a splash pad and even a campground. The park is full of fun activities and the locals love it.
Jonesboro gives you the look and feel of a big city without the crowds of people. Enjoy restaurants, shopping and nightlife in the downtown entertainment district or escape to the country at one of the state parks. There is something for everyone in Jonesboro. You’ll have a howling good time!
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