Located just off Interstate 55 in Arkansas’ northeastern-most corner, the town of Blytheville was founded in the 1870s.
In the old days, much of the town’s economy was based on the timber industry; with it, came masses of rough working men who reportedly made the town pretty rough and dangerous.
Due to its proximity to the neighboring states of Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky, visiting Blytheville gives guests a unique opportunity to see an array of natural and historical sites that are within an hour or two drive.
Below are 14 of the best things to do in and around Blytheville.
1. Delta Gateway Museum
Located on West Main Street in Blytheville, the Delta Gateway Museum would be a great place to visit first on your trip.
There’s no admission charge, and it’s one of the area’s most complete repositories of all things related to the town’s history, heritage and culture.
In addition to the displays and exhibits, they also offer education and instructional opportunities for locals, especially school children and senior citizens.
The items on display include photographs, artifacts, and audio-visual material, so stop by and take a look.
Consider making a small donation to keep the museum up and running for the next generation.
2. Thunder Bayou Golf Links
Since 2002, the municipal golf course – known as Thunder Bayou Golf Links – has been providing golfers with a convenient and inexpensive way to hit the links without breaking the bank.
Previous guests have commented on the beautiful greens and fairways, as well as the abundant sand and water hazards that make it both a picturesque and challenging course.
There’s a chipping area and putting green too if you’d like to come before your tee time and warm up a bit. The pro shop sells balls, gloves, hats, and tees.
Tee times can fill up fast, so consider playing during the week or snagging the first morning time slot if you’d like to avoid the crowds.
3. Visit a Park or Four
Downtown Blytheville has that quaint, small-town feel that’s getting harder and harder to find in this age of “sameness.”
Boasting many historic buildings and quiet neighborhoods, it’s a great place to take a stroll. With four parks within town limits, you’ll never be too far from a green oasis if you’d like to swing by and have a look.
Cypress, Walker, Nelson and Williams Parks are all located within an easy walk from one another; though they don’t offer a lot of amenities, they do provide the perfect place for an afternoon walk or a picnic.
4. Blytheville Youth Sportsplex
Consisting of nearly 50 acres, the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex is one of the town’s gems and is well worth a look.
Its amenities include eight softball and baseball fields, soccer fields, walking trails, and even two ponds for fishing.
The Sportsplex is adjacent to Thunder Bayou Golf Links; with such an incredible array of activities close at hand, finding something to do won’t be a problem.
The Sportsplex hosts daily games and tournaments which attract crowds from all over the area. It’s a great place to relax, watch a game, and eat a burger or hot dog without spending a bundle.
5. Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash is one of the legends of the American music scene, and his humble beginnings took root in the nearby town of Dyess.
The home belonged to the Cash family from the ‘30s to the 50s; it is full of interesting items that will give visitors an insight into the young life of The Man in Black.
The town of Dyess has a fascinating history that you’ll learn about as well.
Established as an agricultural resettlement colony in the New Deal days, the home and museum are really like getting two for the price of one.
6. Historic Greyhound Bus Depot Visitor Center
Visiting Blytheville’s Historic Greyhound Bus Depot Visitor Center is an excellent way to get a unique view into years past; you’ll also get plenty of ideas of other things you may like to see and do while in the area.
The historic depot has been renovated over the years; it’s done in the classic art-deco style that’s one of the best examples of that architectural style you’ll see anywhere in the area.
The center is free to visit and includes pieces on the civil rights movement, local military history, and the Greyhound Bus Company that has been transporting people to every corner of the country for decades.
7. The Ritz Theatre
With unique styling that dates back to the ‘50s and ‘60s, The Ritz Theatre on West Main Street in Blythe is one of those unique bits of Arkansas culture that shouldn’t be passed up.
With a history dating back nearly a century, it’s a theatre that has stood the test of time. Though it’s been renovated many times over the years, it still retains its original charm.
The theatre is a relatively small, intimate venue; they host a variety of performance – from stunts and magic shows to puppets and dramatic plays.
The best way to keep abreast of what’s on their schedule is to check out their website periodically.
8. Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge
Located an easy drive from the town of Blytheville, Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge is part of the national parks system and has been designated a wildlife refuge to protect the animals that call the area home.
Much of the land within the refuge is a wetland, due to the confluence of the Hatchie River and Forked Deer River.
It’s located in the neighboring state of Tennessee and is home to a surprisingly diverse array of fish, mammals, and birds.
Portions of the refuge are open to hikers and bird-watchers – the wading birds and waterfowl are a few of the favorites.
9. Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Located in Manila Arkansas, Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1915, primarily to protect the large numbers of migratory birds that winter in the area every year.
The Mississippi Valley and river are a corridor for birds that migrate from north to south and back again at various times of the year. The refuge also played a crucial role in reintroducing a population of bald eagles to the area in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Though parts of the refuge are permanently closed to visitors, some sections are open, but their hours are seasonal, so check online or give them a call before you go.
10. Craighead Forest Park
While staying in Blytheville, you’ll probably want to make a trip to Jonesboro; if you find yourself with a free hour or two, consider stopping by one of the region’s most popular state parks.
Craighead Forest Park is comprised of nearly 700 acres of natural beauty and recreational activities that’ll keep everyone engaged and content.
There are several hiking trails, a disc golf course, playgrounds, and even a lake that’s a favorite with local anglers.
The trails are open to walkers, runners, and bikers, and there are plenty of covered seating areas that are great for a picnic or just relaxing with a good book.
11. ASU Museum
The Arkansas State Museum is located on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. It’s one of the state’s most impressive collections of all things related to cultural heritage, history, and ecology you’ll find anywhere.
Northeast Arkansas lies in the Mississippi Delta, which has played a considerable role in the country’s development and has even greatly influenced things like art, music, and literature.
The museum contains a number of displays, exhibits, and artifacts; there are even a few interactive and audio-visual ones that are big hits.
It’s free to visit and includes a creative building are for kids too.
12. Skirmish at Jonesboro
During the Civil War, the states of Arkansas and Missouri were hotly contested by the Union and Confederate troops that were stationed here at different times.
It’s not surprising that many battles took place all over the state; one of the most historically significant ones happened in nearby Jonesboro.
The site of the battle is an interesting glimpse into the country’s violent past; it took place around what was then the first territorial courthouse in the early 1860s.
There’s a monument to fallen soldiers, and you won’t need to spend much time to get the site’s full effect.
13. Bradbury Art Museum
Also located on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, The Bradbury Art Museum is the region’s most complete showcase of contemporary art and includes items done in many different mediums.
The museum has been around for nearly 20 years. Once a private gallery, it became a museum so that it’d could better fulfill its original mission of collecting and preserving significant pieces of modern art.
Photographs, sculptures, and paintings are included in the exhibits, as are other less traditional types of media.
Many of their exhibits change throughout the year, so check their website before making a special trip.
14. Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center
The Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is another one of Jonesboro’s sites that should be visited if your schedule allows.
Located on East Lawson Road, it includes a number of professionally created exhibits and displays, many of which are audio-visual and interactive.
There’s a film that plays multiple times daily, giving guests the opportunity to relax in a cool, dark room with comfortable chairs. You will learn about the area’s interesting geology, and how its mountains, valleys, and caves were formed over countless millennia.
There’s also a small petting zoo that’s a big hit with the little ones.