Located in the south-central area of Arkansas near its border with Louisiana, Crossett is Ashley County’s largest town. At the time of the last census, it had a population of just shy of 11,000 residents.
Crossett was incorporated in 1902 and is connected to the separate municipalities of North and West Crossett.
For those with access to a set of wheels on their visit, the northern part of Louisiana is just a short drive south and opens up a whole new avenue of exploration.
Below are 14 of the best things to see and do in and around Crossett.
1. Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge
Though many visitors don’t associate Arkansas with bayous and cypress lakes as they do Louisiana, southern Arkansas has similar ecosystems that are home to a variety of unique animals like snakes, birds, turtles, and even alligators.
The Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge is a big draw to residents from Arkansas and Louisiana and is home to some excellent fishing as well.
The refuge’s entrance is just off Highway 88 a few miles outside of town. It’s also a popular wintering area for migrating birds that come in the late fall and winter months to escape the harsher northern climates in Midwestern states.
2. Lake Columbia
Located in nearby Magnolia, Lake Columbia is one of southern Arkansas’ premium bass fishing lakes.
Due to its relative shallowness and the dense aquatic vegetation in many areas, it’s not the easiest lake in the world to fish, but for those with the skills and patience, the rewards can be great. Fish in the 8-10 pound range aren’t unheard of.
The lake doesn’t get as much traffic as some others do, making it a true gem for those looking to tangle with big fish and avoid the crowds.
Remember that Arkansas residents and visitors alike need fishing licenses and risk fines if caught fishing without one.
3. Logoly State Park
Logoly State Park in the state’s southwest corner is the premier destination for visitors interested in environmental education, and the park’s new facilities and staff are there for just that purpose.
The park’s new visitor’s center is full of displays and exhibits, many of which are hands-on ones designed with children in mind – but it’s equally interesting and informative for adults.
The area is home to some unique animals, many of which can be seen on the nature trails that wind their way through the park grounds.
Guided tours with park employees are available; they’re an inexpensive and educational activity for nature and animal lovers.
4. South Arkansas Arboretum
The South Arkansas Arboretum in El Dorado is the only one of its kind in the region. It is comprised of a variety of distinct, cultivated gardens that include both native and non-native species of flowers, plants, and trees.
Though it’s only open in the warm spring months, the butterfly house is a perennial favorite, especially for those traveling with children.
The area is beautiful year-round, but especially so in spring, when everything is in bloom, and the fall when the leaves have turned their vibrant autumn colors.
The arboretum has educational and instructional programs as well, many of which are aimed at children.
5. Murphy Arts District
El Dorado’s quaint downtown area has undergone a renaissance in recent years. The Murphy Art District is the town’s main attraction and is full of trendy bars, cafes, and shops that you probably wouldn’t expect to find in a relatively small and rural town like El Dorado.
There are plenty of live events during the warm months. They’ve even hosted national greats such as Smokey Robinson, and for the last few years, they’ve held a local Music-Fest that’s gaining popularity.
Checking out the arts district is a great way to rub elbows with the locals and support local businesses as well.
6. Jefferson Street Books
Locally owned and operated bookstores are becoming rarer with each passing year; if you can find one, they’re great places to check out when visiting a new area.
Jefferson Street Books has been around since 1988 and is the last of its kind in the region.
From fiction and non-fiction to children’s books, they’ve got a bit of everything – even a few books by local authors that you won’t find elsewhere.
They’re located on North Jefferson Street in historic downtown El Dorado, so consider stopping by to pick up a good vacation book to read after a self-guided afternoon stroll through the town’s quaint streets.
7. McCollum-Chidester House
For those amateur historians who just can’t get enough Civil War-era history, a few hours spent at the McCollum-Chidester Home in Camden would be time well spent.
Previous guests have commented on how professional and well-maintained the historic house is, and most of what you’ll find inside is related to the area’s pioneer and Civil War years
The house was donated to the local historical society in the ‘60s and is full of authentic period furniture, housewares, clothes, and other items commonly used in the everyday lives of its inhabitants.
The house and grounds are free to visit, but donations are gladly accepted.
8. Poison Springs State Park
For those who like their state parks rugged and wild, a visit to Poison Springs State Park would be a good fit.
In addition to its forest trails, the state park has many historical plaques that describe the area’s significance in the years before and during the Civil War.
The trails are mostly flat and appropriate for all ages, but they aren’t paved, so are not accessible for those in wheelchairs.
The park often hosts Civil War reenactments that are amazingly dramatic and fun to watch. But for the most part, the park isn’t on the radar of visitors, so you may just have the place to yourself.
9. Biedenharn Museum & Gardens
Once the home of a wealthy family in Monroe, Louisiana, the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens will require a few hours in the car if you’re coming from Crossett. For those with a love of history and gardens, it’ll be time well spent.
Construction on the home was completed in 1913, and many of the home’s furnishings are either original or restored to original condition and include furniture, art, housewares, and clothes.
The home is open for tours year-round, and guided tours are available with a docent if you’re interested.
The gardens are the most magnificent during the spring when everything is in full bloom.
10. Chennault Aviation and Military Museum
During World War II, Selman Field Army Air Corps Navigation School was bustling with men training in aerial navigation.
The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum is named after famous airman Claire Chennault, who was a Louisiana native and leader of the famed Flying Tigers group.
Housed in the last building that remains from the original airbase, there’s no cost to see the museum.
The items on display include weapons, equipment, uniforms, maps, and photographs that give visitors an interesting look into the area’s military and aviation pasts.
The section dedicated to the Flying Tigers is especially interesting.
11. Landry Vineyards
For nearly 20 years, Landry Vineyards has been family owned and operated and producing some of the region’s most popular wines.
The first batch of grapes planted were of the white European variety, but since then, they’ve added red grapes as well. They now offer an impressive range to suit nearly every taste.
Originally, the vineyards and winery were located in Folsom, but after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, they picked up and moved to their current location west of Monroe.
Guided vineyard tours are available and include samplings in their tasting room.
It’s a good idea to book your tour in advance.
12. Masur Museum of Art
Known as the largest and most complete art museum of its kind in the region, the Masur Museum of Art is housed in the former home of the Masur family and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum’s focus is on the visual arts in all its forms. Their aim is preservation and education, which they do through their exhibits and the instructional programs they offer to the community.
The museum is free to visit, but they gratefully accept donations, which will go towards their programs and maintenance of their facilities.
Previous guests have commented on how well done the museum was, and how the quality of art on display exceeded their expectations.
13. Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum
There aren’t a whole lot of museums that were built solely with children in mind, and for those traveling with kids, they’re especially great places to visit.
The Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum on Walnut Street in Monroe includes a variety of hands-on activities and exhibits that engage children while teaching them a thing or two as well.
Admission is inexpensive, and though the museum isn’t the biggest in the world, it might provide a well-needed hour or two of amusement – especially when the weather isn’t conducive to being outdoors.
It’s near the other Monroe, Lousiana attractions, making it a convenient stop.
14. The Spice & Tea Exchange
For foodies, chefs, and tea lovers, The Spice and Tea Exchange on Trenton Street in West Monroe, Louisiana deserves an hour of your time while in the area.
The amazing smell of hundreds of spices will open those sinuses when you walk in. You’ll be amazed at the selection they have; many of their products come from the far corners of the world.
They also offer custom blends for those who know exactly what they’re looking for, and their pre-packaged sets are popular as gifts or mementos of your trip.
They often have samples to try, and offer other items as well, like different varieties of salt, sugar, and pre-mixed baking products.