Located in central Arkansas’ Pulaski County, Jacksonville sits on the outskirts of Little Rock and had slightly less than 30,000 residents at the time of the last census.
The city was named after a local man named Nicholas Jackson, who left the land to a now-defunct railroad after his death; from the original railroad depot, the town began to grow in land size and population.
In the ‘40s, the area was home to a large munitions factory and many large aluminum processing companies that were integral to the war effort in those years.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Jacksonville.
1. Jacksonville Museum of Military History
With large munitions and aluminum plants that were the economy’s mainstays for decades, the Jacksonville area has a rich military history, and the Jacksonville Museum of Military History is the premier place to take it all in.
In addition to its exhibits, displays, and assorted paraphernalia, the museum houses an extensive archive that includes the region’s most complete collection of historical materials dating back nearly a century.
Local citizens donated many of the museum’s items, and one of the most popular exhibits is the one featuring the Titan II Nuclear missiles.
The museum is located on Veterans Circle in Jacksonville.
2. Reed’s Bridge Battlefield
During the Civil War, the city of Little Rock was hotly contested; it was a frequent skirmish area between Union and Confederate troops who were passing through on their way to various campaigns.
Reed’s Bridge Battlefield consists of three distinct fields where battles took place. At many of the historically significant areas, there are plaques, exhibits, and memorials that give guests a more in-depth look into what actually happened.
The battlefield contains a few recreation cannons and fortifications and gives visitors a glimpse into the stark and brutal lives faced by soldiers at the time.
It’s conveniently located on Arkansas Route 161.
3. Holland Bottoms Wildlife Area
Located between the towns of Cabot and Jacksonville, the Holland Bottoms Wildlife Area is a favorite destination for hunting and fishing.
If you plan on doing either, make sure to check out their website for restrictions, regulations, and fees. If you decide to go, you’ll have access to some of the region’s best bass fishing, squirrel and deer hunting.
Thousands of acres of parkland include continuous stands of hardwood forests, which are prime wildlife habitat. To ensure it lasts for generations, the area is managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. It is regularly patrolled too, so make sure you follow the rules.
4. Splash Zone Water Park
Central Arkansas is known for its brutally hot and muggy summers, and there’s no better place to cool off than the Splash Zone Water Park.
Not surprisingly, it was designed with kids in mind. To that end, it’s full of slides, diving boards, splash areas, dump-buckets, and shallow pools.
There are plenty of areas for parents to sit and watch their kids frolic; most of them include comfy lounge chairs with umbrellas to block the sun.
The park is staffed with lifeguards and is reasonably priced.
5. Paradise Park
Located on the south side of the sprawling Little Rock Air Force Base, Paradise Park is one of those places that’s often overlooked by locals and visitors alike.
Though there’s not much to it, that’s part of its quaint charm; no matter when you go, you’ll have beautiful views of the lake and manmade dam.
The park has an elevation of about 300 feet, and near the dam, the drop-off to the water below is pretty impressive.
It’s a great place to stop in the morning or afternoon for a stroll or to relax and read a book.
6. AGFF Shooting Sports Complex
Even if you’re deathly scared of guns and aren’t sure which is the business end, a visit to the AGFF Shooting Sports Complex is an interesting way to spend an hour or two.
The complex is open for local shooters who want to polish their firearm skills in a safe and professional environment. Since they often host competitive shooting matches, it’s a great place to see some fantastic marksmen – and women – do all kinds of jaw-dropping things with guns.
The complex has a professional and safety-minded staff and is suitable for beginners, as long as a knowledgeable gun owner or instructor accompany them.
7. Me & McGee Market
Located near Jacksonville and Little Rock, Me and McGee Market is a family-run outdoor market that focuses on products made and produced by local farmers, entrepreneurs, and craftsman.
They’ve got some of the freshest fruits and vegetables around, but also carry a wide array of dairy products, honey, health and body products, and prepared food like pickles, salsa, and tomato sauce.
The market is a great place to pick up gifts and try out some new things that you may not find elsewhere. Since most of the money you spend will stay local, you’ll be supporting the economy and helping families.
8. Roundtop Filling Station
There aren’t too many gasoline filling stations that are included on the National Register of Historic Places, but there are two in the small town of Sherwood, Arkansas – not too far from Jacksonville.
The oddly shaped stations were once connected to the Pierce Oil Company, an offshoot of the behemoth Standard Oil Company after it was broken up by government trust-busters.
Though it no longer dispenses gas, the mushroom-like building has been well-maintained and is free to visit whenever you like.
It’s worth taking a photo or two as it’s one of the region’s most unique attractions.
9. Rail & Sprue Hobbies
For railroad enthusiasts and small train tinkerers, the Rail and Sprue Hobby Shop in Jacksonville is definitely a place worth checking out.
For a small shop, they’ve got an amazing variety of items on sale, and there’s probably no train-related question you could ask the staff that would stump them. The business owner is almost always on site.
Even if you’re not a big train aficionado, you’ll appreciate the incredible detail and craftsmanship that’s required to build miniature replicas of working trains and depots.
The shop is located on John Harden Drive in Jacksonville, so stop by and say hello.
10. Central Arkansas Escape Rooms
If you’ve never experienced the fun of an escape room, you ought to consider giving it a shot when you’re in the Jacksonville area.
Central Arkansas Escape Rooms are professionally managed to give guests an amazingly lifelike experience with up to six other friends or family members.
You and your team will need to use your wits to decipher codes and answer questions that lead to your freedom; you may be surprised at how suspenseful it can be, even though you know it’s just a game.
There are different rooms with varied themes, so choose the one that interests you the most.
11. Plantation Agriculture Museum
Agriculture has always been big business in Arkansas. The Plantation Agriculture Museum is full of exhibits that showcase the region’s farming history.
Since the beginning, cotton has been one of the state’s most prolific crops. It’s shipped via rail to many parts of the country and used to make many of the things we use in our homes every day.
Located on Arkansas Route 161 in Scott, much of the museum’s focus is on the 1830s, the time when Arkansas was officially granted statehood.
For much of its life, the museum building functioned as a seed warehouse.
12. Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park
One of Arkansas’s largest and tallest manmade structures dating back more than 1000 years, the Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park is conveniently located near Jacksonville, making it a great way to spend a few morning or afternoon hours learning about the region’s rich Native American history.
Archaeologists believe that the mounds were largely ceremonial structures and that they were near the center of a once-flourishing community site that was eventually abandoned.
Located on Toltec Mounds Road in Scott, Arkansas, the site is managed by Arkansas State Parks and is still revealing important information about its previous inhabitants.
13. Altitude Trampoline Park
Even by trampoline park standards, 200 trampolines is a lot! If you’ve got little ones who need a way to release their pent up energy, then a trip to Altitude Trampoline Park in Little Rock is a great way to get it done.
Many of the park’s trampolines are interconnected; there are even special areas for small children so they won’t get squashed by larger ones.
In addition to trampolines, the park has dodge-ball and basketball areas, and a huge foam-filled jump pit that’s also a big hit.
In short, it’s a relatively inexpensive place to let the kids cut loose and have a good time.
14. Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Pinnacle Mountain State Park is located to the west of Little Rock. It has been a designated park area since the late ‘70s and is one of the first in the nation to be so close to a large urban area.
In addition to offering a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, the park also serves education and preservation roles. Depending on when you’re there, you may be able to participate in one of the activities they host throughout the year.
The park is comprised of nearly 2,000 acres and is home to a variety of local animals. If you visit in the early morning or late afternoon, you have a good chance at glimpsing some of the wildlife in the area.