Located in south-central Arkansas’ Bradley County, the area around what is now Warren was first settled by Europeans in the early part of the 19th century, but the town wasn’t officially incorporated until 1851.
The Native American Quapaw and Choctaw tribes had lived on the land for generations before they were eventually pushed onto reservations in the neighboring state of Oklahoma.
Warren is conveniently located almost equally between Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, making day trips a great way to see all the historical, natural, and cultural attractions for which the American southeast is known.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Warren.
1. Bradley County Veteran’s Museum
To honor the men and women who’ve served in the armed forces over the years, a group of civic-minded organizations has joined forces to honor them by opening a museum that’s solely dedicated to their efforts and sacrifices.
The museum is located on North Main Street in Warren and recently underwent a major overhaul which cost more than a hundred thousand dollars.
Consider making a donation when you visit, to help the not-for-profit groups continue their good work.
Though it won’t take more than an hour to see, it’s a great place for some quiet contemplation, so swing by while you’re in the area.
2. The Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge
The Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge lies about a half hour west of Warren on U.S. Route 63 and draws bird-watchers, wildlife photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the area.
The refuge is home to a variety of birds, including owls, eagles, hawks, and a species of woodpecker that’s on the endangered species list.
The Saline River which runs through the refuge is open to fisherman and is full of Kentucky bass – often called Kentucky red-eyes in other parts of the country.
Campsites with full hookups are available seasonally, so if you’d like to spend an evening or two, give them a call to reserve your spot.
3. Lake Monticello
At just over 1,500 acres of surface area, Lake Monticello is big by any standards. It’s a favorite destination for anglers from all over, most of who come to tangle with its world-class largemouth bass.
The lake gained a reputation for monster-proportioned bass when the 4th largest in the state’s history was caught a few years back.
The lake’s entrance is just off Arkansas Route 35 west of Monticello, making it an easy drive for those staying in Warren.
Don’t worry if fishing isn’t your cup of tea; the lake and surrounding park have plenty of amenities for non-fisherman, like covered picnic areas and a space designated for remote-controlled aircraft enthusiasts.
4. Dallas County Museum
The Dallas County Museum is located on North Main Street in Fordyce and is really a few museums rolled into one.
There’s a sports museum that focuses on the area’s college teams and the stars that have gone on to play in the big leagues.
For college football fans, there’s an area dedicated to the legendary Bear Bryant, one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.
Open every day except Monday, the museum also includes historical, natural, and cultural elements.
It’s free to visit, though they do gladly accept donations which will help them continue their good work.
5. SEARK Concert
SEARK is southeast Arkansas’ home for contemporary and traditional dance, music, and theater. It’s located on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Monticello on University Drive.
The venue’s productions are produced and managed by the Southeast Arkansas Concert Association. Throughout the year, they host a variety of live performances from local, regional, and national talent.
The shows are generally inexpensive, and the facilities include modern light and sound systems and comfortable seats.
It’s a great way to see some budding talent, support the local community, and have a nice evening without breaking the vacation piggy-bank.
6. Turner Neal Museum of Natural History
With so much natural history spread over the state, it’s no wonder that Arkansas has so many natural history museums.
Also located on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Monticello, the Turner Neal Museum of Natural History includes displays, exhibits, and models of the amazing variety of plant and animal species that have lived in the area from eons past up to the present.
If you’re traveling with a large group, special tours are available. Be sure to plan ahead and let them know you’re coming well in advance so they can make the necessary preparations.
7. Delta Rivers Nature Center
If you’ve only got time for one stop on your visit to the Warren area and you’d like to learn about the diverse plants, animals, and geology in the region, you’d be wise to hit the Delta Rivers Nature Center.
Managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, it is bar-none the most complete and engaging facility of its kind in the state.
The grounds are comprised of more than 100 acres of outdoor hiking areas, forests, and ponds; but their real claim to fame is the massive aquarium that holds tens of thousands of gallons of water and is home to some fascinating fish, reptiles, and amphibians that are native to Arkansas.
They’ve also got a great gift shop and helpful staff.
8. Pomeroy Planetarium
The Pomeroy Planetarium is adjacent to the aforementioned Turner Neal Museum of Natural History on the AUM campus.
It’s a 40-seat facility that’s the perfect place to relax in a comfy chair, enjoy the air conditioning, and take a guided tour of the cosmos.
Though admission isn’t free, it’s relatively inexpensive, and they do offer free public evenings at certain times during the year; check the calendar of events on their website to see what’s on their schedule.
They also offer outdoor guided viewing events that are a big hit, but they are contingent on the weather cooperating, so stick your head outside before making a special trip.
9. UAM Fine Arts Gallery
No matter where you find yourself, there’s usually a college or university nearby; nearly all of them offer a variety of activities – from sports, art, and theater to dance and guest speakers – making them valuable community resources that should be taken advantage of.
The University of Arkansas Monticello Fine Arts Gallery hosts a variety of live performing arts productions throughout the year. They offer feature exhibits of contemporary art, much of which was created by students and local artists.
Like most guests, you may be surprised at the quality of work you see, and you may just get some inspiration to paint your own masterpiece or take up salsa dancing.
10. Weevil Lake & Walking Trail
Also referred to as Weevil Pond, Weevil Lake and Walking Trail is another UAM gem that’s easy to get to and free to use any time.
Though the trail isn’t long, it winds its way through some beautifully cultivated areas full of trees and flowers. They are particularly alluring in the spring when they’re blooming, and the fall when the tree’s leaves are turning their vibrant autumn colors.
The trail is just about a half-mile long, so there’s no chance of getting lost and needing a helicopter extraction. It’s also possible to buy a brick, the proceeds of which go to the lake and trail’s upkeep.
11. Pine Bluff – Jefferson County Historical Museum
Located inside an old Union Pacific railroad depot built in the early years of the 20th century, the Pine Bluff – Jefferson County Historical Museum houses the county’s most complete collection of artifacts and memorabilia that cover the period between the 19th and 20th centuries.
The museum is located on East 4th Avenue in Pine Bluff, just an easy drive from Warren.
The exhibits focus on the settler and pioneer eras, the Native Americans who were the land’s original inhabitants, and the Civil War.
There are even a few first-hand accounts that are particularly interesting insights into the past.
12. Drew County Historical Museum
Not to be outdone by its historic-minded neighbors, the Drew County Historical Museum is another area hotspot for those interested in learning about the region’s fascinating history and settlement.
It’s located on South Main Street in Monticello and includes antiques, housewares, clothes, and other original artifacts that have been used by county residents over the years.
There’s also a home built in the early 1900s onsite, as well as two restored log-cabins that were built decades before, around the time when the land was initially explored and settled by pioneers from the east.
Guided tours and instructional programs are offered, so check out their website before heading out.
13. Allen House Tours
For those interested in architecture as much as history, taking a tour of the Allen House in Monticello would be a great way to get your fill of both.
The Allen House is located on North Main street downtown and was originally built in 1906 in the classic Victorian-style.
It sports other notable design elements as well and includes multi-layered spires and massive columns reminiscent of southern plantations that were so popular with wealthy landowners in the pre-Civil War years.
Tours must be scheduled in advance. They also host popular holiday events that are perennial hits with locals and visitors.
14. Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame
Like all states, Arkansas has its fair share of native sons and daughters who’ve risen from relative obscurity to fame and stardom on national and international stages.
A few notable names that you may have heard of include John Grisham and Johnny Cash.
Nearly everyone, regardless of taste, has either read a John Grisham book or heard a Johnny Cash song, but few of us know about the lives of these and similar stars before they hit the big time.
The museum is located on Convention Center Plaza in Pine Bluff, and the cost of admission is reasonable, considering all there is to see.