Located in northeast Arkansas’ Randolph County, the town of Pocahontas was founded in the first decade of the 19th century, and originally consisted of 800 acres of private land owned by a local doctor.
Originally called Davidsonville, it has the distinction of being the oldest town in the state and had the first post office and courthouse in 1817 and 1818 respectively.
Though small even by rural town standards, Pocahontas has its own municipal airport and is near enough to the neighboring state of Oklahoma and cities like Little Rock, Jonesboro, and Memphis to make day-trips a great way to see all the things the region has to offer.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Pocahontas.
1. AME Church
The AME Church – or African Methodist Episcopal Church – was arguably the country’s first Christian denomination founded by African Americans in 1816.
Since the beginning, the church has fought for civil rights, social justice, and opportunity for education central elements in their cause. Since it was the first church founded along racial lines as opposed to theological ones, it’s had its share of critics along the way, too.
Located at the Eddie Mae Herron Center in Pocahontas, the old church is a fascinating bit of American and Arkansas history that’s free to visit and offers a glimpse into the past that you won’t find elsewhere.
2. Randolph County Heritage Museum
Even for those visitors who’ve lived in Pocahontas or Randolph County for much of their lives, the Randolph County Heritage Museum holds some little-known gems that make it a place of discovery unlike any other in the area.
The museum is full of artifacts, exhibits, and photographs related to the county’s history; many of them date back nearly 200 years, to a time when Arkansas wasn’t yet a state. During the year the museum offers a variety of educational and instructional courses.
The museum is free to visit, though donations are accepted; they’ll help with the maintenance and upkeep of the facility and items on display.
3. Davidsonville Historic State Park
Arkansas’ first post office was established in the early years of the 19th century, in a town called Davidsonville that’s now known as Pocahontas.
Located on Highway 166, the historic post office site is on the shores of Trapper Lake. In addition to the park’s historic aspect, it also offers camping, fishing, picnic areas, and a playground.
The park’s 20 campsites include convenient amenities like electricity, wastewater, and water supply. With all there is to see and do, it’s a place that families could spend an entire day without getting bored.
Check out the visitor’s center first for a fascinating overview of what life was like on the frontier hundreds of years ago.
4. Rice-Upshaw House
Located on Highway 93 in Pocahontas, the Rice-Upshaw House and historic site give visitors a uniquely in-depth look into the rough and dangerous lives that were the hallmarks of pioneer existence when the area was founded nearly two centuries ago.
Though modest in size, the house includes artifacts, exhibits, memorabilia, and even some first-hand accounts. Much of the related historical literature has been written by historians and archaeologists who’ve studied the site for years.
Few similar sites in the state have such thoroughly documented background. It should take about an hour to see all there is to see.
5. Pocahontas Colored School
Also located on the grounds of the Eddie Mae Herron Center and Museum in Pocahontas, the Pocahontas Colored School is another interesting chapter in Arkansas’ pioneer era that’s fascinating to learn about.
Unlike most other historical sites, the Pocahontas Colored School weaves together history, culture, and African American issues like slavery and civil rights into one unique package.
Located near the corner of Pratt and Archer Streets near downtown, the school was originally constructed in 1865, well before slavery was abolished. For much of its existence, the building functioned as a church, school and gathering place for local African Americans.
6. Mammoth Spring State Park
Located on 60 acres in Fulton County Arkansas, Mammoth Spring State Park is a favorite destination for swimmers, fishermen, and hikers. There’s a great visitor’s center as well that’s the perfect place to stop first to learn about the park’s amenities and history.
There’s also a small hydro-electric power generator and dam that are interesting to see. Tours of the facility are available if you’re interested in learning about how turbines are used to capture the energy in falling water and turn it into electricity.
There’s a renovated train station nearby as well. Considering all there is to see and do, it’s the kind of place you could easily spend a few hours.
7. Cherokee Village
As one of the first planned recreational communities in the state, Cherokee Village has become a regional icon for retirees and those looking to live in a resort-style community year-round.
The community was developed in the mid-50s along the banks of the South Fork River and is comprised of more than 15,000 acres of land for only about 5,000 residents.
Amenities include an 18-hole golf course, RV park, numerous lake and river access points, and more than 100 clubs and special interest groups that meet regularly.
The community prides itself on its clean and orderly nature, low taxes, and almost non-existent crime. For those who’d like to check it out, there are plenty of hotels, restaurants and local attractions close by.
8. Crowley Ridge State Park
With lots of walking trails, wood bridges and a big playground, Crowley Ridge State Park is a great place to spend a few morning or afternoon hours, especially for those traveling with children.
There’s a stocked pond onsite, and for those who’d like to spend a few days enjoying the idyllic scenery, cabins are available close to the shore.
The park is located on Highway 168 in Paragould and is an easy drive through the country from Pocahontas.
If you’re just planning to visit for a few hours, there are covered picnic areas near the water, and paddle boats are available to rent as well.
9. ASU Museum
The Arkansas State University Campus in Jonesboro is home to the ASU Museum, one of the largest and most complete repositories of historical and cultural items on display anywhere in the state. It’s free to visit and open year-round.
The museum is located inside the Dean B. Ellis Library on University Loop. In addition to its permanent exhibits, it often hosts temporary ones. There are even special educational and instructional classes offered at different times; many of them are free.
The best way to keep up to date with what’s going on is to check their website periodically.
10. Craighead Forest Park
For campers and RVers looking for a convenient place to stay while exploring the area, Craighead Forest Park would be a great fit.
Located just outside Jonesboro, the park has 26 campsites with all the amenities you’ll need – like water, sewer, and power. There are public areas as well that include covered picnic areas, a playground, restrooms and showers, and barbecue and fire pits.
With nearly 15 miles of trails running through the park, it’s a great place to stretch your legs, and it’s not uncommon to see a variety of birds and animals – especially if you’re out and about in the lowlight hours in the morning and afternoon.
11. Forrest L Wood Crowley’s – Ridge Nature Center
The Mississippi and Arkansas River Deltas have played significant roles in the economic and cultural development of the country. There’s no better place to learn about them both than at the Forrest L. Wood – Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center near Jonesboro.
The center consists of nearly 20,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space; there’s a large outdoor area that includes miles of trails as well.
Consider watching the short introductory film before heading off on your own; it’ll give you an excellent overview of the things you’re about to see.
The center’s key exhibit is the two-story recreation of the area’s habitat that includes plants and animals, geology, and what lies below the earth as well.
12. Bradbury Art Museum
Since it’s free to visit and open to the public, the Bradbury Art Museum on the campus of Arkansas State University would be a great activity to combine with the ASU Museum.
The museum focuses on contemporary art and is unlike other museums in that it doesn’t have permanent exhibits, instead hosting a variety of temporary ones at different times of the year.
Check out the calendar of events on their website before making a special trip, and keep an eye out for educational and instructional workshops on offer as well.
The museum is a great community resource that’s worth a look.
13. Locked Away Escapes
Escape rooms have made a big splash in the entertainment and recreational industries in the last few years. If you’ve never experienced one, consider spending a few hours at Locked Away Escapes on your trip to Pocahontas.
Locked Away Escapes is located on Shelby Drive in Jonesboro. It is a great activity for small groups like birthday and wedding parties, or just a few good friends looking for an interesting and unique start to an evening out.
The idea is to utilize your brainpower to answer riddles and decipher clues, which, if you’ve done your job well, will lead to your escape from imminent doom.
Different themed rooms are available, and some are appropriate for adolescents.
14. Centennial Bank Stadium
Arkansas residents take their collegiate sports seriously. For those visiting the area who’d like to see a competitive game or two without spending an arm and a leg, consider checking out the Centennial Bank Stadium on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
Red Wolves football is the stadium’s biggest draw. It’s been renovated in recent years, making it one of the nicest facilities in its division.
Tickets usually aren’t too difficult to come by unless it’s a big rivalry game. In addition to football, the stadium hosts other events as well, so ask a local what’s on the horizon or check the university’s website.