Located on the west bank of the Mississippi River between Blytheville and West Memphis, Osceola is in Arkansas’ Mississippi County and was founded in 1837.
For much of its past, the town was a thriving river port that facilitated the transportation of raw materials like cotton and timber from the area to the more industrialized northeast and mid-west.
The town was originally part of the Arkansas Territory before it was officially granted statehood. In the beginning, just a few hundred families lived within its borders.
Below are 15 of the best things to see and do in and around Osceola, Arkansas.
1. Osceola Community Center
Located on North Country Club Road in Osceola, the recently completed Osceola Community Center is full of amenities, like indoor basketball and racquetball courts, a full gym, exercise and aerobics room, and men’s and women’s locker rooms.
The facility’s price tag was more than one and a half million dollars, and it’s a convenient resource for those looking to get moving and burn a few extra calories.
There are different rates for county residents and those that live elsewhere, and the center is available to rent if you book in advance.
Check out their website for prices and hours of operation.
2. Osceola Municipal Golf Course
As the name implies, the Osceola Municipal Golf Course is owned and managed by the town of Osceola.
Located on South Country Club Road, it’s only a 9-hole course, but for those who have trouble with math, it’s possible to play the course twice and hit that magic 18-hole number.
Much of the course has been recently renovated. Previous guests have noted that it’s well-maintained and that the treed areas, sand traps, and water hazards were challenging but not overly so.
Monthly memberships are available, but remember if you plan on paying one outing at a time, the prices go up on weekends and during peak summer months.
3. Downtown Osceola
For a relatively small town, Osceola has more than its fair share of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
The quaint downtown area is light on traffic and home to a variety of shops and eateries, making it a great place for a morning or afternoon walk.
There are also a few murals in the area depicting the lives and histories of the townspeople. The Osceola Courthouse is one of the area’s architectural icons nearby that’s worth a look.
It was completed in 1912, built in the neoclassical style, and features a unique copper dome that towers over adjacent buildings.
4. Osceola Parks and Recreation Complex
Municipal parks and recreation complexes in rural areas are great places to check out if you’re having trouble finding things to do.
For much of the year, they’re busy with families and children participating in a wide variety of sporting events. They’re good places to meet and socialize with locals and enjoy a little free entertainment.
Like most sports complexes, they host tournaments throughout the year, and often have facilities like basketball courts and baseball fields that are open for residents to use when there are no scheduled games in progress.
They also have tasty and inexpensive eats at the concession stand.
5. Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society Museum
Located on West Hale Avenue in Osceola, the Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society Museum is one of the region’s most complete repositories of family information and historical items related to the county’s residents.
It’s just across from the Mississippi County Courthouse and is housed in a building that’s more than a hundred years old.
The museum has been preserving the county’s cultural history since the late-80s and is one of the state’s premier destinations for those looking to research their ancestry.
They fulfill their mission through community outreach programs, and at various times throughout the year, offer instructional and educational activities as well.
6. Visit a Park
In even the most rural areas, you’re likely to find a park or two nearby if you’re willing to do a bit of research.
Osceola’s Sans Souci Park offers visitors an unobstructed and panoramic view of the mighty Mississippi. There’s even a boat ramp, shore fishing access, and covered pavilions that are great places for special outings or a quiet picnic.
The park sports a few informative historical plaques as well; from them, you’ll learn some interesting tidbits of Civil War history, like a battle between Union and Confederate gunboats that took place nearby.
The park is located just off Arkansas Highway 61.
7. Dyess Colony
For those visiting Osceola who’ve got access to a set of wheels and don’t mind taking a short trip into the country, visiting Dyess – about 15 miles away – would be a great way to get a fascinating glimpse into the area’s past that few know about.
The town of Dyess was the boyhood home of music legend Johnny Cash. Back in the depression-era in the 30s, it was designated as an agricultural colony in an attempt to put jobless people to work, increase productivity, and promote self-sufficiency.
The Cash family home and the Dyess Colony Administration Building are both open to visitors, but hours vary so check online or call before making a special trip.
8. Adams Gin
When construction was completed in 1992, Adams Gin in Leachville, Arkansas, was the world’s largest cotton gin. More than 20 years later, it’s a title that it still holds.
Cotton Gins are fascinating, powerful, and complex machines that remove the unwanted seeds and fibers from raw cotton before processing can begin. The tedious job was once done manually, almost exclusively by slave labor.
It’s an invention that significantly contributed to the area’s economy, so stop by and take a look when you’re in the area. If your timing is good, you may get the dime tour from the gin’s manager.
9. Herman Davis State Park
Though it’s not the largest park in the world, Herman Davis State Park in Manila is a must-see for military and history buffs and seekers of off-the-beaten-path Americana.
Named after a famous World War I sniper, the park is located near the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Arkansas Route 18, near the city’s historic downtown.
The memorial is made from granite, is nearly 30-feet tall, and commemorates the heroic acts of the Manila native who killed a group of German infantrymen and machine-gunners before they could return fire.
The park includes pathways leading to the memorial and a few treed and grassy areas that are good places to catch a few rays or enjoy a good book.
10. Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Manila is comprised of more than 10,000 acres of land, mostly consisting of lowland forests, lakes, and marshy swamplands.
It’s one of the region’s homes for migrating waterfowl, that stop mid-trip to rest every year. Hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife photography are a few of the refuge’s most popular activities.
For those bass fishermen out there, it’s also home to Millard Lake – the site where the state record largemouth bass was caught.
The visitor’s center is located off Arkansas Route 18 and is a great place to stop before heading into the wild.
11. Manila Water Park
Located on the corner of Davis and Lake Streets in Manila, the Manila Water Park is one of the area’s favorite family destinations when the Arkansas summer weather is at its most oppressive.
If you plan on going on a weekend or holiday, expect a crazed, madhouse atmosphere, because the park is full of amenities aimed at children – like diving boards, slides and a splash pad.
There’s also a kiddie pool for the little ones. But for the parents who’d rather watch from a safe distance, there are plenty of covered seating areas that provide shade and clear views of the pools.
Male and female locker rooms and a concession stand serving tasty summer grub are on site too.
12. Crowley Ridge State Park
Located just off Arkansas Highway 168 in the town of Paragould, Crowley Ridge State Park is a favorite of locals looking for nearby outdoor activities that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Full of walking and biking trails, the park also sports a few wooden bridges, covered picnic areas, a playground, and an oversized sandbox.
For fishermen, there’s a stocked pond. If you’d like to stick around for a day or two, there are reasonably priced cabins available to rent right on the water.
It’s an easy drive from Osceola and should provide hours of healthy entertainment.
13. Paragould War Memorial
With a history stretching back to well before the Civil War, the citizens of Osceola and Paragould have sacrificed much over the years. The Paragould War Memorial is an eight-foot-tall Statue of Liberty replica that’s dedicated to the local men killed in World War I.
The memorial is the park’s centerpiece and is located near a few other historic sites in downtown Paragould.
The park includes other smaller memorials honoring those who’ve fallen in the other wars that America’s been involved in over the years. Due to its quiet nature and treed grounds, it’s a nice place for a leisurely stroll too.
14. Tina Turner Museum
What’s love got to do with it?
If you’ve ever asked yourself that timeless question, then a trip to the Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove School should be on your northeast Arkansas itinerary.
Technically, you’ll need to cross the border into Brownsville, Tennessee, but it’s not that far away. You’ll get a unique insight into the humble beginnings of a woman who would go on to the absolute apex of the international music scene.
It’s open every day, the cost of admission is very reasonable, and there’s an introductory video detailing her life – as well as a variety of paraphernalia pertaining to her childhood and professional life.
15. West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center
The Mississippi and Arkansas Delta areas are believed to be the birthplace of a number of different musical genres, including the blues and rock ‘n roll. Among other things, the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is dedicated to preserving them.
It’s conveniently located close to the previously mentioned home and school of Tina Turner, so consider making it a day of musical exploration.
The center is open nearly every day except major holidays; admission is inexpensive and they even offer free coffee.
There’s no word on whether or not that includes cappuccinos and double-shot mochaccinos with whipped cream on top, but probably not.