Mena was founded in 1896 as a railroad town at the eastern foot of Arkansas's second highest peak, Rich Mountain (elev. 2,681). It is the eastern terminus of the Talimena Scenic Drive, a 54-mile byway that travels the crests of Rich and Winding Stair mountains between Mena and Talihina, Oklahoma. Thirteen miles northwest of Mena, the drive passes through Queen Wilhelmina State Park. The park is home to a recently renovated lodge and restaurant. The byway and park provide impressive vistas of the Ouachita Mountains.
The Mena Depot Center, located in a restored 1920 railroad depot, greets the town's visitors with tourism information, art and local history exhibits and railroad memorabilia. In Janssen Park, stands an 1851 log cabin still on its original site. Located east of Mena in the Pine Ridge community, the Lum & Abner Jot 'Em Down Store & Museum houses memorabilia related to the popular 1940s radio comedy team of Lum and Abner. The late Norris Goff of Mena portrayed Abner.