Start the New Year off with a getaway!
After the busyness of the holiday season, it may be time to think about a weekend getaway, whether with your family, significant other or a group of friends. Pine Bluff is a great option for a weekend escape.
Pine Bluff was incorporated in 1839 and the community thrived during the last part of the 19th century as a cotton center and river port, with a key factor in the early growth being the arrival of steamboats on the Arkansas River. Pine Bluff is located along several historic trails, including four approaches involved in the October 1863 Attack on Pine Bluff and the water route of the Trail of Tears. These passages, along with other historically significant routes, are now part of the Arkansas Heritage Trails System.
There are tons of things to do in Pine Bluff for the entire family! Regardless of age, everyone will love the Arkansas Railroad Museum. The museum is home to the 819, the last steam engine built in the Cotton Belt Shops (the same building that now houses the Arkansas Railroad Museum). Visitors will see locomotives, passenger cars, a former hospital kitchen car and much more. Before your trip, check out the museum’s kids’ section on the website, featuring coloring pages, train whistle signals, a dictionary of train terms and train hand signals. arkansasrailroadmuseum.org/kids-area.html.
The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas serves as a cultural crossroad: engaging, educating, and entertaining through the arts and sciences. The center presents programming in the visual arts, performing arts, and the sciences through exhibits, performances and classes. Gallery admission and hands-on programming are free.
Outdoor enthusiasts find plenty of opportunities in the area to explore nature. Lake Saracen, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission impoundment, lies immediately north of downtown and offers fishing and birding for egrets, herons and waterfowl. Lake Saracen, named for the chief of the Quapaw tribe in Arkansas, is a 500-acre lake complex that offers fun for the entire family. Take a trek down the walking/cycling trail along the lake, cool off at the splash pad or do some fishing from the handicapped-accessible pier. There’s also the Saracen Landing All-Inclusive Playground, designed to provide equipment that allows children of all abilities to play safely together. The play equipment provides mostly sensory experiences, including visual, auditory and tactile sensations, as well as awareness of balance and relationships of parts of the body.
Bayou Bartholomew, the longest bayou in the world, begins its journey northwest of Pine Bluff. The bayou flows over 350 miles before joining the Ouachita River in Louisiana. Over 100 species of fish have been documented in Bayou Bartholomew, making it the second most diverse stream in North America. Byrd Lake Natural Area, an oxbow lake formed off Bayou Bartholomew, is a great way to experience the natural boundary between the Coastal Plain and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and offers a ½-mile, ADA-accessible trail.
Pine Bluff’s heritage in music and Civil Rights is explored in-depth on the city’s website, ExplorePineBluff.com. The comprehensive site allows visitors to virtually learn more about topics like the Freedom and Blues Experience, the Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail, the Delta Cinema World and more. Music lovers won’t want to miss the Delta Music Heritage video library. There’s also the Delta Family Adventure Trail, featuring activities for the whole family that blend fun and education – and nearly all of them are free! Speaking of free, don’t miss the Arkansas Entertainer’s Hall of Fame. Located within the Pine Bluff Convention Center, the Hall exists to honor individuals with Arkansas connections who have made significant contributions to the entertainment arts. Inductees include Arkansans such as Johnny Cash, Levon Helm, Al Green, Glen Campbell, Charlie Rich, Louis Jordan, Conway Twitty, William Warfield, John Grisham, Ronnie Dunn, William Grant Still, Lawrence Hamilton, John Weston, Ronnie Hawkins, Tess Harper, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Albert King, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Michael Utley. Visit www.ArkansasEntertainersHallofFame.com to learn more.
If your getaway is adults only, you’ll want to check out Saracen Casino Resort. The casino opened in late 2020 and features 2,300 slot machines and 50 table games. Saracen offers amazing dining options. The Red Oak Steakhouse features prime grade wet and dry-aged beef and works with local farmers to ensure the freshest ingredients. Legends Sports Bar is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and watch a game. The menu features everything from sandwiches, burgers, barbecue and steaks. You’ll want to check out the DCBC beer, brewed on-site exclusively at the Saracen Casino Resort in four silver and copper brewing tanks gleam behind a wall of glass in Legends Sports Bar. Quapaw Kitchens features cuisines from around the world, ranging from Southern classics, Asian specialties, seafood, Italian delights and sweet treats galore.