What to know
Located on Arkansas’s eastern border along the Mississippi River, the Great River Road (GRR) is a wonderful way to tour the Delta. The GRR is actually a misnomer because it’s not a single highway, but a series of state and US highways that follows the meanderings of the river and connects cities and small towns. From Blytheville to Shives, the route is full of interesting places to explore, relating both to river history, great food and, of course, the blues. Take a short side trip to Wilson on AR 14 and enjoy lunch at the Wilson Café. On your way through town, admire the Tudor-style buildings and stately homes. Continue on to the restored boyhood home of Johnny Cash in Dyess. The GRR rolls through row-crop farmland and connecting with the river is difficult, especially for road bikes. Numerous bridges span the mighty waterway. Historically, blues joints were spread up and down the Mississippi. From the ’30s through the ’50s, West Memphis’ 8th Street was often referred to as Beale Street West. On down the road, a popular stopover is Southland Park Gaming and Racing, one of the oldest greyhound racetracks in the country. The expanded game room features over 1,900 games, including video poker and blackjack. Choose from a variety of dining options at the World Market Buffet, Bourbon Street Steakhouse Grill or Sammy Hagar’s Red Rocker Bar and Grill. Of course, no trip to the Delta would be complete without a sampling of the region’s succulent barbecue. Along this route, Jones’ Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna is worthy of a stop. This James Beard Award-winning joint has been in business for over a hundred years and serves its smoked pork on plain white bread with vinegar sauce and coleslaw. Near the end of this ride, visit the site where it all started at Arkansas Post in Gillett. The National Park Service commemorates the first European settlement this side of the Mississippi and marks Arkansas’s first territorial capital. History takes a turn on AR 1 at Rohwer, the site of the Rohwer War Relocation Center, one of two WWII-era internment camps built to house Japanese-Americans in Arkansas. Located near Lake Village, Lakeport Plantation is the last remaining antebellum plantation home on the Mississippi River in Arkansas. It now serves as a museum focusing on the people and the culture of the Delta.