Things to do in West Memphis
Southland Casino Racing has been a major West Memphis attraction since 1956. Open the year around, the facility includes more than 80,000 square feet of gaming action, along with live greyhound racing and simulcast dog and horse racing. Southland has begun a $250-million expansion that will expand gaming offerings to 2,400 gaming machines and as many as 60 live table games. A new 113,000-square-foot casino complex will feature new and expanded dining options. The signature component of the expansion is a 20-story, 300-room hotel tower. Onsite parking will be expanded via a new, covered parking garage with 1,250 spaces.
Arkansas State University Mid-South serves the region and is home to historic KWEM Radio. KWEM, which operated in West Memphis from 1947-1960, was the first radio performance by little-known performers Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Musical legends like Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, James Cotton, Bobby “Blue” Bland and many others performed live on KWEM.
The Arkansas Welcome Center offers visitors up-to-the minute information on attractions, regional events, and weather conditions. Travelers have access to computer kiosks, Wi-Fi and fresh coffee.
The Big River Crossing connects West Memphis to downtown Memphis. A major focus of the Big River Crossing is the “big river” itself, which visitors view from the nearly one-mile walkway built alongside the historic Harahan Bridge, one of the river’s former roadways. Opened in 1916, the Harahan Bridge connected West Memphis and Memphis and was used for over 30 years. The structure features two railways and two roadways built off the side of the main bridge structure. The bridge was used for vehicle traffic until 1949, when the nearby Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge (or now known by locals as “The Old Bridge”) was opened. The Big River Crossing has the distinction of not only being the longest public pedestrian bridge across the “Father of Waters,” it is also the country’s longest active rail/bicycle/pedestrian bridge. The views of the mighty Mississippi from the walkway are unparalleled. When fully completed, the Arkansas side of the Big River Crossing will also boast the Delta Regional River Park, complete with biking and walking paths, wayside exhibits and a focus on the ecology and natural beauty of the area.
Opened in 1950, Riverside International Speedway is the oldest continually operated dirt track in Arkansas, and one of the oldest in the U.S. It has hosted a variety of race car classes such as Midget race cars, sprint cars, and stock cars. Over the course of its history, the track has launched the careers of several of the nation’s top drivers. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.