Spend The Day

Immerse yourself in our unique brand of Delta charm.

Within easy driving distance from Memphis, TN and Little Rock, AR, Helena makes a great day trip to experience the Arkansas Delta. Helena offers a wide variety of assets to explore: most notably the Mississippi River with its great natural beauty, a rich blues heritage best explored at the Delta Cultural Center and the Helena Museum of Phillips County, a downtown historic district and numerous Civil War Helena sites that tell more than just the typical story.

Helena in a Handbasket

Overview:
Helena, Arkansas is home to some of the best boutiques and historical sites to be found. Enjoy an afternoon visit or a full day packed with the sights and sounds of genuine Southern living. Our day itinerary engages our visitors with just the right amount of activity to have a quality experience within a shorter time frame.

9:00am

1) Helena River Park and Farmers Market

Drive downtown to the Helena River Park for stunning views of the Mississippi River and egrets if you're lucky. During the Civil War, the Gunboat Tyler was stationed here on the bank of the Mississippi.

If it's a Saturday, head to the corner of Walnut and Rightor Streets to check out the Helena Farmers Market (June-September). Chat with local vendors and patrons, while snacking on a fresh peach or a homemade biscuit.

10:30am

2) Downtown Cherry St.

If the weather is nice, park on one end of the street for a relaxed stroll through the historic downtown. Be sure to stop and shop at the many downtown boutiques including: Handworks, Gracious Living, Gist Music, Cotton & Kudzu, and Delta Gypsy. Many of the shops carry items unique to Helena and the Delta area.

Wander through the two downtown parks, Thad Kelly Courtyard and Court Square Park. Thad Kelly is a charming pocket park created in the footprint of a fallen building. Panels in the park examine recruiting in Helena, the formation of the 54th and 57th United States Colored Infantry regiments and why Freedmen chose to serve in the Union army. Court Square Park features a reproduction cannon with an exhibit interpreting Phillips County's Confederate soldiers and a bronze statue representing a student at Southland College, a Quaker school opened to educate African-American children orphaned by the war.

12:00pm

3) Delta Cultural Center

The Delta Cultural Center, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, has two main properties to visit downtown, the Depot and the Visitors Center. The Depot houses exhibits on the Civil War and the Mississippi River. The Visitors Center features the broadcast facilities for King Biscuit Time, the longest running blues radio show in the nation, and is a great place to pick up souvenirs.

1:15pm

4) Lunch at Granny Dee's

Stop at Granny Dee's for friendly service and soul food recipes that have been passed down for generations. The buffet has a series of rotating offerings including greens, fried chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, and peach cobbler. Be careful – almost everyone who goes ends up eating until he or she is stuffed!

2:00pm

5) New Fort Curtis and Moore-Hornor Home

New Fort Curtis is a ¾ replica of the original Union Fort Curtis. This earthwork fort allows visitors to explore a Civil War fort firsthand, including the huge 24-pounder guns. Exhibits explain the fort's various components as well as its history. Just behind the fort stands the Moore-Hornor Home, a house that predates the Civil War. The house served as a hospital following the battle, and features bullet holes in its parlor doors. (The Moore-Hornor Home is open by appointment only).

3:00pm

6) Freedom Park and Estevan Hall

Once the location of a Contraband camp, Freedom Park is dedicated to interpreting the African American experience during the war. The five exhibits feature life-sized figures and sculptures, and structures representing a plantation house and a refugee dwelling. Freedom Park is the first location in Arkansas designated as a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.

Almost directly across the street from Freedom Park, Estevan Hall is possibly the longest standing structure in Philips County. Estevan served as a hospital during the Civil War and is currently being renovated to serve as a welcome center for the city. An outdoor exhibit explains the history of the property and the family that lived in it for 170 years. (Due to renovation, Estevan Hall is currently closed to the public).

4:00 pm

7) Confederate Cemetery

The Confederate Cemetery is located at the top of a hill within Maple Hill Cemetery. An exhibit near the Confederate Cemetery discusses the seven Confederate generals from the Helena area, three of whom are buried here including General Patrick Cleburne. If you're lucky, as you drive down the hill towards to the exit you'll catch a glance of the sun hanging low over the Mississippi River.

5:00 pm

8) St. Francis National Forest – Low Road

Just down the road from the Confederate Cemetery on Holly St (which turns into Phillips 239), St. Francis National Forest is one of the smallest and most diverse national forests in the country. It features a variety of the finest bottomland hardwoods in the country and is an ideal habitat for a large variety of wildlife. Take a scenic drive on the “low road” and enjoy the beauty of the forest – an unusual asset for a Delta town.

6:00pm

9) Dinner at Bistro Bar & Grill

The Bistro Bar & Grill's sports bar atmosphere makes it a fun spot for drinks and a casual meal. Want to order like a local? Get a burger; it's arguably the best in town.

Details:

Helena River Park
Follow Perry St. east, onto the levee
Helena, AR 72342

Farmers Market
Every Saturday, 8:00am-noon
Corner of Walnut and Rightor Sts.
Helena, AR 72342

Downtown boutiques
See shopping guide for a full listing

Thad Kelly Courtyard
415 Cherry St.
Helena, AR 72342

Court Square Park
622 Cherry St.
Helena, AR 72342

Delta Cultural Center
141 Cherry St.
Helena, AR 72342
870-338-4350

Granny Dee's
426 Cherry St.
Helena, AR 72342
870-817-0200

New Fort Curtis and Moore-Hornor Home
350 Columbia
Helena, AR 72342
870-338-4350

Freedom Park and Estevan Hall
700 South Biscoe
Helena, AR 72342
870-338-4350

Confederate Cemetery
Entrance on North Holly
Helena, AR 72342

St. Francis National Forest
Entrance on North Holly, past the Confederate Cemetery

Bistro Bar & Grill
213 Plaza
Helena, AR 72390
870-572-9707

Civil War Helena

Overview:
A day trip to historic Helena, Arkansas allows our visitors to take in the sights and sounds of Civil War Helena. See the Civil War like you’ve never seen it before. Walk the ramparts of a replica Civil War fort. See the Mississippi River once patrolled by Union gunboats from high atop an artillery battery. Explore the origins of freedom in Arkansas at Freedom Park, the first location in Arkansas designated as a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.

9:00am

1) Freedom Park and Estevan Hall

A stroll through this scenic park is the perfect introduction to Helena's unique Civil War history. Once the location of a Contraband camp, this park is dedicated to interpreting the African American experience during the war. Freedom Park is the first location in Arkansas designated as a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.

Almost directly across the street from Freedom Park, Estevan Hall is possibly the longest standing structure in Philips County. Estevan served as a hospital during the war and is currently being renovated to serve as a welcome center for the city. An outdoor exhibit explains the history of the property and the family that lived in it for 170 years. (Due to renovation, Estevan Hall is currently closed to the public).

10:30am

2) New Fort Curtis and the Moore-Hornor Home

New Fort Curtis is a ¾ replica of the original Union Fort Curtis. This earth works fort allows visitors to explore a Civil War fort firsthand, including the huge 24-pounder guns. Just behind the fort stands the Moore-Hornor Home, a house that predates the Civil War. The house served as a hospital following the battle, and features bullet holes in its parlor doors. (The Moore-Hornor Home is open by appointment only).

12:00pm

3) Lunch from Corner Market at the Helena River Park

If you're only in town for a day, it's best to use every minute wisely. Swing by Corner Market for to grab lunch to go. Their sandwiches are arguably the best in town; you'll know you've found it when you see the tiny shop's overflowing parking lot. Take your lunch out the end of the boardwalk at Helena River Park. Sit back and take in the beauty of the Mississippi River from the shade of the surrounding birch trees. The park was the site of the Gunboat Tyler during the war and served as a campground for a number of regiments including the 9th Minnesota.

1:30pm

4) Downtown Cherry St

If the weather is nice, park on one end of the street for a relaxed stroll through the historic downtown. Starting at the southernmost end are the Delta Cultural Center's two properties, the Depot and the Visitors Center. The Depot's second floor features an exhibit on the Civil War and the Visitors Center is a great place to pick up souvenirs.

Continuing down the street be sure to stop to shop at the many downtown boutiques including: Handworks, Gracious Living, Gist Music, Cotton & Kudzu, and Delta Gypsy. Wander into Thad Kelly Courtyard, a charming pocket park created in the footprint of a fallen building. Panels in the park examine recruiting in Helena, the formation of the 54th and 57th United States Colored Infantry regiments and why Freedmen chose to serve in the Union army. Continue walking north and you'll reach Court Square Park, which features a reproduction cannon with an exhibit interpreting Phillips County's Confederate soldiers and a bronze statue representing a student at Southland College, a Quaker school opened to educate African-American children orphaned by the war.

4:30pm

5) Helena Museum and General Cleburne Bronze

Helena Museum has been fondly referred to as "grandma's attic" due to its impressive and expansive collection. A diorama of the Battle of Helena, Thomas Hindman's desk and Patrick Cleburne's prayer book bring Helena's Civil War story vividly to life. Outside on the lawn stands a life sized bronze statue of General Cleburne with an accompanying outdoor exhibit.

5:30pm

6) Magnolia Cemetery and Confederate Cemetery

Magnolia Cemetery is the city's African American cemetery. It features headstones of Civil War veterans, well-known philanthropist Eliza Miller and William Grey, one of the first black legislators in Arkansas.

Right on the other side of the hill is the Confederate Cemetery, located at the top of Maple Hill Cemetery. The location of the two cemeteries side by side is an incredibly unusual occurrence in the South. An exhibit near the Confederate Cemetery discusses the seven high-ranking Confederate officers from the Helena area, three of whom are buried here including General Patrick Cleburne. If you're lucky, as you drive down the hill towards to the exit you'll catch a glance of the sun hanging low over the Mississippi River.

7:00 p.m.

7) Dinner at Burger Shack or El Rio Lindo

If you're heading out of town, drive by Burger Shack for burgers and fries to-go. Make sure to order one of the "Best Cokes in town" flavored with one of their many syrup options.

If you're staying, grab dinner downtown at El Rio Lindo. Known for their homemade salsa, chicken soup and full bar, it's the perfect spot to unwind with a margarita. If you're lucky, they might let you sit on their second floor balcony which overlooks downtown Cherry St.

Details:

Freedom Park & Estevan Hall
700 South Biscoe
Helena, AR 72342
870-338-4350

New Fort Curtis & Moore-Hornor Home
350 Columbia
Helena, AR 72342
870-338-4350

Corner Market
345 South 7th St.
Helena, AR 72390
870-572-4355

Helena River Park
Follow Perry St. east, onto the levee
Helena, AR 72342

Delta Cultural Center
141 Cherry St.
Helena, AR 72342
870-338-4350

Thad Kelly Courtyard
415 Cherry St.
Helena, AR 72342

Court Square Park
622 Cherry St.
Helena, AR 72342

Helena Museum and General Cleburne bronze
623 Pecan
Helena, AR 72342
870-338-7790

Magnolia Cemetery
Entrance on Wire Road
Helena, AR 72342

Confederate Cemetery
Entrance on North Holly St.
Helena, AR 72342

Burger Shack
372 Sebastian St.
Helena, AR 72390
870-572-2271

El Rio Lindo
101 Missouri St.
Helena, AR 72342
870-753-9466

Upcoming Events

Apr 6th

Fabulous First Thursday Lunch @ Pillow-Thompson House

Built in 1896 by Jerome B. Pillow, the historic Pillow-Thompson House in... more»

Apr 8th

Cherry Street Fair

Don't miss this amazing FREE community event which is held the Second... more»

Apr 9th

Steamboat Sunday-The American Queen Visits Helena

Come to historic downtown Helena on Steamboat Sundays and enjoy special... more»

Apr 23rd

Steamboat Sunday-The American Queen Visits Helena

Come to historic downtown Helena on Steamboat Sundays and enjoy special... more»

May 4th

Fabulous First Thursday Lunch @ Pillow-Thompson House

Built in 1896 by Jerome B. Pillow, the historic Pillow-Thompson House in... more»

Where to Shop

Helena is home to a wide variety of locally owned boutiques, ranging from gift shops to antique and thrift stores. View Shopping Guide

Where to Eat

BBQ, burgers and soul food are American culinary staples and Helena has them in abundance. View Dining Guide