The district around St Arnaud supports an agricultural industry of sheep grazing, grains and wineries, with forested areas to the south and open Mallee plains to the north.
The town centre features many well-preserved historic buildings and a generous number of pubs in its main thoroughfare of Napier Street, many with wide verandahs and ornate cast-iron lacework. The town's historic precinct, along Napier Street between Millett Street and Inkerman Street, features the old post office (built in 1866), court house (1866) and Victoria's oldest fire station (1883) which now serves as a fire brigade museum.
A number of attractive gardens exist in St Arnaud's town centre, including the Queen Mary Gardens with its pond and exotic trees, and the Market Square gardens adjacent to the council offices. Pioneer Park and Lord Nelson Park offer a range of sporting and recreational facilities. The town's last mine, the Lord Nelson, operated within these parks and there is a lookout atop Wilsons Hill which is honeycombed with mine shafts.
23 kilometres south of St Arnaud is the small community of Stuarts Mill where gold was first discovered in 1861. A few churches and old buildings remain from its mining days.