This Little Rock sure has a lot of moss. The capital of the Natural State is rich in outdoor expeditions, history, shopping, and political activity. There are many adventures to be had in Little Rock, but these nine are essential to the Arkansas experience.
- Climb Pinnacle Mountain
The view from Pinnacle Mountain (photo courtesy of Jason Ronza)
Pinnacle Mountain is Little Rock’s Premier Mountain and favorite outdoor getaway. The summit offers a bird’s-eye view of the river valley, Lake Maumelle, and the Ouachita Mountains. Those not inclined to climb can walk the base trail or a paved trail through the Arkansas Arboretum. The state park also has places to canoe and mountain bike, a playground, a visitors’ center, and picnic tables.
- Visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Center
The Clinton Library (photo courtesy of Albert Herring)
A trip to Little Rock would be incomplete without a tour of Arkansas-native Bill Clinton’s presidential library. Inspired by Little Rock’s six bridges, the building’s design has won awards for its sustainability. The library houses the presidential archives, exhibits, and the only full-scale replica of the Oval Office. Guests can visit the Forty-Two Restaurant before strolling down the street to the museum store.
- Make a Difference at the Heifer VillageHeifer Village (photo courtesy of the Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau)
Next door to the Clinton Center, the Heifer Village headquarters Heifer International, which improves lives in developing nations by donating animals and teaching sustainability. Its building is eco-friendly and made primarily of local materials. Nearby, a restored wetland provides a scenic habitat for native wildlife. The museum features exhibits about global issues, a scavenger hunt, and a fair-trade shop.
- Tour the Capitol and Old State House
The Arkansas State Capitol (photo courtesy of Nicolas Henderson)
The Old State House and State Capitol reveal the inner workings of Arkansas politics. The state government’s first home, the Old State House, exhibits the state first ladies’ gown collection, Victorian period rooms, and the antebellum House of Representatives chamber. Visitors to the Capitol can take in the House and Senate from the public galleries, tour the gold dome and reception rooms, and even use the same salon as the politicians.
The Old State House Museum (photo courtesy of Allen Brewer)
- Learn at the Historic Arkansas Museum
The Historic Arkansas Museum Entrance
The Historic Arkansas Museum offers a walk through Arkansas’s past with its five antebellum houses on their original block. Actors in period clothing give visitors a glimpse of frontier life in Arkansas, including a recently-restored authentic version of the original home of the Arkansas Gazette, the longest running southern newspaper still in publication. The museum features historic arts and crafts from the state, a Bowie knife exhibit, and contemporary artwork by local artists. It also offers a puppet show and dress-up room for children, a theater, and educational areas such as an authentic reconstruction of a historic blacksmith shop with working bellows and demonstrations.
The grog shop inside the Hinderliter House at the Historic Arkansas Museum
- Shop at the River Market
The River Market in Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas (photo courtesy of the Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau)
The River Market has a bit of everything, including trendy boutiques, lively bars, and every food from cupcakes to gyros. Riverfront Park offers excitement at the Peabody Park adventure playground and romance at the sculpture and rose gardens. The area is also the site of live music and the Little Rock Farmers Market. Junction Bridge, once a railway, allows pedestrians to reach attractions across the river.
- Explore the Old Mill
Old Mill (photo courtesy of Arkansas Shutterbug)
Some may remember the Old Mill from the opening scenes of David Selznick’s Gone with the Wind. The North Little Rock landmark is a 1933 replica of an 1880’s water-powered grist mill. It is made of concrete sculpted over metal rods to resemble wood and stone. It is magical to explore the whimsical foot bridges, toad stools, and sculptures created by Dionicio Rodriguez. Families can linger for picnics and pictures or relax by the turtle pond.
- Cross the Big Dam Bridge
Big Dam Bridge lit at night in an array of dazzling colors
Little Rock boasts the longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge ever built. The Big Dam Bridge crosses the Arkansas River at Murray Lock and Dam and connects the riverbank trails in Little Rock and North Little Rock. Though it is impressive by day, the bridge is enchanting at night when it is lit up by LED’s. People on bicycles and skates, as well as on foot, cross the bridge for fun, for their health, and to experience the river’s splendor.
- Take a Ride on a River Rail Trolley
A trolley passes by the Historic Arkansas Museum (photo courtesy of Allen Brewer)
Styled after vintage trolleys, the River Rail Trolleys are a fanciful way to see the hotspots in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. The trolleys regularly circumnavigate the area and pass highlights like Riverfront Park, the Statehouse Convention Center, and Verizon Arena. As well as being a quirky, inexpensive way to travel, the trolleys can be rented for parties.
Little Rock has much to offer besides these attractions, and Arkansas has much to offer outside of Little Rock. To truly understand Arkansas’s culture, however, these nine cannot be missed. These anchors hold this Little Rock in place, allowing for even more growth.