As soon as you step into Little Rock, you’ll feel the Southern hospitality waiting for you. From the sculptures that dot the landscape of Little Rock to the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, which runs along the riverfront, history and art are easy to see.
Some of Little Rock’s best attractions are the William J. Clinton Presidential Center & Park, the ESSE Purse Museum, and the nearby Pinnacle Mountain State Park, where you can enjoy the outdoors.
You can walk, drive, or ride a scooter around town and see a lot of important parts of American history. A big part of downtown is in the Governor’s Mansion Historic District, which protects some of the most interesting and historic homes and buildings.
Many of Little Rock’s most popular tourist spots, like the Old State House, the MacArthur Museum (where General Douglas MacArthur was born), and the newly renovated Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, are all within a few blocks of each other.
Downtown Little Rock is a great place to walk. The Arkansas River Trail, which goes through the city and connects many of the tourist spots, is a good way to see parts of the city. Gone with the Wind fans will want to go to the Old Mill in North Little Rock, which is just across the river. This is where early scenes from the movie were shot.
You can feel like a local at small, cozy restaurants that serve everything from fast food to fine dining. Places like Stickyz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack, which has a cozy atmosphere and serves chicken fingers with dozens of spice and sauce combinations and fried green tomatoes on the side, agree with this idea.
Little Rock is also home to the Little Rock Marathon, held on the first Saturday of March every year since 2003. The marathon features the world’s largest medal given to marathon participants.
See our list of attractions and things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas, for more ideas on how to spend your time here.
- 21. William J. Clinton Presidential Center & Park
- 20. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
- 19. Arkansas River Trail & Big Dam Bridge
- 18. River Market District
- 17. State Capitol
- 16. Go for a Hike at Pinnacle Mountain State Park
- 15. ESSE Purse Museum
- 14. Old State House Museum
- 13. Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden
- 12. Museum of Discovery
- 11. Mosaic Templars Cultural Centre
- 10. MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
- 9. See the Animals at the Little Rock Zoo
- 8. Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
- 7. Historic Arkansas Museum
- 6. Historic Homes Driving Tour
- 5. Wildwood Park for the Arts
- 4. Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum
- 3. Rock Town Distillery
- 2. Step Back in Time at The Old Mill
- 1. Heifer International Center
21. William J. Clinton Presidential Center & Park
The Clinton Presidential Center & Park, which is home to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, is one of the places that has changed Little Rock for good. The modern, square building on the Arkansas River is made to look like the former President’s “Bridge to the 21st Century” slogan, which was a big part of what he did while he was in office.
There is a place to look through old records and a museum in the complex of buildings. On the three floors of the complex, there are interactive exhibits and more than a million photos, artefacts, presidential schedules, and gifts that Clinton got while he was in office.
Plan to spend two to three hours at the centre. The Great Hall, which is the best place to see the building’s architectural details, and the full-size replicas of the Cabinet Room and Oval Office are on the list of must-sees. Each one shows exactly how those rooms looked during Bill Clinton’s time as president, right down to the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.
You can walk around the grounds outside the Clinton Presidential Center to see sculptures, fountains, and wetlands that have been fixed up to help local wildlife. After your tour, have lunch at the Cafe 42 Grille and then walk across the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, which is right outside the building.
Little Rock, Arkansas, 1200 President Clinton Avenue
20. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
After the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in 1957, the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site was the centre of the movement to integrate schools. Nine African-American teens, known in history as the “Little Rock Nine,” tried to go to Little Rock Central High School as soon as it was legal to do so. This became the centre of the desegregation debate.
The nine students walking into school while being watched by the U.S. Army was a turning point in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Little Rock Central High is still in use as a school, and the only way to see this historic site is to book a ranger-led tour in advance.
You can walk around the outside of the school on your own to look at the tall buildings and think about the important things that happened on its steps that affected every public school in the United States.
Little Rock, Arkansas, 2120 W. Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive and Park Street
19. Arkansas River Trail & Big Dam Bridge
The Arkansas River Trail, which goes through Little Rock, is a great place to run, walk, or ride a bike to see some of the best sights and attractions in the city and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds it. The Arkansas River Trail is a 15.6-mile loop that is popular with runners and bikers. It connects more than 23 attractions and parks through a number of pedestrian bridges. It also links up with more than 70 miles of trails.
When the weather is nice, you can use the trail as a map to find your way to Riverfront Park, the Clinton Presidential Center, the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, and other places of interest.
Along the Arkansas River Trail, there are several footbridges that cross the Arkansas River. If you’re in Little Rock, you should try to walk across some of them. The Big Dam Bridge is the world’s longest bridge for people and bikes. It connects Little Rock and North Little Rock, which are on opposite sides of the River. One of the best times to go is at sunset, when the river 90 feet below the bridge reflects a rainbow of colours.
The Clinton Presidential Park Bridge is also a must-see. It is the Rock Island Railroad Bridge, which was built in 1899 and turned into a walkway for people. It has a great view of downtown, the Arkansas River, and the Clinton Presidential Center. It looks especially nice at night when it is lit up with coloured lights.
18. River Market District
The market space, which is open all year, is the heart of the River Market District. It has 10,000 square feet of shops, stalls, and tables that sell food and other unique items. The market hall is an open space with food stands, coffee shops, grocery stores, and places to get food to go.
There are more things to do than just shop in the River Market District. Nearby, there are art galleries with changing displays, the River Market Entertainment District, and Riverfront Park, which has more than 30 acres of green space and art.
Plan to ride the Rock Region METRO Streetcar, an old electric streetcar that gives free rides downtown, while you are in the area where you can walk.
From the River Market, it’s easy to walk or ride a bike on the beautiful Arkansas River Trail. There are special events at the River Market District all year long, like big-name concerts and fireworks over the river on the Fourth of July.
Little Rock, Arkansas, 400 President Clinton Avenue
17. State Capitol
The Arkansas State Capitol is made of white marble and granite and looks like the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The State Capitol’s front doors are made of bronze, and the cupola is covered with 24-karat gold leaf. On a scheduled tour, people can look around the building.
The Governor’s Reception Room, the Old Supreme Court Chamber, and the capitol’s gleaming rotunda are all popular places for the public to go. In the building, there are both permanent and changing exhibits, and the landscaped grounds outside have walking paths and memorial statues.
One of the most powerful bronze sculptures to look for is one that honours the Little Rock Nine. These nine brave students were a big part of getting city schools desegregated in 1857. On the plaques on the sculptures, there are quotes from each of the nine.
Address: 500 Woodlane Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
16. Go for a Hike at Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Pinnacle Mountain is the best place to have fun outside. It is about 15 miles northwest of downtown Little Rock. The mountain is more than a thousand feet taller than the river valley around it.
Two hiking trails lead to the top, where the views are unbeatable, and miles of other multi-use trails wind through the nearly 2,500 acres that make up the state park.
At this day-use state park, you can also enjoy interpretive programmes, places to launch boats, and picnic areas. You can’t camp at Pinnacle Mountain, but there are more than 100 campsites less than five miles away in Maumelle Park.
Little Rock, Arkansas, 11901 Pinnacle Valley Road
15. ESSE Purse Museum
The ESSE Purse Museum in Little Rock is a fun and interesting place to learn about the history of women through handbags. The exhibits are organised by decade and show how women’s handbags changed to reflect the culture and needs of that time.
Anita Davis owns the collection, which is a way for her to honour women from all walks of life and show how much she loves art, history, and, of course, handbags. There are no two that are the same, and each one shows a different time in history. From small designer handbags with beads to novelty bags with brands from pop culture, each has a place in the history of women.
The name of the museum, “ESSE,” which means “essence,” shows how important it is for women’s handbags to be more than just bags for carrying things, but also to be a part of who they are. You can’t leave the museum without spending some time in the ESSE store, where you might buy something to talk about on the way home.
Address: 1510 Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
14. Old State House Museum
The Old State House was built by Gideon Shryock and was the first state capitol of Arkansas. It is one of the best examples of Doric architecture in the southern states. The building began in 1833 and was finished in 1842. In 1885, some changes were made.
The Old State House Museum is in the middle of Little Rock and is easy to stop at on your way through the River Market District. It’s free to go there, and it’s one way to learn about important events in history, like a duel between two lawmakers that ended in death and the vote by Arkansas to break away from the United States.
There are artefacts from the decorative arts, the first dresses worn by the wives of governors, and historical displays about the politics of the state.
Address: 300 West Markham Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
13. Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden
The Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden is one of the most inspiring places to see art in any city. The downtown riverfront has about 90 pieces of public art, and most of them are in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden. Look carefully along the paths and in the plants to see how each sculpture adds a beautiful touch to the gardens and paths along the river.
The public space is comfortable and lets you take your time looking at the art. Large sculptures by the river that seem to highlight the bridges behind them are easy to find, but it takes a sharp eye to find smaller, more delicate statues. This collection of public art is a nice way to end a day of sight-seeing in the city. The pieces range from modern and eclectic to elegantly inspiring and reflective.
Address: Riverfront Park, Little Rock, Arkansas
12. Museum of Discovery
The Museum of Discovery in Little Rock is a great place for a family to go. Once you get inside, it will be hard to keep your kids from running from one interactive exhibit to the next. Besides the displays, both kids and adults are encouraged to take part in experiments.
The Bed of Nails, the Pet Clinic, the Tesla Coil, the Tinkering Studio, Amazing You, and Earth Journeys are some of the best parts. The Tornado Alley Theater is one of the most interesting exhibits and an important educational experience that you should not miss. Step inside and feel what it was like when a tornado tore through town in January 1999.
Little Rock, Arkansas, 500 President Clinton Ave., Suite 150
11. Mosaic Templars Cultural Centre
The intricate designs on the outside of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Centre make it interesting just to look at it. The museum’s main goal is to teach people about how African Americans lived in Arkansas.
The name comes from a fraternal group that was started in Little Rock in 1883. The building used to be useful for the group, but now it is a public museum with displays and information about the history of African Americans in the state.
Some of the permanent exhibits include a theatre, a gallery for kids, and a history of the building. People who want to learn about history can also look through collections and do research at the cultural centre. At the centre, there are also educational programmes that run all year.
Little Rock, Arkansas, 501 W. 9th Street
10. MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
The historic Tower Building at the Little Rock Arsenal is where the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is located. Through artefacts, photos, documents, uniforms, weapons, and other military items, the museum looks at the military history of the state.
General Douglas MacArthur was born in this building, which is one of the oldest in the area. MacArthur Park has a lot more to see than just the museum. There are contemplation gardens and memorials to veterans, for example. The HI Little Rock Firehouse Hostel & Museum in the park is a fun place to spend the night if you want to stay somewhere different.
Little Rock, Arkansas, 503 East Ninth Street
9. See the Animals at the Little Rock Zoo
As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Little Rock Zoo takes care of a collection of animals from around the world, including about 200 different species. Even though this zoo isn’t very big, it has a good collection of big and unusual animals like elephants, giraffes, big cats, rhinos, and bears.
Hands-on interactions with animals are a popular part of the Arkansas Heritage Farm pavilion. They create lasting memories and make for fun photos. Fish feeding and lorikeet landing stations are other ways to get close to animals at the zoo.
Address: 1 Zoo Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas
8. Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts is getting a makeover that will cost $150 million. This shows that the city is still committed to the visual and performing arts. Since the first centre opened in 1937, the institution has grown to represent the arts in the state.
The gallery shows art from private collections, so this is a great place to go if you are interested in rare art or art history. Performing arts like music, dance, and theatre are a big part of the centre.
Address: 2510 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, Arkansas
7. Historic Arkansas Museum
The Historic Arkansas Museum is a farmstead from 1850 that has some of the oldest buildings in downtown Little Rock. It is all on one city block. People who like history and want to know what life was like in Arkansas in the middle of the 19th century should go here.
The restored buildings show what Little Rock was like when it was a frontier town. It is a living history museum, so you will want to plan your trip when there will be actors playing homeowners and other people from the time period.
Little Rock, Arkansas, 200 E. Third Street
6. Historic Homes Driving Tour
The Quapaw Quarter District is an important part of Little Rock’s history, whether you drive or walk through it on your own or just pass through it quickly. See more than 100 old homes that have been restored and each has its own design and architecture.
In the district, there are also a number of historic buildings and churches that show how Little Rock grew from a small town to a booming city after the Civil War. The Governor’s Mansion Historic District is one of the 15 historical districts in the nine square miles that make up the Quapaw Quarter.
Most of the homes have signs in their yards that say who the original owners were and when the house was built. The Quapaw Quarter is mostly made up of residential neighbourhoods, so getting out and walking around is the best way to see it.
5. Wildwood Park for the Arts
Wildwood Park is a park for music and performances that can be used both inside and outside. The park covers 104 acres and has a number of smaller gardens and facilities. In Wildwood, the Butler Arboretum has daffodils and flowering trees that are native to the area. The nearby Gertrude Butler Gazebo has a daylily garden and beautiful views of Swan Lake.
The Bruce Garden has native perennials and ornamental grasses, and the Asian Woodland Garden has a tea house for ceremonies and a wide range of Japanese plants.
Bring the kids to the park and go hiking on one of the many trails through the woods. Later, have a picnic lunch under one of the gazebos by the lake. If you’re lucky, the swans who live there will stop by.
Address: 20919 Denny Road, Little Rock, Arkansas
4. Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum
In North Little Rock, next to the Arkansas River, you can find the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. The main things to see at this naval museum are a World War II tugboat that is a Historic National Landmark and a World War II USS Razorback submarine that was in Tokyo Bay when Japan officially gave up the war.
Visitors can go on a guided tour of the working submarine, which gives them a good idea of how the ship works. The North Shore Riverwalk and Museum also have memorials and a peace garden on land.
North Little Rock, Arkansas, 120 Riverfront Park Drive
3. Rock Town Distillery
You can learn a lot about Little Rock’s history in its distilleries. Rock Town Distillery opened in 2010, yet, it has the interesting distinction of being the first legal distillery in Arkansas since Prohibition.
It didn’t take long for Rock Town to garner a strong reputation, quickly receiving multiple coveted awards. In downtown, the distillery creates a range of spirits from bourbon and vodka to gin, using grains in the immediate regions around Little Rock.
You can tour the facilities to learn about the process and passion that goes into every barrel, from start to finish. The tour lasts half an hour with the chance to pick up some of the exceptional spirits in the distillery’s gift shop.
2. Step Back in Time at The Old Mill
Since North Little Rock is just across the river, it is worth going to The Old Mill, which became famous in the first scene of the classic movie Gone with the Wind, which was made in 1939.
The Old Mill is a beautiful recreation of a grist mill from the 1800s. It is set in a three-acre landscaped area. This North Little Rock city park is free to get into, and tours can be given to groups of 10 or more people.
The park is on the National Register of Historic Places because of the sculptures made by the well-known artist Senr Dionicio Rodriguez. The Old Mill itself is also on the list.
North Little Rock, Arkansas, at 3800 Lakeshore Drive.
1. Heifer International Center
In an effort to eliminate world hunger and poverty, the Heifer International Center helps to empower and train farmers. By doing so, they hope to create sustainable economies that work for everyone. Heifer is an international organization, however, its headquarters are here, in Little Rock.
Today, you can explore the center which is home to an interactive museum where you can learn about Heifer’s international movement. You’ll also discover a working farm where alpacas and goats roam along with greenhouses and an aquaponics space. Learn more on a tour or join a program to spend time working on the farm.
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