Plan a weekend trip to Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas where you will find unique historic attractions, great museums, romantic inns and scenic parks. Go for a stroll in Riverfront Park, visit beautifully restored houses at the Historic Arkansas Museum and ride in the River Rail Electric Streetcar. Best things to do in Little Rock, AR
, with kids include the Little Rock Zoo, the Bernice Garden and the Museum of Discovery.
1.Arkansas State Capitol
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Located on Woodlane Street, the Arkansas State Capitol is a historic building and the house of government for the state of Arkansas. The building was constructed between 1899 and 1915 on the site of the state penitentiary, and prisoners helped with the construction. Made of limestone and marble, the building is capped with a 24-carat gold leaf cupola and is one of the top Little Rock attractions.
Inside the building, you can see quite a few memorials including a replica of the Liberty Bell, the Little Rock Nine Civil Rights Memorial, and the Confederate War Prisoners Memorial. From the public galleries, visitors are able to watch the legislators at work. Guided tours are available.
500 Woodlane Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-682-5080
2.Big Dam Bridge
© Big Dam Bridge
The Big Dam Bridge is the longest bicycle and pedestrian bridge in the country that was especially built for that purpose. The Big Dam Bridge connects about 20 miles of beautiful, scenic riverside trails in Little Rock and North Little Rock. The Bridge connects 70,000 acres of city, county, state, and federal parks. The bridge also creates a sense of community by providing a venue for events, competitions, and recreation.
One of the most popular annual events held on the bridge is the Big Dam Bridge 100 bicycle tour, which last year had more than 3,000 riders. Other regular events held on the bridge are Full Moon Walk, the Ronde von Burns Criterium Series, and Race the Base.
1818 North Taylor Street, Suite B, PMB # 157, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-340-6800
3.River Rail Electric Streetcar
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The River Rail Electric Streetcar is a vintage streetcar system in Little Rock and North Little Rock. Streetcars began operating in the city in 1876, but service ended in 1947. Established in 2004, the current system started with a 2.5-mile long line. Today, it is 3.4 miles long and connects Little Rock with North Little Rock on the other side of the Arkansas River. If you are wondering what to do in Little Rock with kids, this is a fun way to explore the city.
The streetcars are replica vintage electric trolleys that are similar in design to the Birney-type streetcars that remained in use until 1947. The streetcars stop at many popular tourist attractions like the River Market and the Clinton Library, and they operate every day.
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4.The Arkansas River Trail System
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The Arkansas River Trail System is an 88-mile long loop through the state that winds through Little Rock, Maumelle, North Little Rock, and Conway. The trail goes from the Clinton Presidential Bridge through North Little Rock, Big Dam Bridge, and Little Rock before returning to the Clinton Bridge.
The Trail links 38 parks, six diverse museums, several passes by Big Rock Quarry, the Medical Mile gathering place, the Presidential Library and Museum, Dickey Stephens Ball Park, and many other points of interest. The trail is actively used by thousands of cyclists, hikers, skaters, joggers, and other people who enjoy the verdant outdoors. Mostly flat, the trail offers recreational opportunities for all ages.
5. Museum Of Discovery, Little Rock, Arkansas
© Museum Of Discovery
Located on President Clinton Avenue in downtown Little Rock, the Museum of Discovery is a history and natural science facility and the oldest museum in the city.
If you are looking for fun things to do in Little Rock AR with the whole family, this is a great place to explore. Bernie Babcock established the museum as the Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities in 1927. After moving to the River Market in 1998, it changed its name to the Museum of Discovery. Its collection contains 14,000 historical and cultural artifacts as well as many live insects and other animals.
The museum boasts several educational programs, summer camps, and interactive science exhibits. It is one of the top family attractions in Little Rock, Arkansas. It also hosts field trips and can be rented for events like birthday parties.
500 President Clinton Avenue #150, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-396-7050
6. Little Rock Attractions: Old State House Museum
© Old State House Museum
The Old State House is a historic building located on West Markham Street in Little Rock. Famous for being the site of President Bill Clinton’s election night celebration in 1992, the Old State House is the oldest state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. Built between 1833 and 1842, the building remained in use until a new capitol was constructed in 1912.
Designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, today the building houses a museum that displays items related to Arkansas culture and history. The collection includes items such as Arkansas art pottery, African-American quilts, Civil War battle flags, and much more.
300 West Markham Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-324-9685
Next read: Arkansas Governor's Mansion
7.Riverfront Park, Little Rock, Arkansas
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Located on La Harpe Boulevard along the Arkansas River, Riverfront Park is a downtown park with historic markers, playgrounds, sculptures, and trails. Stretching for eleven blocks, the park contains 33 acres of land for activities, outdoor events, and opportunities to learn about the state’s history. Some of the parks most popular features include the Little Rock Civil War Marker, the Riverfront Park History Pavilion, La Petit Roche Plaza, and the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge.
Peabody Splash Park is a playground area for children and the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center educates visitors about the wildlife of the Arkansas wetlands. The park also features an amphitheater and the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden. If you are looking for things to do in Little Rock AR this weekend, check the schedule of events in this unique park.
8.Rock Town Distillery
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If you want to learn how grain – corn, wheat, and rye – can turn into bourbon, vodka, or gin, join a tour of the Rock Town Distillery, a craft artisan distillery located in downtown Little Rock. This award-winning distillery uses grains grown not more than 125 miles from the distillery, and with a lot of passion, knowledge and experience, they make some truly outstanding spirits.
After touring the facility and watching the whole process – from grain to glass – you will get to try what they make, but only if you are older than 21. Be careful if you are driving. The tour takes about half an hour and ends in the gift shop where you can buy some of their award-winning products.
1216 E 6th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-907-5244
9. William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
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The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is part of the Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock. The Center also includes Little Rock’s office of the Clinton Foundation and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The Library and Museum house extensive archives used by many researchers and a popular replica of the Oval Office and the White House Cabinet Room.
Visitors are now allowed to enter the authentic-looking Oval Office, and they can even take photo souvenirs. The room replica features the same decorations and furnishings it did while President Clinton carried out his terms as president. The Library and Museum organize frequent special events, exhibits, and school programs.
1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-374-4242
10.ESSE Purse Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas
© ESSE Purse Museum
The ESSE Purse Museum located on South Main Street is a museum devoted to purses and the history of purses. It is the only museum in the United States that is exclusively dedicated to handbags. The museum’s permanent display is entitled A Century of Women and Handbags 1900-1999, and it explores the evolution of handbags, the women who carried them, and what they carried in their purses.
Temporary exhibits at the museum include Pinafores, Purses & Pigtails, Common Threads: A Special Exhibit Woven of Four Parts, Handbags for Hillary, and many more.
1510 South Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-916-9022
11.Things to Do in Little Rock: Heifer Village
© Heifer Village
Located in the Heifer International Headquarters in Little Rock, Heifer Village is a mix of galleries, interactive hands-on exhibits, activities, and videos that showcase the concept Heifer uses in its efforts to end hunger and poverty. It is a place where visitors, often school groups, can learn about major global issues and what they can do about them.
Since 1944, Heifer has assisted over 22.6 million families from more than 125 countries to help them improve their quality of life and become self-reliant. Visitors can take part in a half-hour guided tour of the village or browse on their own. There is also a communal garden in the complex.
1 World Ave., Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 855-343-4337
12. Little Rock Attractions: Historic Arkansas Museum
© Historic Arkansas Museum
Located on East 3rd Street, the Historic Arkansas Museum is a state history museum in Little Rock. The museum consists of several historic buildings including the Hinderliter House, which is the oldest building in the city, and the capitol building of Arkansas before the construction of the Old State House.
Opened in 1941, the museum consists of a half-block of beautifully restored houses. Formerly known as the Arkansas Territorial Restoration, the museum contains gallery spaces and the restored houses as well as log buildings brought in from locations around the state of Arkansas.
200 East 3rd Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-324-9351
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13.River Market District, Little Rock, AR
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The River Market District is a revitalized area of Little Rock located on President Clinton Avenue on the south bank of the Arkansas River. At one time, this area was full of empty condemned buildings, but the district underwent developments starting in the 1990s. Ottenheimer Market Hall is at the center of the district. It is a popular and vibrant public food market with many local and international vendor operating stalls.
The Farmers’ Market takes place on Tuesday and Saturday from May through October in River Market’s two outdoor pavilions. Other points of interest in the district include the Arkansas Studies Institute, the River Market Tower, and the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.
Best romantic things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas, include the Arkansas River Trail System, the Old State House Museum and Riverfront Park.
14.MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
© MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
Located on East 9th Street in the heart of downtown Little Rock, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is a museum that focuses on the state’s military heritage, which it celebrates through rotating exhibits displayed in the birthplace of Douglas MacArthur, the historic Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal.
Opened in 2001, the museum is an educational facility that contains a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibits of artifacts, documents, photographs, uniforms, and more. Temporary exhibits include Undaunted Courage, Proven Loyalty: Japanese American Soldiers in World War II and Vietnam, America’s Conflict. There are self-guided tours and docent-guided group and school tours.
503 East 9th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-376-4602
15.Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center
© Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center
The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center is a nature center located on President Clinton Avenue in Julius Breckling Riverfront Park along the Arkansas River. Housed in a 16,232 square foot building that sits on a 3.4-acre site, the center contains exhibits that display examples of fish and wildlife typically found in the state of Arkansas.
Because of its location along the river, visitors can see live examples of wildlife in the urban park. Some of the creatures you might see include butterflies, pelicans, and turtles. The center and its grounds also contain aquariums, a theater, and native Arkansas plants.
602 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-907-0636 ext. 104
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16.The Root, Little Rock, Arkansas
© The Root
How did a small down-to-earth café with mismatched chairs located in the SoMa neighborhood become so popular? It has to be their food, which is as fresh as it can be, locally sourced, and bursting with juices and flavors. The Root serves comfort food with some exotic dishes like Vietnamese Banh mi sandwiches, and they cook to perfection.
They work with local farmers and food growers, as they firmly believe quality food starts with quality ingredients and the people who grow them. If something is not in season, you probably won’t find it on the menu. Drinks are mostly non-alcoholic, and they are natural and fresh. They do offer a few local craft beers.
1500 S Main St, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-414-0423
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17.Arkansas Repertory Theatre
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Located on Main Street, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is a theater founded in 1976 and housed in a historic building in downtown Little Rock. The theater, known as the “Rep,” presents a variety of productions from classical plays to contemporary comedies and features eight to ten productions per year.
In addition to its productions, the theater offers educational programs for young people throughout the state of Arkansas. Programs include the Student Matinee Program and the Young Artist Program. Voices at the River is the theater’s playwriting residency program. Approximately 70,000 people attend the performances each year.
601 Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-378-0405
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18.South On Main
© South On Main
Whether you come to South on Main for the music or for the food, you will be happy: both are great. The elegant décor with light Southern touches creates an excellent atmosphere for a variety of performances, including rock and jazz shows, movie screenings, literary readings organized by the Oxford American magazine.
The entertainment perfectly accentuates the superb food created by Chef Matthew Bell, who gives us what we love most in Southern cuisine using his modern and healthier interpretation. His food is locally sourced, fresh, and inventive, and the small, beautifully presented portions burst with flavor. The bar creates some very nice versions of good old Southern favorites like the mint julep.
1304 South Main St., Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-244-9660
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19. Things to Do in Little Rock: Arkansas Arts Center
© Arkansas Arts Center
The Arkansas Arts Center, located on East 9th Street in MacArthur Park, is an important cultural center in Arkansas. Established in 1914 as the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas, the Arkansas Arts Center was officially founded in 1960. The permanent collection contains drawings by well-known artists such as Degas, Redon, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Wyeth. The center is famous for its collection of drawings and watercolors by artist Paul Signac.
Other features of the center include a museum school, a children’s theater, a research library, and a restaurant, among others. Art education classes are available for all age groups. The main atrium and the lecture hall can be rented for special occasions like parties and weddings.
501 East 9th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-372-4000
20.The Pantry, Little Rock, Arkansas
© The Pantry
When you have a Czech owner and chef, you can expect some great Central European dishes and superb beer. The Pantry offers both of these things in spades. The two large dining rooms, spacious bar, and outdoor patio are frequently packed, and patrons enjoying delights rarely tasted in Little Rock, including potato pancakes, bratwursts, cheese spaetzle, potato dumplings, goulash, red cabbage, sauerkraut, and apple strudel.
These dishes are all standard comfort food in Europe, no culinary revolution there, but the cuisine is carefully prepared to create generous portions accompanied with great beer. The Pantry is a great place to visit with friends so that you can share dishes and try a bit of everything. The desserts are out of this world.
11401 N. Rodney Parham Rd., Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-353-1875
21. Little Rock Zoo
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Located on 33 acres on Zoo Drive, the Little Rock Zoo is the largest zoo in the state. Founded in 1926, it is home to over 725 animals that represent more than 200 species. The zoo is organized into four zones. The North Zone contains exhibits like the African Veldt and Big Cats while the South Zone has areas such as a Children’s Farm and an Elephant Barn.
The East Zone features Great Apes and Primate Islands, among other exhibits, while the West Zone is famous for its Bears, Giraffes, and Small Carnivores. The zoo offers many programs, including Zoo to School, Zoo to You, and Zoofari.
1 Zoo Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-666-2406
Kemuri is a casual, nicely decorated Japanese restaurant located in Hillcrest. Soft blue colors and a large aquarium create a peaceful atmosphere. The restaurant specializes in fresh seafood flown in daily and a Japanese grilling style called robata, a practice that involves slow cooking food over charcoal. The sushi comes from the nearby sister restaurant Ocean where Chef Alex plays with tradition and offers his own subtle interpretation of classic dishes.
If you are looking for romantic date night ideas in Little Rock AR, this is a great place to try.
Kemuri’s Chef Greg Wallis creates small pieces of art using succulent, fresh ingredients. Try his Hamachi tartar or signature ceviche. This is Japanese food adapted to an American and Arkansas palate, with interesting and delicious results.
2601 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-660-4100
23.The Bernice Garden, Little Rock, AR
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The Bernice Garden, located on South Main Street, is a privately owned garden intended for public use. Founded in 2007, the garden features both permanent and temporary sculptures designed by local Arkansas artists. There are also benches, mosaics, and rock formations in the garden. Plants in the garden include annual and perennial flowers like cosmos and zinnias, herbs such as lavender and rosemary, and a good number of native plants.
The wildflower garden is particularly lovely and attracts butterflies, dragonflies, and moths. The garden hosts a farmers’ market as well as a vintage market, and it can be rented for special occasions such as concerts, parties, or weddings.
1401 South Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, Phone: 501-617-2511
25 Best Things to Do in Little Rock, Arkansas
- Arkansas State Capitol , Photo: Courtesy of Natalia Bratslavsky - Fotolia.com
- Big Dam Bridge, Photo: Big Dam Bridge
- River Rail Electric Streetcar, Photo: Courtesy of girodjl - Fotolia.com
- The Arkansas River Trail System, Photo: Courtesy of W.Scott McGill - Fotolia.com
- Museum Of Discovery, Little Rock, Arkansas, Photo: Museum Of Discovery
- Little Rock Attractions: Old State House Museum, Photo: Old State House Museum
- Riverfront Park, Little Rock, Arkansas, Photo: Courtesy of Irina K. - Fotolia.com
- Rock Town Distillery, Photo: Courtesy of fotofrank - Fotolia.com
- William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, Photo: Courtesy of W.Scott McGill - Fotolia.com
- ESSE Purse Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas, Photo: ESSE Purse Museum
- Things to Do in Little Rock: Heifer Village, Photo: Heifer Village
- Little Rock Attractions: Historic Arkansas Museum, Photo: Historic Arkansas Museum
- River Market District, Little Rock, AR, Photo: Courtesy of Suwatchai - Fotolia.com
- MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Photo: MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
- Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Photo: Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center
- The Root, Little Rock, Arkansas, Photo: The Root
- Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Photo: Courtesy of furtseff - Fotolia.com
- South On Main, Photo: South On Main
- Things to Do in Little Rock: Arkansas Arts Center, Photo: Arkansas Arts Center
- The Pantry, Little Rock, Arkansas, Photo: The Pantry
- Little Rock Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of maratr - Fotolia.com
- Kemuri, Photo: Kemuri
- The Bernice Garden, Little Rock, AR, Photo: Courtesy of Irina K. - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com