Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, is located on the Arkansas River. You'll find the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the Old State House Museum, the Little Rock Zoo, and the Arkansas Arts Center.
Highly recommended is the "Quapaw Quarter," a nine-square-mile area encompassing some of the oldest and most historic parts of Little Rock and the Central High Museum at the high school which played an important role in the efforts to desegregate public schools in the United States.
While the weather's nice, you have to see the "Little Rock" (or Le Petit Roche) if you're in Little Rock as it's the city's namesake. You can see it in Riverfront Park at the north end of Rock Street at Le Petit Roche Plaza. As the story goes, explorer Bénard de la Harpe wrote about his journey and recorded area landmarks. Across the river was "French Rock," now known as "Big Rock," and the "Little Rock" marked the other side of the river. The historical marker and interpretive story boards at the plaza indicate that the rock was once used as a mooring for barges and boats.
Although the market is jumping at night, it's the perfect place to go for a morning breakfast or lunch. From May through October, the Farmers Market is open at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. There are also specialty shops and restaurants open all day.
Be sure and stop by Shop the Rock where you can find unique Little Rock souvenirs and a visitor's center. You'll love Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken where their recipe is a closely-guarded family secret.
You'll find Jazz in the Park Each Wednesday in April and September, offering free, family-friendly entertainment. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the music in the natural stone amphitheater at the History Pavilion.
Arkansas has two capitol buildings: an Old Statehouse (now a museum) and the newer Capitol Building that looks very similar to the Capitol in Washington, DC. You can take tours of both of these or just admire the architecture. The doors open at 9 a.m.
You'll find special exhibits highlighting Arkansas' role in history as well as highlights of things to do and see throughout the state.
The Old Statehouse museum illustrates a timeline from statehood through a time when Arkansas seceded from the Union to join the Confederacy.
See the Governor's Mansion
The Georgian colonial mansion is located at 1800 Center Street in the downtown area. It's beautiful to look at, but tours are not regularly given. You can make an appointment for a tour or take a drive by and get some photos.
The Governor's Mansion is in an area of town called the "Quapaw Quarter" which is a nine-square-mile area encompassing some of the oldest and most historic parts of Little Rock. Stroll the historic streets or take a drive through the area from the Governor's Mansion to MacArthur Park and the surrounding neighborhoods to look at the homes.
Some of these homes date to before the Civil War. Architecture dates from as early as 1840, but the homes average between 1890 to 1930. The Villa Marre, built in 1881 and featured in the television series "Designing Women," is in this area.
Go Green in Little Rock
One of the greenest buildings in the nation is located in downtown Little Rock. Heifer International Headquarters incorporates many environmentally friendly ideas and you can take a tour in just 30 minutes. Heifer Village gives insight on world hunger and how we can help. Tours are offered Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Commune With the Animals
The Little Rock Zoo covers about 33 acres. It's small, but it's dense and is the home to more than 725 animals, representing over 200 species. It is a great place for kids and they have some pretty nice exhibits including grizzly bears, penguins, and big cat and great ape areas.
You can touch, feed, and groom animals at the Arkansas Heritage Farm which partners with Heifer International on the interactive exhibit where you'll learn about Arkansas farming and Heifer International's work.
Discover Arkansas History
Little Rock has some interesting museums, depending on your interests. History buffs will love the Historic Arkansas Museum.
The Central High Museum played an important role in the desegregation of public schools in the United States. The nine African-American students' persistence in attending the formerly all-white Central High School was at the forefront of the news after the May 17, 1954, Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.
Politics aside, this museum is something to see. The museum has artifacts from President Clinton's presidency, a mock oval office, and some interesting displays. They also host a different traveling exhibit several times a year.
The Old Mill is actually in North Little Rock, but it'll be worth the trip to the other side of the Arkansas River. The replica of a historic mill is located at Fairway Ave. and Lakeshore Drive. This water-powered grist mill was featured in "Gone With the Wind." It's a beautiful place to spend an hour or more as the area makes you feel like you're stepping back in time. The Old Mill is open from sunrise to sunset and admission is free.
The Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock has something for all members of the family. The center houses a Children's Theater and a museum school where you can participate in creating art. The galleries are filled with objects selected dating from over 600 years of Western art right up to the current day.
Those who are on the hunt for art to decorate their homes will enjoy the Second Friday Art Walks in downtown Little Rock. From established museums and institutions to individual galleries, you'll be treated to a creative environment as you walk the museums and galleries of the area during this monthly event.