Relocating to Little Rock, Arkansas, is sure to be a big step in your life. Little Rock is the state capital of Arkansas and its most populous city, with about 199,600 living there as of the 2016 U.S. Census. The community is known for its southern hospitality, beautiful neighborhood parks, and important cultural institutions. After your belongings have been delivered and you’re all unpacked, you’ll be ready to get to know your new city. This list of great destinations will help you familiarize yourself with your new hometown.
William J. Clinton Presidential Center
If you were intrigued by the presidency of Bill Clinton, then the William J. Clinton Presidential Center is a great place to visit. The presidential library holds all of the digital and printed communications issued by President Clinton during the eight years that he held office. There are also interesting artifacts and mementos from his presidency such as the pens that he used to sign bills into federal law. The library offers group tours and frequently holds educational programs for students and other groups. You can also do a self-guided tour of the presidential center. (Photo Credit: https://www.clintonfoundation.org)
When you’re ready to stretch your legs, walk around the city, enjoy a fresh bite of food, and listen to lively music, you can find it all and then some at the River Market. Located in the heart of downtown Little Rock, the River Market features eclectic cafes and family-owned restaurants and food trucks with all types of cuisine. There are fun shops where you can pop in and pick up a book or locally made piece of jewelry. When you want to be entertained, there are frequent live music shows. The River Market also features a large pavilion and amphitheater where actors, performance artists, and media artists often practice their craft. Sit on one of the many benches, enjoy a good book, or watch the people walking around you in this lively public space.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
The Pinnacle Mountain State Park was set aside as protected land for the public's use in 1977. Dedicated as a way to protect and preserve the natural beauty of Arkansas, this 2,356-acre park is located just west of the Little Rock city limits. The park features Pinnacle Mountain, which rises more than 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River Valley. The mountain's peak is relatively easy to climb, and there are trails that people of all ability levels can use to climb the mountain and take in the panoramic view. On a clear day, visitors can see up to 30 miles away. The trail lengths at Pinnacle Mountain State Park were created with every visitor in mind. Families with young children should try the short Kingfisher Trail, while people who have a high level of endurance could try the longer Base Trail or Rocky Trail. The park also includes the Arkansas Arboretum, which is a 71-acre site that exhibits some of the state's native flora. You can also ride a horse on the trails or bring your canoe and spend a relaxing afternoon on the ponds.
Museum of Discovery
The Museum of Discovery is a children's museum with interactive educational and science exhibits that aim to help get kids excited about the world around them. It’s a hands-on, family-friendly venue with permanent exhibits on the diversity of life, water, air, and earth, and the revolving exhibits make every visit new and different. The museum hosts special events and demonstrations such as tricks and magic that are shown around Halloween and the physics behind lights displays at Christmas. There is also a Tornado Alley Theater that shows engaging films for people of all ages. You can purchase a family membership, an individual membership, or just get tickets for a one-time visit.
Arkansas State Capitol
History lovers and those who appreciate the wonders of architecture will enjoy a visit to the Arkansas State Capitol. It offers group and individual tours by appointment, or you can take a self-guided tour with the assistance of a book that’s available at the front desk. In addition to the historic paintings, Governor’s Reception Room, old Supreme Court chamber, and multistory rotunda, you can also explore the capitol’s outdoor greens and sculpture gardens. The gardens are updated throughout the year and often host special ceremonies for state and federal holidays. Some of the outdoor sculptures include the Arkansas Nine, which is in remembrance of the nine schoolchildren who were escorted to school by the National Guard. If you visit on a day when the state legislature is working, you can view the happenings from the public gallery and watch politics in action.
Rock Town Distillery
The Rock Town Distillery is an institution in Little Rock famous for its Rock Town spirits that are distilled on-site. You can take a tour of the facilities for a small fee, and adults can even taste some of the wines and liquors that are produced here. If you’re looking for a great place to meet up with friends, the distillery offers party rooms. You can even book a bottling party to celebrate a special event. Rock Town Distillery is open for cocktails and happy hours on a daily basis. You can also visit the gift shop and purchase spirits and dry goods like used whiskey barrels for upcycling in your new home.
Arkansas River Trail
On the Arkansas River Trail, you can stretch out your legs by walking, hiking, or biking along the 88 miles of paved and groomed pathways. The trails feature places to stop and rest as well as interesting things to see such as the Big Rock Quarry, which is a large, scenic outcropping of granite. You can also check out the Medical Mile, which features a 1,162-foot 3D mural. At the Two Rivers Park, you can ride horses or a bike and check out the 450 acres of wetlands. Be sure to listen for the bullfrogs as you pass by. If you plan to spend a whole day in this area, buy some tickets to the Dickey Stephens Ball Park. It has almost 5,300 seats and is home to the minor league baseball team Arkansas Travelers. Dogs are welcome on the trail, so you can bring man's best friend along with you.
Arkansas Repertory Theatre
At the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, you can take in a local production of Monty Python's Spamalot or sit back and enjoy a vocal or musical performance. The theater itself is famous for its 385-seat main stage and smaller, 99-seat stage for more intimate performances. It was founded in 1976 and is the largest non-profit community theater in Arkansas. Each year, the theater hosts 8 to 10 productions with multiple performances of each show. The Arkansas Repertory Theatre welcomes groups of students for performances so that they can learn about why the arts are so important to American culture. The theater focuses on dramatic storytelling and engagement with the community to make the arts a part of everyday living.
The Root Café
When you want to support local farmers and food producers, The Root Café is an excellent choice. This restaurant works directly with growers to ensure that every dish that it serves is created with the finest ingredients. 100 percent of the meat, dairy, eggs, and bread served at The Root Café is raised and made in the state. Most of their nuts, fruits, and vegetables are also locally sourced. The restaurant offers delectable meals such as eggs banh, shiitake Benny, and buttermilk pancakes. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day of the year. If you need to follow a special diet, The Root Café has vegetarian and vegan menu options. (Photo Credit: http://www.therootcafe.com/)
Whole Hog Café
When you’re ready to try some down-home southern cooking, a visit to the Whole Hog Café is in order. The cafe features slowly barbecued pork, chicken, and beef in its own savory sauces. You can also get traditional sides such as coleslaw, onion rings, French fries, and buttermilk biscuits. The ribs are the most popular menu choice, although the smoked chicken and beef brisket are close runners-up. The restaurant earned 2000, 2002, and 2008 Memphis-in-May World Barbecue Championships awards and has earned 14 people's choice awards since 2001.