The Top Things to Do in Little Rock, Arkansas

Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas River in the Autumn
Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas River in the Autumn | © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Culture Trip
9 February 2017

Little Rock, Arkansas, is one of those towns that offers more than you might imagine. Full of history, unique architecture, sports activities, art galleries, music shows, fancy restaurants, upscale bars, luxury hotels, and more, Little Rock should make it to the top of your must-visit list.

William J. Clinton Presidential Library

Library, Museum
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United States, Arkansas, Little Rock, William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, timeline of the Clinton Presidency
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The William J. Clinton Presidential Center stands as a witness and a reminder of what the Clinton family have done for America and its people. Located in the heart of Little Rock it offers a rich collection of permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as educational programs for people of all ages. If you have not had the chance to visit Washington D.C.and to sit on the chair where many great men have sat, don’t worry because the Clinton Presidential Center’s most visited exhibit is the “oval office.” The Center also has a museum, a fine dining restaurant and the fascinating exhibit of “Coca-Cola: an American Original.” Whether you are into politics or just looking to learn more about history, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center is a must-see place on your Little Rock tour. Many free admission days are offered throughout the year plus a beautiful view of the Arkansas river.

Museum of Discovery

Museum, Park
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Museum of Discovery in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. Science museum with a focus of STEM education.
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The Museum of Discovery was established in 1927 and is the oldest museum in Little Rock. By finding new discoveries every day, the museum strictly follows its mission “to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.” The exhibits are practical in nature and are created to enrich young and old. From summer camps, educational programs, teaching resources to community outreach, the Museum of Discovery welcomes people from all backgrounds and with diverse interests. Events are major part of the museum’s daily calendar, so make sure you look through it before your visit to Little Rock, Arkansas.

Riverfront Park

Library, Park
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River front Park along the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Arkansas.
© David R. Frazier Photolibrary, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
The Riverfront Park is a perfect place to walk, bike, or just sit and enjoy the surrounding peace and beauty, while staring at the quiet Arkansas river. At night, the bridges are all lit and give a little romantic taste to the place. The park has multiple playgrounds, walking alleys and sculptures. Take advantage of the wetland during the hot days of the year and enjoy watching the turtles nearby the Presidential Library. The Riverfront park is a great place to escape from the crowds and noise of the neighboring restaurants and shops.

Old State House Museum

Building, Museum
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USA, Arkansas, Little Rock, The Old State House Museum, exterior
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Since its very first day of construction in 1833, the Arkansas State House Museum has been a place of action. The building and its grounds have witnessed some of Arkansas’ most significant events, such as the admission of Arkansas to the Union, a fatal knife fight between two legislators, the Arkansas vote to secede from the United States and join the Confederacy, the pioneering of medical research into hookworm and malaria, and several speeches of the President of the United States. The Arkansas State House Museum has permanent and rotating exhibits, which give you a complete story of the state. Pay close attention to the special collections.

Arkansas State Capitol

Historical Landmark
Map View
Little Rock, Arkansas, USA at the state capitol.
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
The Arkansas State Capitolrepresents not only the government of the state, but its people too. The building houses six of the seven constitutional offices, the House and Senate chambers with public galleries where you can watch the lawmakers at work. The Governor’s Reception Room, the Old Supreme Court Chamber and the towering rotunda all show the glory, unique architectural design and heritage the building stands for. The Arkansas State Capitol is a recommended place to begin your tour through downtown Little Rock as it will fully immerse you in the state’s rich culture.

Little Rock River Market

Market, Farmers' Market, American
Map View
Trolley in River Market District popular tourist area in Little Rock Arkansas
© Don Smetzer / Alamy Stock Photo
The Little Rock River Market District is a bustling place filled with shops, restaurants and vendors. During the summer it features the famous farmer’s market, while at night it’s host to many lively activities. The Riverfest comes down in spring and brings along additional craft vendors, musical entertainment and fireworks. The River Market District is a one-in-all type of place that also allows you to take a quick walk to the Presidential Library.

[tct-item itemId="2029615" cardId="29181669351040616293" imageEmpty="1" title="Historic Arkansas Museum"]Make your place in Arkansas history and visit the Historic Arkansas Museum. On the historic grounds of the museum you can find the oldest home of Little Rock as well as a pre-Civil War neighborhood. Live historical characters will demonstrate how the early Arkansans lived. Inside the museum you will find Arkansas hand-made crafts, art and other exhibitions. The interactive children’s gallery offers plenty of activities for the youngsters to keep them busy while you take a tour through Arkansas’ frontier history. Double-check your calendar before your visit to Little Rock and watch for the annual heritage events and festivities that the museum holds.

The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center is at the crossroads of downtown Little Rock. From here you have quick access to the Museum of Discovery, Clinton Presidential Library, Clinton Foundation House and the State House Convention Center. The Nature Center focuses on recreational opportunities and wildlife. Its location at the Arkansas River allows a few wildlife activities, such as watching basking water turtles, butterflies and migrating pelicans. A portion of the Arkansas River Trail crosses the site, which gives you more opportunities for exploration and the main building holds an aquariums, gift shop, exhibit hall, special educational programs and theater. This is the ideal place for nature lovers.

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center has the sole purpose of collecting, preserving, interpreting and celebrating African American history from 1870 until today. It informs and educates the public about African Americans’ achievements in business, politics and the arts. The interior of the museum is 35,000 square feet, and it holds multiple exhibits, a classroom, staff offices, and an auditorium that sits 400 people. The African American population has played a vital role in the shaping and forming of Arkansas as a state and its culture. Two of their most informative and inspirational permanent exhibits are “Brotherhood and the Bottom Line” and “African Americans in Arkansas.”

You can’t go to Little Rock without going to the Little Rock Zoo. Its natural animal exhibitions and classroom programming educate people of all ages about the importance of wildlife preservation. The zoo started out in 1926 with just two animals, a timber wolf and a circus-trained bear. Today the Little Rock Zoo houses nearly 700 animals representing more than 200 different species, of which many are endangered. The organized events are definitely something worth seeing, such as the animal feeding, cheetah chasing, “zoo brew and the boo” adult night. It is a great place to step-out of the business of the city and dive into the “wild.”

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