Located just off Interstate 30 southwest of Little Rock, Bryant would be a great place to stay when visiting central Arkansas.
It’s conveniently located within a short drive from the state capital and many of the state’s most popular parks – even the famous hot springs as well.
With just over 16,000 residents, Bryant still retains much of its small-town charm, and within just a few miles are numerous museums that would be great places to check out if you’re interested in learning about the region’s history.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Bryant.
1. Gann Museum of Saline County
Located on South Market in Benton, the Gann Museum of Saline County is the former office of a local doctor who practiced in the late 19th century.
It’s one of the only buildings built with bauxite known to exist, and it’s full of era-accurate home furnishings that were considered pretty decadent by the standards of the day.
Many of the home’s exhibits and items deal with the town’s economy, which largely focused on mining and processing the bauxite ore that’s vital in making aluminum.
The museum is free to visit, though donations are always accepted; they’ll contribute to helping keep this rare gem open for future generations to enjoy.
2. The Royal Theater
Benton’s Royal Theater is located on South Market Street; it’s the region’s premier venue for those who’d like to see lots of talented local people perform, and not spend a boatload of money doing it.
The theater is full of old time charm that’s left over from the boom era in Benton. The nominal admission fees go toward maintenance and upkeep on the building and paying for the equipment that’s vital when putting on a theater production.
The theater’s performers are divided into Royal Players and Young Royal Players, and no matter which one you catch, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their talent.
3. Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Just down the road in Little Rock, Pinnacle Mountain State Park is one of the area’s most popular destinations for those looking to stretch their legs, breath some fresh air, and get some amazingly unobstructed views of the city and surrounding countryside.
The park entrance is located on Pinnacle Valley Road. In addition to outdoor recreation, the park and its staff are involved in educational and preservation activities as well.
The hike to the top is moderately difficult, and if it’s raining, some of the trails and rocks can get slick, so dress accordingly and wear shoes with decent traction.
4. Outlets of Little Rock
Located on Bass Pro Parkway, the Outlets of Little Rock are a great place to visit if you just need to get out of the elements or are craving some retail therapy.
With famous brands like Banana Republic, J. Crew, Old Navy, and Nike, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find a little something for everyone you’re traveling with.
The stores often offer steep discounts in addition to their already low prices, so if you’re timing is good, you may find some fantastic deals.
There are also plenty of outdoor seating areas nearby, and restaurants if you’d like to stick around for lunch or dinner.
5. Bauxite Historical Association Museum
The Bauxite Historical Association Museum is full of interesting exhibits, displays, and paraphernalia, nearly all of which will give visitors a fascinating glimpse into the region’s past.
It’s located on Benton Road in Bauxite and is focused on the historical, economic, cultural and geological aspects of the area.
It’s just a minute or two off Interstate 30, so finding it won’t be a problem. Many of the items you’ll see have been donated by locals whose families have lived in the Bryant, Bauxite and Benton areas for generations.
The museum is free to visit, but donations are graciously accepted and will be put to good use.
6. Painted Tree Marketplace
Bryant’s Painted Tree Marketplace is equal parts antique store, art gallery, and collectibles shop.
It’s located just of the I-30, and their motto is “A Fresh Take on Vintage.”
The items they sell are a nice mix of new and gently used and include antique furniture, lamps, rugs, art, and jewelry.
That’s not a complete list by any stretch, and if you’ve been struggling with interior design issues or have been looking for something extra special that you haven’t been able to find elsewhere, spending 30 minutes or an hour at Painted Tree Marketplace would be a good idea.
7. Riverfront Park
The Arkansas River winds its way through Little Rock and many of the surrounding towns, and Riverfront Park is a popular area with locals looking to get outdoors without venturing outside city limits.
The park includes lots of paved trails that are open to walkers and bikers; it’s even close to the River Market District, which is a trendy area full of hip shops, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
There’s an elevated footbridge and viewing area that’s accessible by stairs or elevator and gives excellent views of the city and river; there’s a playground for the little ones nearby as well.
8. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
During the ‘50s and ‘60s, the nation was embroiled in chaos as desegregation of public institutions swept the country at the direction of the White House; Little Rock was at the forefront.
The Central High School became famous for the ‘Little Rock 9,’ who crossed the lines of protesters to attend school. Though it’s still a functioning high school, it’s also a national park.
Guided tours led by park rangers are available and will give guests a fascinating insight into what it was like back then for everyone involved.
During peak times, the tours can fill up quickly.
9. Little Rock Arsenal
The Little Rock Arsenal is the only remaining building left over from a large military base that occupied the site during the Civil War era.
Now it’s the home of the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. It’s also interesting to note that it’s near the birthplace of Douglas MacArthur, one of the most decorated and famous generals in American military history.
There’s a monument to Korean War vets outside, and inside, you’ll find lots of unique artifacts, exhibits, and equipment that focus mostly on the area’s military and historical pasts.
The arsenal building is free to visit.
10. Old State House Museum
Little Rock’s Old State House was built in the early part of the 19th century and served as the state’s first capital building for decades.
Now, it’s one of the city’s most complete repositories of artifacts, documents, and other interesting items that tell the tale of the city’s founding and forefathers.
The building has been renovated over the years, but it’s still architecturally similar to what it was originally.
Inexpensive guided tours are available and include lots of behind-the-scenes areas and items you might not expect to see.
The museum is conveniently located downtown near other attractions like Riverfront Park.
11. Arkansas River Trail System
Comprised of nearly 100 miles of trails that are accessible to walkers, runners, and bikers, the Arkansas River Trail System connects Little Rock to North Little Rock and includes urban and rural stretches.
Using the trail system is a great way to get some exercise; if you plan where you’re going, you’ll find that it leads right to other popular areas like Riverfront Park and the River Market District.
Be sure to check out Big Dam Bridge, which is one of the longest pedestrian access only dams in the world, and gives users a tremendous panoramic view of the river and city.
12. River Market District
Downtown Little Rock’s River Market District was the epicenter of the city’s downtown revitalization efforts that took place in the not too distant past.
The district is home to lots of locally owned shops and galleries. It’s particularly popular for its trendy restaurants and bars, and the live entertainment you’ll find most weekends during the warm spring and summer months.
It’s not the cheapest area around, but it’s definitely one of the liveliest. If you’re new to the neighborhood, it’s a great place to rub elbows with the locals and enjoy some delicious food and entertainment as well.
13. William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Love him or hate him, Bill Clinton’s meteoric rise to national and international fame was pretty impressive; much of his early years were spent at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Little Rock.
The William J. Clinton Presidential Library was opened in 2004. Since then, it’s been giving visitors an educational insight into the life of the man who would be President.
Hundreds of thousands of guests visit every year, and it can get pretty crowded during peak times, so if you’d rather avoid lines and crowds, consider going during the week when school is in session.
The library is beautiful and is open to both self-guided and professionally guided tours.
14. Big Dam Bridge
The Bid Dam Bridge spans the Arkansas River just outside of Little Rock and is supposedly the longest dam of its kind in the world.
It’s one of the top 10 things to do in when in Bryant and Little Rock that you’ll want to take advantage of, and considering the views it offers, it’s an excellent place for a few photos.
Depending on when you go, you may see some area wildlife nearby. It’s a particular point of interest for bird watchers, who come to scope the hawks, eagles, wading birds and waterfowl that call the nearby wetlands home.