15 Best Things to Do in Little Rock (AR)

Little Rock is the capital of the state of Arkansas and as such also the most populous place in the state, so with that in mind you will find a huge amount going on here at any given time.

As this city is the home of the State Capitol, you can expect to find a huge range if historical landmarks and places of cultural significance, many of which are linked to the Clinton family, including a replica of the Oval Office.

There are also a wealth of museums here which are dedicated to diverse topics from anything from military history to the story of the evolution of the purse.

When it comes to natural attractions, you won’t be disappointed in Little Rock, where you will find the beautiful Riverfront Park that stretches along the majestic Arkansas River.

There are also an array of other beauty spots like parks, zoos, and gardens here, and if you want to do something a little different, then you can even go for a ride on a period replica of an electric streetcar.

Lets explore the best things to do in Little Rock:

1. Arkansas State Capitol

Arkansas State CapitolSource: flickr
Arkansas State Capitol

Anyone coming to Little Rock should not miss the chance to come to the center of the action, the Arkansas State Capitol building, which is also the home of the Arkansas government.

The building in itself is a historical gem as it was built in 1899 and used to house a state prison.

It is now furnished with marble and ornate limestone and has a signature 24 carat gold leaf cupola which sits at the top, meaning that it can be seen from far away.

The building houses a range of important monuments such as a model of the Liberty Bell, and a memorial to the Little Rock Nine Civil Rights.

There is also a monument to the Confederate War Prisoners, and there are guided tours of the building available with a staff member who will explain the significance of all of these historical gems.

2. Heifer Village

Heifer VillageSource: flickr
Heifer Village

Heifer Village is an eclectic mix of exhibits that are all in place to showcase the work of Heifer International Headquarters which is an organization that teaches self sufficiency and pledges support to low income families.

Here you will find interactive galleries as well as videos and hands-on activities that highlight the work of Heifer and you can learn how the organization has pledged to end poverty and hunger as well as find ways to get involved yourself.

There is a guided tour of the complex where you can hear all about the work of this organization as well as a communal garden that can be enjoyed in warmer weather.

3. Museum of Discovery

Museum of DiscoverySource: littlerockfamily
Museum of Discovery.

The Museum of Discovery is the oldest museum in the city of Little Rock and is the place to come if you like history as well as natural science.

This is an excellent rainy day activity and perfect if you are traveling with kids and the facility first opened in 1927. The museum now has a collection of over 14,000 items that are historically and culturally significant, and there are also insects and animals on display as well as fossils and other items of interest.

A lot of the galleries here are interactive, so you can get hands-on as you learn about science and the natural world.

4. River Market District

River Market DistrictSource: flickr
River Market District

Resting on one of the banks of the Arkansas River, the River Market District was developed in the 1990s to become one of the most vibrant areas of the city with a range of different attractions on show.

One of these is the Ottenheimer Market Hall which is a food area where you will find old fashioned stalls run by a variety of vendors.

There is also a farmers’ market here as well as the River Market Tower.

5. William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum

William J. Clinton Presidential Library and MuseumSource: flickr
William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is also part of the wider Clinton Presidential Center and Park area, as well as being part of the Clinton Foundation offices.

One of the main reasons to come here is thanks to the scale model of the Cabinet Room in the White House as well as the Oval Office, both of which you can tour and take photographs in.

6. Big Dam Bridge

Big Dam BridgeSource: flickr
Big Dam Bridge

Big Dam Bridge has the claim to fame of being the longest pedestrian and cycle bridge in the whole of the United States.

The bridge links over 20 miles of trails that skirt along the river and acts as a connection between Little Rock and North Little Rock.

You can of course walk or ride a bicycle along the bridge, or it is also known as the place to come for events such as races and sponsored walks.

7. Old State House Museum

Old State House MuseumSource: flickr
Old State House Museum

The Old State House is known in Little Rock for its cultural and historical significance and was also the place where Bill Clinton celebrated his election night during the presidential race in 1992. The building dates from 1833 and is now a United States National Historic Landmark, and with that in mind it has also been turned into a museum.

The items on display here reflect the culture of Arkansas as well as the history of the area and you will find textiles, pottery, and flags that date from the Civil War.

8. River Rail Electric Streetcar

River Rail Electric StreetcarSource: tripadvisor
River Rail Electric Streetcar

For a taste of a real authentic streetcar from the days of old, come to the River Rail Electric Streetcar.

The streetcars began their operations in 1876 before closing in the 1940s and then reopening 2004 for visitors to enjoy.

The system runs for 3.4 miles through the city and crosses the Arkansas River where it links Little Rock with the North Little Rock area.

For anyone looking to explore the city further, a trip on the streetcar is a great way to see Little Rock from a different perspective.

The streetcar is a model of the original and so it is designed in a classic period style and you can expect to go past lots of landmarks such as the Clinton Library and River Market.

9. The Arkansas River Trail System

The Arkansas River Trail SystemSource: arkansasrivertrail
The Arkansas River Trail System

The Arkansas River Trail System is a group of trails that run along 88 miles of track and weave their way through Little Rock and North Little Rock and pass famous monuments on the way such as Big Dam Bridge and Clinton Presidential Bridge.

The trail connects museums, parks and other areas of interest in the city and you can hike and bike along the trail and take in the splendor of the landscapes in and around Little Rock.

10. Riverfront Park

Riverfront ParkSource: flickr
Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park, as the name suggest, runs along the Arkansas River and is one of the best loved meeting points in the city.

The park has a variety of activities such as walking trails and playgrounds for younger visitors and covers 33 acres in the city, meaning that there is plenty here to keep you entertained.

You can find out all about the history of the state here thanks to a variety of historical memorials and monuments, such as the Little Rock Civil War Marker and the Riverfront Park History Pavilion.

There is also a sculpture garden here as well as a nature center and even a splash park where younger visitors can cool off in style in the warmer months.

11. ESSE Purse Museum

ESSE Purse MuseumSource: essepursemuseum
ESSE Purse Museum

If you are looking for something quirky to do in Little Rock, then consider heading to the ESSE Purse Museum where you can learn all about the history of the purse.

To that end, this is the only museum in the country that exclusively showcases purses, so if you like fashion then don’t miss the chance to check out the collections here.

There are both rotating and static galleries here including a permanent feature named ‘A Century of Women and Handbags 1900-1999’ which will take you through the history of the purse from the past to the present.

12. Bernice Garden

Bernice GardenSource: littlerock
Bernice Garden

The Bernice Garden is a privately owned garden that is open to the public and was first established in 2007 to showcase the natural beauty of the city.

The garden has rotating and static sculptures that are all the works of talented artists in the Arkansas area.

You will also find leafy corners of shade here as well as tranquil benches, colorful mosaics, and rock gardens.

There are also a huge number of indigenous plants on show such as local herbs and perennials.

13. MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military HistorySource: flickr
MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is an ideal stop in Little Rock if you want to know more about the military heritage of this town.

This is also the birthplace of Douglas MacArthur after who the museum is named, and there are both permanent and temporary exhibits that will tell you all about the history of this area.

To that end, there are period photographs, documents such as letters, antiques, and military uniforms.

14. Little Rock Zoo

Little Rock ZooSource: flickr
Little Rock Zoo

Little Rock Zoo sits on Zoo Drive and covers 33 acres of land making it the largest zoo in Arkansas.

The zoo first opened in 1926 and has more than 725 animals that are made up of over 200 different species.

Designed in four distinct sections, you will find animals from Africa here as well as a Big Cat Zone, a Children’s Farm and petting zoo, and a barn dedicated to elephants.

There are also sections for apes and primates as well as bears, giraffes, and carnivores.

15. Historic Arkansas Museum

Historic Arkansas MuseumSource: flickr
Historic Arkansas Museum

To learn more about the history of Little Rock, look no further than the Historic Arkansas Museum where you will find a clutch of historic buildings that showcase the best of the architecture in Arkansas.

One of the buildings included as part of the museum is the historic Hinderliter House which has the claim to fame of being the oldest building in Little Rock, and the museum dates from 1941. The museum stretches for almost a block and features historical houses that have been painstakingly restored, and you will also find that some of them contain galleries and other exhibits.

Where to stay: Best Hotels in Little Rock, Arkansas (AR)
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15 Best Things to Do in Little Rock (AR):

  • Arkansas State Capitol
  • Heifer Village
  • Museum of Discovery
  • River Market District
  • William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
  • Big Dam Bridge
  • Old State House Museum
  • River Rail Electric Streetcar
  • The Arkansas River Trail System
  • Riverfront Park
  • ESSE Purse Museum
  • Bernice Garden
  • MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
  • Little Rock Zoo
  • Historic Arkansas Museum