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Little Rock: A Brief Visitor’s Guide
The state capital of Arkansas, Little Rock is a bustling city that exemplifies the idea of Southern charm. Friendly locals are quick to welcome you with a smile on their face, while the city streets store a treasure trove of sights and sounds. Amidst the city’s shopping centres, hotels, restaurants and general amenities you’ll discover historic landmarks, picturesque landscapes, intriguing museums, and much more.
Situated at the very heart of the city, the Arkansas State Capitol is one of the true icons of Little Rock architecture. Home to the state government, the white marble and granite building is modelled on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Take a tour of the Capitol to see a replica of the Liberty Bell and a host of other interesting features. About a mile from the Capitol stands Little Rock Central High School, the scene of one of the city’s most enduring events. It was here in 1957 that nine black students (The Little Rock Nine) had to be escorted by soldiers into school, defying the thousands of white protestors outside. The event proved to be pivotal in the integration of black and white students across the United States. Elsewhere in the city, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library is a popular choice with out-of-town visitors. The museum houses more than a million artefacts relating to Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States. All of these city’s landmarks and more are within walking distance of most Little Rock hotels.
Little Rock’s rich history is on display across the city, both out on the street and within the walls of museums and galleries. Popular museums in the city that are close to hotels include the Old State Museum, which once served as the State Capitol building. Today the museum houses a wide array of exhibits and artefacts relating to the history of the city. Docked off the north bank of the River Arkansas, Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is a museum with a difference. Here you’ll discover the USS Razorback, a fully-operation submarine that has more than 50 years of service behind it. Board the vessel and discover what life underwater is like. The Arkansas Arts Center is another fashionable destination. Featuring permanent and visiting exhibitions, there’s plenty of fine artwork on display here. Other museums in the city include: The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center; McArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History; and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Around the City
Take the time to explore the city streets and you’ll discover a host of interesting attractions within Little Rock. One of the city’s most popular destinations is the River Market. Here you’ll find a wide array of food and drink, including fresh produce from the farmer’s market, as well as stalls selling trinkets and other wares. If you have the time, make sure you catch the streetcar and take a ride around the neighbourhood. One of the city’s more unique landmarks is the Big Dam Bridge, which crosses the river and dam, connecting Little Rock and North Little Rock. Nearly 1,300 metres in length, this holds the title of longest pedestrian bridge in the world. Other popular destinations include the Cathedral of St. Andrews and War Memorial Stadium. The latter routinely hosts high school and college football games. For business travellers, the Statehouse Civic Center is located in the heart of downtown Little Rock. Those attending expos and events at the facility will find plenty of hotels nearby.
Little Rock for Families
Families travelling to Little Rock are well catered to. In addition to the city’s many family-friendly hotels and restaurants, an array of child-friendly attractions can be found in and around the city. Funland Amusement Park, situated in North Little Rock, is a popular choice with younger children, who enjoy riding the mini Ferris wheel and other rides. Bigger kids get more fun from Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, which is 50 miles away in Hot Springs, AR. With kids getting a lot of enjoyment out of the amusement park-water park combo, parents generally find the round-trip to be wholly worthwhile. Back in the city, the Museum of Discovery is a great way of mixing learning with fun, while Little Rock Zoo is a good choice for animal lovers. It may not be the biggest zoo in the world, but there’s still a good selection of animals on display, including elephants and rhinos.
A Breath of Fresh Air
If you’re in the mood for a spot of fresh air, make a beeline for the Arkansas River Walk. Stretching along both sides of the river, the pleasant trail is easy to get to and enjoyable to walk. Alternatively, if you’re willing to head out of Little Rock, a number of walking and hiking trails become available. Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a popular choice with locals and visitors, especially those looking to get a bit of a workout. The gradient of the mountain, while not too extreme, does mean you’ll climb the equivalent of about 70 flights of stairs. For something a little easier going, the Two Rivers Park trail is fairly flat and offers the chance to spot deer and other wildlife.