The Getaway
The Best Things Do in Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state, is an ideal mix of traditional and modern and the perfect place to soak up history while indulging in a burgeoning foodie scene and enjoying the great outdoors. There truly is something for everyone here, no matter how old you are or what you're into. As they say, big things happen in Little Rock.

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01 Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Little Rock was a pivotal city for civil rights. Little Rock Central High School was home to the Little Rock Nine, nine African-American teenagers who were among the first in the south to attend a desegregated high school. The reception to the Little Rock Nine caused such a reaction in the city that the president ordered the National Guard to safely escort the students to their classes. Today, the building is no longer a school but functions as a museum that takes a sobering look at tolerance and diversity.

Little Rock Central High School gnagel / Getty Images

02 River Market

The River Market has been a Little Rock staple since the 1990s. Don't let the name fool you. Yes, it's home to the Little Rock Farmer's Market, but the River Market also has theaters, bars, bistros, and boutiques. It hosts special events, too, like jazz festivals, holiday caroling, and outdoor concerts. Whether you're looking for a fun night out with food and drinks or a place to take in public art while you shop and have lunch on a weekday afternoon, the River Market has what you're looking for.

03 Funland

Funland is a small, old-fashioned amusement park in North Little Rock known for being charming and affordable. You won't find modern amusement park prices here. The park's motto is, "spend a day, not a fortune!" Each ride costs one ticket or $2, or you can get an unlimited pass for the carousel, Scrambler, Ferris wheel, miniature railroad, and other rides. Funland also hosts special events, like Fall Fest and an Easter egg hunt. Kids will love the rides, while adults will enjoy the stroll down memory lane and maybe even a giant ice cream cone.

people in a train ride in an amusement park Photo by North Little Rock Parks and Recreation

04 The Arkansas River Trail

The Arkansas River Trail is a great way to see the city while spending time outdoors. It covers 88 miles in total and spans the entire city of Little Rock and its surrounding areas. Whether you run, walk, jog, or cycle, this trail connects nearly 40 parks, recreation areas, and landmarks. The trail is free to use and encompasses the Big Dam Bridge, Clinton Bridge, and Two Rivers Bridge.

05 Burns Park

At 1,700 acres, Burns Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S. The park has everything you'd expect, like hiking and biking trails, camping areas, boating, water skiing, and picnic tables, but there's so much more to do here. At Burns Park, you'll also find a log cabin used as a store before the Civil War, a World War II tank, two golf courses, two disc golf courses, horse trails, an amusement park, a three-acre dog park, and much more.

06 Historic Arkansas Museum

If you're interested in learning more about the state's history, check out the Historic Arkansas Museum, which takes up a whole city block in Little Rock. The museum grounds are home to many of the oldest buildings in the state, including houses dating as far back as the 1820s, a reconstructed Arkansas Gazette print shop, a plantation house, and a blacksmith's shop. Performers dressed in period garb bring history to life, and you can see treasures and artifacts from Arkansas's past, including furniture, paintings, clothing, and quilts.

07 The Bernice Garden

The Bernice Garden is a privately owned garden open to the public and built on an old fast food restaurant site. The grounds are home to gorgeous flowers, like roses, zinnias, cosmos, and bronze fennel, along with a small sculpture garden. You'll also find many special events here, like live music, a weekly farmer's market, and even the Arkansas Cornbread Festival.

08 Rock Town Distillery

If you're interested in learning how various types of alcohol are made, stop by the Rock Town Distillery. Here, they'll show you the process of turning corn, rye, and wheat (all grown within 125 miles of the city) into gin, vodka, and bourbon. Take a tour of the back rooms full of aged wooden barrels and sample spirits made on-site. Rock Town Distillery is a popular spot in Little Rock, so it's a good idea to make reservations ahead of time if you plan to visit.

09 Big Dam Bridge

The Big Dam Bridge is part of the Arkansas River Trail, but it's an engineering marvel all its own. This bridge holds the record as the largest bicycle and pedestrian bridge in North America. With more than 14 miles of scenic riverside trails connecting Little Rock and North Little Rock, this system connects tens of thousands of acres of parks and provides easy access to museums, restaurants, and the River Market. Walk, bike, or jog this elevated trail, taking in gorgeous views of the city while you explore.

10 Lake Ouachita State Park

Arkansas is called the Natural State, and if you want more time in the great outdoors, head to Lake Ouachita State Park, a few miles west of downtown Little Rock. This destination is ideal if you're looking for a place to hike, kayak, swim, fish, or scuba dive. There's inline skating in the winter, too, and amazing views for stargazing year-round. The park has 92 campsites, some right on the lake, and full-service cabins if you aren't up for roughing it.

Beautiful Scenic Lake View From Mountain Trail on Lake Ouachita Arkansas Kathy Byrd / Getty Images

11 Picnic at the Old Mill

The Old Mill Replica in N. Little Rock, Arkansas Featured in the 1939 movie "Gone With the Wind"

Nestled in the charming city of North Little Rock, the Old Mill stands as a testament to Arkansas's rich history, famously featured in the opening scenes of "Gone With the Wind." This picturesque spot, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is more than just a mill. With its stunning natural beauty and sculptures by Senor Dionicio Rodriguez, it's the perfect place for a leisurely picnic. Take a moment to unwind amidst the tranquil surroundings and let the historical ambiance transport you to another era.

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12 World Cheese Dip Championship

Little Rock takes pride in being the birthplace of cheese dip, a beloved culinary tradition that has locals and visitors alike clamoring for a taste. The city's annual World Cheese Dip Championship is a testament to its rich dairy legacy. Venture into any local eatery, like the famed Red Door, to indulge in this creamy, comforting dish. With recipes handed down through generations, each bite is a taste of Little Rock's soulful cooking.

13 Stop by the Esse Purse Museum

A gem in the heart of Little Rock, the Esse Purse Museum is as quirky as it is captivating. Dedicated to the art and history of handbags throughout the 20th century, this museum showcases the evolution of women's fashion and roles in society. Each exhibit tells a story, offering a glimpse into the lives of women through the ages. After exploring, visitors can browse the museum store for unique finds and stylish souvenirs.

14 Robinson Center

The Robinson Center, an architectural marvel and cultural heart of Little Rock offers an array of performances that captivate and inspire. From Broadway musicals to classical concerts, each show is a testament to the city's rich artistic heritage. The center's stunning design and acoustics make every visit an unforgettable experience. Whether you're a music lover or theater enthusiast, a night at the Robinson Center is a must-do in Little Rock.

15 Stroll the Quapaw Quarter

Walking through the Quapaw Quarter is like stepping back in time, with each step revealing another layer of Little Rock's storied past. This historic district is home to beautifully preserved antebellum mansions and charming Victorian homes, each telling its own tale of the city's evolution. The Governor's Mansion and the vibrant South Main (SoMa) neighborhood are highlighted, offering insights into Arkansas's architectural beauty and community spirit. It's a picturesque journey through history, not to be missed by any visitor.

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