As a resident of Little Rock I can assure you that this is a great city for a get-away. The capitol of Arkansas has plenty of interesting, historical, and delicious things to do. Here is a bucket list of things to do in Little Rock!
Some of the Little Rock attractions include outdoorsy activities like hiking, biking, climbing, and kayaking. In addition you can experience museums and historical places, enjoy some great food and breweries, and do some fun shopping. There are so many things to do in Little Rock.
Although most of the things mentioned below are in Little Rock a few are also in North Little Rock or just outside the city limits.
After your visit be sure and let us know which were your favorite Little Rock attractions!
Note: Some of these listings are closed due to Covid-19. Please check in advance to see what is open.
Bucket List of Things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas
Parks and Outdoor Activities
One of the best things about Little Rock is the abundance of opportunities for outdoor adventure. I have an entire post with more detail about the parks and outdoor activities in Little Rock that you can check out.
Here are some of our favorite outdoor and active things to in Little Rock.
Walk or Ride Bikes at Two Rivers Park
Two Rivers Park is one of the best parks in Little Rock! It is a beautiful place with nice flat areas for walking or biking. You will find some gorgeous views of Pinnacle Mountain from the Park. Be sure and cross Two Rivers Bridge for the prettiest views.
Two Rivers Park is also part of the Arkansas River Trail which is a biking trail through Little Rock and North Little Rock.
William Kirsch Preserve
William Kirsch Preserve is one of the best places to get away from it all without getting too far away. The preserve is 230 acres located just off of busy Highway 10 in the shadow of Pinnacle Mountain in the northwest corner of the city.
This is a wonderful place to walk, picnic, kayak or canoe. There are lovely views of Pinnacle Mountain from the cypress studded waters of the Little Maumelle River.
Kayak or paddle board near the Arkansas River
Rock Town River Outfitters is located on the Little Maumelle River. They have kayak, paddle board, and bike rentals.
You and your friends can rent single or tandem kayaks by the hour and explore on your own or you can choose to do a guided tour. There is even a sunset river tour! You can also rent bikes for 2, 4, or 6 hours to explore the Arkansas River Trail System.
Climb Pinnacle State Mountain
There is a wonderful state park just on the western edge of Little Rock. At Pinnacle Mountain State Park you can hike, kayak, stroll, and climb.
The climb up Pinnacle Mountain isn’t easy, but you will find gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside from the top. From river bottom land to the top of Pinnacle mountain, this state park has something for everyone.
Ride a Bike or Take a Walk on the Arkansas River Trail System
The Arkansas River Trail is a multi-use loop. It runs along the Arkansas River in both Little Rock and North Little Rock. From Two Rivers Park in the west you can ride all the way to the Clinton Library Downtown.
The trail crosses the river at several of the Arkansas River Bridges. Besides the gorgeous Two Rivers Park Bridge three other bridges are part of the trail system, Most notable is the Big Dam Bridge which is the longest pedestrian bridge in north American built expressly for that purpose.
Rattlesnake Ridge is one of the newer recreational areas in Little Rock. The purpose of Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area is to conserve the habitats of rare plant and animal species. Keeping this area natural also protects Lake Maumelle which provides drinking water for the area.
There are a variety of trails on Rattlesnake Ridge for both hikers and bikers. They are rated intermediate to expert mostly because of steep grades and rocky conditions. There are some wonderful views from the top of the ridge.
Walk the Pedestrian and Biking Bridges in Little Rock
The Big Dam Bridge happens to be the longest pedestrian bridge in north America built and designed expressly for that purpose. Its massive 4,226 foot span was built atop Murray Lock and Dam and crosses 90 feet above the Arkansas River.
It is part of the Arkansas River Trail system, but is also a fun place to go take a stroll.
There are three other pedestrian and biking bridges in Little Rock that you will want to check out! There are the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, Two Rivers Bridge, and the Junction Pedestrian Bridge.
Tour Moss Mountain Farm
Many people come into Little Rock from other states just for this activity. We attended a lunch tour at Moss Mountain Farm recently and people were there from all over the US!
Moss Mountain is the country home of well known horticulturist and life style guru P. Allen Smith. Tours are not held daily and they do fill up so be sure and plan ahead if you want to attend.
Museums and Historical Sites
Historic Curran Hall Visitors Center
Curran Hall on the national register of historic places and serves as the visitor center for the city of Little Rock. You can stop by to see the home and speak with the knowledgeable staff about the city.
The home was built in 1842 and was constructed in the Greek Revival style. It is a symmetrical, one-story house and has a central hall with a large room opening to each side. Few houses of this era remain in Little Rock in such good condition.
Clinton Presidential LIbrary
There were mixed feelings in Little Rock about the architecture of the Clinton Presidential Library when it was first built. Some loved the streamlined, modern aesthetic and others compared it to a giant mobile home.
The library sits on 17 acres right on the Arkansas River and is meant to represent a bridge, echoing Clinton’s campaign theme of “building a bridge to the 21st century.”
If you are interested in politics or history this is a great place to visit. In addition to the archives and Clinton memorabilia the library has a replica of the oval office.
The Esse Purse Museum
The Esse Purse Museum is a small but fascinating museum in the SOMA (south Main) area of Little Rock. It shows the evolution of the purses that women have carried through the decades as well as the contents of the purses.
It is a fun museum that provides insight into the lives of women throughout history. The purses are showcased by decade.
The Museum of Discovery
The Museum of Discovery is a children’s science museum in the River Market District of Little Rock.
Note: The Museum of Discovery was severely damaged by flooding caused by burst pipes during a cold snap. It is scheduled to reopen in August of 2021.
Many of the past exhibits were also damaged so I am currently not able to tell you what the museum will contain once it reopens. Be sure and check if it has reopened before you make plans to attend.
Old State House Museum
The Old State House is the original Arkansas state capitol and the oldest standing state capitol building west of the Mississippi. It is a stately, columned structure with lovely grounds in downtown Little Rock.
The permanent exhibits tell about both the political and cultural history of Arkansas. The collection of dresses from the First Ladies of Arkansas is one of my favorites. There are also traveling exhibits that change from time to time. Admission is free.
Historic Arkansas Museum
The Historic Arkansas Museum is a city block in downtown Little Rock with buildings that represent Arkansas through the years.
On its grounds are 4 historical buildings 3 of which are on their original sites. One is a farmstead that was brought in from the nearby farming community of Scott, Arkansas. These are some of the oldest buildings in the city. They are all carefully restored and furnished to showcase the heritage of Arkansas.
Little Rock Central High School
Little Rock Central High School is both an operating school and a historical site. The school itself has been named by the American Institute of Architects as the “Most Beautiful High School in America.”
The history of the school is less pretty, but extremely important. You can learn about the Little Rock 9 and integration in Little Rock by taking a guided tour of the school through the National Park Service.
You will need to make reservations.
Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is on the Arkansas River in North Little Rock. Here you can experience what life would have been like aboard the historic submarine USS Razorback (SS-394).
In addition to the submarine there are also exhibits dedicated to America’s naval history as well as information on the following Naval vessels: the tugboat USS Hoga (YT-146), the battleship USS Arkansas (BB-33), and the missile cruiser USS Arkansas (CGN-41).
MacArther Museum of Arkansas Military HIstory
The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History interprets the state’s military heritage from its territorial period to the present. The museum’s exhibits feature artifacts, photographs, weapons, documents, uniforms and other military items that vividly portray Arkansas’s military history at home and abroad.
The museum is named after General Douglas MacArthur who was born in Little Rock.
Admission is free.
Arkansas Civil Rights History Tour
In order to learn more about the history of Civil Rights in Arkansas you can download a free mobile app and/or a free audio tour. These will show you some of the most important civil rights sites in the city.
Some of the sites included are the First Missionary Baptist Church, the old Dreamland Ballroom at what is now the Flag and Banner Building, the Little Rock Nine Memorial on the State Capitol Grounds, and the Daisy Bates House.
Arkansas State Capitol
The Arkansas State Capitol is a Beautiful Neo-Classical style building. You can explore the building on your own with a self-guided tour book that you can pick up at the first floor tour desk or you can call to schedule a guided tour.
You will definitely want to take time to look at the statues on the capitol grounds as well.
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center was created as a museum of Arkansas Heritage to honor both the story of the Mosaic Templars of America and the African American history and experience in Arkansas.
There are both permanent and traveling exhibits and admission is free.
Mount Holly Cemetery
Behind Mount Holly’s native stone walls and wrought iron gates are buried some of the most notable citizens of Arkansas. Thousands of people visit Mount Holly every year and several tours of the city stop at Mount Holly.
The grounds are well-maintained and park-like and many of the monuments are works of art. Do note that Mount Holly is still an active cemetery so if you visit please be respectful of funerals or those who are visiting the graves of their loved ones.
Arts, Nature, and Sport
Repertory Theater aka The Rep
The Rep is a popular place for live theater. The theater is small but excellent. Attending the Christmas production at the Rep is a tradition for many Little Rock residents.
Of course, theater has struggled during the pandemic so be sure to check to see if the Rep is open and what shows are available.
Check out the events at the Robinson Center to see if you are interested in any of their offerings during your visit to Little Rock.
You might find anything from a bluegrass concert, to a comedy act, to classical orchestra, to ballet, or even a Broadway Play.
Wildwood Park for the Arts
Wildwood Park for the Arts hosts events and classes, but even if you aren’t in town for an event the grounds are beautiful and worth seeing. This is a lovely place for a stroll.
There are a variety of gardens to view including the Asian Woodland Garden designed by P. Allen Smith of the above mentioned Moss Mountain Farm. Be sure and check the schedule on their website to find out when the gates open.
The Old Mill
The Old Mill is an iconic and gorgeous site in North Little Rock. Visitors often believe that it is an original mill, but it is actually a recreation of an 1880’s water powered grist mill that was built in 1931.
It was constructed in honor of Arkansas’ pioneers and is very much a work of art. It features sculptures by artist Senor Dionicio Rodriguez and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Old Mill was featured in the opening credits of the film, Gone with the Wind. The Old Mill is lovely year round, but in my opinion it is particularly gorgeous in the spring.
Arkansas Arts Center – Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
The Arkansas Arts Center which is being reimagined, reinvented, and renamed as the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts is currently under construction.
It will eventually be housed in a fabulous new, modern, bright and airy building which is scheduled to be completed in 2022. Currently the collection is in a temporary location on Cantrell Road and is not open to the public.
Keep checking back because this will be an amazing space when it is completed!
Street Art in Little Rock
Little Rock has become a great place for street art. Much of it is in the downtown area and you can easily drive from place to place to see a wide variety of artwork.
Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden
Riverfront park and the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden are the best places to experience sculpture in Little Rock.
Just walk the paths in Riverfront Park to the sculpture garden to experience a variety of artwork. The garden is set up in various outdoor “rooms” and you will find more than 90 works of art sculptors in Arkansas and across the country.
H. U. Lee International Gate and Garden
The gate and garden are located in the RIver Market District near the end of the Main Street Bridge. The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) has been headquartered in Little Rock since 1977.
The lovely gate and garden stand as a symbol of friendship between South Korea and America as well as a tribute to the martial arts, particularly to Grandmaster H. U. Lee, who was the founder of ATA International.
Heifer Village and Urban Farm
Just near the Clinton Library is the Heifer Village and Urban Farm. Inside you will find a gift shop and some hands on exhibits that help to explain the purpose and mission of Heifer International.
At the fully functioning farm on the property you can meet the animals and tour the greenhouses and gardens while you learn about sustainable, eco-friendly farming practices.
Witt Stephens Central Arkansas Nature Center
The Witt Stephens Nature Center is a small museum in the RIver Market District which highlightsthe role of fish and wildlife management. You will also learn about many of the projects conducted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
There are aquariums and animals as well as exhibits about the wildlife in Arkansas. This is a fun place to pop in with children.
Little Rock Zoo
The Little Rock Zoo features more than 500 animals on over 33 acres of beautifully landscaped property. This is not a huge zoo so you will be able to walk the paths in only a couple of hours.
The penguin exhibit is one of the highlights. The zoo is stroller and wheel chair accessible and there are some places to grab a drink and a snack.
Arkansas Travelers at Dickey Stephens Park
If you are in town during baseball season you might want to see if the Arkansas Travelers are playing at Dickey Stevens Park.
The Arkansas Travelers are a minor league baseball club that play at this nice facility just across the river from downtown Little Rock. A visit to Dickey Stevens to watch a Travelers game is both fun and relaxing. And, of course, there is ball park food!
Food and Drink
Little Rock is a wonderful food town! You will be amazed at the quality and variety of great food. Here is a list of our favorite restaurants!
Try Some Cheese Dip
Little Rock is known for cheese dip. In fact, cheese dip was invented here. Many restaurants serve this gooey deliciousness.
So, who has the best cheese dip in town? Here is a list of our favorites! After you try a few let us know what you think!
Rock Town Distillery
Rock Town is an award winning distillery in the South Main district of Little Rock. You can stop in to have a drink at the bar but I highly suggest that you schedule a tour and tasting.
They even offer a cocktail making class that you might want to take!
Eat the best burger in town
There are several excellent burger joints in Little Rock. It is hard to pick a favorite! If you are all about excellent and wholesome ingredients then, in our opinion, the best burger is found at the Root Cafe. Everything at the Root is good, but y’all…that burger!
If you prefer an old fashioned, greasy, griddled burger, check out Black Angus.
For a fancier burger with a variety of topping choices I would suggest Big Orange.
Go to a local Brewery
The great breweries in town also serve delicious food. Lost Forty may be our favorite. They have excellent beer and delicious food. Relax with a beer sampler flight and a cheese dip. We also think they have the best chicken sandwich in town!
Another favorite brewery is Flyway which is located just across the river in North Little Rock. If you go here you will definitely want to have a pretzel and Flyway is also famous for their gumbo cheese fries.
Have a drink at the Capitol Hotel
The Capitol Hotel is the most beautiful and historic hotel in Little Rock. Just inside the front door is the Capitol Bar and Grill. This is an upscale, but friendly bar with excellent drinks. Capitol Bar and Grill is a perfect place for a meeting or a date.
Looking for the best ice cream in Little Rock? You will find it at Loblolly. This is small-batch, hand crafted ice cream made with local and organic ingredients. You can taste the care that goes into the ice cream.
It’s all good but I suggest that you try the Rock Town Distillery Bourbon Pecan.
Best Mexican Food in Little Rock
We’ve mentioned the fact that Arkansans love cheese dip but the truth is that this town is addicted to Mexican food. There are SO many great Mexican restaurants in town.
Heights Taco and Tamale is a delicious local favorite. It is noisy and happily instagram-able and the food is delicious.
If you want to try more traditional and less expensive Mexican food our favorite is Taqueria El Palenque. It is on one end of a nondescript strip mall and might not look like much from the outside but don’t hesitate to try it. The tacos are amazing!
Dine Al Fresco
If the weather is nice I can guarantee that the Little Rock locals will be dining in the open air. You will find some excellent outdoor dining in Little Rock.
Hill Station is a wonderful place to eat under the trees in the Hillcrest area. The Rail Yard is another fun urban beer garden perfect for outdoor drinks and dining. It is located in the up and coming East Village area of Little Rock. They have a permanent barbecue restaurant and a rotating cast of various food trucks.
One Stop Shopping
If you are looking for one stop shopping the two best places to go are the Promenade at Chenal or Pleasant Ridge Town Center. Both are in West Little Rock.
The Promenade located on Chenal Blvd has several local restaurants such as Local Lime and Big Orange. There are plenty of chain stores like Athleta, DSW, Kendra Scott, and Sephora. A couple of our favorite local boutiques are located in the Promenade as well.
Pleasant Ridge Town Center
Pleasant Ridge Town Center is on Cantrell Blvd in West Little Rock. Pleasant Ridge is anchored by Belk and also has a variety of other stores and businesses.
There are so many more local stores and boutiques than those mentioned above! Here are just a few more of our favorites. Explore the many shops in the various Little Rock neighborhoods and let us know which you like the best.
Bella Vita Jewelry
Bella Vita is located downtown and it is one of our favorites! It is fun and quirky and has a great selection of artwork, jewelry, beads, and gift items.
Box Turtle is in an old house in the Hillcrest Neighborhood and is a great place for women’s clothing and jewelry. They carry interesting brands that you won’t see in other stores in town as well as work from local designers.
E. Leigh’s in Hillcrest is one of the best places to go for contemporary women’s fashion. The prices are reasonable, they have a great selection, and are always bringing in new items. It is a fun place to shop!
Green Corner Store
Looking for eco-lifestyle products? Green Corner Store is the place to go. They offer items to help you go “greener” without sacrificing convenience.
South Main Creative
South Main Creative is a new take on an antique mall. It feels artsy and fresh with its mix of funky and traditional items.
Best Little Rock Districts
River Market District
The River Market is basically the heart of downtown. From restaurants and bars to concerts and movies in the park this is the place to be. Ottenheimer market hall is an easy place to grab some lunch. You can walk a couple of the Little Rock River Bridges or stroll in River Front Park to the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden.
There is a Saturday morning Farmer’s Market and weekend evenings become a celebration. This is when the River Market turns into an entertainment district where alcoholic beverages can be carried around in certain areas. Check out the rules before you go!
Transportation: The street cars are a fun way to get around downtown Little Rock and over the bridge to Argenta in North Little Rock.
South Main or SOMA is one of the most fun and funky areas of Little Rock. This is the home of Rock Town Distillery as well as a large number of amazing local restaurants.
South on Main has great food and sometimes has live music. The Root Cafe one of the best restaurants in town. Loblolly is in SOMA. You can also visit the Esse Purse Museum here. Shopping for home decor is great in this area as well!
Argenta Arts District
Argenta is just across the river in North Little Rock. The ball-field, Dickey-Stephens Park, is on this side of the river as well as great restaurants and bars. This is the home of Flyway Brewing and Diamond Bear Brewing.
There is some interesting night life in Argenta. The Four Quarter bar has live music on occasion or you might be able to catch a show at the Argenta Community Theater.
The Heights and Hillcrest
The Heights and Hillcrest are two distinct but near to one another neighborhoods in Little Rock. The Heights area is a bit classy and upscale while Hillcrest is a tad funkier. Both are wonderful areas with amazing restaurants and shopping. You will definitely want to spend some time in both areas.
East Village is the newest up and coming neighborhood in Little Rock. It was established in the late 1800’s as the first industrial area of Little Rock.
It is still a bit gritty in parts but those old warehouses are being refurbished into gorgeous mixed used spaces. It is the home to Heifer International as well as Lost Forty Brewing, Fidel & Co Coffee., and The Rail Yard.
I hope that this bucket list of things to do in Little Rock will be helpful when planning your visit. Enjoy your time in this wonderful southern city.