Little Rock is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike nestled in the heart of Arkansas. The state’s capitol city holds a number of cultural and historic landmarks that can easily serve as the centerpiece to any vacation. Little Rock is also well-known for the scenic beauty of its parks and outdoor venues as well as a lively music scene. Here are six of the many locations throughout Little Rock that belong on every visitor’s travel plan.
Museum of Discovery
Rated one of the best science museums in America by Mensa and USA today, the Museum of Discovery is home to exciting exhibits that will thrill visitors of all ages.
Their collection of 90interactive exhibits includes Tornado Alley Theater, a seven minute interactive experience that allows visitors to relive the 1999 tornado that struck downtown Little Rock.
Other interactive galleries include Amazing You, which takes visitors on a journey of learning about the functions of the human body, and Discovery Hall which hosts a number of exhibits that focus on mathematical observations of the world.
After experiencing all of the activities the museum has to offer, stop by the Explore Store for educational gift items and bring the learning experience back home.
Little Rock Zoo
When the Little Rock Zoo was founded in 1926, there were only two animals there for the public to meet. Today, the largest zoo in Arkansas houses over 200 different species of animals!
The zoo’s Arkansas Heritage Farm exhibit is a great place to start, featuring common farmyard animals like chickens, turkeys, goats, and horses. Another key attraction, the Great Ape exhibit, offers visitors an elevated walkway for a bird’s-eye view of the enclosures of several different species of primates.
For a more hands-on experience, the Little Rock Zoo also offers workshops and activities. There are also guided tours available which give guests a behind-the-scenes look at several of the zoo’s residents, all hosted by one of the zoo’s experienced zookeepers.
The Root Cafe
The Root Cafe stands apart from other dining options in Little Rock by striving toward a goal; bring sustainable and delicious food to all of central Arkansas. This local gem plays host to a variety of educational workshops on food preservation.
Their menu includes burgers, sandwiches, and sides made mostly with ingredients sourced from local farms. They also offer local treats like locally roasted coffee and popular craft drinks from around the area.
The Root Cafe is the perfect spot for authentic Arkansas cooking, but also a great place to catch some entertainment with your meal.
They also frequently hold live music events and art openings to provide the perfect after-dinner activities.
River Market District
The heart and soul of Little Rock’s downtown scene is River Market District. Located on the banks of the Arkansas River, this hip entertainment district is a hotbed of live entertainment and shopping opportunities.
River Market is well-known for live music, with acts regularly playing in the market pavilion and amphitheater as well as anywhere throughout the district there’s room to gather a crowd. For younger visitors looking for excitement, River Market is home to several hiking trails along the river and a playground which features a splash pad.
The dining options at the market are among the most diverse in the city, with several beloved local restaurants as well as the Little Rock Farmers Market.
There is also a regular schedule of events lined up to take place at the River Market District, meaning that there’s always something fresh to experience there.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
There’s no better way to take in the natural splendor that Arkansas has to offer than a visit toPinnacle Rock State Park. The site has been a popular hiking destination for centuries, and was finally established as a state park in 1973.
Several of the trails that wind through the park draw a crowd of hikers and nature enthusiasts. There are trails of various lengths and difficulties, which means that everyone who visits can find the hiking experience they came for.
One of which is the West Summit Trail, a trek that leads to the top of Pinnacle Mountain and is one of the most traveled trails in all of Arkansas. Traveling the West Summit Trail is a fun outdoor experience that offers the reward of stunning views of the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle rivers.
The park also recently created a system of mountain bike trails that includes both gentle cross-country sections and exciting downhill rides. Camping isn’t allowed in the park, but being such a short trip from Little Rock makes for an ideal day trip.
For park goers who are looking for a more rustic outdoor experience, the nearby Maumelle Park public campground is a great place to set up camp.
Whole Hog Cafe
The Whole Hog Cafe is a cherished Little Rock restaurant built on a tradition of competitive cooking. It traces its roots back to the Memphis-in-May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which saw a team of aspiring cooks called “The Southern Gentleman’s Culinary Society” take home second place in 2000.
Following their success, the Gentlemen set up a concessions trailer in a local parking lot to see how their food would fare against the established eateries in Little Rock. The rest is delicious history, and the Whole Hog Cafe has now carved out its place in the Little Rock food scene as well as expanding the brand to several locations across five different states.
With a history in competitive barbecue, it’s no surprise that Whole Hog is best known for irresistible ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and chicken. The effort and attention to detail is evident in every dish they serve. They also have fantastic sides like loaded baked potatoes and house-made potato salad which serve as the perfect compliment to any meaty main course.
With such a variety of cultural building and entertainment options, Little Rock has a little bit of something to offer to everyone. Whether planning a vacation or just looking for a new local experience, exciting venues like these are just around the corner. While you are in Arkansas, make plans to stop at some of the roadside attractions listed in this article.
Looking for a cool hotel in Arkansas? Check out our list of cool hotels in all 50 states.