From diving into the local history, to cycling, kayaking, or hiking in the area, here are the top things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas.
On our most recent trip to the United States, we explored the lovely state of Arkansas, and got to spend some time checking out what to do in Little Rock.
Full of natural beauty, interesting history, and awesome state parks, landmarks, museums, and more, Arkansas’s capital city is well worth a visit.
Little Rock is a lovely city set on the south bank of the Arkansas River, boasting cycling trails, farmer’s markets, gardens, and more.
Whether you are traveling as a family with kids, as a couple, or as a solo traveler, Little Rock has plenty to keep you entertained for a weekend or more.
The Top Things to Do in Little Rock, Arkansas
This city may not be one of the USA’s most visited capitals, but it should not be overlooked!
Little Rock’s history and culture scene is incredible, and there are lots of parks and bike trails to enjoy as well.
Tour the River Market District, or see a replica of the Oval Office at the Presidential Library. Stroll along the scenic Arkansas River Trail, or tour the Old State House Museum or Little Rock Zoo.
Or just meander through town and admire the historic buildings. Whatever you choose to do, you are sure to have a wonderful stay in the capital city of Arkansas.
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1) Bike Around Little Rock with Rock Town River Outfitters
The most effective and fun way to explore Little Rock is by bicycle. A guided tour by bicycle is even better, as you can learn about the city from a local guide while you ride.
Rock Town River Outfitters is a beloved local tour company that runs amazing bike tours throughout the city.
We had an incredible time on their bike tour, and we learned so much while exploring the city on two wheels.
We rode down streets with amazing historical houses, saw the State Buildings, and visited a historical warehouse with an extraordinary history.
We visited the main attractions, diving into the history of the place, but also getting to explore some unique spots and abandoned buildings which was awesome.
So glad we managed to squeeze some sightseeing by bike in before we left town. Thanks to the guys for showing us around!
Also random fact – Apparently a lot of Hollywood movies that feature Washington DC are actually filmed here in Little Rock! That’s because the buildings are very similar, and it’s a lot quieter to film.
- Address – 400 President Clinton Ave Suite A, Little Rock
- Opening Hours –
- Closed Monday and Tuesday
- Wednesday – Friday: 10am–6pm
- Saturday – 9am–6pm
- Sunday – 11am–6pm
- Price – Starting from $60 for a bicycle or $82 for an e-bike
2) Tour the Old State House Museum
Little Rock is full of history. One of the best places to see and learn about history is the Old State House Museum.
The Old State House is the oldest surviving state capitol building west of the Mississippi River.
It was built in 1833 and opened in 1836, and now serves as a museum dedicated to preserving artifacts, stories, and memories.
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There are permanent exhibits as well as traveling exhibits that feature themes such as government, politics, families, women’s rights, and culture.
The Old State House Museum is an important historic landmark of Little Rock that is cherished by locals, young and old.
- Address: 300 W. Markham
- Hours: 9am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday, 1pm – 5pm on Sundays
- Cost: Free
3) Walk Along the Riverfront Park
If you want to move your legs, check out the Riverfront Park.
Riverfront Park provides 33 acres of gorgeous urban parkland that is perfect for outdoor activities, and it teaches you about the state’s history.
It stretches 11 blocks on the south side of the Arkansas River and is right in downtown Little Rock, so you can easily reach it from anywhere in town.
You can visit many attractions along your walk through Riverfront Park. Some of the sights you may pass include:
- Little Rock Civil War Marker
- Clinton Presidential Bridge
- Riverfront Park History Pavilion
- Junction Bridge
- La Petit Roche Plaza
- Medical Mile
- Peabody Splash Park
- First Security Amphitheater
- Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden
- William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Park Wetlands
- Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center
4) Visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
As Australians with little knowledge of American politics, we weren’t really sure if a visit to the Presidential Library would be that interesting to us. We were wrong, because it was fascinating!
Also known as the Clinton Presidential Center, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is a fascinating archive of the life and presidency of the Clinton family.
Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, was born and raised in Arkansas.
In the heart of the state’s capital city, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated to telling his story.
There are over 100,000 objects in the museum to see. That includes artwork, fashion pieces, objects gifted to the Clinton family from foreign leaders, and more.
The museum has special temporary exhibits, but the permanent exhibits showcase all the fine details of Clinton’s presidency.
There are photos, videos, and objects that reflect what life was like as president. There is even a replica of the White House Cabinet Room and the Oval Office.
- Address: 1200 President Clinton Ave
- Hours: 9am – 5pm Monday – Saturday, 1pm – 5pm Sundays
- Cost: $12
5) Walk over the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge
Right next to the Clinton Presidential Center is the pedestrian bridge that symbolizes Clinton’s “Bridge to the 21st Century”.
Because Clinton served as president from 1993-2001, he quite literally took the US into the new millennia. He served at a real crossroads in time.
The bridge was built in 1899 and was formerly called the Rock Island Railroad Bridge.
But it was renamed to the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge and is now an iconic landmark of the city.
The bridge is part of the Arkansas River Trail, so you can easily make your way over it during your Little Rock sightseeing. We’ll dive into further detail about the trail later on in the article!
6) Explore Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Located about 12 miles west of Little Rock, Pinnacle Mountain State Park is the perfect getaway from the city.
This gorgeous state park is full of forests, mountains, trails, rivers, and more.
Top things to do in Pinnacle Mountain State Park include mountain biking, hiking, visiting the local national historic sites, enjoying a picnic, and more.
There are over 22 miles of trails to tackle, so bring your hiking boots or your bike so you can make the most of the amazing wilderness.
The park is also home to the Arkansas Arboretum, which has even more walking trails through the forest and informational signs so you can learn about the flora and fauna.
Visit the official Arkansas State Parks website for more information about trails, events, attractions, maps, and more. You could also visit the visitor center every day from 8am to 5pm.
7) Hike up Pinnacle Mountain
If you have time, hiking up Pinnacle Mountain is definitely the best activity in Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
Pinnacle Mountain is the main peak of the area. You can’t miss this cone-shaped mountain towering over the forest. The park was named after it for a reason!
There are two trails that lead to the summit of the mountain: The East Summit Trail and the West Summit Trail.
Most people opt for the West Summit Trail because it is slightly easier. Both trails are about 3/4 of a mile long, so they are pretty short. However, they are steep.
The East Summit Trail is a bit steeper and more rugged, so it is more of a challenge.
Whichever trail you choose, the views from the top are breathtaking!
8) Have some Tacos and a Beer at Camp Taco
If you’re looking for the perfect place to refuel during a big day of Little Rock sightseeing, look no further than Camp Taco.
This small-batch brewery and eatery run by the team at Lost Forty Brewing is a true gem of Little Rock.
With unique craft beers and IPAs that rotate seasonally, delicious margaritas, and high-quality, Mexican-style food, there is so much amazing food and drink to indulge in.
This was actually the best meal we had in the entire state. Their Mexican ramen was divine!
Camp Taco is located in Little Rock’s East Village, and often has live music playing to accompany your food and drinks.
9) Visit the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts (Formerly the Arkansas Arts Center)
Little Rock is currently taking its arts and culture scene to a new level with the construction of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.
The incredible fine arts and exhibition space is currently under construction as the city strives to upgrade and improve its arts center.
You can stay updated on their progress via their website and read more about the initiative here.
The space used to be called the Arkansas Arts Center. The new and improved art museum in the scenic MacArthur Park will house lots of incredible exhibits, classes, and events.
If you happen to visit Little Rock once the new arts and culture center is completed, definitely check out the new, modern building and museum!
10) Rent a Kayak and Paddle Down the Arkansas River
Another one of the best things to do in Little Rock is kayak down the mighty Arkansas River.
The same company that offers the epic bike tours, Rock Town River Outfitters, also offers kayaking tours and rentals.
Either rent a kayak and paddle down the Arkansas River at your leisure, or book a guided tour. Whichever one you choose, this is an amazing way to get a new perspective of Little Rock.
If you want to paddle down the Arkansas River at sunset, book a private sunset tour starting from USD $79.50 per person.
- Address – 400 President Clinton Ave Suite A, Little Rock
- Opening Hours –
- Closed Monday and Tuesday
- Wednesday – Friday: 10am–6pm
- Saturday – 9am–6pm
- Sunday – 11am–6pm
- Price – Kayak Rental prices are; Single Kayak (2 hrs) – $36.40 per kayak, Tandem Kayak (2 hrs) – $72.80 per kayak, Fishing Kayak (4 hrs) – $72.80 per kayak
11) Relax in the William E. Clark Presidential Park Wetlands
The perfect place to relax in nature near downtown Little Rock is the William E. Clark Presidential Park Wetlands.
Comprised of 13 acres of restored wetlands, this serene spot feels like it’s much further away from the city than it really is.
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There is a 1,600-foot boardwalk that weaves through the wetlands so you can stroll through nature and soak in all the beauty.
The purpose of the wetlands is to promote conservation and education. It’s open 24 hours a day, every day, and is free to visit!
12) Walk or Bike on the Arkansas River Trail System
Spanning just over 21 miles, the Arkansas River Trail runs riverside and extends from the Clinton Presidential Library to Two Rivers Park.
The Arkansas River Trail system has multiple different trails and paths that explore a huge chunk of the area in and around the city.
Whether you want to bike, walk, or jog along the trail, this is the perfect place to stretch your legs and enjoy some outdoor sightseeing.
13) Learn at the Historic Arkansas Museum
One of the best places to immerse yourself in the history of Arkansas is the Historic Arkansas Museum.
Showcasing art, culture, and architecture, this museum allows you to really walk amongst history and feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Highlights of the museum include a historic city block that includes the oldest building in Little Rock, art galleries, and an authentic Farmstead from the 1850s.
The art galleries focus on art, artifacts, and history from the people of Arkansas. There are pieces from indigenous Arkansans as well as modern artists.
If you’re interested in history, the Historic Arkansas Museum is definitely worth a visit.
- Address: 200 E 3rd St Little Rock AR 72201
- Hours: 9am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday, 1pm – 5pm Sundays
- Cost: Free ($2.50 for a grounds tour)
14) Have a Drink at the Rock Town Distillery
If you’re in the mood for some incredible drinks, head on over to the Rock Town Distillery.
This artisan distillery was the first of its kind to run legally in Arkansas after Prohibition, so it’s a bit of a legendary spot among locals.
Their spirits are award-winning, and everything is made using local ingredients.
Head to their tasting room to enjoy a delicious cocktail, or book a guided tour of the distillery via their website.
Whether you’re into whisky, beer, wine, cocktails, or anything else, this is the place to be in downtown Little Rock for an afternoon drink.
- Address: 1201 Main Street Little Rock
- Hours: Tasting room is open 11am – 10pm Tuesday – Sunday, (closes at midnight on Fri/Sat)
15) Shop at the River Market District
The heart and soul of downtown Little Rock is the River Market District.
With an abundance of food, art, and music, this neighborhood serves the community in many ways. The River Market District is the “unofficial cultural center” of the city.
Probably the biggest draw is the variety of food options. The Ottenheimer Market Hall is an indoor food market filled with international and local vendors. Stop by here for a quick meal or to sample cuisines from all over the world.
It is also home to the local Farmer’s Market, where you can shop for fresh produce and locally made goods.
The River Market District is also known for its arts and music. There are often live music performances and festivals in the area.
For visual arts, check out the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden or go on a Murals Tour to view the street art in the neighborhood.
Whether you want to eat, drink, marvel at art, listen to music, or just hang out and absorb the vibrant energy of downtown, the River Market District is the place to be.
- Ottenheimer Market Hall Hours: 10am – 2pm Monday – Saturday
- Farmer’s Market Hours: Every Saturday 7am – 3pm (Runs from May until early September)
16) Catch the River Rail Electric Streetcar
A fun way to see the sights of the city is by riding on the River Rail Electric Streetcar.
This old-school, historic trolley runs between Little Rock and North Little Rock, connecting the two areas with fun and affordable public transport.
Now often referred to as the Metro Streetcar, the trolley covers 3.4 miles in total.
Whether you need transport around the city, or you want to do some sightseeing from the comfort of a historic trolley, the River Rail Electric Streetcar is a great time.
Click here to find more info about the streetcar, such as maps, stops, schedules, and Metro passes.
17) Tour the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
Another one of the best museums to visit in Little Rock is the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.
The purpose of the museum is to commemorate and honor the service and commitment of the men and women who have served in the armed forces.
Through photographs, stories, artifacts, uniforms, and more, the exhibits tell the stories of various veterans throughout Arkansas’s military history.
Located within the historic Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal, the museum is an important piece of history and culture in the city.
- Address: 503 E. 9th Street Little Rock AR 72201
- Hours: 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday, 1pm – 5pm Sundays
- Cost: Free
18) Test Your Knowledge at the Museum of Discovery
If you’re keen to check out more museums, the Museum of Discovery is one of the best in the city.
Formerly the Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, the Museum of Discovery specialized in science, technology, engineering, and math.
It is the oldest museum in Arkansas and was founded in 1927.
Fun for people of all ages, there are so many cool exhibits, events, classes, and interactive displays that will encourage you to learn something new.
Located in the heart of the River Market District, you can easily fit the Museum of Discovery into a weekend of sightseeing in Arkansas’s capital.
- Address: 500 President Clinton Avenue
- Hours: 9am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday, 1pm – 5pm Sundays (Open Mondays during Summer and holidays)
- Cost: $10
19) Pay Your Respects at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
An important National Historic Landmark of Arkansas that’s worth checking out is Little Rock Central High School.
This school was where huge strides forward were made regarding the Civil Rights Movement.
Important desegregation events were held at Little Rock Central High School during that year, so many refer to the building as a “catalyst for change”.
In September 1957, nine black students attempted to attend the school following the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. Board of Education.
This new law stated that schools were not allowed to discriminate based on race, and that segregation was unconstitutional.
The Arkansas Governor at the time sent the Arkansas National Guard to the school to prevent the kids from attending the all-white school.
But US President, Dwight D. Eishenhower, took action and ensured that the kids could attend the school.
It was a pivotal moment in US history, and was a huge success for the Civil Rights Movement.
Nowadays, Little Rock Central High School is a National Historic Site where you can go on a guided tour and learn about the significance of the spot.
You can also explore on your own, as there is a visitor center and a nice garden to check out as well.
- Address: 2120 W. Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive
- Hours: 10am – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday
- Cost: Free
20) Arkansas Governor’s Mansion
As the name suggests, this famous mansion is the official residence of the Governor of Arkansas.
The Arkansas Governor’s Mansion was completed in 1950, as there previously had been no residence for those serving in the prestigious position of Governor.
It is a stunning home with lots of unique gardens, and you can tour the mansion for free on the scheduled dates. Visit the website to view exact tour dates and times and book a slot for your free tour.
Highlights of the mansion tour include the extravagant building itself, as well as the rose garden, herb garden, and sculpture garden on the grounds.
21) Dance the Night Away at the Electric Cowboy
For a fun night out in Little Rock, head to Electric Cowboy. This is one of the best nightclub and entertainment venues in the city.
Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 8pm until the early morning hours, Electric Cowboy is a favorite among locals and tourists.
The club is western-themed, hence the name. So there is lots of Country music, cowboy decor, and a massive dance floor.
Strap on some cowboy boots if you have them, and get ready for a night of drinking, dancing, and just letting loose.
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22) ESSE Purse Museum
Whether you are into fashion or not, the ESSE Purse Museum is one of the coolest attractions in Little Rock.
Between the museum and the gift shop, you’ll see a huge variety of unique, eclectic, and unexpected purses, shoes, and other accessories.
There are often special exhibits that tell different stories of the American woman’s experience throughout history.
The aim of ESSE Purse Museum is to highlight the evolution of the 20th Century Woman. “Esse” means “To be” in Latin, so the brand uses the world to symbolize the and honor the existence of the feminine.
If fashion isn’t necessarily your thing, browsing through the ESSE Purse Museum is an enlightening and entertaining experience.
- Address: 1510 Main Street
- Hours: 11am – 4pm daily (Closed Mondays, close at 6pm Thursday – Saturday)
- Cost: $10
23) Walk or Cycle over Big Dam Bridge
One of Little Rock’s most famous sights is the Big Dam Bridge. It was named so simply because it is huge!
The bridge spans 4,226 feet and stands 90 feet high above the Arkansas River. It links North Little Rock with the rest of the city’s attractions, and is a key point of the city that connects many acres of park land.
The coolest fact about the Big Dam Bridge: it is the longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in North America. It was designed specifically for that purpose as well.
So whether you want to walk over Big Dam Bridge to access different points of interest around the area, or you want to walk, jog, or cycle across it recreationally, this bridge is a highlight of the city.
24) Catch a Show at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre
As the longest-running nonprofit theatre in Arkansas, this is an amazing place to come and catch a show.
Nicknamed “The Rep” for short, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre hosts year-round shows, events, and community programs.
From musicals, to local plays, to comedy performances, and more, there is always something exciting to see at the Rep.
Check the website for the current performance lineup and to purchase tickets.
- Address: 601 Main Street
- Hours/Cost: Varies depending on performances
25) Go on a Free Tour of the Arkansas State Capitol Building
One of the most important buildings in Little Rock is the Arkansas State Capitol Building.
With its towering dome and landscaped gardens, this majestic building is home to the Arkansas General Assembly, as well as other important government offices.
You can book a tour of the Arkansas State Capitol to learn more about the architecture and the government processes that occur inside.
Tours are free and last around 30 minutes to an hour. They run Monday to Friday at 9am, 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm.
You can also embark on a self guided tour if you wish. Tours don’t have to be booked in advance; you can just show up and book in your slot.
- Address: 500 Woodlane St, Little Rock, AR 72201
- Hours: 8am – 5pm weekdays, 10am – 3pm weekends and holidays
- Cost: Free
26) Relax in the Bernice Garden
Bernice Garden is a beloved community gathering space in downtown. This beautifully landscaped garden serves many purposes for the locals.
It is an events venue where locals come to host celebrations and have concerts.
It is also home to the Bernice Garden Farmer’s Market every Sunday from 10am until 2pm.
Scattered around the garden you’ll also find sculptures and artworks that showcase different themes of Arkansas’s nature and culture.
Most importantly, the Bernice Garden is a symbol of pride for the city. It’s the perfect spot to come for a picnic, or to relax during a long day of sightseeing.
- Address: 1401 S Main St, Little Rock, AR 72202,
- Hours: 6am – 9pm daily
- Cost: Free
27) Explore Lake Ouachita State Park
An amazing day trip idea from Little Rock is Lake Ouachita State Park.
Lake Ouachita is made up of 40,000 acres, making it the largest man-made lake in Arkansas.
The lake is perfect for fishing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and boating.
Surrounding the crystal clear lake is the Ouachita National Forest, which is full of hiking trails, camping spots, picnic areas, and wildlife.
Head out here for the day to swim in the lake, hike in the forest, and enjoy the wilderness.
You can find more info about campsites and trails on the Arkansas State Parks website.
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28) Visit North Little Rock
If you have time, do check out North Little Rock. There are lots of parks over there as well as some interesting attractions.
- The Old Mill – 1880’s-style water mill located in T.R. Pugh Memorial Park
- Burns Park Funland – Fun for the whole family!
- Emerald Park Trail – 9km return trail path near Cammack Village. It takes about 2.5 hours to complete. Great for trail running, hiking and biking.
- Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum – Includes cool historical artifacts and stories
We could write an entire separate article about North Little Rock! But if you have enough time to wander outside of downtown Little Rock and check out some other places, we definitely recommend it.
29) Enjoy the Little Rock Zoo
One of the best kid friendly activities is visiting the Little Rock Zoo.
The zoo cares for over 500 animals and is highly dedicated to conservation of the species.
With lots of different exhibits and animal habitats for specific groups of animals, people of all ages will enjoy seeing all the animals here.
There are big cats, small cats, bears, great apes, lizards, penguins, zebras, otters, lemurs, and many more at the Little Rock Zoo.
- Address: 1 Zoo Drive
- Hours: 9am – 4pm daily
- Cost: $12.95 adults, $9.95 kids ages 3-12 (Free for kids under 3)
30) Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center
Another great activity for those with kids is visiting the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. This activity is even great for adults who are interested in the natural world.
Located in the River Market Entertainment District, the building overlooks the Arkansas River and includes an aquarium, an exhibition hall, a theater, and lots of space for educational programs.
Dedicated to educating visitors about the nature of Arkansas, here you can learn all about the native flora and fauna of the region.
There are presentations and exhibits that help explain the relationship between the environment and its geological features with all the plants and animals that live there.
- Address: 2 Natural Resources Drive
- Hours: 8:30 – 4:30 Tuesday – Saturday
- Cost: Free
Where to Stay in Little Rock, Arkansas
Now that you know the best Little Rock things to do, here are some top accommodation options for travelers of all budget ranges.
Best Budget Accommodation: HI Firehouse Hostel and Museum
For budget travelers, Little Rock has one incredible hostel. The Firehouse Hostel and Museum is set in a renovated fire station in MacArthur Park.
Not only is it a top-rated hostel, with a 9.8/10 rating on Hostelworld, it doubles as a museum about the firefighting history of the city.
It’s a super cool place to stay, with retro vibes, friendly local staff, and dorm beds that cost around $35 USD per night.
Best Mid-Range Accommodation: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
When traveling around the USA, or anywhere for that matter, you can’t go wrong with a trusty DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.
If you want a comfortable, clean stay in a central location at affordable rates, the DoubleTree is always a solid choice.
And their downtown Little Rock option is no exception.
This is the hotel we stayed at in Little Rock, and we found it to be perfect for a short visit.
Located within walking distance from many of the best Little Rock attractions, you are sure to enjoy a great stay here.
Best Luxury Accommodation: Rosemont B&B Cottages
For a cozy stay in your own private local cottage, Rosemont B&B Cottages is the perfect option.
Here you will enjoy a sanctuary of peace and serenity that is located surprisingly right in downtown.
Complete with a garden, fireplace, and charming rooms, you’d think you were staying out in the countryside instead of right in the heart of the city.
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