City I Love: 9 Essential Things to Do in Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas, is a bit of a hidden gem. Of course, that’s not news to locals! Arkansas’ capital city has gone through a major revitalization in recent years, meaning it’s the perfect time to visit this little city with a lot of Southern charm.
Rock Town’s got a rich history, impressive food and beverage scene, and plenty of fun things to do, all amid a beautiful natural setting. Press play on the videos below to experience Little Rock like a local as we hit up some of the city’s most noteworthy spots and see why it’s a city we love. Then, scroll down to learn more about each location!
Watch The City I Love: Little Rock – Part I
Watch The City I Love: Little Rock – Part II
At Direct Auto, we’re not just day-trippers we’re locals! Check out one of our local stores for a free car insurance quote, call 1-877-GO-Direct (1-877-463-4732), or visit us online. We’re always a quick call, click, or drive away!
Things to Do in Little Rock, AR
Little Rock is the only city in the country with four pedestrian bridges that stretch over a navigable body of water, and two of them can be accessed via Riverfront Park. The Junction Bridge connects Little Rock and North Little Rock, and the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge closes the loop on the 14.2-mile long Arkansas River Trail.
Riverfront Park stretches 11 blocks and covers 33 acres of urban greenspace. Admire more than 70 public art sculptures at the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, catch a show at the First Security Amphitheater, and don’t forget to visit the little rock. Yes, there is an actual little rock, or “La Petite Roche.” Head to La Petite Roche Plaza to check it out.
Flying Fish & Billy Bass Adoption Center
At some point during your exploration of Little Rock, you’re bound to get hungry, and for a unique dining experience, it’s hard to beat Flying Fish. You can enjoy tasty seafood, from catfish tacos to poor boy sandwiches. But the one-of-a-kind meal you’ll enjoy is actually because of the wall décor. The restaurant has become the world’s most well-known Billy Bass Adoption Center. That’s right, the joke gifts everyone received in the early 2000s now hang by the hundreds on Flying Fish’s wall. So, if you want to be serenaded by a shoal of bass and satisfy your hunger, make sure to stop by.
The Old Mill
Our next stop is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and for good reason. The Old Mill is a beautiful recreation of an 1880’s water-powered grist mill, and it was actually featured in Gone with the Wind’s opening credits. The grounds showcase stunning sculptures done by Dionicio Rodriguez, and if you visit at the right time of the year, the flowers should be in full bloom. So, sign up for a guided tour, and don’t forget to grab your camera!
Located on the banks of the Arkansas River, the Little Rock River Market is filled with great shops, restaurants, and entertainment. There are several points of interest nearby, so grab a bite to eat and explore the River Market District on foot—or by streetcar! The H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden, Museum of Discovery, and William J. Clinton Library and Museum are all within walking distance. While you’re in the area, venture south to SoMa (South Main St.), a funky Little Rock neighborhood with top-notch restaurants, trendy shops, and endless entertainment options.
ESSE Purse Museum
The ESSE Purse Museum offers more than a history of fashion. It depicts the evolution of the 20th century American woman through the handbags she carried and the day-to-day items in them. It’s the only purse museum in the United States and one of three in the world. Handbags, photography, and other memorabilia offer a thought-provoking portrayal of women’s history and the times in which they lived.
It should also come as no surprise that ESSE’s museum shop is filled with a variety of unique handbags, as well as jewelry, scarves, and other items crafted by artisans from Little Rock and around the globe.
Little Rock Central High School
One of the country’s most important Civil Rights sites is Little Rock Central High School. It became a fixture of the Civil Rights Movement in 1957 after nine African American students—the Little Rock Nine—bravely paved the way for desegregation at the formerly all-white school. It is the only operating high school in the country that is a designated National Historic Site.
Today visitors can take a guided tour of the school and grounds to learn about the 1957 desegregation crisis and the school’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Jack’s Ultra Sports
This indoor fun zone in nearby Conway, Arkansas, is the perfect place to unleash your energy. Jack’s Ultra Sports boasts low-impact paintball, laser tag, archery, escape rooms, and arcade games, making it the perfect place for kids… or anyone who wants to act like one!
The Purple Cow
Who doesn’t love a diner and soda fountain? The Purple Cow is a classic Little Rock hangout best known for their famous Purple Cow milkshake, a hand-dipped purple vanilla milkshake. Don’t forget to ask for an order of the cheese dip. As any Arkansawyer will tell you, cheese dip is a big part of the state’s culinary history, and many claim that it was invented here!
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Arkansas isn’t nicknamed “The Natural State” for nothing! If you love the outdoors, you’re in luck. Little Rock isn’t far from recreational offerings like hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a quick 30-minute drive from the city. The park has several hiking trails and stunning vistas where you can snap an Insta-worthy pic of the Ouachita Mountains.