Last Updated on: 20th November 2021, 07:59 pm
Arkansas’s capital city of Little Rock is positioned in the heart of the state and at the confluence of culture, city life, and nature.
And you’ll never run out of things to do in Little Rock! The city has so much to offer visitors, no matter what you’re looking for!
From lush, gorgeous hikes to the best bars and shopping in the state – Little Rock is a small but mighty city with no shortage of things to occupy your time.
Bursting with history, natural beauty, classic Southern hospitality, and truly unique character, Little Rock is a wonderful place to visit.
Whether you’re looking to spend a weekend in Little Rock or you’re still looking for ideas for an Arkansas weekend getaway, Little Rock has it all!
If you find yourself in the Natural State’s capital, here are the best things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas, plus tips to help you do them!
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Good to Know: This guide on the best things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas comes to us from Kendall Davis, who is originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, and graduated from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.
She currently lives in New York City with her husband and their dog, Scout.
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Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.
For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.
For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars.
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For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.
Where to Stay in Little Rock, Arkansas
Looking for a great place to stay during your time in Little Rock? Here are the best places to stay with options for different budget categories so there’s something here for everyone!
Budget Hotel (Under $100 per night)
With great reviews and a great price, you really can’t beat the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Little Rock.
The rooms are modern, and each is a suite with a kitchenette and a seating area. We stayed in a similar SpringHill Suites in Jackson, Mississippi and we just loved it!
They have a heated indoor pool, so it’s a great place to stay year-round!
Midrange Hotel ($100-200 per night)
If you want something with a great location close to downtown, check into the Hilton Garden Inn Little Rock Downtown.
Located within walking distance of the Historic Arkansas Museum and steps from some of the best sites in Little Rock, you’ll love the location as much as the updated rooms and beautiful decor.
Amenities include valet parking and an indoor heated pool.
Luxury Hotel ($200 or more per night)
The Capital Hotel is a beautiful historic hotel that’s on this list as a can’t-miss thing to do in Little Rock, so even if you don’t end up staying here you should still set aside time to stop by for dinner or drinks!
Beyond its status as one of the best hotels in Little Rock, it has a great location near many of the most important Little Rock sites.
The decor is historic but amenities like wifi are up-to-date!
The Best Things to Do in Little Rock, Arkansas
Here we go!
Big Dam Bridge
The Big Dam Bridge is a favorite of Little Rock tourists and locals alike. It’s the longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in North America at 4,226 feet long and provides walkers and bikers with gorgeous views of the Arkansas River.
Perfect for a stroll with friends or family on a nice day, or getting your heart rate up after indulging in some of Little Rock’s amazing eateries!
Big Dam Bridge is a must-do for nature lovers and pontists alike.
The River Market in Downtown Little Rock is one of the most beloved spots in the city.
With a market hall lined with food vendors from all over the globe, the River Market is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat.
You can also peruse the fresh pickings at the farmer’s market which overlooks the Arkansas River, visit local art galleries and shops in the River Market District, visit the sculpture garden, and catch some live music!
Heifer Village and Urban Farm
The Heifer Village and Urban Farm is an exciting and educational destination in Downtown Little Rock!
Here you can go through Heifer’s interactive exhibits to learn about the organization’s mission and how you can affect change in the global hunger and poverty crisis.
Step outside onto the 3-acre urban farm and meet some furry friends, tour the greenhouse, and see the first commercial renewable energy-operated aquaponics farm in the world!
Read next: The Best Lakes in Arkansas
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Still operating as a public high school today, Little Rock Central High School was the site of the historic Little Rock Nine.
The gorgeous Gothic Revival building was erected in 1927, and in 1957 was in the national spotlight as nine brave Black students defied violent anti-integration groups to attend the school.
Today, the school is a National Historic Landmark and one of the National Park Sites in Arkansas.
It can be visited by making an appointment. There is also a visitor center located across from the school, which is open year-round and does not require reservations.
Read next: A Guide to the 8 National Parks in Arkansas
Little Rock Zoo
The Little Rock Zoo is a wild escapade perfect for the whole family.
Home to a wide array of animals ranging from big cats and great apes to penguins and lemurs, the Little Rock Zoo offers something for everyone.
Besides the animal exhibits which are open daily from 9 am to 4 pm, the zoo also hosts exciting special events, hands-on experiences, and even a train and carousel for the little ones!
William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
Arkansas native, President Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library sits on the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock.
The museum is home to permanent exhibits, interactive installations, and various media from the Clinton Administration, as well as replicas of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room.
Also on site is the National Archives and Records Administration, where important historical documents are archived.
Museum of Discovery
The Museum of Discovery in downtown Little Rock is an immersive hands-on science museum that is educational fun for visitors of all ages.
With amazing exhibits and special events, kids will discover a love for science and adults will find themselves engrossed in the experiments and installations with childlike wonder!
One of the most popular Little Rock attractions, Pinnacle Mountain is part of the Ouachita Mountain foothills and offers sweeping views of the Little Rock Metro Area.
There is a trail leading up both the east and west sides of the mountain, with the west side being a simpler and more accessible hike, and the east side including more strenuous climbing – so there is an option for any skill level!
Regardless of which path you travel, the views from the summit are a can’t-miss when visiting Little Rock!
Read next: The Best Things to Do in Arkansas with Kids
Though technically in North Little Rock, Emerald Park is absolutely worth the trip across the river.
This park sits perched on a bluff overlooking the Arkansas River and Big Rock Quarry Park.
While Pinnacle Mountain is packed with out-of-towners each weekend, Emerald Park offers respite from the crowds without sacrificing the views.
Read next: The Best Scenic Drives in Arkansas
Riverfront Park consists of eleven blocks and 33 acres of beautiful views and outdoor fun right on the Arkansas River!
Impressive bridges, historical markers, a nature center, sculpture garden, amphitheater, and a splash park for the kiddos make Riverfront Park an excellent destination in the city.
Immerse yourself in the history and ecology of Little Rock at Riverfront Park.
Read next: The Best Arkansas Hidden Gems
Rock Town Distillery
For some more grown-up fun, visit Rock Town Distillery! You can book a tour of the distillery, which is the first legal distillery in Arkansas since prohibition, or sip some of their spirits in the tasting room.
All of Rock Town’s spirits are made with ingredients sourced within a 125-mile radius of the distillery!
Arkansas State Capitol
The Arkansas State Capitol is a captivating example of Neo-classical architecture and was designed as a replica of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.
The exterior is constructed of limestone from Batesville, Arkansas, making the Capitol a true monument to the beauty and history of Arkansas.
You can visit the Capitol, as well as the Civil Rights Memorial and Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial which are both located on the Capitol grounds.
Read next: The Best Things to Do in Arkansas in Winter
An iconic landmark for over 100 years, Junction Bridge now functions as a pedestrian walkway over the Arkansas River.
This handicap-accessible bridge offers remarkable views of the river, Little Rock, and North Little Rock during the day, and is brilliantly lit at night.
Read next: The Best Beaches in Arkansas
Two Rivers Park
Two Rivers Park is the perfect outdoor excursion in the Natural State’s capital city!
Where the Arkansas and Little Maumelle Rivers meet, Two Rivers Park is 1,000 acres of walking trails, bike trails, and gardens.
The perfect interlude while exploring Little Rock, or the main event for the day, Two Rivers Park is a great place to connect with the natural beauty of Little Rock.
Simmons Bank Arena
Right across the river from Downtown Little Rock is the 18,000-seat Simmons Bank Arena!
A Central Arkansas entertainment powerhouse, this arena is the destination for sporting events, concerts, conventions, and exhibitions.
Catch an amazing show or game at the Simmons Bank Arena during your trip to Little Rock!
For a swanky stay or for popping in for a few cocktails with loved ones, the Capital Hotel in the heart of Downtown Little Rock is the place to be!
The gorgeous facade of the hotel isn’t where the luxury stops – with two fabulous restaurants for a nice meal or a perfect martini and gorgeous rooms with views of the city, the Capital Hotel is a hotspot for tourists and locals alike.
Arkansas Repertory Theatre
To get your fill of art and culture while in Little Rock, check out the Arkansas Repertory Theatre!
Located in Downtown Little Rock, the Rep puts up spectacular shows throughout the year and is the longest-running nonprofit resident theatre in the state.
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre is known for producing moving shows with exceptional casts and crews!
The Bernice Garden
Nestled among the historic architecture of the Quapaw Quarter is the Bernice Garden.
This botanical garden hosts a farmers’ market on Sundays between April and November and is open year-round for strolling through the lush garden.
Besides the flourishing flora, there are also unique sculptures crafted by Arkansas artists, and intricate mosaics and rock formations throughout the garden!
The Promenade at Chenal
The Promenade at Chenal is part of burgeoning west Little Rock.
The Promenade is a well-manicured center filled with great shops, a movie theater, and local and national eateries.
The open-air shopping and entertainment complex is home to some of the city’s favorite restaurants, such as The Big Orange for delicious burgers and shakes and The Local Lime for amazing tacos and margaritas!
Arkansas State Fair
If you happen to be visiting Little Rock in the fall, you can head to the fairgrounds and relish in the delights of the Arkansas State Fair!
You can ride the rides, catch a live performance, indulge in fried treats, and see the impressive livestock shows.
The Arkansas State Farm is a beloved tradition in the state!
When the weather is nice and you’re with good company, there’s nothing better than strolling through the gorgeous Quapaw Quarter!
This neighborhood is the most historic part of the city, with over 200 individual residences on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Governor’s Mansion!
Many of the homes date all the way back to the Antebellum and Victorian era.
Read next: the Best Castles in Arkansas
The vintage Metro Streetcar in Little Rock is more than just a means of transportation.
You can hop on the charming trolley and travel around the River Market District and beyond!
The streetcars are wheelchair accessible, and make stops at many of Little Rock’s most popular attractions – making them the perfect way to get around the city for a day of exploring!
Read next: The Best Small Towns in Arkansas
Old State House Museum
The Old State House Museum is the oldest capitol building that is still standing west of the Mississippi.
The building was the site of important historical conventions and political decisions and now operates as a museum of Arkansas state history.
Stop in and see the fascinating exhibits as well as the refurbished legislative chambers!
Right across the Arkansas River in North Little Rock is Flyway Brewing.
This microbrewery is committed to sourcing local ingredients for its brews, and the result is a delicious selection of beers!
Head over to Flyway for a free brewery tour, or stop into the tasting room to try some of their beers along with a delicious selection of snacks!
Lost Forty Brewing
A local favorite, Lost Forty Brewing is a craft microbrewery located in Downtown Little Rock.
They serve up snacks to go with their amazing selection of brews.
Even better, they offer flights for the indecisive and refillable growlers for when you’ve found your perfect beer!
Historic Arkansas Museum
The Historic Arkansas Museum is a full city block of local history.
Featuring the oldest building in Little Rock, a 19th-century farmstead, and a number of galleries featuring Arkansas art and history!
Experience the history of Little Rock at the Historic Arkansas Museum!
The Root Cafe
The Root Cafe is a small, unassuming restaurant that packs a major punch.
With all local and ethically sourced ingredients, you can indulge in incredible eats while supporting local farmers and the overall Arkansas economy.
Stop in for some delicious slow Arkansas Southern food complete with mimosas!
Read next: What to Eat in Arkansas
Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
Although Arkansas’s reputation is for being the Natural State, there is still plenty of art and culture to admire.
The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts houses incredible exhibitions and performing arts events, and has been an artistic center in the city since 1937!
The Old Mill
Just a couple miles north in North Little Rock, you’ll find The Old Mill.
This picturesque water-powered grist mill is a replica of the mill portrayed in the opening scenes of the cinematic classic Gone With the Wind.
The Old Mill is a perfect stop for movie buffs, those looking to snap the perfect photo, or anyone just looking for a serene spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Read next: The Best Waterfalls in Arkansas
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Fried chicken is a southern staple, and no one does it better than Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Downtown Little Rock!
Founded just a couple of hours east in Tennessee, and now with locations across the country, Gus’s still fries up their chicken according to the original founder’s family recipe – with everything fried up in peanut oil.
The Flying Fish
The Flying Fish in Downtown Little Rock is a local institution! The no-frills restaurant fries up the best cajun food in the city – from classic favorites like catfish and shrimp to gator po’ boys.
The delicious Southern-fried food isn’t where the fun stops at The Flying Fish – while you sit and savor you’re surrounded by “adopted” Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish!
The Rail Yard
Located in Little Rock’s East Village is the Rail Yard!
Here you can grab a bite to eat from a selection of food trucks and drink stations.
You get the feeling that you’re at a friend’s backyard party as you lounge in a lawn chair, sip a cold cocktail, much on some amazing barbecue, and wait for your turn in a game of cornhole!
South on Main
More than just a bar and restaurant, South on Main is a fabulous place for getting authentic Southern fare, a perfectly mixed cocktail, and enjoying a live performance!
This mainstay in Downtown Little Rock is a great place for brunch or a night out in the city!
When is the Best Time to Visit Little Rock, Arkansas?
Let me start by stating that we planned our road trip around the South in May for a reason – to avoid the high summer heat.
We ended up in Little Rock at the very beginning of May. And it was hot! But not as hot as it would have been if we’d waited until July or August for our trip.
The best months to visit Arkansas are April, May, September, and October. You will still get warm weather (and perhaps rain), but you’ll get the best weather for sightseeing.
How to Get to Little Rock, Arkansas
We drove through Little Rock as part of our Big Southern USA Road Trip! I’ve also visited growing up as a child, and we have always driven from OKC to Little Rock.
Driving is the easiest way to get to Little Rock since you will really want to have a car here during your trip.
While you can get around without a car, we found having our own wheels makes travel in the South much easier.
If you want to drive to Little Rock but don’t have your own wheels, I use Discover Cars when I rent cars on my travels.
If you don’t want to drive to Little Rock, you have other options.
You can fly into the Little Rock Airport, known officially as the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT).
Flights here are relatively inexpensive, and the airport is serviced by American Airlines, among others.
Another option is to take the train! Little Rock is serviced by Amtrak at the Little Rock Union Station, which is also called the Mopac Station.
Little Rock is on the “Texas Eagle” line, which goes from Chicago to Los Angeles via San Antonio. You can be in Little Rock in under eight hours if you are coming from St. Louis.
One thing that makes traveling to Little Rock by train difficult is that it arrives and departs the city at about 3 AM.
However, if you like traveling by overnight train, this can be a great way to visit Little Rock!
Alternatively, you can reach Little Rock by bus. Keep in mind that Greyhound Bus trips can be excruciatingly long compared to the time it takes to travel by car, plane, or even train.
Further, it may not be less expensive than driving (provided you have a car) or taking a train).
How to Get Around Little Rock, Arkansas
As I said above, I have always gotten around Little Rock by car, but there are other options if you aren’t driving your own or renting a car once you’re here.
First, there are local taxis that service Little Rock. There are also rideshare services. Both Uber and Lyft operate in Little Rock.
Depending on where you’re staying, you may be able to enjoy some of downtown Little Rock on foot.
Traveling by foot is one of the most popular modes of transportation for sightseeing in downtown Little Rock’s River Market District and North Little Rock’s Historic Argenta Arts District.
There are also famous parks and pedestrian bridges listed in this article that you can enjoy by walking.
Finally, you can take advantage of the city’s famous vintage yellow streetcars to get from place to place within their operating zone.
The River Rail Trolley goes to several places you’ll want to make sure to see while in Little Rock, and it is a fun way to see the city!
5 Things to Pack for Your Trip to Arkansas
Whether you’re going on an Arkansas honeymoon or a family vacation, there are a few things that everyone will want to bring with them.
A local guidebook. It’s very difficult to find guidebooks once you are already on the ground. Pick up a copy of Arkansas Off the Beaten Path to help you plan ahead of time and keep with you once you’re here.
A camera. While it’s great to have a cell phone with you for quick pics, if you want to do more serious photography or take more videos, I find it nice to travel with a separate dedicated camera as well.
If I will be wrestling with my toddler on the trip, I’ll grab my Sony ZV-1, which is a powerful compact camera with great video capabilities as well. If it’s just me, I’ll take my Nikon (though if you’re buying a new camera I have my eye on this Sony).
A Backup Charging Bank. This is for your cell phone since you’ll be using it as a camera, GPS, and general travel genie. The mountains can drain your battery since it will take more power to continually check for a signal where it gets spotty.
A Great Day Bag so you can carry what you need with you (like your camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, cash, etc).
My current favorite is the Pacsafe Citysafe, which is especially great for tourist destinations because it has many anti-theft features designed to deter pickpockets plus RFID technology to keep your credit card digits safe.
It also transitions to a night bag more easily and won’t embarrass you if you go to dinner directly after sightseeing all day.
Arkansas Travel Resources
Looking to make the most of your Arkansas adventures? Check out these Arkansas travel resources!
Statewide Arkansas Guides
Little Rock Guides
Arkansas City & Town Guides
Included in these Southern USA Round-Ups
Included in These USA Round-Ups
Guidebooks I Used to Plan My Trip Around the South
These are the travel guidebooks that I used to plan my entire 5-week Southern USA road trip. I highly recommend each of them!
Lonely Planet Florida & the South’s Best Trips – this book was essential for me when I was trying to plan our road trip and understanding what was near each other and what absolutely not to miss.
Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events that Made the Movement – we did a lot of Civil Rights and Civil War historic sites on our trip, and if you’ll be doing any of this kind of travel, make sure to get this.
It was invaluable for finding off-the-beaten-path sites and can’t miss Black-owned historic businesses.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance
It’s especially important to get travel insurance whenever you are more than one hundred miles from home.