Central Arkansas Two-Day Tour
Tour downtown Little Rock, visit our art galleries, shop in our diverse and eclectic Little Rock River Market. Explore the city's present and past at the various museums and historic sites.
The Old State House Museum, built in 1836, served as the state's original capitol until 1911 and was the seat of both the Confederate and Unionist governments in Arkansas during the Civil War. It is now a museum of Arkansas history featuring permanent and changing exhibits and restored legislative chambers.
Four blocks east is Little Rock’s River Market District. Numerous restaurants, bars, galleries and shops along with the Arkansas Museum of Discovery, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, and the Central Arkansas Library are all found here. The museum features hands-on, high energy interactive exhibits, while the library offers computer access and quiet time for reading. The Butler Center is a treasure-trove of Arkansas history.
Keep heading east to get a look at the Clinton Presidential Library. Located on the banks of the Arkansas River, the Clinton Library houses the largest archival collection in American presidential history. The center includes the museum, the archival collection, and educational and research facilities. Special events and exhibits of national quality are a part of the library as well.
Two blocks southeast of the Little Rock River Market District is the Historic Arkansas Museum, where the state’s oldest neighborhood is preserved, comprising four original Little Rock dwellings. Also on site is a center celebrating Arkansas' cultural and material heritage with full-scale galleries and interactive exhibits.
Another great neighborhood to check out is one of Little Rock's newest, the Southside Main Street District, also known as SoMa. This historic neighborhood just across I-630 from the River Market is home to funky shops, trendy restaurants, and North America's only museum dedicated to the art of the handbag, the ESSE Purse Museum.
Explore the great outdoors and the beauty of The Natural State by heading west via La Harpe Blvd., Cantrell Road and Ark. 10 to Ark. 300. Here you’ll find Pinnacle Mountain State Park, an oasis in the bustling west Little Rock area. Take in the view of the Arkansas River, walk along one of the trails or, if you’re ambitious, climb to the top of Pinnacle Mountain for an incredible view of the Arkansas River Valley.
Or if you prefer to stay in the downtown Little Rock area, take a stroll along the Arkansas River Trail, which runs parallel to the river behind The Little Rock Marriott and Statehouse Convention Center. While there, be sure and check-out the city’s namesake: La Petite Roche. The “little rock” has a wonderful new park—La Petite Roche Plaza—on the river that highlights and explains the importance of “the little rock.”
Back downtown, the Little Rock River Market District offers dining options from upscale to down-home, as well as nighttime entertainment with restaurants and bars featuring live music, dueling pianos and karaoke.
Take off for a day of shopping and “parking” by traveling southeast via I-40, I-440 and U.S. 165 toward the small farming community of Scott where the feel of “Old South” prevails. Take a quick detour off U.S. 165 onto Alexander Road (by Scott School) where the Scott Plantation Settlement is located. Various buildings from the surrounding area have been assembled here, depicting a typical Arkansas plantation. Open to the public for self-guided, outdoor walking tours throughout the year. Large group tours through the inside of the various buildings can be arranged by reservation only; 501-351-0300. Turn right onto Walkers Corner Road which takes you back to U.S. 165. Go across the highway and you’ll be at the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park (Ark. 161), where exhibits and programs interpret the history of cotton agriculture from 1836 through World War II when agricultural practices quickly became mechanized. Exhibits include early cultivation tools, the blacksmith shop and rare cotton gins.
After lunch continue south on U.S. 165 where you’ll see Plum Bayou Mounds Archeological State Park, formerly Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park. This National Historic Landmark preserves and interprets the state's tallest Native American mounds and includes a visitor center with exhibits, audio visual theatre and archeological research lab. Park interpreters lead site tours along two trails: the ¾-mile barrier-free trail and the 1.6 mile turf trail.
If you’re a serious shopper, you might want to bypass the park and head straight to the booming metropolis of Keo (population 235). Visit some local favorite shops like Old Gin Antiques. After all the shopping, drop in at Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets, housed in an old apothecary shop, before heading back to Little Rock. Decadent homemade desserts are the star attraction here, whether it’s a piece of pie or cake, or a wonderful ice cream concoction. Other selections on the menu are excellent as well.