Have a Play Day Getaway in Central Arkansas

River Market in Little Rock
River Market in Little Rock

Get in touch with your “inner child” by revisiting some of the activities you enjoyed so much as a kid.  Opportunities abound in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Day 1

Re-experience the fun of childhood by taking a “play day” with your best gal pals.  Start in downtown Little Rock’s River Market District by visiting the Central Arkansas Nature Center where you have the opportunity to explore some "downtown" nature on the banks of the Arkansas River.  Don't miss the Museum of Discovery full of interactive, fun and challenging exhibits right next door. 

Head down the block to Riverfront Park where a good time can be had by all. A playground, time capsule markers depicting Little Rock history and a portion of the Arkansas River Trail are here. Don't miss La Petite Roche Plaza, where the capital city's name sake -- the little rock -- is displayed. This is where you can access the Junction Bridge and walk across the Arkansas River to North Little Rock. 

Or you can walk off your meal by taking the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, a renovated old Rock Island Railroad Bridge. This ramped pedestrian pathway is a terrific complement to the nearby Junction Bridge and closes the loop to the 15-mile Arkansas River Trail.

Afterwards is the chance to explore the area in a different way. Rent a bicycle at Bobby's Bike Hike Tours and Rentals in Little Rock and head off on an Arkansas River Trail adventure. 

By now, you have probably worked up an appetite. You have numerous places to eat in Little Rock so hit one of the many restaurants in the River Market, ranging from American, British to Mexican, Asian, Italian and Southern. 

A great way to end your active day is by putting on your swimsuit and playing in the splash fountain at the Peabody Park. Designed by kids, they won’t mind sharing it with you.

If you want to extend your play day into play days, then grab some shut-eye because tomorrow’s schedule is full.

Day 2

Head west, stopping at the Little Rock Zoo. Remember how much fun a trip to the zoo was? You can have that experience again by visiting with the over 700 residents, getting up close and personal with a few at the petting zoo and by riding the miniature train. Whatever you do, don’t miss the Over the Jumps Carousel at the zoo entrance. Newly restored, this iconic children’s ride is the only one of its kind left in the world. Grab a trusty steed or chariot and relive the simple joy of yesteryear.

If it’s lunch time, have a meal in a cat house – a real cat house -- Café Africa. The restored Works Projects Administration-era building, which houses the restaurant, formerly served as a home for the zoo’s big cats. 

Get on I-430 and head to west Little Rock for dinner at one of the most cheerful restaurants in town – the Purple Cow. This Arkansas-based chain, which now has locations in Texas and Virginia, has two choices for Little Rock. The original Cantrell eatery, with an old diner feel, and the newer Chenal Parkway edition both offer fun, festive atmosphere with a 1950s flavor. Spend the night at one of the many lodging properties in the area ranging from upscale to budget.