New South Culture — Thrives in Little Rock
by Nancy Gross
Revitalized Little Rock offers a lovely setting in the rolling hills between the Ouachita Mountains and the Arkansas River. This vibrant capital city is brimming with attractions from unique museums and epicurean delights, to outdoor concerts and mountain biking.
It’s also a place of profound historical significance. In 1957, nine black teenagers attended their first day of school at Little Rock Central High School, which marked the beginning of desegregation. The school is a National Historic Site with a fascinating museum nearby.
Other sites of historic significance include the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and the Mount Holly Cemetery. The original state capital of Arkansas, the Old State House Museum, is a National Historic Landmark that boasts collections of Civil War battle flags, Arkansas art pottery, maps, quilts and more.
For endless fun and entertainment, visit the River Market District. You’ll find an eclectic mix of restaurants, cultural attractions, nightlife and shopping. The annual Riverfest Arts and Music Festival is held in the magnificent downtown amphitheater.
Take a trolley ride through the 33-acre Riverfront Park to enjoy incredible river views, and explore the Sculpture Garden and History Pavilion.
Art lovers won’t want to miss the Arkansas Arts Center, known for having one of the world’s most unique collections of works on paper, including Cézanne, van Gogh, Pollock and O’Keeffe.
The Arkansas Repertory Company features productions on its 385-seat MainStage and 99-seat black box SecondStage, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents beautiful masterworks, pop and chamber concerts.
Little Rock is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts with its Big Dam Bridge, which was designed for pedestrians
and bicycles, and is built over the Murray Lock and Dam. Locals love to walk, jog or ride their bikes over the bridge and along the 15 miles of the scenic Arkansas River Trail.
At Pinnacle Mountain State Park, you can go horseback riding, biking, kayaking, fishing and hiking to the mountain’s summit for a panoramic view of the Arkansas River Valley.
Little Rock offers extraordinary natural beauty and attractions in the heart of Arkansas.
- Brave New Restaurant is an upscale spot with alfresco dining overlooking the river. Features include innovative American fare like pork, duck, veal, beef, trout and its famous chocolate crème brûlée.
- The Flying Fish is a super casual, laid-back eatery that offers great seafood, including fresh catfish, shrimp, oysters, crab legs, crawfish chowder and more.
- One Eleven at the Capital, located inside the Capital Hotel, combines flavors of Provençal France and the American South like seafood, beef, duck, lamb and chocolate soufflé with vanilla chantilly cream.
- The Pantry invites you to enjoy a down-home feel and hearty German and Czech foods like wiener schnitzel, goulash, svickova (Czech-style roast beef), house-made brats and cheese spaetzle.
Top Things To Do
- Arkansas Arts Center This art museum and center for the visual and performing arts includes a world-class international collection of art, professional theatre company, art classes, educational programs and museum shop.
- The Arkansas River Trail Hikers, cyclists, skaters and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts enjoy this beautiful 15-mile trail that winds its way across the entire metropolitan area.
- Pinnacle Mountain State Park This 2,356-acre park includes two rivers for kayaking and canoeing, plus numerous hiking and biking trails.
- River Market District The River Market stands as an unofficial cultural center in Little Rock. You’ll find an exciting mix of food vendors at Market Hall, plus galleries, music, bars and restaurants.