Don’t miss these 10 memorable and unique attractions when you visit Little Rock

One of the best views of Little Rock is from the Junction Bridge

Little Rock is the largest city in Arkansas and while it may not be on your travel radar, it should be. It’s a pleasant and welcoming city brimming with history and cultural attractions that are sure to delight you. Here are 10 that shouldn’t be missed:

Find the little rock the town was named after

The story goes that Little Rock got its name from the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe in 1722 who had been paddling for days along the Arkansas River, a major tributary of the Mississippi, when he spotted a noteworthy rock formation he dubbed the “Little Rock” (le petit rocher). Portions of the outcropping remain as part of the foundation of the Junction Bridge and an easily accessible plaque is there to commemorate the spot in lovely Riverfront Park.

Take a walk through a delightful sculpture garden

A short distance away from the Little Rock in Riverfront Park, you’ll find the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden, a remarkable collection of public art that boasts more than 90 different works of art valued at more than $4 million. Spread out over 33 acres, the garden’s sculptures range from the massive to the minute and are sure to inspire you.

Check out one of the world’s only purse museums

Located in a large storefront space in a historic building that has had many previous lives, such as a wholesale tobacco and a candy store, ESSE Purse Museum is one of only two museums in the world dedicated solely to women’s purses. It’s a bright space with several showcases displaying purses and the items their owners may have carried. Each display represents a different decade and the walls are decorated with oversized photos of women from different eras and numerous artworks that help set the mood.

Get historical at a presidential library

The life and times of Arkansas’ most famous son, former president Bill Clinton, are celebrated at his presidential library and museum on the bank of the Arkansas River near downtown Little Rock. This magnificent, modern building houses not only millions of documents from the last American president to operate in a mostly analog world, but also houses a fascinating museum that chronicles the timeline of his presidency. Much of it is housed in a towering room modelled after the famed library of Trinity College, but what people seem to be most attracted to are recreations of the cabinet room where he met with his advisors and a perfect reproduction of the Oval Office, complete with a copy Resolute Desk where you can pose for photos.

Learn about Little Rock’s Black history

Little Rock has a significant African American population with a long history so it’s only fitting that there is a museum that tells their story. Known as The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center after a Black fraternal organization founded in 1883 that was headquartered in the location, the museum’s exhibits highlight fraternal organizations, African American entrepreneurs as well as integration. It’s also home to the The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame which has honoured some incredible people during its history.

World-class art in Arkansas? Little Rock has you covered

If you thought Little Rock was some kind of backwater, think again. This thriving city is filled with numerous cultural offerings that rival those of much larger cities, including the incredible Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. Its permanent collection features more than 14,000 works of art, primarily from Europe and the Americas, dating from the late 14th century to the present. Strengths include 19th- through 21st-century works on paper with a focus on drawing, contemporary craft, and art of the American South. The stunning architecture of its original Art Deco facade and the newly-built modern addition attached to it are works of art on their own.

Marvel at the courage of the Little Rock Nine

There’s only one active high school in the United States that is a national historic site and while the building itself is fairly unremarkable, the human story that it represents is not. That school is Little Rock Central High School and it became famous on September 4, 1957 when the world’s news media came to witness what would become a flashpoint in America’s Civil Rights struggle. It’s where nine Black teenagers, the Little Rock Nine, tried to become the first to study at the all-White school. Visitors can learn about this vital event in American history through the skillful telling of a park ranger who will guide visitors along the Little Rock Nine’s footsteps.

Step back in time in Little Rock’s oldest remaining buildings

The Historic Arkansas Museum preserves more than just artefacts, it preserves a block of some of Little Rock’s and Arkansas’ oldest structures, including several log homes and the city’s oldest building, the 1827 Hinderliter Tavern. Visitors can interact with costumed characters from the past who demonstrate pioneer life on the museum’s historic grounds. Inside, there are several works of art and other unique objects to admire, including one of America’s finest Bowie Knife collections.

Ride an historic electric streetcar

Little Rock is a walkable city, but sometimes you’d rather ride than walk. Rather than take a taxi or drive your car, why not take a seat on an historic electric streetcar? The Metro Streetcar, formerly known as the River Rail Streetcar, is a two-line heritage streetcar system that connects downtown Little Rock with the North Little Rock entertainment district, providing a scenic and convenient way to explore both sides of the river. The trolley stops at many downtown attractions, from the Clinton Library to the historic River Market.

Hotels in Little Rock, Arkansas

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