How many times have you actually been a tourist in your town?
Before summer winds down and back-to-school mode sets in, now is the perfect time to discover — or perhaps rediscover — some of Little Rock’s treasures waiting to be explored. Here’s a roadmap to 10 local gems. Dine at any number of local restaurants while you’re out and about and you’ll have a recipe for fun.
1. La Petite Roche, the city’s namesake, was discovered in 1722 by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Benard de la Harpe. Pieces of the “Little Rock” reside in Riverfront Park.
2. Little Rock is home to the nation’s only national park that contains a functioning high school. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is part of the U.S. National Park Service. It was the epicenter of the 1957 desegregation crisis when nine brave African American students — the Little Rock Nine — broke through racial barriers.
3. Little Rock has six historic landmarks along the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail spanning 14 states and the District of Columbia. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is one of the Trail’s top ten destinations.
4. Little Rock is home to Heifer International, a non-profit organization that works to end world hunger and poverty through education, empowerment and economic development. Learn more at Heifer Village and Heifer Urban Farm.
5. The Big Dam Bridge is North America’s longest pedestrian-and bicycle-intended bridge. It is built over Murray Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River and is part of a 17-mile loop along the Arkansas River Trail.
6. The Clinton Presidential Center has an exact replica of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. On the presidential park grounds — housed in the former Choctaw Train Station — is the University of Arkansas School of Public Service, the nation’s first school of its kind.
7. River Lights in the Rock, three downtown bridges spanning the Arkansas River (Main Street, Junction, Clinton Presidential Park bridges) are lit with millions of multi-colored LED lights and provide colorful shows every night at the top of each hour.
8. The Locally Labeled passport includes 11 craft breweries, two wineries and an award-winning distillery. It’s a great way to discover Little Rock’s growing adult beverage scene. Visit them all for some fun swag.
9. The Rock Region METRO Electric Streetcar runs through downtown Little Rock and is one of the nation’s few remaining heritage streetcar systems.
10. The Old State House Museum is Arkansas’s original state capitol. It is the oldest standing capitol building west of the Mississippi River. It served as the backdrop of both President Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 presidential acceptance speeches.