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Little Rock, Arkansas

Local Details

Learn more about Little Rock, Arkansas using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes Little Rock, Arkansas so great!

Current Temperature

City Guide

Little Rock became the capital of Arkansas, United States, in 1836. The city population was 184,564 (643,272*) in 2005. The Combined Statistical area population which includes Pine Bluff had 819,469 people in 2005. Temperatures range from the upper 90s (F) in the summer, peaking in August and September, to below freezing in December and January. The most pleasant times of year to visit are fall and spring; the changing of the leaves in fall is particularly enticing.

Understand

Central High: 50 Years

September 23, 2007 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Central High integration crisis. Learn more at http://www.lrsd.org/centralhigh50th/default.cfm.

Little Rock derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called La Petite Roche (the "little rock"). The "little rock" was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing. The original historic "little rock" was later dynamited and used as a foundation for a railroad bridge, but its location can be visited in downtown's Riverfront Park.

Little Rock is located at the first high that upstream travelers on the Arkansas River came to, and so was a logical place to found a settlement. When it became apparent that the original capital of Arkansas Territory, Arkansas Post, was too subject to flooding, the seat of government was moved to Little Rock in 1819.

Little Rock lies at the center of the state, more-or-less where the Ozark Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains, and the Mississipi Alluvial Plain (the "Delta") come together. Traveling east from Little Rock, you traverse flat land nearly all the way to the Mississippi River, whereas traveling west you quickly enter hilly country.

Little Rock is Arkansas's largest city, as well as the state capital and major economic center (although northwestern Arkansas, with Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, and major trucking firms, is rapidly gaining). Little Rock is home to the state's only medical school, as well as one of the two branches of the University of Arkansas law school.

Get in

By plane

Little Rock National Airport (IATA: LIT) (ICAO: KLIT), The Little Rock airport is located just east of downtown Little Rock roughly 10 minutes from the Clinton Presidential Library. It is served by all major airlines (except United, which will begin service here from Denver and Washington-Dulles in September).

By train

Amtrak's Texas Eagle serves Little Rock from Los Angeles and Chicago, but the schedule is late at night and not very reliable.

By car

Little Rock lies roughly near the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 30, about two hours west of Memphis, five hours east of Oklahoma City, and five hours northeast of Dallas.

Interstates 430 and 440 nearly encircle the metropolitan area, and Interstate 630 runs from downtown westward to end at Interstate 430.

By bus

Greyhound Lines has a terminal in North Little Rock. (tel. 501-372-3007)

By boat

The Delta Queen visits Little Rock occasionally; check the official website of Majestic America Line for more information.

Get around

By train

  • River Rail Trolleys

In November of 2004, in time for the grand opening of the Clinton Library, Little Rock's River Rail Trolley system was completed. Children ride free; adult fare is 50 cents per ride, or $2 for a day pass. The trolley will take you to most of the major downtown attractions, as well as across the Arkansas River to downtown North Little Rock.

You can pick up a River Rail schedule from any of the hotels or downtown attractions. It passes by every 15 minutes or so. The trolley is a fun, easy way to get around downtown Little Rock.

By car

If you'd like to see more than Downtown, a car is your best bet.

While taxis aren't as common a sight in Little Rock as they are in Dallas or Atlanta, they are available. You'll definitely be able to find one at the airport, and probably you'll see one pass through downtown if you're patient. A better plan would be to call in advance. You can call Capitol Cab at (501) 570-9999.

If you're renting a car: I-630 runs from east/west from downtown to the edge of west Little Rock; for most attractions you won't go too far north or too far south of 630.

The River Rail streetcar tracks on Markham, Second, and Third Streets near the River Market and Clinton Library in downtown Little Rock and Main and Maple Streets in North Little Rock present a hazard to street parking. It would probably be wise to walk or ride the trolleys to visit these streets.

By bus

  • City Bus Schedule

Unlike the River Rail Trolleys, the city bus travels city-wide. One way fare is $1.10 for adults.

See

East Little Rock

The eastern edge of Little Rock is sparsely populated but is a vital economic area, as Little Rock National Airport and Little Rock River Port are both located here.

  • Aerospace Education Center, 3301 East Roosevelt Road, (501) 376-4629. Located at Little Rock National Airport. Features a collection of historic aircraft, an IMAX theatre, and the EpiSphere, the world's first single-projector digital planetarium. The aircraft collection includes an authentic Sopwith Camel, the only one in the United States and one of only seven still in existence. A branch of the Central Arkansas Library System is also located here.
  • Audubon Society Little Rock Nature Center

Downtown

Most of Little Rock's greatness is found in its downtown area.

  • William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Park, 1200 President Clinton Avenue, (501) 374-4242, The eleventh Presidential Library of the National Archives and Records Administration, and the largest in the system, is dedicated to a fellow Arkansan and the 42nd President, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton. A huge collection of memorabilia from Clinton's two terms as President, including a replica of the Oval Office.
  • Museum of Discovery, 500 President Clinton Av., Suite 150, Toll Free: (800) 880-6475, Science and history museum with interactive exhibits. Great for kids. M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Sun 1PM-5PM. Adults $6.35, children $5.85.
  • The River Market, Open 7AM to 6PM, M-Sa. There are more than a dozen permanent vendors, and Farmer's Markets on Tuesdays & Saturdays from 7AM to 3PM, May through October.
  • Riverfront Park This beautiful downtown park overlooking the Arkansas River is the site of La Petite Roche ("the little rock"), the rock formation for which the city is named. In addition, the park hosts the annual Riverfest celebration every Memorial Day weekend. An outdoor amphitheatre for concerts is also located here.
  • Peabody Hotel Ducks (see "Sleep" below for website) Even if you aren't planning on staying at Little Rock's first class Peabody Hotel, stop by and see the ducks that swim in the fountain in the lobby. They march to/from the fountain at 11AM and 5PM, daily. (Also be sure to visit the Peabody Memphis and Peabody Orlando.)

The west's oldest newspaper

The Arkansas Gazette has the distinction of being the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi. It was first published in 1819, though today it is now called the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as a result of a merger with the Arkansas Democrat. The Gazette's original print shop still exists on the grounds of the Historic Arkansas Museum. It contains a replica movable type printing press, which actors use to demonstrate how newspapers were printed long before the steam age.

  • Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. Third Street, Tel: (501) 324-9351, Preserves four historic antebellum homes, also has a gallery with changing exhibits. General admission: Free. Guided tours: Adults $2.50, Children $1
  • The Old State House 300 W. Markham, 501-324-9685. M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. For you history buffs, the Old State House is the oldest surviving state capitol building west of the Mississippi, where you can see the old House of Representatives Chamber. Among some of the exhibits are the Arkansas First Ladies' Gowns, and John Barleycorn Must Die: The War against Drink in Arkansas. If you have kids, don't miss Grandmother's Cottage, a hands-on room where visitors can examine with a variety of objects from the 1920s-30s. Free.
  • MacArthur Park, featuring the Arkansas Arts Center and MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History This city park is built around the Old Arsenal, where Douglas MacArthur was born in 1880. Take a loaf of bread along and you can feed the numerous ducks at MacArthur Park. Lots of room to walk around, picnic, and play. The Arts Center includes a children's theatre and a wonderful art gallery. The Arts Center itself is home to works of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe, Rembrandt and Dale Chihuly, to name a few. Children's Theatre productions are on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the school year. The MacArthur Museum is housed in its namesake's birthplace and features military-related exhibits from the nineteenth century to the present. Also located in the park is the Arkansas Korean War Memorial which was unveiled on June 25, 2007.
  • Quapaw Quarter, Adjacent to downtown Little Rock is a residential area made up of 19th century Victorian homes, including the Governor's Mansion. Most of the homes are privately owned; however, twice a year (the first weekend in May and the first weekend in December), several of the homes are opened to the public and can be toured. Of note is the Villa Marre, dating from 1881, which was the home used in the TV sitcom 'Designing Women.'
  • Arkansas Governor's Mansion, 1800 Center Street, (501) 324-9805, No admission for tours, but they must be scheduled in advance.
  • Central High School National Historic Site & Museum, 2125 Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive, Phone: (501) 374-1957, M-Sa 9AM-4:30PM, Su 1PM-4:30PM. Free. This National Historic Site is dedicated to the Central High integration crisis of 1957. The visitor center (currently a contemporary gas station across from the school; a new, larger building is scheduled to open in September 2007) houses a permanent exhibition on the event and the iconic facade of the school can be viewed from across the street. Reservations are required for a tour of the school as it is an operating school.
  • Arkansas State Capitol Building, M-F 7AM-5PM. The state capitol is of some interest as it is a scaled down replica of the US Capitol building, and as a result, it has been used in several movies. The Arkansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Arkansas Law Enforcement Memorial are located on the grounds.
  • Mount Holly Cemetery, 1200 South Broadway. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and known by the nickname "The Westminster Abbey of Arkansas", this historic nineteenth-century cemetery is the final resting place for many noteworthy Arkansans.

Midtown

  • War Memorial Park featuring the Little Rock Zoo and War Memorial Stadium. The zoo is home to many different animals from all over the world. In addition, the zoo's entrance plaza contains "Over the Jumps: The Arkansas Carousel", a National Register of Historic Places entry with an unusual distinction - it's the world's only waving carousel. The stadium hosts three University of Arkansas home football games, high school football, and concerts. A golf course is also located here.

West Little Rock

  • Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Scaling Pinnacle can be accomplished easily in an afternoon. The peak provides a great view of the Arkansas River and the surrounding country. No climbing experience necessary. West trail up the mountain is fairly easy; East trail is much steeper. Several miles of trails allow hikes of various lengths; there's also canoeing and fishing (an Arkansas fishing license is required) on the Little Maumelle and Big Maumelle rivers. Good birdwatching and wildflower-looking. The Ouachita National Recreation Trail starts here and goes all the way to Oklahoma.

North Little Rock

North Little Rock is an independent city just across the Arkansas River from downtown Little Rock.

  • Alltel Arena, For major concerts and sporting events.
  • Dickey-Stephens Park hosts the Arkansas Travelers baseball team (see "Do" below).
  • Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, 120 Riverfront Park Drive, 501-371-8320. Tour the WWII era submarine USS Razorback, named after a red-skinned South Pacific whale, not the University of Arkansas mascot (submarines were named after aquatic animals during WWII).
  • The Old Mill, Lakeshore and Fairway. Famous for having been in the introductory scenes of the movie Gone With the Wind (for about six seconds).
  • Burns Park One of the largest city parks in the country, alongside the Arkansas River. Two golf courses, hiking and bike trails, playgrounds, soccer fields, baseball fields, and a miniature amusement park.

Do

  • Conventions are held at the Statehouse Convention Center and Robinson Center located downtown. The Statehouse Convention Center is connected to the Peabody Hotel. Robinson Center contains a performing arts theatre and is home to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Arkansas.

Annual Events

  • Arkansas State Fair, Held every October. Dates for 2007 are October 12-21.
  • Even when the Arkansas State Fair is not in season, the State Fairgrounds host many special events.
  • Riverfest, Arts and music festival held every Memorial Day weekend.
  • Greek Food Festival, Held every May at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 1100 Napa Valley Drive, in west Little Rock.
  • World Fest, Multicultural celebration held in MacArthur Park. Dates for 2007 are September 21 and 22.

Sports and Leisure

For those who want to get off the beaten path, Little Rock offers a wide range of sports and leisure activities.

  • The Arkansas River Trail, A great place to exercise by walking, running, or bicycle. The trail runs from downtown Little Rock west along the Arkansas River to the Big Dam Bridge, crosses it, and runs back east to downtown North Little Rock. Soon you'll be able to make a circuit when the downtown hike-bike bridges over the river are finished.
  • Take a river cruise on the Arkansas Queen Riverboat Lunch and dinner cruises with live entertainment are available.
  • Arkansas Skatium, 1311 Bowman Road, 501-227-4333. Dual ice and roller skating facility. Learn how to figure skate or play hockey if you don't know already.
  • Golf is a popular activity in Little Rock. Both public and private courses; country club membership may apply.
  • Riley's Health and Fitness Centers Four locations.
  • Jim Dailey Aquatic and Fitness Center, 300 South Monroe, (501) 664-6976. Located in War Memorial Park.
  • Wild River Country, 6820 Crystal Hill Road, North Little Rock. 501-753-8600. This waterpark, the largest in Arkansas, makes the perfect getaway during hot and humid weather. (Note: open only during spring and summer.) Located across the Arkansas River from west Little Rock.
  • Willow Springs, 3903 Willow Lake Road, 501-888-4148. Another great waterpark, also the oldest in Little Rock, open since 1928. Located south of downtown.
  • YMCA of Metropolitan Little Rock, Westside branch in West Little Rock, Carver branch downtown, and Heflin branch in North Little Rock.
  • See a movie at UA Breckenridge Village 12 (1200 Breckenridge Drive, 501-224-0990) or Rave Motion Pictures Colonel Glenn 18 (18 Colonel Glenn Plaza Drive, 501-687-0499). Both cineplexes have stadium seating and surround sound.
  • Gator Park, 11411 W. Baseline Road/11000 S. Interstate 30, (501) 455-3750. Miniature golf, go-carts, bumper boats; perfect for kids.

Live Theatre

  • Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 601 Main Street, 1-866-6THEREP, Live stage performances.
  • The Village 3915 South University Avenue, 501-570-0300. A new concert venue housed in a local landmark - the UA Cinema 150, a circular movie theatre from the 1960s.
  • Murry's Dinner Playhouse 6323 Colonel Glenn Road, 501-562-3131. Enjoy both a gourmet buffet meal and a live stage production at this local favorite, open since 1967.

Professional Sports

  • Arkansas Travelers Class AA minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Plays in the new Dickey-Stevens Park in North Little Rock.
  • Arkansas RimRockers member of the NBA Development League. Plays in Alltel Arena. (not playing for the 2007-08 season, and not yet known about the following season)
  • Arkansas Twisters arena football team also in Alltel Arena.

Learn

  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Philander Smith College

Buy

  • Park Plaza, 6000 West Markham. Midtown mall with two Dillard's stores and more than 80 other retailers.
  • Midtowne Center, across University Avenue from Park Plaza, features upscale retailers Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and The Bombay Company.
  • The Heights A midtown neighborhood with a small-town charm.
  • McCain Mall, 3929 McCain Blvd. in North Little Rock. Dillard's, JCPenney, MMCohn, and Sears.
  • Lakewood Village, next door to McCain Mall.
  • River Market District, Numerous retailers downtown.
  • The Shoppes at North Hills (Coming Soon!) This open-air center in North Little Rock will be anchored by Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.

Eat

Downtown

  • Boscos, Good microbrewery with upscale pizza, pub food, and more.
  • Gusano's, Chicago style pizza and bar located in the River Market.
  • Juanita's Cafe and Bar, A long-time favorite Mexican restaurant downtown that often features name bands in the adjoining bar.
  • Sticky Fingerz Rock & Roll Chicken Shack, has a musical lineup worth checking out while you're in town.
  • Vinos, Vinos is billed as Little Rock's original brewpub and serves handcrafted ales, pizza, calzones, and is the place in Arkansas to find premiere alternative entertainment, but it also makes for a fine restaurant. The place for LR's tattoo and piercing crowd, but also friendly to older folks.

Budget

  • Buffalo Grill A traditional LR favorite for burgers, fries (excellent), nachos, sandwiches, beer, etc., etc. It's all nicely done. Locations in the Riverdale area and in west Little Rock.
  • Damgoode Pies Locations on Cantrell Road and in Hillcrest with good pizza.
  • The Oyster Bar A longtime neighborhood favorite in Stifft Station-Hillcrest with shrimp, oysters, po-boys, and draft Bass and Guinness. A contender for best jukebox in town.
  • Pizza D'Action A smoky hangout for the young and hip crowd at Stifft Station on Markham Street. (They get around the no-smoking law by declaring themselves a bar and barring the under-21s).
  • Vino's (See Downtown)
  • Whole Hog Cafe Excellent Southern barbecue and winner of many awards (including some from the renowned Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest)

Mid-range

  • Cafe Prego Unpretentious Italian place in the Heights, with an amazing collection of ... stuff on the walls. Try the Chicken Prego, the focaccia (thicker and breadier than most), and by all means the Chocolate Creme Brulee. Outside seating in good weather.
  • Ciao A friendly Italian restaurant in a storefront on 7th Street downtown.
  • Ciao Bacci, Located in a cozy Hillcrest home converted into a restaurant (that used to be the original Andre's). Very good appetizers and entrees, extensive wine list, and open very late. A good place for dinner or for just hanging out with appetizers and wine. A little expensive, but good prices for the quality.
  • Faded Rose New Orleans and Creole/Cajun-style food might be the focus here, but it also has excellent steaks. Locations in the Riverdale area and in west Little Rock.
  • Forbidden City in Park Plaza is a quasi-elegant Chinese restaurant.
  • Franke's Cafeteria Three locations serving the finest cafeteria dishes ever.
  • Loca Luna Eclectic food: a mix of southern, Southwestern, with maybe a touch of Italian and Mexican. (Example: barbecue chicken pizza with cranberry tequila sauce.) Good nightly specials, or try the old faithful pot roast. Great meatloaf (!) at lunch. Reasonably priced wine. Outside seating.
  • Mt. Fuji Enjoy the best cuisine from Japan in a fine setting. Also has a gift shop that sells Japanese goods.
  • Star of India Lots of good Indian food for the money, from a long menu of traditional Indian dishes. Good service, and owner Sami goes out of his way to please customers. Indian beer, too.
  • Trio's Fine food and fine service in an upscale mini-mall on Cantrell Road. On nearly all locals' lists of LR favorites. Outside seating.
  • The Villa Good, reliable Italian restaurant. Thrice relocated, it has been a Little Rock institution since 1951.

Splurge

  • Brave New Restaurant, A very good, well rounded menu along the lines of New American Cuisine that is updated with the season. Beautiful view overlooking the river.
  • Ferneau Not worth it. Rude arrogant chef does not concern himself with the requests or concerns of his patrons.
  • Nu Just about as close as Little Rock comes to big-city trendiness, with good food and good wine. In the River Market district and within walking distance of the Peabody and Capital hotels.
  • Ristorante Capeo
  • Sonny Williams Steakhouse Great (if very high-priced) steakhouse in the River Market district close to the Clinton Library.

Drink

  • Vinos
  • The Flying Saucer

Sleep

The opening of the Clinton Presidential Library in 2004 nearly caused Little Rock's hotels to burst at the seams, and the number of visitors to the city is growing. It would be nearly impossible to list all the best hotels here. Note, however, that the designations of Budget, Mid-range, and Splurge do not necessarily reflect price range, and also apply to the quality of accomodations and amenities.

Budget

  • Comfort Inn and Suites Little Rock Airport 4301 East Roosevelt Rd, (501) 376-2466
  • Days Inn And Suites 3200 Bankhead Drive, 501-490-2010
  • Holiday Inn Express Airport 3121 Bankhead Drive, 1-501-490-4000
  • Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown 707 Interstate 30, (501) 687-7700
  • Comfort Inn West 300 Markham Center Dr, (501) 227-0120
  • Holiday Inn Express West 4900 Tally Road, 1-501-224-2600
  • Candlewood Suites 10520 West Markham, (877) 226-3539

Mid-range

  • Holiday Inn at the Presidential Center 600 Interstate 30, 1-501-375-2100. The closest hotel to the Clinton Library.
  • AmeriSuites Little Rock/Financial Center, 10920 Financial Center Pkwy, (501) 225-1075, Located in the heart of the financial district and only eight miles west of downtown Little Rock.
  • Wyndham Riverfront Little Rock Hotel, #2 Riverfront Place, On the north bank of the Arkansas River, in the heart of downtown North Little Rock - just one mile from the downtown Little Rock business district, seven miles from Little Rock National Airport and just a few blocks from the Statehouse Convention Center and Alltel Arena.

Splurge

  • The Peabody Hotel 3 Statehouse Plaza, (501) 906-4000. Little Rock's grand hotel, famous for its ducks.
  • The Capital Hotel Currently closed for renovation.
  • Courtyard by Marriott Downtown 521 President Clinton Avenue, 1-501-975-9800
  • Doubletree Little Rock 424 West Markham, 1-501-372-4371. Adjoins Robinson Center and is next to the Old State House.
  • Hilton Little Rock Metrocenter 925 South University, 1-501-664-5020
  • Embassy Suites 11301 Financial Centre Parkway, 1-501-312-9000
  • Crowne Plaza 201 South Shackleford (currently under construction)
  • Courtyard by Marriott West 10900 Financial Centre Parkway, 1-501-227-6000

Contact

  • Mexico has a consulate in Little Rock.
  • If you have kids with you, the Little Rock Kids website lists a wide range of activities for them to enjoy.

Stay safe

The downtown area around the major hotels and in the River Market area is safe, but if you wander too far off the beaten track you may quickly find yourself in questionable surroundings. Be sure to take a map if you're exploring the Quapaw Quarter, and don't walk around here after dark. Use the same precautions you would in any urban area.

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