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Little Rock became the capital of Arkansas, United States, in 1836, and it is the hometown of former U.S. president Bill Clinton. 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.
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.
Little Rock has a small, easily navigated airport. It is located just east of downtown Little Rock, roughly 10 minutes away from the Clinton Library.
The next closest major airport is located in Memphis, TN, approximately 2 1/2 hours away by car.
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.
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.
Unlike the River Rail Trolleys, the city bus travels city-wide. One way fare is $1.10 for adults.
If you'd like to see more of Little Rock than downtown, a car is your best bet.
- Museum of Discovery (http://www.amod.org/) Science and history museum. Great for kids. 500 President Clinton Ave., Suite 150. Toll Free: (800) 880-6475. Mon-Sat 9a-5p, Sun 1p-5p. Adults $6.35, children $5.85.
- The Rivermarket (http://www.rivermarket.info/) Open 7a to 6p, Monday through Saturday. There are more than a dozen permanent vendors (http://www.rivermarket.info/vendors.html/), and Farmer's Markets on Tuesdays & Saturdays from 7a to 3p, May through October.
- Riverfest Amphitheatre (http://www.rivermarket.info/events.html/) Located on the Arkansas River just behind the Rivermarket, the amphitheatre hosts many of the concerts (http://pollstar.com/tour/searchall.pl?Content=V-BARLRRP&Date_From=Today&Date_To=08-22-2007&By=Venue&PSKey=Y&StartSearch.x=14&StartSearch.y=8/) and events that come to Little Rock.
- Peabody Hotel ducks (http://www.peabodylittlerock.com/asp/duc_home.asp?sec=vgu&sub=duc/) 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 11a and 5p, daily.
- Historic Arkansas Museum (http://www.arkansashistory.com/) Formerly known as the Territorial Restoration. 200 E. Third Street, Tel: (501) 324-9351, Adults $2.50, Children $1
- The Old State House (http://www.oldstatehouse.com/) 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. Admission is FREE, and it's open 9a-5p Mon-Sat, 1p-5p on Sun. 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.
- Arkansas Arts Center (http://www.arkarts.com/) The Arts Center bosts MacArthur Park, a children's theatre, and a wonderful art gallery. 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 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 (http://www.arkarts.com/childrens_theatre/) productions are on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the school year.
- Quapaw Quarter (http://www.loc.gov/bicentennial/propage/AR/ar-2_h_snyder5.html/) Adjacent to downtown Little Rock is a residential area made up of 19th century Victoriam 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 (http://www.arkansasgovernorsmansion.com/) 1800 Center Street. No admission for tours, but they must be scheduled in advance. Call (501) 324-9805.
- Arkansas State Capitol Building (http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/virtual_tour_02/html_version/grounds.html/) 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. 7a-5p M-F.
North Little Rock (Just across the Arkansas River from downtown Little Rock)
- Alltel Arena (http://www.alltelarena.com/index2.html/) For major concerts and sporting events.
- The Old Mill (http://www.northlr.org/attractions/) Famous for having been in the opening scenes of the movie Gone With the Wind.
See also: http://www.arkansas.com/things-to-do/nightlife/areas.asp?a=Little+Rock%2FCentral+Arkansas
- Vinos (http://www.vinosbrewpub.com/index.htm/) 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 (http://pollstar.com/tour/searchall.pl?By=Venue&Content=BARLRVI&PSKey=Y&Date=08/21/05/)(No lie), but it also makes for a fine restaurant.
Damn Good Pies
For an exhaustive list of Little Rock hotels look here (http://www.littlerock.com/lodging/).
- 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. http://little-rock.wyndham-hotels.com/
- The Peabody Hotel (downtown)
- The Capitol Hotel (downtown)
- Courtyard by Mariott (downtown)
- Embassy Suites (west Little Rock)
Downtown 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. Use the same precautions you would in any urban area.