Downtown Little Rock is bordered on the south by I-70, by the I-30 on the east, the State Capitol area to the west and to the north by the Arkansas River. Ever-bustling, Little Rock continues to grow beyond these borders.
If you are in downtown Little Rock, then you are close to what is becoming the most popular spot in town. The historic
The city of Little Rock has done its best to keep the momentum going. From May through September, you'll find Big Downtown Thursdays, a sort of public happy hour held each week. Memorial Day weekend's annual
Just a short way from the River Market is the Quapaw Quarter, which is known for its section of restored 19th Century homes and its business district. Most of the homes are privately owned, so access is mainly limited to walking and driving tours. However, many of the quarter's homes are opened for tours at various points in the year under the direction of the Landmarks Trust Association.
The Annual Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour takes place in May, while December brings the Christmas Open House. Other historic landmarks are open to the public for tours at various points throughout the year, including the
North Little Rock
The city just north of the river, North Little Rock, has its own personality and is not to be outdone by its bigger cousin. Formerly known as Argenta, this municipality has preserved its own local history. The old mill in
The Argenta Historic District is a large area that includes city hall, several churches and a military post. North Little Rock is also the site of the newly built
West Little Rock
West Little Rock is the fastest growing area of the city. The easiest route here from downtown is to take I-630 west until the interstate ends and runs into Shackleford Road. West Little Rock is the part of suburbia where large numbers of new upper middle class homes are being built and where a wide variety of restaurants like
The area west of downtown along Markham Street is known as the Hillcrest Historic District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this area is one of the city's earliest residential areas, with homes dating from the early part of the 20th century.
The Heights is a trendy, upscale area on the north-central side of town with its own particular flavor, almost as if it were a mini-village in itself. Here you will find quaint gift shops, exclusive boutiques, restaurants like
University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), the home of the Trojans, is spread over an area west of downtown. The Trojan basketball team plays at North Little Rock's
Little Rock has something to offer every traveler, from fine luxury accommodations and unique antebellum comforts to the thrifty convenience of modern chains.
If your aim is to stay in the lap of luxury, look no further than downtown's elegant Capital Hotel, which has been in operation for more than 100 years. For another stab at luxury, try the Arkansas Excelsior Hotel, with its glass elevators and spectacular view of the Arkansas River, or the Doubletree Little Rock, which offers downtown convenience along with such amenities as a fitness center and a pool. All three hotels are within easy walking distance of the River Market.
North Little Rock
In North Little Rock, meanwhile, the Hilton Inn North Little Rock Riverfront is the place to come for the ultimate pampering. Go all out here and enjoy the Presidential Suite and its private hot tub. Country Inn & Suites is just a few minutes from downtown, and offers guests a fresh, complimentary breakfast. Select suites come with a whirlpool.
West Little Rock
Those looking to get down to business in West Little Rock will find plenty of options. The Courtyard by Marriott offers all of the luxuries expected from the Marriott name. The Comfort Inn has rooms that come with microwave and refrigerator. Ramada Limited provides a range of amenities with the business traveler in mind. Amerisuites Hotel provides complimentary airport transportation. Many area hotels offer suites, including Residence Inn. Baymont Inn & Suites is located next to many popular shops and restaurants. Extended StayAmerica's suites include full kitchens, perfect for those in town for long periods. Suite Options also provides extended-stay travelers with apartment settings in its 10 locations across the Little Rock metropolitan area.
The Days Inn offers comfortable rooms and free transportation to the airport, saving you the hassle. Close to the airport, the Holiday Inn Express Little Rock Airport offers all that you'd expect from this chain, with business facilities, a pool and the Bobbisox Lounge. Days Inn, Super 8 Motel and Motel 6 Southeast all have locations south of town, and are chain mainstays in the world of accommodations.
Pinnacle Vista Lodge is on the west edge of town, allowing easy access to both downtown and Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Enjoy an evening in front of the cozy fireplace in the Great Room, or unwind with a game of billiards; there is also a restaurant on site. Another option is Markham Inn, a simple place to stay near the University of Arkansas at Little Rock that will not break your budget. On the south side of town is the Knights Inn, which is close to the airport, yet away from all the traffic congestion. With great rates, friendly service and features such as a pool and truck parking, it is an easy place to pull into and stay for the night.
Explorer Hernando de Soto first crossed the Mississippi River into what is now Arkansas in 1541. Since he did not find the fabled gold he was seeking, the Spanish who were backing him soon lost interest in the area.
Years later, in 1722, French explorer Bernard de La Harpe brought attention to the area again, making note of rock formations on the banks of the Arkansas River that he referred to as "La Petite Roche" and "La Grande Roche" ("Little Rock" and "Big Rock," respectively). The area of the little rock, near a Quapaw Indian settlement, turned out to be a convenient area for crossing the Arkansas River. La Harpe built his trading post at this point on the river. The big rock, a little further upstream, later became the site of an Army post. Today, the little rock can be seen downtown in Riverfront Park.
A trapper named William Lewis built his cabin—the first permanent home in Little Rock—at the post in 1812. When Arkansas became a territory in 1819, the capital was at Arkansas Post, a site down river. Two years later, it was moved to the bustling area of Little Rock. Incorporated as a city in 1831, Little Rock became the state capital when Arkansas was admitted into the union in 1836.
The territorial history of the city and the state is interpreted via the living history portrayals and displays at the Historic Arkansas Museum. This complex of buildings includes the territorial capital building, where the government met before Arkansas was made a state. Arkansas is unique in that it is the only state capital with three capital buildings still standing. The second is now known as the Old State House Museum, which is where the state's first governor was sworn into office in 1836. This building was the seat of government until 1911. The present capital building was only partially completed when the general assembly started sessions there in 1911, and was fully completed in 1916.
Little Rock was at the center of a tug-of-war between the Union and Confederacy during the American Civil War. Anti-Union forces seized the Federal arsenal in Little Rock in February 1861, and in May of that same year, Arkansas seceded from the Union. The Confederate state government moved to Washington, Arkansas, in 1863, after Little Rock was taken over by the Union. During the time when the Confederates were in Washington, the Union had its own state government functioning in Little Rock under the direction of Isaac Murphy. It was truly a divided state. More than 10,000 federal loyalists fought in the northern part of the state against the Confederate army.
Arkansas was readmitted to the Union in 1868, but only after a completely new Northern Republican government replaced the Murphy government. In 1874, a month-long struggle known as the Brooks-Baxter War erupted over a gubernatorial election, which ended only when President Grant ruled that Elisha Baxter was indeed the rightful governor. However, because this rule favored businesses, agricultural interests were suffering. After this debacle, Democrat Augustus H. Garland won the next election. Jeff Davis was elected Governor in 1900 on the promise of redressing the wrongs done to the agricultural community. This turn of events became known as the Agrarian Revolt.
By the 1880s, Little Rock was the center of a sinewy network of railroad lines. Much later, in 1969, the city's economy received a great boost when a series of locks and dams were opened on the Arkansas River, effectively making the city into a river port. Even today, Little Rock is the chief market center for the state, especially in terms of agriculture, lumber and bauxite.
What many consider one of the defining scenes of the civil rights movement played out in Little Rock in 1957, when nine African-American students attempted to attend Little Rock Central High School under a 1954 Supreme Court ruling against racial segregation. When the Arkansas governor called out troops in order to prevent these students from attending the school, President Eisenhower stepped in to prevent the state from interfering, and federal troops replaced the state troops. This event is now commemorated at the Central High Museum and Visitor's Center, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Little Rock rose to center stage in 1992 with the election of William Jefferson Clinton as the 42nd president of the United States. The former governor was a lifelong resident of Arkansas and a four-term governor of the state. The Clinton Presidential Library will soon be added to the list of historical and cultural jewels of this town on the river.
From the Arkansas Arts Center to the Julius Breckling Riverfront Park, Little Rock offers many exciting tour opportunities.
Arkansas State Capitol Downtown, admire the Arkansas State Capitol building, visit the Arkansas Arts Center and browse the collection at the Historic Arkansas Museum. Grab lunch at the Andina Cafe, then stroll through the peaceful Julius Breckling Riverfront Park.
River Market Artspace Also located downtown are the Old State House Museum and the Childrens Museum Of Arkansas. Stop into River Market Artspace, where all the pieces are also for sale. Enjoy the Italian fare at Ciao, then stop by the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, for a glimpse into his presidency.
Little Rock Zoo The University areas boasts the Little Rock Zoo, which is not far from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Planetarium and the UALR Art Galleries. Have dinner at Casa Viva or Chips Barbecue.
Kanis Park West Little Rock is home to Kanis Park and Arkansas Skatium, good places for recreation. The Hidden Valley Farm Pumpkin Patch is a good place for children. Enjoy a meal at Flavors Grill or Capers.
Murray Park Reflections Gallery & Fine Framing features fine art, while Local Color Gallery focuses on Arkansas artists. Murray Park is a good place to fish, then dine at Canon Grill or Cajun's Wharf.
See the best that Little Rock has to offer with a professional tour company.
Hiking Tours Historic Preservation Tours ( +1 501 324 9880/ http://www.arkansaspreservation.org/ )
Bus Tours Little Rock Tours ( +1 501 868 7287/ http://www.Littlerocktours.com ) Coach USA Little Rock ( +1 501 888 8900/ http://www.coachamerica.com ) Historic Preservation Tours ( +1 501 324 9880/ http://www.arkansaspreservation.org/ ) Arrow Coach Lines ( +1 501 663 6002 )
Streetcar Tours River Rail Electric Streetcar ( +1 501 376 4781/ http://www.littlerock.com/ )