Little Rock’s Most Historic Destinations
As one of the most influential sites in the American Civil Rights movement, Little Rock is home to a plethora of historical attractions for families to enjoy.
- The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, built to mirror a bridge, fits in with the city’s landscape. Exhibits showcase Clinton’s presidency through videos, photos and 1990s memorabilia.
- Once known as the most beautiful high school in America, Central High School is now a historic landmark for its role in school desegregation. The school is still operating today, and visitors can go across the street to see its museum and visitor’s center. The museum has interactive exhibits on the Little Rock Nine story, a major event in civil rights history.
- The Arkansas State Capitol building may look familiar. The building was designed to replicate the U.S. Capitol and has even been used as such in movies. Along with exquisite chandeliers, bronze doors and a gold-plated dome, statues of the nine Little Rock students from Central High School are on the north lawn— the only civil rights memorial located on capitol grounds in a Southern state. Tours of the Capitol are available.
- The Museum of Discovery is a great family destination that combines learning and fun. Browse its interactive touring exhibits such as “Grossology” and “How People Make Things.” Feel what a tornado is like in Tornado Alley Theater and participate in activities to discover new things about science.
Hot Spots in Hot Springs
The city is rightfully named for its 47 local hot springs, but beyond the obvious Hot Springs is home to many other astounding Arkansas attractions.
- For centuries people from around the world have come to bathe in the area’s mineral waters. Take an old-fashioned bath in one of the bathhouses in Hot Springs National Park. Bathhouse Row in the downtown area of Hot Springs dates from the early 1900s. Aside from the hot springs, the park features trails and campgrounds in oak and hickory forests.
- Magic Springs and Crystal Falls water and theme park offer water rides and roller coasters. With cabanas scattered throughout the park, your family can sit back and relax for a break from the adrenaline rush. The park also has a concert series with live entertainment.
- Plan some fun for the kids, who can pet a live alligator at Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. It features approximately 150 alligators, a petting zoo with a mini donkey, sheep and goats, a small museum and other exotic animals. The farm offers alligator feeding shows in the summer.
- Garvin Woodland Gardens are the University of Arkansas’ botanical gardens. Surrounded by the Ouachita Mountains, the gardens feature beautiful bridges, a waterfall, a pavilion for picnics, and of course, a lot plants and flowers. The gardens are especially known for the Anthony Chapel Complex and meditation garden. With big windows bringing nature indoors, the chapel is host to many wedding ceremonies.
The Natural Side of Northwest Arkansas
In the Northwest, astounding Arkansas attractions include museums, caverns, springs and parks.
- Fayetteville is home to the Arkansas Air and Military Museum at Drake Field. The state has an impressive history in aviation with Fayetteville’s Richard Covey who flew the city’s flag on the space shuttle Discovery. The museum features hangar planes from World War II, an engine from World War I and memorabilia of Northwest Arkansas World War I flying ace Field Kindley.
- In Bentonville, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will inspire your group with indoor exhibits and scenic trails on the grounds. Bentonville Square is home of the Walmart Visitor Center, located in the original Walton’s 5 & 10. The original floor tiles and tin ceiling are still intact, and the store has toys, candy and books. Your family can peruse the interactive exhibit gallery to learn about Walmart and the Walton family.
- Blanchard Springs Caverns in Ozark National Forest offers four exciting tours underground. Featuring an underground river and the world’s largest flowstone, the trails range in accessibility. Blanchard Springs also has camping, fishing, hiking trails and swimming areas. The Ozark National Forest has the state’s tallest mountain, Mt. Magazine, and a beautiful waterfall.
- America’s first national river, Buffalo River, is known for great whitewater floating, springs, caves, waterfalls, natural bridges and canyons. Fishing, rock climbing, canoeing and horseback riding are all possible in a scenic environment with wildlife such as elk and black bears. Campgrounds, cabins and other lodging are available in the area.
- Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park is one of the most intact Civil War battlefields in the country. The battle on these grounds marked the last major fight of the Civil War in Northwest Arkansas with about 2,700 casualties. The site offers a museum, tours and, at certain times of the year, reenactments and demonstrations.
- War Eagle Mill in Eureka Springs is a historical site with trails and a gristmill originally used to grind grain for flour. The family rebuilt the mill three times, the third after it was burnt to the ground so Union soldiers couldn’t use it for food. Near the mill, War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake offers guided tours, panning for fossils and gems, a maze and other astounding Arkansas attractions.
- The Fort Smith Museum of History offers exhibits displaying the history of the second largest city in the state, Fort Smith. Collections include antique tools, a 1908 American Fire Engine Company steam pumper and a working, old-fashioned soda fountain. Fort Smith also features a historic site with the visitor’s center located in the old jail/courthouse.
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