Museums, baseball and even an old mill are enticing attractions in this charming region
With the Ozarks in the northwest, the Ouachita Mountains in the southwest and lakes and caverns across the state, Arkansas’ natural beauty is unrivaled. Arkansas’ central region is a particularly stellar location for groups, with a myriad of attractions that will appeal to visitors of all ages.
Bursting with endless activities, Little Rock features a trolley that can take you to most of the city’s attractions, so forget parking and hop on the trolley. If you want to do a good deed, you can start your trip by volunteering at Heifer International, an organization that has been working to end hunger and poverty since 1944. Heifer International works towards helping families become self-resilient by providing them with training in sustainable farming, helping farmers gain access to the market and empowering women. Guests can also visit Heifer Village, a hands-on, global educational facility that is home to interactive exhibits that provide a stimulating educational experience.
Another popular locale is Heifer Ranch in Perryville, a 1,200acre beacon of transformational education and sustainable agriculture nestled in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Guests will gain a deeper understanding of hunger and poverty, sustainable food systems and community development while experiencing a hands-on learning experience. You can also enjoy a history lesson at the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. Located within the Clinton Presidential Center along the banks of the Arkansas River, this library features rotating exhibits, a replica of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room and the largest collection of presidential papers and artifacts in U.S. history. Among the permanent exhibits, you will find photographs, videos, documents and interactive stations with a timeline highlighting domestic and foreign policies and life in the White House. Step foot in Little Rock’s oldest urban park, MacArthur Park, to visit the Arkansas Art Center and MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, both of which are located on this 36-acre property.
Find a collection of international art and special exhibitions including live theater performances, lectures, films, poetry slams and family festivals at the Arkansas Arts Center. The center is currently under renovations and the collections will be housed in a temporary location for most of 2020. On the soil where General Douglas MacArthur was born, within the historic Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History features exhibits of artifacts, photographs, weapons, documents and other military items to show the contributions of Arkansas men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. The Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is a standing reminder of the nine African-American students who integrated into the all-white school as a test of the Civil Rights Act in 1957. This is the only high school functioning within the boundaries of a National Historic Site. Located across the street is the museum showing the struggles the “Little Rock Nine” faced with photographs, video recordings, news clippings and more. If you’re looking for a chance to sit back and relax, look no further than Little Rock’s Rusty Tractor Vineyards, which is scheduled to open by October. The process of harvesting a bottle of wine takes about a year as they believe the use of machinery compromises the integrity of the grapes.
North Little Rock
Take a trip to The Old Mill, a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Appearing in the opening scene of the classic 1939 film Gone with the Wind, this authentic reproduction of an old water-powered grist mill was built in 1933 and made to look as if it was built in the 1800s. Spend an afternoon at either the Arkansas National Guard Museum or the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.
The National Guard Museum shows the progression of the Arkansas guard from a frontier militia to modern military through the history of Camp Robinson and Camp Pike. The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is the only place in the world you can see two floating Naval vessels that bookend in World War II. The submarine, USS Razorback (SS-394) is the longest-serving submarine in the world and was in the Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered. The USS Hogan tugboat on display moved the USS Nevada warship out of Pearl Harbor so it didn’t sink while blocking other ships from escaping. Take a seat among Dickey-Stephens Park’s 5,800 fixed seats, 24 luxury suites, three dining areas or the grass berms in this beautiful ballpark. Sitting directly across from the Arkansas River, this minor league baseball field provides one of the best urban views overlooking downtown Little Rock. The park is home of the AA minor league Arkansas Travelers.
Available for private retirement and reunion events, the Jacksonville Museum of Military History allows you to explore both the battlefield and home front of current conflicts. The museum will take you from the Battle of Reed’s Bridge to the Civil War in Arkansas.
By Lauren Wong