Friday, May 19: Little Rock Arkansas is not high on many people’s list of places to visit. It wasn’t on mine either as we left for our week long vacation but I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed my time in the city.
On the way:
We left early in the morning (around 5:30 am) to make sure that we got there with plenty of time to explore the city. The drive was an easy one with no traffic since we did not go through any large cities (we only skirted Memphis) and we arrived in Little Rock before 11 am so we missed any morning commute traffic.
First Stop: Clinton Presidential Library
We decided to make one step before we had lunch. That stop was the Clinton Presidential Library & Museum. We had only been to the Lincoln Library in Springfield, IL so we did not know what to expect to find at the museum. The museum was two stories and in the first story, there was a replica of the cabinet room and a long corridor that was arranged based on the years of the presidency. Each year had its own panel in the center with sections based on topics surrounding them.
On the second floor there glassed in sections that held many of the gifts that President Clinton was given during his 8 years in office. Also, Bride’s favorite part of the museum was the last thing that we got to look at. There was a life-size replica of the Clinton Oval Office in the museum that we were able to walk through and take pictures in. This room not only was impressive because it was the oval office but reading about all the symbolism found in the items that are located throughout the office. Overall the museum was a great experience, and some of the artifacts are priceless pieces of American history.
Second Stop: Lunch
From the Clinton library, we walked downtown to the River Market District and had lunch at the covered food hall located in the district. The hall had multiple stands and restaurants, similar to the standard mall food court. Although this one had a variety of small and diverse stalls to choose from. You could eat from a different stall every day and could come back every day for over a week or two without eating from the same place twice.
Third Stop: Arkansas Capitols
Little Rock has some similarities to Springfield, IL. It has been the state capital for a long time and with that distinction comes the fact that there has been more than one capitol building in the city. In Little Rock, the old capitol is in the downtown district right on the river. The old capitol is open and is free for anyone to walk around and look at the displays throughout the building. The displays include the history of the building, an overview of every Arkansas governor as well as a new display focused on the first ladies of Arkansas including dresses from the first ladies, including Hilary Clinton.
Last Stop: Big Dam Bridge & Little Rock’s Running Path
Northwest of Little Rock is Big Dam Bridge. The bridge is the longest bridge in the country designed only for pedestrians and cyclists. According to the plaques at the beginning of the bridge, this was the only bridge ever designed to be added to a dam. All other bridges that span dams were designed as part of the dam structure but when this dam was built it was not meant to have a bridge over the dam.
Little Rock’s Riverfront Running/Cycling Path
*I am planning a larger, more in-depth post of this path later*
The bridge is a focal point of a 16-mile run/bike path that spans both sides of the Arkansas river. The path connects Big Dam Bridge to a bridge near the Clinton Presidential Library. The path is really developed and you can tell that Little Rock, as a city, is committed to making this path part of its community. The path connects the Riverfront outdoor amphitheater, the Clinton Presidential Library, the Big Dam Bridge, Junction Bridge (pictured to the left behind Bride) and everything in between. I am looking forward to coming back to Little Rock someday and spending some quality time pounding the pavement on the riverfront trail.
Overall, Little Rock has plenty of stuff to keep you busy for a long weekend or even a little longer. It has a great mix of history, modern entertainment, and a great path to workout on.
Look for another post on our next city later this week!