7 things to do in Little Rock

by | Sep 19, 2023

I had a fun and low key time in Little Rock. I grew up hearing about the Arkansas as Bill Clinton campaigned for the presidency.

I boiled everything down to 7 things you should probably do.

1. William J. Clinton Library and Museum

The museum is adjacent Arkansas River and the shaped like a bridge, a reference to Bill Clinton’s theme for his presidency: “Bridge to the 21st Century.” There’s a pedestrian bridge that I walked on that takes you to the other side of the river. You’ll get a nice view of the Little Rock skyline, too.

As soon as you walk into the museum, you’ll feel the openness, big windows, and sunshine. Greeting you is the gift store and presidential limousine. There were only a few people at the museum, so it felt like I had the whole place to myself. The main exhibit is modeled after Trinity College Library in Dublin. You’ll see stacks of blue binders everywhere, which represent a small percentage of the entire archive in the collection.


  • Orientation video narrated by President Clinton
  • Full replica of his Oval Office where you can sit at the desk and get a picture
  • Cabinet room with the long table and chairs
  • Clinton’s saxophones
  • State Dinner invitations, menus like the one the Clintons hosted for Václav Havel (the last President of Czechoslovakia) and his wife
  • Congressional Gold Medals for the Little Rock Nine
  • Metrics! Clinton showcases how many metrics improved during the 1990s like the number of democracies, fewer nuclear warheads, increased trade volume
  • Every year of his presidency has a large panel that shows what was going on in world events as well as his key accomplishments. For example, 1993 has a picture of Michael Jordan drenched in champagne as well as NAFTA being signed.
  • Some family history: I found the President’s itinerary for a trip he took to the Middle East on which my father joined him.
  • Other key achievements: Good Friday Agreement signed in Northern Ireland, Minimum wage increased, Dayton Peace Accord Signed, Welfare reform enacted.
  • Facing the panels are thematic coves where discrete topics are explored like Science and Technology, The Fight For Power (which examines Clinton’s impeachment).
  • Exhibits that extol Hillary Clinton’s work as First Lady and Al Gore as Vice President.


2. Central High School

This school was forced to desegregate in 1957 after a Supreme Court ruling. Nine black students that are known as the “Little Rock Nine” were not allowed to enter the school. The confrontation squared Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas against President Dwight Eisenhower. The school is now a National Historic Landmark.

Schedule a tour and park at the visitor center or nearby. The school is majestic and has a reflection pool, with two staircases leading up to the main entrance area.

Across the street from the visitor center is a tranquil commemorative garden.

3. State Capitol

The Capitol Building is august and beautiful. It’s at the end of Capitol Street and there’s a large, grassy green mall in front of it. The building looks similar to the US Capitol. In fact, TV and filmmakers have used this building as a stand-in for the US capitol.

4. Old State House

If you want to learn about Arkansas political history, check out this museum.

It’s the original state capitol building with exhibits such as the “1836 House of Representatives Chamber” and “First Ladies of Arkansas: Women of Their Times.”

5. The Capital Hotel

Probably the nicest hotel in town. Two restaurants: Capital Bar & Grill, One Eleven.

I went to the bar & grill and ordered what the waiter recommended: Brussels sprouts, shrimp & grits, banana pudding. All pretty good.

Go to the second floor mezzanine and chill on the balcony that overlooks West Markham Street.

6. West Markham Street

Amble down this street to get a sense of the city’s vibe. Plenty of cafes, restaurants, people-watching.

7. Restaurants

These restaurants were recommended to me but I wasn’t able to try them: