14 Free Things To Do In Little Rock

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Known for the big role it played in American Civil Rights history, Little Rock is the capital and the largest city in Arkansas. Its river location also makes it a mecca for outdoor activities. Visitors will find many free things to do in Little Rock, AR.

Situated on the bank of the Arkansas River, the capital city of Little Rock offers visitors a mix of attractions including museums, national historic landmarks and outdoor activities. The birthplace of President Bill Clinton, Little Rock is also steeped in American history for its role in the Civil War and civil rights movement.

Historic Curran Hall, the city’s visitor center, is among a handful of antebellum homes remaining in Little Rock. Spend some time walking through the circa 1842 building and gardens. Afterwards, pick up information for free things to do in Little Rock.

Tour the Arkansas State Capitol

things to do in little rock
Visit the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock. Photo credit: Chris Rowland/Flickr Creative Commons

A good place to start your visit is with a free, guided tour at the State Capitol. Designed in the Neoclassical style, construction began in 1899 and was completed in 1915. Modeled after the nation’s Capitol, the building features Arkansas granite and six bronze doors and three chandeliers crafted by Tiffany’s of New York. Free audio tours available.

Read More: Best Things to Do in Conway Arkansas

Stop by the Old State House Museum

The Old State House Museum was Arkansas’ first capitol from 1836 until 1911 when the current capitol was completed. As the oldest standing state capitol building west of the Mississippi River,  the museum showcases American history. For example, it’s where Bill Clinton announced his campaign for presidency and celebrated his victories on election night in 1992 and 1996.

Stroll Through the River Market District

The hub of Little Rock’s downtown scene, the River Market district features international cuisine, live music, museums, a farmers market and stores. In addition, the district is home to many must-see attractions. These include the Museum of Discovery and the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden on the bank of the Arkansas River. Also, be sure to take a walk across the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge.

Visit the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center

Nestled in the heart of the River Market District, the expansive nature center showcases the region’s fish and wildlife through exhibits, trails and programs. The location along the Arkansas River allows many watchable wildlife activities. Basking water turtles, butterflies and migrating pelicans are common sights. Plus, a portion of the Arkansas River Trail crosses the site, offering more options for exploring.

Big Dam Bridge: Free Things to Do in Little Rock

Free in Arkansas
View of Big Dam Bridge from south bank of Arkansas River. Photo credit: Big Dam Bridge

The 4,226-foot long Big Dam Bridge is the world’s longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge. Located over Murray Lock and Dam, the bridge is 90 feet above the Arkansas River. The Big Dam Bridge connects over 14 miles of scenic riverside trails in the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Learn About the Little Rock Nine

free things to do in little rock
Travel to places like Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas teaches kids about the civil rights movement. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Visit the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site (a museum) to learn about the Little Rock Nine and the desegregation of Central High School. The museum is located across the street from the still operating Central High School. In 1957, the high school received international attention during the Civil Rights Movement. That’s when nine African American students made civil rights history by entering the campus they were barred from. Learn more about it at the museum’s interactive exhibit “All the World is Watching Us.”

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

Situated in MacArthur Park, the museum highlights the state’s military heritage from territorial days to the present. The Tower Building of the old U.S. Arsenal where it resides has a rich history, too. Completed in 1841, it was the birthplace of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1880.

Free Things to do in Little Rock: Historic Arkansas Museum

free things to do in little rock
The Historic Arkansas Museum traces the timeline from pioneer days to present day Little Rock. Photo credit: Mike Goad

Sometimes called HAM, the Historic Arkansas Museum is a state history museum in downtown Little Rock. Exhibits depict the history of Arkansas as it transformed from a backwoods pioneer state to one rich in artistic traditions. These include a multitude of artisans, cabinet makers, silversmiths, potters, quilters and more.

Visit the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

The center features exhibits and educational programs that promote the story of Arkansas’s African Americans from 1870 to the present. The museum’s exhibits highlight fraternal organizations and African American entrepreneurs.

Explore Pinnacle Mountain State Park

free things to do in little rock
The 1,011-foot high Pinnacle Mountain is a nice day outing. Photo credit: Eric Hunt/Flickr Creative Commons

Enjoy hiking trails, and mountain biking at this state park located west of Little Rock. Or just bring a picnic, and explore the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers. Learn about 1,011-foot high Pinnacle Mountain at interpretive programs led by park staff.

Learn About Global Issues at Heifer Village

A global education organization, Heifer International’s world headquarters are in Little Rock. Tour the platinum LEED certified building and enjoy interactive, educational exhibits at Heifer Village. Programs and activities teach about the global issues of hunger and poverty, for instance.

See the Rock

See the landmark for which the city was named. La Petit Roche (Little Rock) is situated at the north end of Rock Street in the History Pavilion in Riverfront Park. This first outcropping of rock along the Arkansas River was known to early explorers as “La Petit Roche” to distinguish it from the big rock upstream.

Have a Picnic at The Bernice Garden

Located in downtown Little Rock, the Bernice Garden offers community space for social gathering and local growers. For instance, growers sell sustainably raised fruit, vegetables, cheeses and other goods. It’s also a gathering place for people to bring a picnic and relax under the canopy.

Take a Walk at Two Rivers Park

Partly composed of wooded wetlands, the park is located at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Maumelle Rivers. Park amenities include bike trails, walking trails, gardens and wildlife. In addition, there’s a pedestrian bridge that connects to the Arkansas River Trail.

Affordable Little Rock Attractions

Clinton Presidential Center

The William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park is the presidential library of Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States. The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum features exhibits, special events and educational programs. Visitors can see replicas of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room. Permanent exhibits utilize documents, photographs, videos and interactive stations.

$10.  Free for ages 5 and younger, and for military. There’s also free admission for everyone on Presidents Day, and the Saturday before President Clinton’s birthday (Aug. 19).

On Veteran’s Day, all active and retired military and their families receive free admission in honor of their service.

Visit the New Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts

Formerly called the Arkansas Arts Center, the museum is located in MacArthur Park near the River Market District. Scheduled to re-open in Spring 2022, the museum has a world-renowned art collection and special traveling exhibits. The Children’s Theatre includes special ‘pay what you can’ performances.

On a road trip through Arkansas? Visit Northwest Arkansas for family fun. 

 


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