Little Rock Downtown Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Little Rock

Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, is a cultural, economic, government, and transportation center of the State. Sitting on the south bank of the Arkansas River, it became the capital of Arkansas Territory in 1821 and was incorporated as a city in 1831.

The name "Little Rock" (French: La Petite Roche) was coined by the French explorer and trader Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe in 1722, and was due to the stone formation along the riverbank used by early travelers as a landmark for river crossing from the flat Mississippi Delta region to the Ouachita Mountain foothills. Though there was an effort to officially name the city "Arkopolis" upon its founding in the 1820s, the name Little Rock is eventually what stuck.

During the civil right movement, Little Rock is where the first desegregation of school took place. The city is also the birthplace of the 42nd US president, William J. Clinton and where Clinton started his political career and launched his bid for the US presidency.

There are historical landmarks in the city, located mainly in the downtown area. The most prominent among them are the Old State House Museum, the Historic Arkansas Museum, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and more. Take this self-guided walk to explore these and other major landmarks of Little Rock, as well as some interesting shopping and entertainment sights.
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Little Rock Downtown Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Little Rock Downtown Introduction Walk
Guide Location: USA » Little Rock (See other walking tours in Little Rock)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Old State House Museum
  • Historic Arkansas Museum
  • H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden
  • River Market
  • Riverfront Park
  • Junction Bridge
  • Clinton Presidential Library
  • MacArthur Museum
1
Old State House Museum

1) Old State House Museum (must see)

The Old State House Museum, also referred to as the Arkansas State House, is one of the oldest state capitol facilities in the United States. The building was built in 1833 and is an important piece of Arkansas history. It was here in 1861 a constitutional convention was held during which voting rights were granted to freedmen, public education was established, and Arkansas voted to secede from the Union.

The Old State House Museum was also the place where Bill Clinton gave both of his presidential acceptance speeches as well as his campaign announcement. It has been a memorial for the Arkansas War and the location for the Arkansas State Police. If you visit the Old State House Museum, you will learn about the history of Arkansas as well as have the opportunity to view important artifacts that are important to the country.

The museum offers free admission to everyone.

Why You Should Visit:

Visit the Old State House to learn about several important moments of Arkansas' history, which also contributed to the history of the United States. To set your eyes on the many fascinating artifacts from an earlier time in history.

Tip:

There is a guided tour option available for visitors, which is offered every hour and last about 50 minutes. The tours are led by a professional tour guide, and no reservation is needed. However, guided tours are not necessary at the Old State House Museum. There is also a self-guided tour option in which visitors can use their cell phones to learn information.

Opening Hours:

Opening Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and New Year's Day.
2
Historic Arkansas Museum

2) Historic Arkansas Museum (must see)

The Historic Arkansas Museum, commonly called HAM, is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of Arkansas. This museum showcases many intriguing items and objects that teach visitors about Arkansas' past.

By entering the Historic Arkansas Museum, you will immediately take a trip back in time. All visitors will be able to look at an entire pre-civil war neighborhood, the oldest surviving house in Little Rock, and the place where the popular newspaper named Arkansas Gazette was first printed. The museum's mission is to provide each visitor with a unique history experience, which shows how Arkansas' residents once lived as well as presents the stories and artifacts for the pleasure and education of those who have a keen interest in Arkansas' history.

The museum is free for all visitors.

Why You Should Visit:

To get an up-close look at the incredible history and way of life of Arkansas before the Civil War.

Tip:

Every second Friday of each month, the Historic Arkansas Museum hosts a fun event called Friday Art Night in which everyone can enjoy live music, food, shopping in the museum store, and exhibit openings. This event is free and takes place between 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. If you are unable to visit the museum during the day, this may be a good alternative for you.

Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is closed Sundays and Mondays, and Thanksgiving Day, Easter Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
3
H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden

3) H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden

In the middle of Little Rock, visitors will come across a charming South Korean garden and gate, which has been named the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden. The H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden is a tribute to American Taekwondo and represents the friendship and ties between the United States and South Korea.

The gate and garden received its name in respect to the Eternal Grand Master of the American Taekwondo Association, Haeng Ung Lee, who is widely known for his experience and performance in martial arts. In 1977, he founded a fellowship in Little Rock, which was dedicated to teaching the techniques and skills of martial arts. It grew to become one of the largest organizations around the globe.
4
River Market

4) River Market (must see)

If you are looking for a fun-filled, exciting atmosphere, take a trip to the River Market. Visitors will find amazing food, live music, beautiful plants, and many shops to purchase unique items from. The types of food found here are American, Indian, Japanese, Thai, burgers, pizza, Middle Eastern, pasta, and bakery items.

The River Market is located in downtown Little Rock and is a quick walk or ride from any of the hotels surrounding the downtown area. It hosts many festivals and fun events throughout the year, such as The Little Rock Marathon, Jazz in the Park, The Arkansas Literary Festival, the Little Rock Farmers' Market, World Cheese Dip Championship, Movies in the Park, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and more. Every second Friday evening of the month, the River Market also holds an Art Night event in which visitors can view incredible art pieces created by local artists.

Admission to visit the River Market is free.

Why You Should Visit:

Listen to live music, and to try a variety of different foods. To relax and enjoy a peaceful view of the Arkansas River. To have an exciting night out at the countless bars, restaurants, and pubs.

Opening Hours: daily from 8 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
5
Riverfront Park

5) Riverfront Park

The Riverfront Park is claimed to be one of the finest public parks in the United States. It extends across eleven blocks alongside the Arkansas River in the downtown area of Little Rock. Visitors will have access to over 30 acres of land to partake in outdoor activities, get some fresh air, let their little ones run free, and learn about Arkansas' history.

A few of the remarkable features of this park are the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, Little Rock Civil War Marker, Riverfront Park History Pavilion, William E. "Bill" Clark Presidential Park Wetlands, La Petit Roche Plaza, the Medical Mile, Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, and much more. Each of these attractions are worth taking a stroll through the park to see.

If you are looking to spend a day outdoors, the Riverfront Park is an excellent place to visit. There are many trails, playgrounds, and historical objects throughout the park. It also offers a quiet and peaceful atmosphere overlooking the river.
6
Junction Bridge

6) Junction Bridge

As you are taking a stroll through the Riverfront Park, you will come across one of its lovely attractions, the Junction Bridge. This bridge was built in 1899 and once was a pathway for trains going across the Arkansas River. Its use as a railroad for the Union Pacific Railroad Company ended in 1984. Less than three decades later, in 2008, it opened to the public as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge.

Locals and visitors enjoy visiting the Junction Bridge, as it offers spectacular views of the Little Rock skyline and is 40 feet above the Arkansas river. It is often used to ride bikes, walk, sit on the benches and relax, and to take beautiful photos for different occasions and events. At night, the bridge becomes a very popular place because it lights up bright in various colors.

Tip:

There are stairs located on both sides of the bridge. There is also an elevator if you do not want to climb up and down steps.
7
Clinton Presidential Library

7) Clinton Presidential Library (must see)

The Clinton Presidential Library is a beautiful, modern building near the downtown area of Little Rock. When you enter the presidential library, your eyes will be met with many items and artifacts that tell the story of the presidency of Bill Clinton, which took place between 1993 and 2001. This facility is educational, entertaining, and intriguing for everyone, especially history lovers.

Some of the objects that can be viewed at the Clinton Presidential Library are films, videos, timelines, Clinton's personal items, interactive rooms, and more. Each visitor will also have the opportunity to observe several replicas of how the Cabinet Room and Oval Office looked during Clinton's presidential terms.

The focus of the Clinton Presidential Library is domestic and foreign policy as well as what life was like in the White House in the 90's. The objective is to preserve the historical items of Bill Clinton and provide a glimpse into his time serving as the 42nd President of the United States.

Why You Should Visit:

To learn about Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, and his well-known policies and time spent in the White House.

Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
8
MacArthur Museum

8) MacArthur Museum

If you are a military enthusiast or a military service member, the MacArthur Museum may well be the highlight of your visit to Little Rock. It has many showings and displays that provide visitors with information about the legacy and history of Arkansas' armed forces. The MacArthur Museum received its name after Douglas MacArthur, the legendary army general during World War II and Korean War. He was born in the Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal, which is where the museum is currently located.

When you step foot inside, you will be surrounded by an abundance of objects that represent the women and men from Arkansas who have served in the military. Some of the items that you will be able to catch a glimpse of are artifacts, weapons, photographs, uniforms, documents, medals, and so much more. The mission of the MacArthur Museum is to ensure that everyone who visits has gained a clear and informed understanding of the courageous past of the Arkansas' military.

Walking Tours in Little Rock, Arkansas

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Create Your Own Walk in Little Rock

Creating your own self-guided walk in Little Rock is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Bill Clinton's Little Rock

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 Km or 3.5 Miles