Little Rock, Arkansas, is filled with history and natural beauty, and if this up-and-coming city isn’t on your family’s travel radar, we think that should change. After spending a few days in the capital city, we were delighted to discover everything from a meandering river district to a hip enclave south of Main Street.
So, pack your bags, and use our guide on what to do in
Little Rock, Arkansas with kids.
River Market District & North Little Rock
When it comes to deciding what to do in Little Rock, Arkansas, we recommend spending the most time in the River Market District and North Little Rock. There is ample lodging that puts you within walking distance of most of the downtown attractions, and the food choices are unique. And, with the free METRO streetcar that runs through downtown and over the Arkansas River to North Little Rock, getting out and about is a breeze.
What to Do
History buffs will want to check out the
Historic Arkansas Museum, which has several impressive exhibits. Tiny tots will want to spend all of their time in the Sturgis Children’s Gallery, which has a play log cabin perfect for big imaginations. An important exhibit is We Walk in Two Worlds: The Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw People of Arkansas, found in the Native American gallery. There are 158 objects on display ranging from tools to clothing and pottery, all of which tell the story and the journey of the Native American people of Arkansas.
If you love nature and the outdoors, visit the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. This 3.4-acre center on the Arkansas river focuses on the outdoor adventure opportunities in Arkansas. There are learning exhibits indoors and plenty of wildlife viewing (in an urban setting) outdoors.
It will be hard to hang out in the River Market District without paying a visit to the William J. Clinton Library and Museum. The state of Arkansas is home to former President Bill Clinton, and in his library, you’ll view almost 100,000 objects and works of art, many of which the Clintons received from dignitaries and world leaders during his time in office.
An afternoon at the Museum of Discovery is a must for curious kids. A fun exhibit for older kids is Tornado Alley . It does a great job of re-telling the story of the tornadoes that devastated parts of downtown Little Rock in 1999. Another fun area to explore is the exhibit with experiments on the human body. Discover your resting heart rate and reaction time, and challenge someone in your group to a battle of the minds. Strap on a headband that reads brain waves, then, using only your mind, move a ball towards your opponent.
There is so much to do in Riverfront Park. Kids will love the Margaret Clark Adventure Playground. It offers a two-story slide, climbing webs, a boulder climbing wall, and other attractions. The Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden puts art on display for everyone to enjoy, and the Peabody Splash Park is a great way to cool off on a hot day.
Drive or ride the METRO street car a short distance over the river to watch an Arkansas Travelers game. There isn’t a bad seat in the house at this minor league baseball stadium, and with themed days and lots of ballpark snacks, it’s an affordable way to enjoy America’s pastime.
Where to Eat
If you want breakfast or brunch, get up early and head to At The Corner. A modern diner with everything from pancakes to chicken-n-waffle and brunch poutine, there is often a line out the door here.
For adventurous eaters, be sure to stroll Ottenheimer Market Hall. You’ll find everything from Thai and Indian to BBQ and Middle Eastern cuisine. Be sure to plan because the market closes at 2 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends.
Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro is a short walk from the riverfront and close to several hotels. It’s got an artsy vibe, an oversized front patio and menu items ranging from salmon to hamburgers, and various pasta options for kids.
This up-and-coming neighborhood has funky shops, unique museums, and locally-owned restaurants.
What to Do
Spend some time in Bernice Garden. There are several sculptures, acoustic music Saturdays, and a Sunday farmer’s market. Walk the neighborhood to find several vibrant murals, take older kids to the ESSE Museum, one of two purse museums in existence, and admire the Villa Marre, a restored Italianate 2nd Empire mansion featured on the ‘80s hit sitcom Designing Women.
What to Eat
Do not leave Little Rock without eating at The Root Cafe. This locally-owned restaurant was our favorite foodie stop during our trip. A cozy setting with paintings, funky light fixtures, a large outside patio, and great food, the owners strive to source as much of their supplies locally as possible, so you’ll be dining on eggs, meats, cheese, and veggies from nearby farms.
For a sweet treat, head across the street to Loblolly Creamery, which offers a great list of ice cream made on the premises. There are vegan options, and you can even order an “ice cream flight” if you can’t decide what to get.
Midtown offers plenty of fun for families. There’s an abundance of parks, shops and restaurants to explore.
What to Do
The Little Rock Zoo is one of the best things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas with kids. There are 33 acres and 500 animals to discover, a carousel to ride, a baby Rhino to see, a science center to explore, and much more. War Memorial Park backs up to the zoo and amongst its 100+ acres, you’ll find walking trails, a hammock park, a playground and splash pad, and a fishing pond. In addition, in 2023, the University of Arkansas Razorbacks will play at the War Memorial Park stadium. Allsopp Park, located in the Hillcrest region of Midtown, is another place to enjoy the natural beauty of Arkansas. There are hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, basketball courts, and more.
Where to Eat
Hillcrest Little Bakery is a block down from the zoo and serves homemade biscuit sandwiches and some of the best pancakes in Little Rock. The charming family-owned establishment is in a renovated home, so be aware that seating is limited. All Aboard Restaurant & Grill is a favorite with young kids for a reason. Not only is there a train table in the lobby, but your food is delivered via train right to your table. Kids get to take home a paper conductor’s hat and the food offered is fresh and varied. The Purple Cow restaurant is also a great place to dine with kids in Midtown. Not only do they offer kid-pleasing menu items like PB&J, corn dogs, and even the Elvis Special, but they also serve up purple milkshakes that are bound to be a big hit with anyone in your group.
To customize your Little Rock itinerary to fit your family’s interests and needs, head to arkansas.com for tips, tricks and suggestions on how to plan an unforgettable getaway.