Family Fun in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, Part 2: Little Rock

This is my second post about our family's visit to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. You can see the first post here. Because I blog about educational travel, I received admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during our trip. Some locations we toured are free for everyone, while we paid full price for the rest. That has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I recommend without hesitation. If you see any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, hotel, or restaurant enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


Little Rock, Arkansas

Our next stop was at Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. The building houses information about fish and other wildlife in central Arkansas and is within Julius Breckling Riverfront Park. It's free and definitely worth a visit. 

They have a large viewing area where you can watch birds and other wildlife. Trevor is looking up a bird species that he didn't recognize. 

I can honestly say I've never seen so many fishing lures. 

"The best snake bite first aid is a car key."

They had clipboards for kids (or bloggers) who want to do a scavenger hunt. I love that. 

After exploring the Nature Center, we headed outside to Riverfront Park. 

Goal #1: Seeing the eponymous Little Rock. There it is! And there's Steve for scale. 


I hadn't properly understood The Little Rock (technically, La Petite Roche) before visiting. What you see above is a small portion of a rock outcropping that used to be about 18 feet tall. Not so little, I'd say! But that 18 foot outcropping on the south side of the river was indeed little compared to the large stone bluff on the north bank of the river. The Little Rock, located across from The Big Rock, was an important navigational landmark, became a well-known river crossing, and was used as a survey marker.   

Junction Bridge is located right near The Little Rock.  

It is a pedestrian bridge that links Little Rock with the community across the river, which (inexplicably and disappointingly) is not named Big Rock. It's called North Little Rock. 

As you continue through Riverfront Park, you reach the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden. There are 90 pieces of art to enjoy. 

Along the way, there's a lot of great play equipment, including a splash pad, and many places to sit and relax. It's a neat space. We found our first Arkansas geocache there and it was a fun one. 

We headed to the Old State House Museum

Arkansas' first Capitol building has a rich and very interesting history. How interesting? Very. One example: The Speaker of the House killed a representative there over a disagreement about wolf hides. Need another example? The Old State House served as a Confederate, and later a Union, capitol during the Civil War. Each army looted the building when they left. 

Now the building is a museum. You can see exhibits about its days as the Capitol building... 

... as well as different exhibits about Arkansas' governors, first ladies, and families.

Those are Bill Clinton's tennis shoes. At least they were. I assume the museum owns them, as opposed to having them on loan. 

There are currently two featured exhibits at the Old State House Museum. The first we visited was "Forty Years in the Woods: the Botanical Drawings of Kent Bonar." I'd never heard of him, but thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit. He was quite a character. 

The second was "Play It Loud: Concerts at Barton Coliseum." More than 1,700 bands have performed on the Barton stage. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Old State House Museum. 

Something else you shouldn't miss in Little Rock? The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail

The Civil Rights Trail starts just outside the Old State House and heads east toward the Clinton Presidential Center. There are dozens of markers. I really enjoyed looking for names of civil rights activists I recognized, like Elizabeth Eckford. For the names I didn't recognize, like Frank Moore, I snapped a photo and looked them up later back at the hotel.  

We made a brief pit stop at the hotel before heading out for dinner. There's a lot of public art in Little Rock, so I had to stop and photograph some of it. Steve said the tulip chairs are surprisingly comfy. 

Dinner was at the outstanding Three Fold Noodles + Dumpling Company. The only exterior sign is tiny print on the door, so you're not going to notice it if you're driving by. 

Make the effort to find it. The food was soooo good. The menu is fairly simple: they have noodle bowls and soups, dumpling bowls and soups, a steamed bun sandwich and a few other items. Each can be made with chicken, pork or tofu and served with one of four sauces (non-spicy, medium, spicy, or poison). We split a dumpling bowl, a noodle soup, and a steamed bun. Everything was great, but the dumplings were my favorite.

After a VERY full day, we walked back to the hotel. We'd had a great first day in Arkansas and were eager to see more. 

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about our second full day in Little Rock. 

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