Little Rock

Duck royalty at the Peabody Hotel

Little Rock is the capital and the largest city of the state of Arkansas. The Metropolitan area had 724,385 people in the 2013 census estimates. The slightly larger Combined Statistical area had 898,683 people in the 2013 census estimates. The city proper had 193,524 people in 2010.

Understand

Little Rock lies at the center of the state, more-or-less where the Ozark Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains, and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (the "Delta") come together. Traveling east from Little Rock, you traverse flat land nearly all the way to the Mississippi River; traveling west you quickly enter hilly country.

Little Rock is Arkansas's largest city, as well as the state capital and major economic center (although northwestern Arkansas, with Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, and major trucking firms, is rapidly gaining). Little Rock is home to the state's only medical school, as well as one of the two branches of the University of Arkansas law school.

History

Little Rock derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called La Petite Roche (the "little rock"). The "little rock" was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing. The original historic "little rock" was later dynamited and used as a foundation for a railroad bridge, but its location can be visited in downtown's Riverfront Park.

Little Rock is located at the first high that upstream travelers on the Arkansas River came to, and so was a logical place to found a settlement. When it became apparent that the original capital of Arkansas Territory, Arkansas Post, was too subject to flooding, the seat of government was moved to Little Rock in 1819.

Climate

Temperatures range can reach above 90°F (32°C) in the summer, peaking in August and September, to below freezing in December and January. The most pleasant times of year to visit are fall and spring; the changing of the leaves in fall is particularly enticing.

Get in

By plane

Arkansas State Capitol

Newly renamed Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (IATA: LIT), lies just east of downtown Little Rock, about 10 minutes from the Clinton Presidential Library. It is served by all major airlines. Southwest Airlines is the airport's largest carrier with service to seven destinations. The airport has a single, 12-gate terminal building.

Airlines and destinations

By train

See also: Rail travel in the United States

Amtrak serves Little Rock with the Texas Eagle between Los Angeles and Chicago, however the schedule is not optimal nor reliable. The westbound train from Chicago is scheduled to arrive at 3:10AM, and the eastbound train from L.A. by way of Dallas is scheduled to arrive at 11:34PM. The impressive   Little Rock Union Station is a reminder of a bygone era and is located at 1400 W Markham St, west of city centre.

By car

Little Rock is located at the intersection of Interstates 40 and 30, about two hours west of Memphis, five hours east of Oklahoma City, and five hours northeast of Dallas. I-530 and U.S. Route 167 also lead into the city.

Interstates 430 and 440 nearly encircle the metropolitan area, and I-630 runs from downtown westward to end at I-430.

By bus

Get around

By train

In November of 2004, in time for the grand opening of the Clinton Library, Little Rock's River Rail Trolley system was completed. Children ride free; adult fare is $1 per ride, or $2 for a day pass. The trolley will take you to most of the major downtown attractions, as well as across the Arkansas River to downtown North Little Rock.

You can pick up a River Rail schedule from any of the hotels or downtown attractions. It passes by every 15 minutes or so. The trolley is a fun, easy way to get around downtown Little Rock.

By car

If you'd like to see more than Downtown, a car is your best bet.

While taxis aren't as common a sight in Little Rock as they are in Dallas or Atlanta, they are available. You'll definitely be able to find one at the airport, and probably you'll see one pass through downtown if you're patient. A better plan would be to call in advance. You can call Capitol Cab at (501) 570-9999.

If you're renting a car: I-630 runs from east/west from downtown to the edge of west Little Rock; for most attractions you won't go too far north or too far south of 630.

Be aware while driving that east Little Rock is pretty much flat, whereas west Little rock can get extremely hilly.

NOTE: The River Rail streetcar tracks on Markham, Second, and Third Streets near the River Market and Clinton Library in downtown Little Rock and Main and Maple Streets in North Little Rock present a hazard to street parking. It would probably be wise to walk or ride the trolleys to visit these streets.

By bus

Unlike the River Rail Trolleys, the city bus travels city-wide. One way fare is $1.35 for adults.

By bike

Little Rock has a large population of cyclists. There is a large mixed use pedestrian and bike loop connecting both North Little Rock and Little Rock's downtown corridors. There are bike rental places such as River Trail Rentals, +1 501 374-5505, that are located along the Arkansas River Trail .Try the juncttion bridge, or the Big Dam Bridge, which is the longest bridge in the world dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists.

Proceed with caution while traveling downtown in the River Market area. There are no dedicated bike paths other than the Arkansas River Trail, and the River Rail Trolley tracks have deep ruts which can knock off cyclists not paying attention.

See

East Little Rock

The eastern edge of Little Rock is sparsely populated but is a vital economic area, as Little Rock National Airport and Little Rock River Port are both located here.

Downtown

The Little Rock Nine at the State Capitol
Central High
The William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library

Many of Little Rock's most interesting attractions are found in its downtown area.

Midtown

West Little Rock

Not too many years ago Little Rock essentially ended about where I-430 now runs, but in recent years the pace of development in the western part of the city has been rapid, in both commercial and residential areas. Big box stores, chain restaurants, new hotels, and apartment complexes and subdivions stretch for miles west of I-630, especially along Chenal Parkway, West Markham Street, and Cantrell, Bowman, and Shackleford Roads.

North Little Rock

North Little Rock is an independent city just across the Arkansas River from downtown Little Rock.

The Arkansas River Trail

The circular Arkansas River Trail runs from downtown Little Rock, west along the Arkansas River to the Big Dam Bridge, crosses it, then runs back east to downtown North Little Rock, finally completing the loop after crossing the historic Junction Bridge. Soon you'll be able to go all the way to Pinnacle Mountain, once the Two Rivers Bridge west of the Big Dam Bridge is finished. A great place to exercise by walking, running, roller skating, or cycling.

Do

Annual Events

Arkansas State Fair

The Arkansas State Fair is held every October at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds, located south of downtown. Even when the fair is not in season, the fairgrounds play host to many other special events such as sports competitions and trade shows.

Riverfest

Riverfest is Little Rock's premier cultural arts festival, held every Memorial Day weekend in downtown's Riverfront Park. It is known for its art exhibitions and live entertainment - but don't miss the conclusion of the event which is a spectacular fireworks display over the Arkansas River.

Other Events

Sports and leisure

For those who want to get off the beaten path, Little Rock offers a wide range of sports and leisure activities.

Live theater

Professional and College Sports

Buy

Eat

Downtown

West Little Rock

Budget

Mid-range

Drink

Sleep

The opening of the Clinton Presidential Library in 2004 nearly caused Little Rock's hotels to burst at the seams, and the number of visitors to the city is growing. It would be nearly impossible to list all the best hotels here. Note, however, that the designations of Budget, Mid-range, and Splurge do not necessarily reflect price range, and also apply to the quality of accommodations and amenities.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Go next

Routes through Little Rock

Dallas Hope  SW  NE  Poplar Bluff St. Louis
Texarkana Bryant  W  E  North Little Rock Ends at W E
Springfield North Little Rock  N  S  Pine Bluff Clayton
Poplar Bluff North Little Rock  N  S  Bryant Texarkana
Hot Springs Benton  W  E  North Little Rock Memphis
Ash Flat North Little Rock  N  S  El Dorado Ruston


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.