15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Little Rock, AR

Downtown Little Rock, AR
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Little Rock is Arkansas’ capital and the state’s most populated city, hosting more than 200,000 citizens as of 2020.

Downtown Little Rock is home to kid-friendly and historic museums as well as mouthwatering restaurants.

Entrepreneurs claim that downtown is great for start-up businesses since the neighborhood has shown tremendous growth in the past five years.

They attribute this growth to its cultural and commercial establishments.

Downtown is only a portion of Little Rock, but you wouldn’t believe the number of things you can do here.

Are you ready for some adventure?

Here are the best things to do in Downtown Little Rock.

Visit the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion

Front View of Arkansas Governor’s Mansion
Kerry Q. Thompson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Since 1950, the governors of Arkansas have lived in the Governor's Mansion.

It’s also where the state’s first family presides over public events like state dinners and other important celebrations.

State governors had no official residence before 1950.

Former Governor Sidney McMath saw the construction of the mansion in 1950.

However, the idea for the mansion came six years earlier from Mrs. Agnes Bass Smith, president of the Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs.

The government approved the request for construction in 1947.

Since 1950, 12 out of 46 Arkansas governors have lived in the mansion.

From paintings to their architectural features, the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion will amaze you with its rich history.

People who visit the mansion feel that it isn’t only home to the governor and his family but also home to its people.

Since the governor and his family lives in the mansion, you need to book a visit and tour in advance.

See the Bags at Esse Purse Museum and Store

Find Esse Purse Museum and Store on the Main Street of Downtown Little Rock.

Who would’ve thought that a bag museum exists?

The Esse Purse Museum and Store showcases different women's bags in the 20th century.

The museum celebrates the progress of American women, from the 1900s up to the present, overcoming various conflicts.

The Esse Purse Museum and Store aims to empower and honor women.

Besides purses and other female accessories but also tells “HERstory.”

The name of the museum comes from the Latin verb “Esse,” which means “to be,” the root term for the English words “essential” and “essence.”

So, the Esse Purse Museum and Store honors the essence of women.

Visiting the museum will surely give you a sense of nostalgia when you see all the collections of bags that embody the female experience and accomplishments.

Esse also sells high-quality and unusual bags, jewelry, books, clothes, mugs, postcards, and more.

Visit Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Exterior of Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
Courtvonderhaas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 2001, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) preserves and celebrates African-American history and culture in Arkansas.

The center’s name comes from the black fraternal organization founded in Little Rock in 1883, the Mosaic Templars of America.

Ballroom in Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
Courtvonderhaas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the museum’s exhibits feature the history of the fraternal organization.

Scholars of African-American history visit the center for research and check out items depicting the story of the Mosaic Templars of America.

In 2020, the American Alliance of Museums recognized MTCC as the third Black History Institution in the South.

Today, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Centers lead guided tours to share the heritage of Arkansas’ African-American community.

Explore the River Market Entertainment District

A shed at River Market Entertainment District
Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want an amusing weekend escapade, you should explore the River Market Entertainment District (RMED).

You’ll find it in the heart of Downtown Little Rock and the weekend celebration zone.

The most vibrant stretch in Downtown has tons of bars and restaurants.

Guests can carry alcoholic beverages while walking around the River Market District.

If you’re 21 and over, you’re free to hop bars in this great place.

However, you need to use provided cups and wear special wristbands to buy drinks from any bar in the district.

Are you a fan of good music?

Catch outdoor live performances and concerts you at the River Market Entertainment District.

Take a Stroll at South Main

Have you ever watched a feel-good movie with main characters living the good life?

You’ll feel the same contentment in this Little Rock street.

South Main, or SoMa, is a downtown district that promotes growth and development in the area.

It embraces the past but also looks forward to the future by supporting its unique shops, old and new.

SoMa also creates programs that will contribute to the economic vitality of their district.

SoMa is a family-friendly area in Little Rock.

You can treat your family to delicious meals at one of SoMa’s long list of various fun restaurants.

Then, you can visit its shopping booths and centers to complete a fun family day out at South Main.

Visit the Museum of Black Arkansans and Performing Arts

Exterior of Museum of Black Arkansans and Performing Arts
Valis55, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ernie Dodson established the Museum of Black Arkansans and Performing Arts in 1993.

The center shows exhibits on the struggles, experiences, and successes of the African-American community of Arkansas.

The museum used to go by the name “Ernie’s Museum of Black Arkansans.”

Some Arkansans still refer to it by its acronym EMOBA.

EMOBA aims to promote awareness of Arkansas’ black history, creating unity and pride within the community.

Thanks to accurate representation of the Black community, EMOBA can fulfill its promise to keep its contribution and heritage alive.

The museum also cultivates pride among the Black community in Arkansas.

On the other hand, the Museum of Black Arkansans and Performing Arts also hosts the scariest haunted attraction in the state, the Haunted Cathedral.

This cathedral opens every October.

Take a Walk in East Village

During the 1800s, the city developed East Village as the first industrial district in Little Rock.

It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Little Rock.

East Village will give you a homey feeling with its tree-lined neighborhood streets and historic homes.

Strolling along East Village will definitely take you on trip down memory lane to see how simple life was back then.

As an ever-growing neighborhood, East Village gives way to fresh businesses today.

However, it never forgot to maintain its authenticity.

Despite all the progress in East Village, the neighborhood makes sure not to forget its history and culture.

If you want a time out from the busy world, spend an afternoon in East Village.

Visit Main Street Creative Corridor

Main Street Creative Corridor is unquestionably the center of art in downtown Little Rock.

If you want a taste of art and culture during your trip, explore the Main Street Creative Corridor.

Lining the Main Street Creative Corridor are the Arkansas Repertory Theater, Ballet Arkansas, various art galleries and creative firms, and the Little Rock Technology Park.

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center came up with the idea of creating the corridor.

Eventually, the National Endowment for the Arts funded the Creative Corridor.

The Main Street Creative Corridor fosters arts and culture, drawing the attention of art enthusiasts.

The vibrant area along the corridor has begun turning into Little Rock’s vision for the main street.

Take a Tour of the Rock Town Distillery

Did you ever wonder how people create your favorite alcoholic beverages?

You’ll know the answer at Rock Town Distillery, the first legal distillery in Arkansas.

Rock Town Distillery offers a tour of the process of making alcohol from grains.

In the tour, you will learn about the origins of bourbon, vodka, and gin.

They can also answer all your questions about your go-to spirit, from its creation to storage.

The tour held from Monday to Sunday takes about 45 minutes to an hour and accommodates a group of ten or more.

Tourists 21 and over can also enjoy a free tasting of award-winning spirits.

The Rock Town Distillery won the “US Micro Whiskey of the Year” in 2015.

Dine at Allsopp and Chapple Restaurant and Bar

Treat yourself to some good food during your tour of Downtown Little Rock.

Allsopp and Chapple Restaurant and Bar is a modern New American restaurant located in the historic Rose building.

The restaurant maintains and breathes new life to the century-old Rose building.

The whole design and atmosphere of the restaurant pays tribute to the historic building.

However, the Allsopp and Chapple Restaurant & Bar did not just focus on maintaining the original aura of its building.

It also ensures that every meal they serve is exceptionally crafted, high-quality, and fresh.

Catch up with friends or bring a date to this top-shelf restaurant.

Bring Your Friends to Mystery Mansion Escape Room

For an exciting and thrilling adventure, visit the Mystery Mansion Escape Room.

This place is Arkansas’ premier and award-winning escape room.

The Mystery Mansion Escape Room is a perfect location for anyone looking for thrills.

In the game, you have to escape the decade-old mansion with your group.

To get out, you must first unearth the secrets and solve the mystery of the abandoned mansion.

Don’t worry, though, because each room contains unlimited hints.

Everyone who likes puzzles will absolutely enjoy the hour-long game.

Team builders, friends, families, and adventure seekers can also play at Mystery Mansion Escape Room.

Thanks to its affordable prices, you’ll get your money’s worth at the Mystery Mansion Escape Room.

Treat Yourself to Dessert at Loblolly Creamery

The Loblolly Creamery is Little Rock’s famous ice cream shop, which takes inspiration from the Arkansas seasons.

They also offer vegan and gluten-free options.

They use equally fresh and seasonal ingredients that will surely bring a smile to every customer.

Besides ice cream, they also offer other sweet treats like handcrafted macarons, s’mores, hot cocoa mixes, milkshakes, and ice cream cakes.

Loblolly Creamery has also partnered with local Arkansas farmers and craftsperson food providers to support Little Rock.

Visit the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

Exterior of MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
L. Allen Brewer, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can find the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History inside the Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal.

It is one of the national historic landmarks of Little Rock and one of its oldest structures.

The museum protected American soldiers during the Civil War.

Famous 20th century General Douglas MacArthur was also born there.

Signage of MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
Barbara Kalbfleisch / Shutterstock.com

Built in 1840, the historic arsenal building has become the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

It contains artifacts, weapons, documents, military uniforms, and items to remember the fallen soldiers in America’s wars.

Statue on the grounds of MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
Barbara Kalbfleisch / Shutterstock.com

Unwind at MacArthur Park

The grounds of MacArthur Park
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

The 36-acre MacArthur Park is the oldest municipal park in Little Rock.

Its surrounding area includes the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts and MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

Today, the whole area is now the MacArthur Park Historic District.

The park used to go by the name Westlake Park.

In the early 1940s, the city renamed the park MacArthur Park in honor of General Douglas MacArthur.

Redbud blossom trees at MacArthur Park
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Along with preserving the history of Little Rock, MacArthur Park also provides recreational opportunities to its visitors.

For a relaxing afternoon, you can sit down and catch up on the various benches.

You can listen to music while looking at the lake and the skyscrapers.

Birds also like to fly around MacArthur Park, so feel free to feed them anytime.

The waters of MacArthur Park
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Discover Science at the Museum of Discovery

Building sign of the Museum of Discovery
K I Photography / Shutterstock.com

The Museum of Discovery is perfect for kids, whether with parents or on field trips.

The museum helps young minds gain interest in science by learning its principles in creative ways.

Thanks to this method, your kids will feel like they’re just playing games.

However, they will learn important scientific principles that will stick with them for life.

After all, this museum specifically caters to children.

Open from Monday to Sunday, the Museum of Discovery also offers pop-up programs to help children fall in love with science.

The museum hosts science demonstrations, animal enrichment programs, and Tesla shows.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the best things to do in the city, pack your things and visit Downtown Little Rock.

The neighborhood has everything that you are looking for.

Explore creative streets, great bars, restaurants, historical sites, and museums.

It is a fun place for kids and adults.

Start planning your trip today!

You might even find more things to do in Downtown Little Rock, AR after you arrive.