Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Little Rock, AR

  • Published 2022/11/18

Little Rock played a significant role in American Civil Rights history.

This capital city of Arkansas in Pulaski County has more to offer than its significant history.

This charming riverside city is home to dozens of attractions and exciting activities.

If you consider Little Rock your next travel destination, expect a mixture of museums, parks, and outdoor activities.

Since it’s the birthplace of one of the nation’s former presidents, expect top-notch historical tours through his home and other fascinating historical sites.

Everyone knows that the best things in life are free.

Thus, Little Rock is an ideal travel destination for its myriad of attractions and activities, which you can enjoy for free.

You’ll have many choices to satisfy yourself without spending a penny at Little Rock.

Here are the free things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas, to give you a budget-friendly adventure:

Marvel at the Arkansas State Capitol

Exterior of the Arkansas State Capitol

Sean Pavone /

There’s no better way to start your Little Rock travel adventure than touring the Arkansas State Capitol.

You can visit this massive and gorgeous government building along Woodlane Street and enjoy its free tours offered to the public.

Admire its 1915 gorgeous and intricately-designed Neoclassical architecture that captures Arkansas’ rich history.

House of representatives chamber in Arkansas State Capitol

Nagel Photography /

The entire state capitol building spans over 247,000 square feet and mainly uses marble for its floorings and walls.

Meanwhile, it has a limestone exterior and an elegant gold-leaf-covered cupola that adds beauty to the entire building.

Enjoy the guided tours in the Arkansas State Capitol, taking you to various historical exhibits, constitutional offices, and a charming gift shop.

South wing of Arkansas State Capitol's interior

Nagel Photography /

See Local Wildlife at Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center

The Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center is a gorgeous outdoor attraction along President Clinton Avenue.

The nature center spans over 16 232 square feet facility, while the entire area covers around 3.4 acres that overlook the Arkansas River.

The entire area is part of the larger River Market District.

It is near other attractions, such as the Clinton Presidential Library, the Clinton Foundation Store, and the Museum of Discovery.

Many visitors love to return to this place since it has free admission.

Explore and enjoy sightseeing, hiking, and picnicking when visiting this nature center.

While exploring, visit natural habitats for local wildlife, such as birds, turtles, pelicans, and butterflies.

At the same time, the nature center has various exhibits, a gift shop, an aquarium, and a theater for everyone to enjoy.

With all that in mind, visit the Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center for a wholesome outdoor adventure.

Step inside the Old State House Museum

Exterior of the Old State House Museum

Andriy Blokhin /

The Old State House Museum is another worthwhile historical attraction you mustn’t miss in Little Rock.

You can visit this historical attraction along W. Markham Street and enjoy free tours inside this 1842 former Arkansas capitol building.

Amazingly, it’s the west’s oldest state capitol building and has witnessed many pivotal historical events in the nation.

Signage of the Old State House Museum

Andriy Blokhin /

So, take advantage of the museum’s free access to see various exhibits and historical activities year-round.

Check out its fascinating exhibits, such as the Pillars of Power, First Families, First Ladies, and the 1800s House of Representatives chamber.

Also, don’t miss taking photos of the Old State House Museum’s beautiful classical façade and the fountain on its roundabout.

Take a Break at Bernice Garden

Bernice Garden is your perfect location to slow down time and take a break from exploring Little Rock’s attractions.

You can visit this gorgeous outdoor attraction along S. Main Street or Downtown Little Rock.

Visiting this place allows you to unwind after a busy day roaming around the city.

It offers a gorgeous and romantic setting within its well-manicured garden under a wooden canopy that regularly hosts various events, such as weddings.

The public can access Bernice Garden to enjoy its gorgeous scenery and public art installations.

Besides its romantic setting, this garden is a stone’s throw away from Little Rock’s main attractions, making it a convenient place to check out.

Cross the Big Dam Bridge

Structure of the Big Dam Bridge

Simon J Wilshire /

The Big Dam Bridge isn’t just a relevant thoroughfare connecting Little Rock and the neighboring city of North Little Rock over the Arkansas River.

This 4,226-foot-long bridge is also the nation’s longest pedestrian bridge, part of the 20-mile riverside trails.

More than a thousand people cross this pedestrian bridge every day to go to work, school, and business, while some cross for recreation.

A person jogging along Big Dam Bridge

Barbara Kalbfleisch /

You’ll marvel at the bridge’s fantastic architecture from a distance as it spans 90 feet above the Murray Lock and Dam while overlooking the Arkansas River and Little Rock.

So, take advantage of the rare opportunity to cross the Big Dam Bridge and enjoy the breathtaking view above.

View of Big Dam Bridge during sunset

Peyton Reber /

Learn the City’s History at La Petit Roche (Little Rock)

La Petit Roche, or Little Rock, is a historical landmark within the Riverfront Park’s History Pavilion.

It’s a distinct historical landmark installed in an outcropping of rock which bears the brief detail of the discovery of Little Rock back in the day.

At the same time, it has historical panels and the actual photo of the La Petite Roche for the public to view.

Overall, La Petit Roche offers a fascinating experience to learn how Bénard de La Harpe discovered the area during his journey.

At the same time, you’ll also enjoy the lovely scenery of the Arkansas River on one side and the Riverfront Park on the other.

Follow the Historical Events of the Little Rock Central High School

Exterior of Little Rock Central High School

Marti Bug Catcher /

The Little Rock Central High School serves as a historical site which is a testament to the African-American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s.

Also known as the Little Rock Nine, this place is a significant historical landmark and a key area for the events after the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.

Visiting this place allows you to feel the enduring struggle of the Little Rock Nine that paved the way for an equal education system for African-Americans in the nation.

Entrance doors of Little Rock Central High School

Michael Gordon /

The movement also inspired many countries that experienced segregation and discrimination.

Enjoy the ranger-led tours taking you through critical historical landmarks about the Little Rock Nine, which offer fascinating backstories.

The entire tour is a worthwhile outdoor activity that provides you with more than just educational information and essential life lessons.

A hallway in Little Rock Central High School

Adam Jones, Ph.D., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Browse the Central Arkansas Library System-Main Branch

Whether you fancy visiting libraries or not, the Central Arkansas Library System – Main Branch is an idyllic place to spend some time with.

You can visit this massive library along Rock Street and browse its 132,000-square feet facility that welcomes thousands of bookworms regularly.

Hanging out at this library doesn’t just offer you free admission.

It also allows you to browse Little Rock’s history through its newspaper clippings, books, documents, and photographs.

At the same time, it has thousands of source materials, from fiction to educational books and magazines, to read and pass the time.

The Central Arkansas Library System – Main Branch also hosts various events you can catch during your visit besides the typical library activities.

Stroll through Downtown Little Rock

Aerial view of Downtown Little Rock

Eduardo Medrano /

Downtown Little Rock is your perfect location to immerse with the locals and see the raw beauty of this city.

It’s the home of Little Rock’s charming markets, restaurants, and shops.

At the same time, it’s also where you’ll find many of the city’s tourist attractions, such as museums, parks, and historical sites.

Strolling through the city’s downtown area and seeing colorful business signage is always fun.

Shops along Downtown Little Rock

K I Photography /

At the same time, locals are busy doing their routine amidst its dynamic atmosphere.

Downtown Little Rock is an excellent location for sightseeing and other exciting stuff without breaking the bank.

So, remember to spend an hour or two strolling through the liveliest part of Little Rock.

People at Downtown Little Rock during a festival

Reed Means /

Meditate at the H.U. Lee International Gate & Garden

Unlike other parks in Little Rock, the H.U. Lee International Gate & Garden has a tranquil atmosphere.

You can visit this unique attraction along Markham Street and admire its impressive Oriental architecture that virtually takes you to Korea.

Its impressive architecture symbolizes South Korea and the United States’ undying friendship.

The garden is a gift, appreciation, and homage to the American Taekwondo Association’s grand master Haeng Ung Lee.

Enjoy hanging out in this garden and embrace its tranquil atmosphere for afternoon or morning relaxation.

You’ll also marvel at the intricate details of the garden’s design that follows the Korean colors’ five cardinal elements.

While exploring the garden’s interior part, you’ll come across the bust of Grand Master Lee and other impressive legendary statues.

You can’t help but appreciate the calm atmosphere that instantly embraces you as you step inside the H.U. Lee International Gate & Garden.

Sit on the Grass at Two Rivers Park

Daytime view of Two Rivers Park

Tara Ballard /

The Two Rivers Park is another worthwhile and relaxing spot along Two Rivers Road.

This 1,000-acre park is a famous picnic area for the locals and visitors of this city.

It spans over a thousand acres from the Arkansas River and Little Maumelle Rivers.

Bicycle ride along Two Rivers Park

mwesselsphotography /

It has walking trails, biking trails, gardens, a boat launch, a vast green open space, and plenty more for various outdoor activities.

Locals love to visit this park every weekend or during their free time to relax and enjoy various outdoor activities.

Pack your picnic blanket and basket when visiting Little Rock because you’ll likely enjoy your time at Two Rivers Park.

The grounds of Two Rivers Park

PradeepParmar /

Roam the Scenic Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park is one of the most beautiful outdoor attractions in the city.

You can visit this park meandering the Arkansas River along President Clinton Avenue.

This 39-acre masterpiece is an urban park known for its breathtaking landscape, home to exciting outdoor activities for everyone.

A trip to this gorgeous park allows you to enjoy various activities such as picnicking, hiking, jogging, and biking.

At the same time, kids can enjoy its splash pad and playground.

Other attractions in this park are the La Petit Roche, First Security Amphitheater, Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Park Wetlands, and plenty more.

It’s hard to miss Riverfront Park with all the attractions and activities you’ll enjoy, so don’t forget to include this in your itinerary.

Hop on the River Rail Electric Streetcar

Front view of a River Rail Electric Streetcar

eclecticworks /

The River Rail Electric Streetcar is a classic public transport that remains fully functional in Little Rock today.

Also known as the Metro Streetcar, this fare-free public transport has operated throughout the city since 1891.

Riding this classic transport is the easiest way to reach your destination in the city.

Exterior of a River Rail Electric Streetcar

Justin Baeder from Seattle, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While riding, you’ll pass along some of Little Rock’s famous tourist attractions.

Besides a fun ride, you can also take photos of one of the classic heritage cars of the River Rail Electric Streetcar to complete your experience.

Hike the Arkansas River Trail System

The Arkansas River Trail System is your perfect destination for adventure.

This 88-mile multipurpose looped trail covers Little Rock, Maumelle, North Little Rock, and Conway in Pulaski County.

The entire trail takes you to the best scenic locations throughout this area in the county, making it an exciting hiking destination.

Your hike through this trail system will be exciting since it meanders through the Arkansas River, offering various sceneries throughout your journey.

If you’re in a hurry, grab your bike for a quicker tour through the Arkansas River Trail System, and visit more attractions along the way.

Overall, this trail system is a must-visit place to witness the other side of Pulaski and Little Rock’s beauty through a worthwhile hike.

Wander the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion

Exterior of the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion

Kerry Q. Thompson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Then, you have to visit the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

You can visit this historic home along Center Street.

Enjoy a free guided tour inside the official residence of Arkansas’ governor since 1950.

Since Little Rock is Arkansas’ capital, the gorgeous Georgian Revival mansion is where the state’s governor and the first family reside.

The house has hosted 12 of Arkansas’ 46 governors, making it an important historical site in the entire state.

Wandering this historic mansion and the rest of the property through guided tours is a worthwhile experience.

It allows you to discover the vast history of Arkansas by seeing up close memorabilia and the original furnishing of the mansion.

While exploring, roam its halls full of paintings, heirlooms, gorgeous furniture, and interior design.

So, make one last stop at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion before wrapping up your Little Rock adventure.

Final Thoughts

This charming Arkansas capital is an ideal destination for budget travelers or those who want to enjoy what the city can offer best without breaking the bank.

Exploring its historical sites and gorgeous parks will give you many fond memories.

Consider these free things to do in Little Rock, Arkansas, for your budget-friendly vacation.

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