Little Rock Travel Information

United States > US City Index > Little Rock > History

Downtown Little Rock is bordered on the south by I-70, or the southern leg of it, which runs east to west, also known as Roosevelt Rd. On the east it stretches a couple blocks beyond I-30, just the other side of MacArthur Park. To the west the State Capitol area and the railroad tracks form the outer edge of downtown proper. Of course, these are irregular boundaries by all accounts, and the downtown is growing all the time. On the north end, though, you can't argue much about the Arkansas River. Across the river is ' you guessed it ' North Little Rock.

River Market

If you are in downtown Little Rock, you are close to what is perhaps the most popular spot in town. The historic River Market District has been part of a re-blossoming of the riverfront of Little Rock over the past decade. The River Market itself is an outdoor farmer's market, with all types of fresh local produce being offered daily, and an indoor market where 17 shopkeepers offer everything from gourmet coffee to fresh sushi. The area has become a center of activity, which is continually fueled by the addition of new restaurants, bars and shops. The City of Little Rock has done its best to keep the momentum going. Events like Big Downtown Thursday, a sort of public happy hour each week from 6pm to 10pm, and the annual Riverfest in the Riverfront Park, adjacent to River Market, bring people down to the area. These events boast live music, great food and a carnival atmosphere.

Quapaw Quarter

Just a short way from River Market is the area of restored 19th Century homes around MacArthur Park and the Governor's Mansion known as the Quapaw Quarter. The area is nine square miles of beautiful antebellum and Victorian homes and the central business district. Most of the homes are in private hands, so the access is limited mainly to walking and driving tours. However, twice a year, many homes in the quarter are opened for tours under the direction of the Quapaw Quarter Association. There is the Annual Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour the first weekend in May and the Christmas Open House the first weekend in December. However, there are homes that are open to the public that can be toured throughout the year. They include Villa Marre, dating from 1881, which was the home used in the TV show 'Designing Women,' The Empress Bed & Breakfast and Trapnall Hall Old State House Museum. Some are available for special occasion rental, and may be used for weddings and other events.

Hillcrest Historic District and West

The area west of downtown along Markham is known as the Hillcrest Historic District. This is a National Register of Historic Places collection, being one of the earliest residential areas of the city. The homes date from the early part of the century.

West Little Rock is the newest part of the city. It is further west than Hillcrest, past University, and is continuing to spread westward beyond Shackleford Rd. This is the area of suburbia where most new homes are being built, and upper middle class families proliferate.

The Heights is a trendy, upscale area on the northwest side of town with its own particular flavor, almost a mini-village in itself. Here you will find quaint gift shops, exclusive boutiques, restaurants, cafes and antique shops, mixed into a residential neighborhood that's a bit on the exclusive side. This is north of Hillcrest and dates from the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the houses overlook the Arkansas River, built high up on the bluffs - hence the name.

University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, home of the Arkansas Razorbacks, is spread over an area west of downtown. The Razorbacks play at War Memorial Stadium, and housed on the campus south of there you will find the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Planetarium, the art gallery in the Fine Arts Building, and the Theater Auditorium where stage plays are produced. The University area is also where you will find some of the best shopping in town. Two malls, Park Plaza and University Mall, are located at the same intersection, at West Markham and University Ave.

North Little Rock

Of course, North Little Rock has its own personality, not to be outdone by its bigger cousin. Formerly known as Argenta, this municipality has preserved its own local history. The Old Mill in Old Mill Park, famous for being the backdrop to the opening credits in 'Gone With the Wind,' is open for tours. The Argenta Historic District is a large area which includes many structures, including city hall, churches, and a military post. A driving tour brochure will point you in the right direction.

There are many smaller neighborhoods, which you might discover on your own. Each area of town has its little bustling corner, some naturally more bustling than others. Civic pride is evident in the growth and vitality of Little Rock.


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