Little Rock was a pleasant surprise to me. I don’t know what I was expecting, but there were cute neighborhoods, a vast waterfront area with shops and food halls, and of course, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library (which I obviously knew about).
The capital city of Arkansas, it is a medical, cultural and financial hub of the state and of the south, due to its presence next to the Arkansas river. I passed through briefly on a road trip and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. So much so that I want to go back…and go diamond hunting. Gonna find me lots of “little rocks,” hopefully.
Little Rock wit u…
My first stop upon arriving on a HOT afternoon was the Clinton Library. Whatever your political leanings may be, presidential libraries are like time capsules of American history. I’ve been to quite a few, and grew up a few miles from the Richard M. Nixon Library. Bill’s facility is a huge modern building at the end of the river front area. There are documents and photos chronicling his childhood in Hope, Arkansas, his days at Yale Law with Hillary and then, of course, items from his presidency. There is a replica of the oval office and cabinet room. There are personal items, letters and gifts from foreign dignitaries and celebrities.
After strolling through, I walked out onto President Clinton avenue toward the river front area. There’s playgrounds, trails, sculpture garden in this huge outdoor recreational park and this is lined with revitalized buildings that house boutiques, bars and the cutest library gently used bookshop, River Market Books and Gifts.
People were picnicking and families were playing, it was as Americana as you could get. The Market Hall is where you should sample some varied cuisine. There’s stalls that hawk everything from Thai to Mexican to Nepalese to burgers. There’s also a tea cake bakery for anyone with a sweet tooth. You can take all of your treats out to the grassy knoll near the lapping waters of the river. The living’s easy in a town like this.
The next day I started off the morning by driving to the state capitol. It’s a grand limestone building, built in the classic style with the domed center. It’s understated, with clean lines, much like the city itself.
Driving through town, I made my way past the gigantic structure that is the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital (I mean, truly, it is gargantuan when you think about the population its serving), to Kavanaugh street.
To call it winsome would be an understatement. This street takes you past many historic and beautiful homes in the Hillcrest district, sought after because of its varied architecture styles. Allsopp park is also a large wooded park area in this district where you can see joggers and dog walkers and strollers and cyclers. There are a plethora of restaurants and coffee shops, and I stopped at River City Coffee for a latte. Before leaving the city, I picked up a Porchetta sandwich at District Fare. This is a sister restaurant to the Pantry Crest, an uber-hip eatery that serves some family style dishes like Lasagna al Forno, Chicken Paprikash, and Coq Au Vin. Like whoa.
While there, it seemed like everywhere I looked, there was some revitalization or remodel going on, new restaurants and coming soon signs. This is sign of a thriving community, and I think in a few years this city is going to have undergone a dramatic cultural facelift, which will make it one of the hotbed cities of the South. A diamond in the rough, if you will (seriously I’m obsessed and am going to Crater of Diamonds stat).