North Little Rock – Your Gateway to Central Arkansas
July 1, 2016
As I get to know my new home state of Arkansas, I have explored a few hidden gems and unexpected surprises. North Little Rock is definitely one of those places. When you think of North Little Rock, a fun and family-friendly getaway may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it should be! North Little Rock, your gateway to Central Arkansas offers something everyone will enjoy. Thanks to some really great hosts from the North Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, I’ve been given the opportunity to pen this post on behalf of The Women Bloggers in association with @KendalKingGroup and #SoapboxInfluence. As always, you can bet all opinions are those of yours truly.
North Little Rock Your Gateway to Central Arkansas
After a few hours’ drive from Northwest Arkansas on an oh-so-hot southern day, we pulled up to Bobby’s Bike Hike. It’s located in the really cool Little Rock River Market area spanning ten blocks! We were greeted by the friendliest staff-member who got our mountain bikes and cruisers ready. A quick orientation of the area and we were on our way to explore the Arkansas River Trail.
After passing the Clinton Presidential Library, we went over the The Big Dam Bridge. At just over 4,200 feet across the Arkansas River, it is the longest pedestrian and cycling bridge in the world. We waved at passers-by, looked at a few murals and then K took a spill on her bike – just like kids sometimes do. She had a super quick recovery, of course. Here’s the cool thing, two men pulled over to make sure she was okay and offered help. As we bicycled on, they came back in a golf cart and invited us for an impromptu look at Dickey-Stephens Park where the Arkansas Travelers play baseball. One of the guys who stopped is a former Marine and he and hubs swapped military stories for a few minutes before we were on our way again to explore more of the trail.
After a couple of hours, we were pretty hot and sweaty so it was time to head back and hydrate. We made our way to our hotel – The Hampton Inn North Little Rock McCain Mall. It’s a great location near everything! Now, those of you who have followed the blog a while know I’m kind of a hotel snob. We had just stayed in a high-falutin’ property in New York City. Guess what? This Hampton Inn was actually nicer and the staff was beyond lovely. We could not have asked for a better stay. I particularly loved this message on the interior of our bathroom door:
We had dinner at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. I think we ate enough to last a week. The fried green tomatoes were delish, and the fried chicken? I’ve made myself hungry again. I’m totally not kidding LOL.
North Little Rock – The Old Mill
Fun fact: in North Little Rock stands the only remaining structure from the film, Gone With the Wind. After dinner we had some time to check it out, and it is just lovely. The Old Mill is surrounded with interesting sculptures by Mexican artist Senor Dionico Rodriguez and is a great place to just sit and unwind. And it’s on the National Register of Historic Places!
Science meets Innovation
I LOVE science and I love places that encourage the love of science. We were in store for some fun at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub! Where do I even begin? A makerspace, artistry and hard work meet to create a space that fosters amazing creation. We met children coding to have robot cars follow mazes and saw a 3D printer in action. There were robots, too – one made from a beer keg! The event planner in me drooled over their meeting space. Between their mentorship services and resources, they have it all. As a Physics/Biology major, I even got a little emotional witnessing children and teens embracing the gift of science. I am super stoked they will be opening one in our neck of the woods, soon!
Diving into North Little Rock!
Up next was K’s favorite part of our trip. Wild guess? Of course, Arkansas’ largest water Park – Wild River Country! 26 acres of water slides, lazy rivers and wave pools; she was sold. We thoroughly enjoyed our time cooling off and I even went down the waterslides, too. We had to pull her away, but soon enough it was time for dinner. First, I wanted to make an important stop.
History – Little Rock Central High School
We were a handful of miles from one of the most historic, and to me, important sites in our country. I had to see it. In 1957, nine extremely brave souls took steps to change our nation’s history and it happened right here. I was humbled and grateful I had the chance to stand for just a few moments and appreciate the beauty that is Little Rock Central High School. A man walked up to me and asked, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” My answer? “Beyond beautiful.”
North Little Rock – Larry’s Pizza
We had actually tried to get into Larry’s Pizza the night before, but it was busy due to a big event! We’re all really glad we went back. They have the coolest concept. Here is how it works:
You get inside, go to the register and pay
You can either go to the salad and pizza buffet or wait for the servers to come by with one of the many pizzas they make
You can request anything on the menu and the server will have it made then bring it back to you
We did a little of all of the above. There is plenty of food (you do NOT have to worry about not leaving full) and the service is great. I had a chance to meet Linda, the owner and she couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming. By the way, the dessert is also SO good. Try the Bavarian Crème or Cherry. Better yet, try them both!
It’s Electric – River Rail Streetcars
After dinner we headed to the Argenta Arts Districtand hopped on one of the River Rail Streetcars. The 2.5 mile route around the area was a great way to wrap up our time in North Little Rock. It also offers great views of the river since you go right over it twice.
Time to say “next time”
The next day we got up and had breakfast at the hotel. It was time to head out with some great memories and a checklist of “must-do’s” on our next visit. I hadn’t considered North Little Rock before, but you can bet we’ll be back and you should check it out, too. Definitely the gateway to Central Arkansas, it’s easy to get to, affordable and whether it’s romance, the outdoors, relaxation or family fun you want – North Little Rock will be sure to deliver.