How Do You Weekend in Metro Little Rock?
With only two days at your disposal, it can be a lot of pressure to decide how to spend your rare and valuable weekend time. Luckily, central Arkansas offers a wide range of possibilities, and as “The Natural State,” many of those opportunities mean a foray into the endless beautiful forests or on the winding, flowing rivers of Arkansas.
Of course, while the metro is known for its outdoor recreation, those activities are not the only way natives like to enjoy their downtime. Little Rock in particular is an up-and-coming city for world-class restaurants and vibrant shopping hubs. Whether you need some time out in the sun, retail therapy or just a break from the everyday routine, Metro Little Rock is a great place to spend your weekends.
IF YOU’RE A WATER BABY:
TRY: Paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing or sailing
With six rivers and countless lakes stretched across the state, basically every Arkansan is a short trip away from a fun weekend on the water, and there are just as many ways to go out on the water as there are rivers and lakes. This is especially true for Metro Little Rock residents.
In fact, paddleboarding classes have become a trendy activity, while kayaking and canoeing have long been a popular choice with the locals.
Top 5 Put-Ins
1. Two Rivers Park, West Little Rock
2. Cadron Creek, Greenbrier
3. Pinnacle Mountain State Park, West Little Rock
4. Lake Bennett via Woolly Hollow State Park, Greenbrier
5. Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, Scott
Worth the Drive
• The Buffalo National River is an Arkansas treasure and a bucket-list item if you love recreation on the water. Make the two-hour drive to Ponca, Arkansas to float the river by kayak, canoe or raft, and scope out the picturesque bluffs, seasonal waterfalls and epic foliage — it’s an unforgettable day trip any time of year.
• Take it to another level and try your hand at sailing. The Grande Maumelle Sailing Club and the Little Rock Yacht on Lake Maumelle are great starting points for getting into this local activity.
IF YOU SEEK ADVENTURE:
TRY: Hiking a mountain
Hiking is one of the things Arkansas does best, and none of the surrounding states can compare.
While some state and national parks have switched to paved paths, Arkansas takes great effort to keep many of their trails as natural as possible. In the heart of the metro, Pinnacle Mountain rises above the city and beckons adventurers and even casual walkers to hike to its summit. Those who do are rewarded with incredible views and impactful photos for their Instagram.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Hiking to the top of Pinnacle Mountain (with an elevation of 1,011 feet) is a rite of passage for any newcomer. Hikers have the option to choose the “hard” or “easy” side of the mountain, but both routes offer sweeping views of the Arkansas River Valley and the Little Rock skyline.
More mountains to explore just a stone’s throw from the metro:
Elevation: 2,753 ft.
Driving distance: 2 hours 2 minutes
Elevation: 1,345 ft.
Driving distance: 1 hour 21 minutes
Petit Jean Mountain
Elevation: 1,180 ft.
Driving distance: 1 hour 7 minutes
IF YOU PREFER A PEACEFUL STROLL:
TRY: A walk or a pleasant picnic at one of the metro’s best parks
Two Rivers Park
Located along the Arkansas River Trail, Two Rivers Park is a hot spot for walkers, bikers, runners, birdwatchers, fishing enthusiasts and horseback riders alike. The park offers 450 acres of mostly wooded wetlands and 550 acres of open fields, making it the most natural portion of the river trail. Deer can be spotted grazing year-round.
Big Dam Bridge
Also located along the Arkansas River Trail, the Big Dam Bridge is another one of those Little Rock bucket-list destinations. Those that make the trek across the bridge (it’s 4,226 feet long!) will be rewarded with unique views of the river, Pinnacle Mountain, Two Rivers Park and Emerald Park. Fun fact: The Big Dam Bridge is the longest pedestrian and cyclist bridge in North America, built specifically for that use.
This is the perfect spot to get lost in nature without leaving the city. The park’s entrance is located off of Cedar Hill Road in Riverdale and stretches west up to Kavanaugh Boulevard, connecting it with The Heights and Hillcrest. The park itself encompasses over 150 acres, 3.7 miles of trails and has endless recreational opportunities—from trail running to basketball. In the fall, the colorful foliage is simply breathtaking.
Burns Park is a sprawling oasis covering 1,700 acres, which makes it Arkansas’ largest urban municipal park. The park offers two 18-hole disc golf courses, two golf courses, a dog park, a baseball and a softball complex, a Bonzai BMX track, a soccer complex, a tennis center, playgrounds and camping, an archery range and trails with access to the Arkansas River Trail.
IF YOU’RE MORE OF A SPECTATOR:
TRY: Watching a game
Whether watching or playing, most people have at least one sport they love. And in the metro, there's plenty of action to take (or partake) in.
• The annual Arkansas Razorback football game at War Memorial Stadium in Midtown
• The Arkansas Travelers baseball season at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock
• Little Rock Marathon weekend in Downtown; run in the big race, try one of the shorter races to build endurance, or join the crowds to cheer on participants
• A Little Rock Rangers' USL League Two soccer match at War Memorial Stadium in Midtown
IF FIDO LIKES TO TAG ALONG:
TRY: A dog-friendly attraction
• Watering hole for wagging tails: Bark Bar in Little Rock is part dog park and part bar and restaurant, and that combination means a good time for both two-legged and four-legged patrons.
• Dog parks pooches love: There are many spots across the metro, but two faves are the popular MacArthur Unleashed Dog Park (two acres of puppy playtime in Downtown) and Paws Park within Murray Park in Riverdale (leash-free, riverside fun).
• Patio dining for “puppy watching:” The Root Cafe in SoMa, The Fold in Riverdale, Tacos 4 Life in Conway, and U.S. Pizza in The Heights and Hillcrest are just a handful of the many pet-friendly patios that are popular with the locals.
• Scenic adventures along the Arkansas River Trail and up Pinnacle Mountain: Locals enjoy taking their dogs on the area’s many manageable trails within city limits and within the area’s state parks. From hiking to the top of Pinnacle Mountain and crossing the Arkansas River via the Big Dam Bridge to exploring the Clinton Presidential Park Wetlands and paddleboarding at Two Rivers Park, dogs have more fun in Metro Little Rock.
For more, see Pet Resources: Homeward Bound in The Metro.
IF YOU FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED:
TRY: Cycling and mountain biking
From the competitive to the recreational, Arkansas is home to a number of cycling clubs. However, for the casual hobbyist or the curious beginner, local shops rent equipment, and some even offer guided tours. Maybe it will become a new passion or possibly a fun story to recount later, but either way, cycling and mountain biking is more accessible than ever in the metro.
Four Cool Rides
Arkansas River Trail
Cyclists can bike over the Big Dam Bridge, Clinton Presidential Park Bridge and Two Rivers Bridge in Little Rock.
Camp Robinson Trails
This North Little Rock mountain bike trail also offers the option of night riding.
This Little Rock trail includes historic buildings as well as the usual scenes of nature and wildlife.
Burns Park MTB Loop (mountain biking)
A 7.3-mile stretch of Burns Park that’s also dog-friendly (as long as your four-legged friend is kept on a leash) in North Little Rock.
IF YOU PREFER THE GREAT INDOORS:
TRY: The metro’s many museums
For bad-weather weekends or when you want to use your days off to experience culture and enrich your mind, Metro Little Rock has plenty of notable museums to visit.
• Museum of Discovery: This science museum offers interactive exhibits for children of all ages to ignite a passion for science and technology. This Downtown Little Rock museum has earned recent notoriety for being featured on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon."
• Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum: On the banks of the Arkansas River on the North Little Rock side, this museum treats visitors to a tour of the tugboat Hoga and the submarine USS Razorback.
• ESSE Purse Museum: A quirky and intriguing museum of purses; a must see in SoMa.
IF YOU PREFER TO SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP:
Outdoor activities, parks and museums are available every weekend, but some weeks call for something special — a little retail therapy. These six shopping districts are tops in the metro:
• The Promenade at Chenal: Popular national stores like Lululemon, Apple, HomeGoods and Anthropologie and beloved local shops like Gearhead Outfitters and Belle & Blush. In Chenal Valley.
• The Heights: Luxe retailers, jewelers with history, high-end home décor and hob-knobbing with neighbors along charming Kavanaugh Boulevard.
• Hillcrest: Fun specialty gift shops like Box Turtle are the draw to this charming district, as are foodie finds like those at HAM Market.
• Pleasant Ridge Town Center: Anchor stores Belk and Fresh Market, familiar favorites Hallmark and Fleet Feet, and locally owned shops like Vesta’s, The Everyday Chef, Pout, and Cobblestone & Vine. In West Little Rock.
• The Outlets of Little Rock: Opened in 2016 to much fanfare; big-name retailers include Old Navy, Gap, J. Crew, Cole Haan, H&M, Nike, Restoration Hardware and Under Armour. Proximity to Little Rock, Benton and Bryant.
• Midtown: Target, Dillard’s, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Ulta, Sephora, Bath & Body Works, Talbot’s, Victoria’s Secret—the list of retailers goes on and on.