Lovin' Life in Little Rock, Arkansas

{Dates visited: March 20-24, 2014}

The wind blew us west from Memphis, Tennessee to Little Rock, Arkansas...a place I previously had never given a second thought. I had limited information in the Midwest, having spent most of my life on the East and West Coasts, and I pictured dust bowls, bland "meat n' taters" food and endless miles of corn (or soybean) fields. And tornadoes. I don't like tornadoes. Hell, I'm not even a fan of strong winds. But here we were...needing to travel west (we had a "date" in Glacier National Park to get to by the end of July)...and Little Rock was smack dab in the middle of our route. In retrospect I'm so glad it worked out that way.

Avi checking out the view of the Arkansas River and city of Little Rock from our site.
The RV park from the pedestrian bridge. Note that it looks like a crowded parking lot but it's not so bad...especially for the proximity to downtown. It's a trade off. There is a vehicle bridge nearby which quiets down at night to not even be noticed but traffic noise can be heard early in the morning. I don't get too bothered by it considering they are all commuting to work and I'm able to lounge around all day. =)
 Having learned, once again, that the farther we park from the city center, the less likely we will feel like driving back and forth to "sight-see" we decided to stay in view of the city at Downtown Riverside RV Park. The RV park accepts Passport America  for 3 days on certain sites and you must make a reservation to get it...otherwise the price is $21 per night for 50 amp service and full hook-ups, which isn't all that bad considering you are within walking or biking distance of downtown.

Bridge to the Presidential Library (and downtown).

Immediately across a nearby pedestrian bridge is the William J. Clinton Presidential Library which is a pretty impressive site to behold. Whether your a fan of the former president or not, the museum is quite interesting and houses 8 million pages of documents and 2 million photographs among many other artifacts from Clinton's time in office. There are currently only 13 such libraries with construction of the 14th, for Barack Obama, underway and expected to open in 2020. One of the most interesting and eye opening things was to look through the President's daily crazy, jam packed schedules (there are binders full of his public and private obligations). I have no idea how any human being can maintain that kind of pace day after day. Amazing! But my favorite parts were the replica Oval Office and Cabinet Room.

Impressive replica of Clinton's Oval Office...each president is allowed to decorate the office to suit their taste.

Something I didn't expect from Little Rock was the emphasis on the outdoors. The Arkansas River Trail is a 24 miles trail system that runs from the Presidential Library to Pinnacle State Park. The city encourages outdoor activity and provides bike paths as well as bike lanes down the city streets. I'll admit it...I was expecting a very unhealthy city but what I found was a very progressive city with outdoor space that invites family activities, walking, biking and playing. There were climbing walls, fountains kids could play in, sculpture gardens, pedestrian bridges and public spaces that allowed people to practice yoga and "boot camp" workouts. Everyone was outside!!

We took advantage of the gorgeous spring days and our proximity to downtown by riding our bikes over to explore the city some more. Some how we ended up at Maduro Cigar Lounge for a few cocktails and had the best waitress ever. Emily took the time to chat with us and once she found out we were just visiting she gave us a list of "must-do's" and places to eat that she recommended. I've never had someone go to the lengths she did to welcome us to their city.

Emily's lists.
We hadn't planned on being in Little Rock long enough to even begin to tackle these lists but we got to enjoy a few of Emily's recommendations such as...

The Capitol Bar & Grille:

The Capitol Hotel
The Perfect Hemingway Daiquiri
A very surreal and memorable trip to Central High School, known for it's prominent and important role in the Civil Rights Movement (note: because the school is still in use you can only tour the interior with a park services ranger):

It's strange to stand here, looking at the stunning architecture of the school and then read about what occurred here when Brown vs. the Board of Education shook up the "system".

We also visited the Old Mill at T.R. Pugh Memorial Park, the perfect place for a picnic:

I love it when I misjudge an area and end up falling head over hills for a place I thought I might hate. It makes this lifestyle all that much more wonderful.

The bridge at night...pretty great view, huh?
What places have surprised you during your travels (good or bad)?

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