"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
AEROSPACE EDUCATION CENTER
The Aerospace Education Center offers an exciting lineup designed to inspire the imagination. Located near the Little Rock National Airport, AEC offers aviation and aerospace exhibits, including an original Sopwith Camel and a replica of the Wright Flyer. Its IMAX theater offers a wide variety of science-related films—call or visit them online to find out what's showing. Open Thurs.-Sat.
3301 E. Roosevelt Rd. Show times and ticket prices vary. 376-IMAX (4629); www.aerospaced.org
ARKANSAS ARTS CENTER
Whether hoping for a glimpse of the classics, cutting-edge or points in-between, art lovers will find plenty to appreciate at the Arkansas Arts Center, the state's largest cultural institution with more than a dozen galleries to browse.
The Arts Center offers visitors traveling exhibits as well as exhibits from their own growing collection—from American, Renaissance and European artists to the modern works. Among the most recognizable works in the collection are the drawings of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe, Rembrandt and Rubens.
In addition to its impressive collection, it houses a number of other cultural venues. Its Children's Theatre is a professional theater company presenting children's classics September through May. Best Impressions Restaurant offers a delicious lunch experience, and the Museum Shop features unique gifts and interesting works by regional artists.
501 E. 9th St. Hours: Tuesday–Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed Monday and major holidays. Cost: Most exhibits are free. 372-4000; www.arkarts.com
ARKANSAS STATE CAPITOL
It's hard to venture to the center of the city and not catch a glimpse of the Arkansas State Capitol's bright dome, with its 24-carat gold-leaf cupola. Construction began in 1899 and took 16 years and $2.2 million (now valued at $320 million) to complete, which resembles a scaled-down version of the U.S. Capitol. The price and effort were well worth it. The bronze front entrance doors, which were purchased at Tiffany's, are 10 feet tall and four inches thick. An upward view from beneath its breathtaking rotunda can weaken the knees. The Capitol's halls are lined with some of Arkansas's favorite politicians and changing displays devoted to Arkansas history.
500 Woodlane (between Markham and Seventh streets). Hours: Monday–Friday 7 a.m.–5 p.m., weekends and holidays 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Tours: Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Cost: Free. 682.5080; www.sos.arkansas.gov
ARKANSAS STUDIES INSTITUTE
The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) was one of the first institutions to have faith in the River Market, and now, its main library draws more than 450,000 visitors each year.
Not quite satisfied, CALS decided to partner with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and rehab a couple of old buildings on President Clinton Avenue.
These buildings now makeup the Arkansas Studies Institute, which is dedicated to the study of Arkansas and houses about 10 million artifacts, including UALR archives, the papers of Arkansas governors Dale Bumpers, Winthrop Rockefeller, Jim Guy Tucker and Frank White and the gubernatorial papers of Bill Clinton.
401 President Clinton Ave. Hours: Monday–Saturday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Cost: Free. 320-5700; www.cals.org.
CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CENTER AND PARK
To describe this nationally-renown facility on the bank of the Arkansas River as a "must-see" for anyone visiting Little Rock is an understatement.
Explore the 20,000-square-feet of museum exhibit space, including a 110-foot-long timeline detailing the history of President Clinton and his administration. The timeline utilizes photographs, videos and interactive stations, and is flanked by thematic alcoves highlighting specific achievements during his time in office. Enjoy a power trip while standing in the full-scale replica of the Oval Office, or play the role of a cabinet member by using interactive media stations in a replica of the Cabinet Room.
The upstairs alcoves contain displays about life in the White House, including personal artifacts from the former First Family. Surrounded by a 30-acre city park, the building's design symbolizes President Clinton's theme of "Building a Bridge to the 21st Century."
In addition, the center houses the largest archival collection in American Presidential history as well as educational, research, and reception facilities.
1200 President Clinton Ave. Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday 1–5 p.m. Closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Cost: Adult $7; senior $5; age 6-17 $3; 5 and under free. 374-4242 or www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org.
COX CREATIVE CENTER
Part of the Central Arkansas Library System, the Cox Creative Center is located in a 1907 vintage, renovated warehouse in the River Market housing a coffee shop, bookstore and Cox Creative Gallery.
120 Commerce St. Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sunday. Free. 918-3093; www.cals.org