A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
Among the options for wining and dining out on New Year's Eve (see calendar for others):
• New Year's Eve Dinner at Starving Artist Cafe. There are seatings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; reservations are recommended. Starving Artist will offer a choice of three prix fixe menus. 372-7976.
• New Year's Eve Victorian Affair Wine Dinner Dance at The Empress of Little Rock. Hosted by Sharon Welch-Blair and Bob Blair, with dinner starting at 8 p.m and dancing afterward in the parlors. $200. 374-2966 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
• New Year's Eve at the Capital Hotel. Eat, drink and be merry and don't drive home. Guests stay in a Capital Great Double suite, get a two-course dinner for two at the Capital Bar and Grill with wine pairings and a glass of sparkling wine to ring in the new year. $299 (includes tip and tax). 877-637-0037.
• Vesuvio Bistro New Year's Eve Event. Various four-course meals for $100 a person, limited to 100 guests. 225-0500.
Bob and Scottie Viall have revived The Hop Drive-In at 7706 Cantrell Road. Two years ago, the couple opened Bob and Scottie's Dairy Barn in the old Garry's Drive-In space in Benton (a legendary locale, where, Scottie said proudly, a scene in the movie "Slingblade" was filmed). The landlord for The Hop space recruited the Vialls to expand into Little Rock. At both restaurants, the menu is typical dairy bar — burgers, hot dogs, fries, homemade shakes and splits. Scottie Viall said she and her husband plan to serve the barbecue sandwich that's popular in Benton in Little Rock as soon as they can add some equipment. The Hop Drive-In is open 10:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 228-5556.
Longtime Pizza D'Action employees Gary Hoschouer and Chuck Beets have purchased the storied dive bar and pizza joint from longtime owner Orville Davis.
Hoschouer, who along with Beets has worked at Pizza D off and on for about 18 years, said to expect small menu and interior updates, but no radical changes. Two specific upgrades coming soon: outlets at tables to allow laptop users to work more easily and a repaired and remodeled front entrance, which has been covered with plywood since mid-December, when the driver of car lost control, smashed into the building and drove away. Once the entrance is fixed (hopefully in time for the Super Bowl, Hoschouer said), look for a party to celebrate the ownership change and the "grand reopening."
The restaurant/bar's new Facebook Page has information on daily meal and drink specials and music listings. Look for concerts at Pizza D once or twice a week, Hoschoeur said.