Zoie Clift, travel writer
Photos available here.
The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, LRCVB, has unleashed four new self-guided tours this year as an added way to experience the varied culture and history of the state and showcase Little Rock in a new way. The tours fall under the categories of murals, sculptures, historic churches, and military history.
“We’re fortunate here in Little Rock to have an array of attractions rich in history, arts and culture, many of which are completely free of charge,” said Gretchen Hall, president and CEO of the LRCVB. “Even better, many are also located outdoors for all to enjoy at any time. Our mural collection continues to grow, there are more than 140 sculptures on display in Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden and Riverfront Park alone, beautiful historic churches line the skyline, and military memorials and monuments can be found throughout the city.”
As for the motivation for creating the new tours, in the spring of this year the LRCVB began to package area attractions into these new tourism amenities that people could experience from the safety and comfort of their homes or at their leisure via driving or walking tours. “We created virtual tours, mapped the sites and provided site information,” said Hall. “Should people want to safely venture out, they may do so in a variety of ways by driving, walking or even cycling to sites.” Hall said the project had two goals, to remind and educate residents about the attractions in their own backyards and also to inspire individuals to make future trips to Little Rock to enjoy them in-person when they felt safe to do so.
On the Little Rock Mural Tour, you can see a variety of creative murals that showcases the vibrant art scene of the city. For instance you can see the Butterfly Mural at 400 President Clinton Avenue, which features a colorful scene of butterflies and moths native to Arkansas. A mural called Golden Harvest can be found at East 10th and Main St. and celebrates the state’s role as the nation’s top rice producer. At Capitol Avenue and Main Street you’ll find a mural called Playtime, with its playful scene of a red wagon carrying various Little Rock landmarks inside it.
The Little Rock Sculpture Tour showcases pieces of art in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden and Riverfront Park.
The Little Rock Historic Church Tour has 18 churches as part of the tour that stand out for their architecture and history. Thirteen are on the National Register of Historic Places and two are in a National Register Historic District. The churches do not offer public tours but you can enjoy the outside of them. Churches on the tour include the First Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1921 and designed by architect John Parks Almand. Many of his commissions are on the National Register of Historic Places, including Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. Another church on the tour is the First Missionary Baptist Church, which was built in 1882 and known as a pioneering African-American church in the city. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the church in the early 1960s to deliver the church’s 118th anniversary sermon.
On the Little Rock Military History Tour you can see 14 attractions that range from monuments to museums. Some of the spots on the tour include the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Mount Holly Cemetery, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, the Arkansas National Guard Museum at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, and the Jacksonville Museum of Military History in Jacksonville.
“I would invite people to visit our website and view the tour videos, then map their route should they choose to safely visit sites in-person,” said Hall. “Along routes there are many great local eateries that offer take-out, curbside and dine-in options. I would encourage visiting a few and making your self-guided tours fun-filled adventures in Arkansas’s capital city. Many businesses have taken our Big on Safety pledge to publicly acknowledge they are following all safety guidelines and enforcing all local measures to provide the safest environment for guests and their employees.”
Audio tours are also available for people to download on the LRCVB site that cover political history and civil rights.
“We continue to look for ways to offer the best and safest experiences for our residents and visitors,” said Hall. “These new self-guided tours have been very popular, so be looking for more down the line.”
All of these insightful tours can be found at littlerock.com/experience-little-rock/tours.
About Arkansas Tourism
Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit www.arkansas.com.