1. Little Rock Is A Winner. Officially
Source: Flickr user eschipul
Forbes named it the second cleanest city in America in 2011. Last summer Kiplinger called it the number one place to live among metropolitan areas with a population under one million. Even Outside magazine named it one of its overall best towns in America in 2013.
Do I really need to list the other 21 things?
2. These People Really Love Bill Clinton
Source: Flickr user daveiam
When Bill Clinton was Attorney General and later Governor of Arkansas, he and Hillary Clinton and his family called Little Rock home. And the city still hasn’t let him go.
The Clinton Presidential Library holds two million photos, 80 million pages of documents, and almost 80 thousand artifacts from his presidency. He really is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to the city.
3. You’ll Almost Forget You’re In Arkansas
Thanks to all the abundant nature excursions and stupidly beautiful vistas (another shot of Pinnacle Mountain above) that almost bring an exotic and very un-U.S. place to mind, you’ll never be bothered that you’re in a land-locked state in the middle of the country.
4. Especially Since The Mountain Is A Giant Playground
Source: Flickr user gregmote
At Pinnacle Mountain State Park you could catch a festival, have a picnic, go on a hike, race down the mountain paths on a bike, go horseback riding, study the wonders of the Arkansas Arboretum, canoe and/or kayak down a river, go rock climbing or fishing or on a hay ride, and even have a “star party” at night. Whew.
That’s one busy mountain.
5. Little Rock Holds One Big Dam Record
Source: Flickr user eglavin
The Big Dam Bridge (that’s the real name, no joke) is the longest pedestrian/cyclist bridge (at 4,226 feet) in all of North America that’s never been used by a motor vehicle or train.
6. Halloween Here Will Truly Terrify You
One of the greatest haunted houses around during Halloween is at the EMOBA. Visitors prone to seizures and pregnant women are actually discouraged from participating, so that should give you a good idea of what you’re in for. Good luck.
7. And The Terror Won't End In October
The folks of Little Rock love to pass on their city’s scary stories to anyone who hasn’t heard of them yet, or even if they have. There’s the Vanishing Hitchhiker, a cemetery with moving statues, and of course the stately Empress B&B, which has enough first-person accounts of goosebump-inducing paranormal creepiness to make even non-believers wonder.
8. Everyone Goes Whole Hog At The Whole Hog Café
Source: Facebook user Whole Hog Café
The “definitive" BBQ joint in Little Rock can vary depending on who you talk to, but most people will agree that you can’t go wrong with the Whole Hog Café.
With a menu full of ribs and specialty meats, six different types of BBQ sauces to slather over everything, and a potato salad to end all potato salads, it’s no wonder.
The people who don’t immediately praise this place are probably just trying to keep the rest of us from finding out about it.
9. Little Rock Has Big Plans
Source: Facebook user Heifer Learning Centers
Heifer International is a decades old organization dedicated to sustainability, lowering carbon footprints, and educating others about topical issues including world hunger and poverty. At Heifer Village visitors can focus on something bigger than themselves and get a hands-on look at how the organization plans to combat these global issues.
10. No One In Little Rock Cares About Flashy Cars
They’re not really vintage, but the trolley replicas still look cool winding through the streets of downtown Little Rock.
The length of tracks and number of locations they serve is always increasing, so the silly concept of driving a “car” around is becoming kind of obsolete.
11. Swoon Over The Last Relic From The Biggest Movie Of All Time
Source: Flickr user Wright Way Photography
The Empress’ swanky attractions don’t stop when you leave the building. The Gone With The Wind Package gets you and your loved one an evening exploring the Old Mill, the only remaining structure from the filming of the popular 1939 film, located just across the river in North Little Rock.
Frankly I do give a damn.
12. Little Rockians Stand By Their Weird Food
Source: Flickr user Gerry Dincher
Invented at the local Finkbeiner Meat Packing Company way back in 1956, the “cheese dog” is a hot dog with a wiener with cheese processed inside of it. Yeah, it’s a real thing.
The, uh, unique foodie trend blew up and found popularity far beyond the city, but Little Rockians know where it all started.
13. That Actor You “Know From Somewhere” Was Probably Born Here
Source: Flickr user david_shankbone
There is an extensive list of actors and actresses from Little Rock whose names you may not know but whose faces you’d immediately recognize from somewhere and it drives you crazy until you figure it out.
Josh Lucas? Reese Witherspoon’s hometown flame in “Sweet Home Alabama.”
George Newbern? Rewatch either Father of the Bride movie or any episode of Scandal where someone has to be secretly murdered.
Maybe Mary Steenburgen will be more familiar; she’s been in everything from “Back to the Future Part III,” “Elf,” and “Stepbrothers.”
14. The Light Shows Aren’t Just For Christmas
Source: Arkansas River Lights
The “Arkansas River Lights” is a simple term used to refer to an incredible sight: Three bridges illuminated with thousands of LEDs every night from dusk until dawn. You can’t miss it, and you won’t want to.
And yes, they do go crazy at Christmas with special shows to add to the city’s already abundant charm.
15. Meet Your New Home Team
Source: Wikimedia user Jasonpohlmeier
Though the Dickey-Stephens Park in nearby North Little Rock sees many a baseball game throughout the year, during the spring season the really loyal crowds show up to cheer on the home team—the Arkansas Travs—on their home turf.
You won't even miss the fact that there isn't a major league baseball team in the whole state.
16. Beer, Just The Way It Should Be
Source: Diamond Bear Brewing Company Facebook page
At the Diamond Bear Brewery the beer is made the only way it should be: Traditional European methods using only malted barley, hops, yeast, and Arkansas water. Stop by for the tour and free samples.
17. Little Rock Knows What Women Want
Source: Facebook user Esse Purse Museum
As the (self-touted) only brick-and-mortar purse museum in the country, The Esse Purse Museum has a lot to live up to. And they do. Explore the full evolution of the fashion item throughout the twentieth century, culminating in (naturally) an awesome gift shop.
Most ingenious business model ever, I say.
18. Everyone Gets Fresh In Little Rock
Source: Facebook user Hillcrest Farmer’s Market
There are a couple of Farmer’s Markets in Little Rock, and you can’t really go wrong with any of ‘em. The Little Rock Farmer’s Market down in the River Market District is the biggest and open May through October, but the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market on Kavanaugh is a can’t miss either—and it’s open year-round for all your winter produce needs.
19. Endangered Species Are Safe Here
Source: Flickr user jdg32373
Ever since its humble beginnings in 1926 with just two animals, the Little Rock Zoo has become a haven for endangered animals throughout the state.
But don’t be disappointed: This doesn’t mean you can’t laugh at the lemurs’ high-energy antics, get grossed out in the Reptile House, or watch the penguins swoop effortlessly through the water. It’s got all that stuff, too.
20. Welcome To Arkansas' Biggest Party
Source: Facebook user Arkansas State Fair
State fairs don’t really need me to champion them, and it’s no different in Little Rock. Crazy rides, crazy good junk food, and impossibly unwinnable sideshow games—step right up, they’re all here.
21. Little Rock Is A Real-Life Treasure Hunt
Source: Flickr user yutaka-f
In case you don’t know, geocaching is a hobby wherein you use a GPS to triangulate the position of a hidden treasure left there by the person who found it before you, and then you take it and leave something of your own in its place.
It’s huge in Little Rock, and more than 150 caches are located along the Arkansas Great River Road. So get digging.
22. Little Rock Has A Bit Of A (Huge) Sweet Tooth
Source: Facebook user Brown Sugar Bake Shop
Places like local favorite Brown Sugar Bake Shop ensure that the citizens of Little Rock always have their sugar fix with treats like Reese’s Peanut Butter Pie, Jumbo Lemon Cookies, Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes, and good old-fashioned Pecan Pie.
It’s not a great place for a diet. But who cares.