12 Attractions in North Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson


North Little Rock is located across the Arkansas River from the capital city of Little Rock. Although overshadowed by its larger and more well-known neighbor, North Little Rock has plenty to offer visitors.

From museums and sports to outdoor recreation and history, there are many great attractions that make North Little Rock worth exploring. This article will highlight 12 top attractions that you don’t want to miss when visiting this Arkansas town.

North Little Rock History

Before diving into the attractions, it helps to understand a little history of North Little Rock. What is now present-day North Little Rock was once the home of Native American tribes for thousands of years. In the early 1800s European settlers began establishing homesteads and communities in the area. The city of North Little Rock itself was incorporated in 1901.

North Little Rock grew rapidly in the early 20th century due to its prime location along the Arkansas River and proximity to Little Rock. It became an important railroad hub and developed a strong blue-collar workforce. The opening of the Broadway Bridge in 1923 increased connectivity between North Little Rock and Little Rock. Today it continues to grow not just as a sister city to the state capital, but as a destination all its own.

Burns Park

The crown jewel of North Little Rock’s outdoor attractions is undoubtedly Burns Park. Spanning over 1,700 acres, Burns Park contains something for nature lovers of all ages. Visitors can hike over 15 miles of woodland trails that wind through the forests, meadows and streams. Mountain bikers can ride over 7 miles of scenic single-track dirt trails that criss-cross the park.

The park also contains playgrounds, picnic areas, a dog park, athletic fields, a disc golf course and more. Guests can rent pedal boats and paddle boats to take out on the park’s two lakes. Burns Park is a one-stop outdoor playground for families and adventure seekers alike.

North Shore Riverwalk Park

This beautifully landscaped public park stretches for over a mile along the Arkansas River. Walkers, joggers and bikers will adore hitting this paved pedestrian trail while taking in lovely views of the riverfront. Art sculptures lining the trail add artistic touches.

Benches provide spots to sit and relax, watch boats, have a picnic or do some fishing. Two ramps grant access to the river, perfect for kayaking or canoeing. The park also contains an outdoor amphitheater that hosts concerts throughout the warmer months.

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

At the northern end of North Shore Riverwalk Park you’ll find this unique museum centered around Arkansas’s naval history. Visitors can board and explore the USS Razorback submarine, named after the University of Arkansas mascot. Commissioned in 1944, it patrolled the Pacific Ocean through the end of World War II.

Inside the museum, guests can check out exhibits related to other vessels that traversed Arkansas waterways. Some displays highlight the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who developed the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System allowing travel 490 miles up the Arkansas River.

Arkansas River Valley Nature Center

This 190-acre nature center and education facility features diverse habitats perfect for environmental exploration. Guests can embark on over three miles of trails traversing through wetlands, forests and meadows. An interpretive center houses educational displays about the local wildlife, plants and ecology.

Outside you may spot deer, turtles and over 200 species of birds native to the Arkansas River Valley. Special events and programs take place year-round like guided nature walks and summer kids camps.

Old Mill

One of North Little Rock’s most famous attractions is the Old Mill. This picturesque recreation of an old water-powered grist mill has appeared in numerous television shows and films. Most famously it was featured in the opening scenes of Gone with the Wind.

Today guests can snap photos of the iconic mill set along the banks of a rocky stream. Walk across the covered bridge and spot ducks floating in the water. Nearby sits a fairy tale-like gazebo, floral gardens and other old buildings creating the illusion of stepping back in time.

Park Hill Historic District

History buffs will love spending time wandering this historic neighborhood lined with homes dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Various architectural styles are on display including Queen Anne, Colonial Revival and Craftsman bungalows.

The Forest Heights House is a gorgeous restored mansion available to tour that gives insight into wealthy living in the early 20th century. Guests can also take self-guided walking tours using an online map pinpointing over 200 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

ESSE Purse Museum

Handbag lovers can get their fill exploring at the ESSE Purse Museum. This impressive collection contains over 4,500 handbags plus accessories like wallets, key fobs and pillboxes. The purses date back as early as the 1500s and come from designers ranging from Hermes to Vera Bradley.

The collection is the lifetime work of Anita Davis, an Arkansas native who believes purses capture intriguing stories related to the women who carried them. Plan on spending ample time checking out the rotating and permanent exhibitions displayed across three art-filled floors.

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

Located along North Little Rock’s scenic Riverwalk, this museum pays homage to the state’s naval history with fascinating exhibits and displays. Guests can even tour the USS Razorback, a WWII era submarine. Inside are artifacts and images related to boats, ships, tugs and barges that traversed Arkansas waterways for centuries. Kids and adults alike will have a blast learning about and seeing this unique aspect of Natural State history.

William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library

One of Arkansas’s most acclaimed attractions is the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library along the banks of the Arkansas River. This complex houses archives and artifacts from President Bill Clinton’s eight years in office in the 1990s.

Permanent exhibits give insight into major initiatives and events under the Clinton administration. Displays also highlight earlier chapters of Clinton’s life from childhood in Arkansas up through his presidential campaign. Make sure to take in spectacular views from the cantilever bridge suspended 60 feet over the river.

Funland Amusement Park

When it comes to classic family fun, nothing quite beats this nostalgic amusement park and its Old West theme. Funland opened way back in 1937 and continues thrilling kids and kids-at-heart. Kiddos love gentle rides like flying airplanes, a carousel and bumper boats. Even tiny tots can get in on the fun in their own Tot Town section.

Meanwhile parents breathe sighs of relief seeing their teens entertained on faster rides like roller coasters, go-karts and a log plume. Funnel cakes, corn dogs and candy apples make it easy to satisfy sweet-tooths after burning up energy playing for hours.

The celebrated wooden Wildcat rollercoaster has been ranked among the country’s top wooden coasters while new favorites like the Tempest Family Coaster provide modern spinning thrills. With additional rides like bumper cars, a carousel, go-karts, log flume and more, Funland offers entertainment options suitable for all ages.

Finish off the day with classic midway food favorites like hot dogs, popcorn and funnel cake. Parents won’t want to miss the opportunity to create special memories riding alongside their children in Funland’s beautiful confines.

Wild River Country Water Park

On hot and humid Arkansas summer days the best place to cool down is at Wild River Country Water Park. Little Rock has no shortage of outdoor water parks, but this one located in North Little Rock offers just as much splish-splashy fun. Visitors frolic amidst a wave pool, winding lazy river and a variety of aquatic thrill rides.

Options range from mild for younger kids to wild for adults and teens boasting names like Pipeline Plunge, Tiny Twister and Octopus Rage. When not braving the attractions, chill in a private cabana or spread out along sandy beaches surrounding the pools.

Conclusion


From world-class museums and historic sites to outdoor pursuits and family fun, North Little Rock offers an array of attractions to suit any interest or age. No matter whether you seek culture, educational experiences, outdoor adventure or good old-fashioned amusement park rides with the kids, you are sure find engaging options to fill your time when visiting this Arkansas town.

Pair a stay in North Little Rock together with some sights across the river in Little Rock to maximize your experience. But don’t overlook the charm and attractions waiting for you in the capital city’s lesser-known counterpart. Now that you know about the best things to do, start planning your trip to explore North Little Rock soon!

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