Greetings From Little Rock: Spend Spring Break As A Tourist in Your Own Town
You don't have to make big travel plans for big spring break fun! See how the rest of the world looks at your home town when you spend spring break acting like a tourist right here in central Arkansas. Here are 10 local destinations, from museums to mini golf.
Looking for spring break camps? Click here for our full list of day camps and classes during the week of spring break for central Arkansas students, March 23-27.
Destination #1 - Mid-America Science Museum
Day trip down to Hot Springs and ogle the impressive renovations at Mid-America Science Museum, which reopens March 7. Kids can get moving as soon as they walk in the door: A spacious new entryway contains the Marvelous Motion exhibit full of hands-on interactives. Downstairs, families will find the museum’s popular cave maze, along with an expanded exhibit all about the Natural State’s underground. The Arkansas Underfoot exhibit explores 13 types of rocks and minerals and where to find them in our state. Kids can also sort microfossils under a microscope, spend time inside the giant tree reading nook, and discover “yucky” science like bacteria and decomposition.
In the main gallery, step into the Digital Dome Theater for a telescopic journey through space and the simulated universe. You’ll also find The Workshops and tons of interactive fun: Make a stop-motion animated film; keep a beat on the electronic drums; power a hairdryer by turning a wheel and more. Two major pieces are sure to be kiddie hotspots: the modern jungle gym called the Gyroid Climber and the two-story water tower. Kids can splash around in the water feature, tossing colorful balls into streams that jet them high into the air—up to the second story, in fact. Cannons on the second level allow kids to propel the balls even higher and into a funnel that drops them back down into the fountain’s central feature—a water vortex.
The museum’s upgrades extend to the outdoors, as well. Highlighting the museum’s wooded location, the Science Skywalk juts into the forest canopy 30 feet above the ground. Visitors safely view the trees from a bird’s-eye-view and explore small exhibits in the tree house. Adventurous youngsters can even climb around a cargo net suspended in the center of the walkway! The museum’s grand reopening is March 7. For more info: MidAmericaMuseum.org.
Destination #2 - Big Rock Fun Park
What’s more “family vacation” than playing a round of mini golf with your crew? At Big Rock Fun Park, you can putt the greens without leaving town. The fun doesn’t stop after scores are tallied: Speed around the go-kart track; battle it out in bumper boats; and rack up tickets in the arcade to win prizes. Don’t miss the arcade’s newest attraction called Lazer Frenzy—a laser maze that players must navigate carefully to complete their mission. During spring break (March 23-27), visitors can take advantage of a buy one, get one free offer just for the brand-new attraction (regularly $3 per play). For info: 455-3750, BigRockFunPark.com.
Destination #3 - Garvan Woodland Gardens
Garvan Woodland Gardens will put the “spring” in spring break with its annual Daffodil Days and Tulip Extravaganza. From mid-March to early April, the gardens will be blooming with daffodils, azaleas, dogwoods, tulips and more. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for up-to-date photos and blooming schedule. For info: 262-9300, GarvanGardens.org.
Destination #4 - Clinton Presidential Center
We’re guessing that your kids are going to be Clinton scholars by the time they grow up, but who can resist multiple visits to the Clinton Presidential Center? In addition to permanent historical exhibits on the Clinton administration policies and the family life of the Arkansas-born president, the center hosts free activities for spring break (10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 23-27). Grade-school students can engage in musical activities with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, playing different types of instruments and meeting musicians. Plus, they’ll enjoy activities inspired by exhibits that celebrate Snoopy, Charlie Brown the “Peanuts” crew. The two temporary exhibits highlight different themes in Charles M. Schulz’s iconic comic strips—football and love—and will feature reproductions of the original comic strips, life-size sculptures of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and themed ephemera. Spring break activities are free; however, admission fees to tour the Museum apply. For info: 374-4242, ClintonPresidentialCenter.org.
Destination #5 - Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum
North Little Rock’s Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum may just convince your family that you’re spending spring break exploring the open seas. Visitors can step into the USS Razorback, a historic submarine floating in the Arkansas River along North Shore Riverwalk Park. The vessel conducted five combat patrols in World War II and was one of 12 submarines present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrender was signed. An exhibit illuminates the history of the Razorback’s service. Plus, two new exhibits open March 20, including a display on submarine lifeguard duty and an exhibit on Arkansans who served in the Navy during World War II. For info: 371-8320, AIMMuseum.org.
You can’t play tourist in Little Rock without hopping on the yellow River Rail Streetcars which connect downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. Hop on for just $1 (50 cents for ages 5-11, and free for ages 4 and younger) and ride the 3.4-mile loop to see the sights. For schedules and a map, visit CAT.org.
Destination #6 - Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre
Rainy day? Kids sitting inside bored and miserable? Well, you’re in luck. The Cat in the Hat will come to the rescue! The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre brings Dr. Seuss’ iconic picture book to life—and that curious cat will banish all boredom with his mischievous fun. “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat” plays March 6-29, with special spring break performances at 2 p.m. March 24-27. During your visit, don’t forget to head upstairs and peruse the free art exhibitions in the Arkansas Arts Center galleries. For info: 372-4000, ArkansasArtsCenter.org.
Destination #7 - Museum of Discovery
A tourist trip to downtown Little Rock isn’t complete until you visit the Museum of Discovery. Beginning March 7, families can discover a new exhibit called “Mindbender Mansion”—which will be a huge hit with puzzle- and brainteaser-fans. You won’t want to miss the “Dinosaurs: Fossils Exposed” exhibit either—kids can dig in a fossil pit, gawk at life-size dinosaur skulls and more. And, especially for spring break week, the museum has invited a few special friends to celebrate science. AETN days are March 23-24; Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat will visit Monday and both characters from Peg + Cat will greet guests on Tuesday. For info: 396-7050, MuseumOfDiscovery.org.
Destination #8 - Arkansas Repertory Theatre
Spring break is going to be “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” with help from the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of “Mary Poppins.” Based on the classic 1964 film about a magical nanny, this Broadway musical includes all of the favorite tunes: “Step in time,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim-Chim Cher-ee” and more. Attend a performance during your own “Jolly Holiday”—there are showings all week long. While you’re at the show, be sure to pick up a serving of the special “Mary Poppins”-inspired ice cream—sweet cream with brownie pieces—made by Loblolly Creamery. For info: 378-0405, www.TheRep.org.
Destination #9 - Heifer Village
At Heifer Village, your child will get a global perspective of issues and problems that affect families around the world. More than 80 interactive and hands-on exhibits focus on ending hunger and poverty across the globe. During the week of spring break, visitors will be treated to even more fun—free activities all week long. Each day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. March 23-28, families can take part in activities like a “fishing” game, relay activities and scavenger hunts. For info: (855) 343-4337, www.Heifer.org.
Destination #10 - Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center
Arkansans are proud to bear the name “Natural State,” so your touristy romp through Little Rock must include a stop at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. Located downtown, the completely free center showcases Arkansas’ geographic regions—from the Ozark Plateau to the Mississippi Delta—through a series of living habitat exhibits that house real fish from the regions. Over spring break (March 24-27), families can learn even more at special fishing clinics, wetland hikes, geocaching, nature games, reptile meet and greets, archery workshops and more. For info: 907-0636, www.CentralArkansasNatureCenter.com.