Free Fun! Ten Activities That Won’t Cost You A Dime
If your patience and your wallet are wearing thin, you’ll enjoy this list of educational, entertaining ways to spend an afternoon without spending a dime.
1. The Old Mill —This re-creation of an 1880’s water-powered gristmill was featured in the opening scenes of David O. Selznick’s 1937 movie classic “Gone with the Wind.” The park is decorated with sculptures of toadstools, tree stumps and several ornate bridges — all great for curious kids. A lake stretches into the Lakewood neighborhood below the Old Mill. Open from sunrise to sunset, you’ll find the park at Fairway Avenue and Lakeshore Drive in North Little Rock.
2. Arkansas State Capitol — If you’re looking for a way to beat the heat, it’s always cool in the Capitol. Children will love the ornate staircases and the high ceilings of the rotunda. Older children can learn a great deal from the exhibits. The historic building is open to the public Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free scheduled tours of the Capitol are offered weekdays from 9 a.m.-4 pm. Call 682-5080 for more information or to arrange a private tour (also free!).
3. Arkansas Arts Center — The galleries of the Arkansas Arts Center, located at Ninth and Commerce streets in Little Rock, are a wonder to behold. Children can get up-close views of the works of such artists as Cézanne, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe, Rembrandt and Rubens. Yes, inside voices are preferred, but even high-spirited children will find something to love (even if it’s only playing hide and seek in the twisting turns of the galleries!). The Arts Center is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 372-4000.
4. The Peabody Little Rock — Parading ducks, spectacular downtown views and a great glass elevator. Need we say more? The ducks parade into the lobby at 11 a.m., where they swim in the lobby fountain until parading out at 5 p.m. Kids will love riding the glass elevators to the roof, where they can visit the ducks’ abode and take in a great view of downtown Little Rock and the Arkansas River. For more information, call 906-4000.
5. Old State House Museum — The oldest surviving state capitol west of the Mississippi River has plenty of activities for kids. The Wilderness Gallery features interpretive panels, a video program and interactive kiosks. Grandmother’s Cottage is a hands-on area where kids can play with fun items from almost a century ago. The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Call 324-9685 for more information.
6. Little Rock Central High School Museum — Older children might appreciate an in-depth history lesson about the desegregation of Central High. The museum is located in a new visitor center near the historic high school at 2125 Daisy Bates Drive. Hours of operation are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The school itself is closed during the summer, but the grounds are open for touring. Kids will love running up and down the front steps. To reach the museum, call 374-1957.
7. The River Market — On Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. from May-October, farmers and artisans set up booths in the River Market Pavilion in downtown Little Rock. Sure, you might spend a few dollars on fresh Arkansas veggies, but the experience of walking, looking, smelling and tasting the samples is still free.
8. Pinnacle Mountain State Park — Who’s up for a stroll? The park offers guided hikes or presentations about the natural world hosted by park interpreters. For current events, call the park at 898-5806.
9. MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History — This museum, housed in the historic Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal, showcases the state’s military heritage with exhibits that feature photographs, uniforms, weapons and other artifacts. Budding history enthusiasts may enjoy learning how Arkansas has played a role in the country’s conflicts. The museum is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Call 376-4206 for more information.
10. Diamond Bear Brewing Company — Take a tour of this award-winning downtown micro-brewery to get a glimpse into their brewing process from start to finish. Your guide will also discuss the history of beer and how it’s evolved. At the end, try some free samples fresh off the tap. Don’t miss their flagship “Pale Ale,” rated the best in the world twice over in the World Beer Cup Competitions. In all, the brewery’s won seven national and international awards and has eight different brews. Find them at 323C Cross St.