From sunup to sundown (and well beyond), there's so much to explore in the heart of the capital city. Here's what to do in East Village, SoMa, Argenta and downtown Little Rock no matter what time of day you're there.
- MORNING -
Let's Get Caffeinated
If you ask us, any great day of city exploring starts with the search for coffee, and downtown's offerings do not disappoint. In the East Village neighborhood, Fidel & Co. is the current cool kid on the block, serving up specialty blends roasted in-house alongside fresh pastries made daily, as well as other Arkansas blends like Onyx Coffee Lab. Stop by on a nice day and you'll find the garage doors up, transforming the shop into an indoor/outdoor space.
Tried-and-true coffee shop favorites include Nexus Coffee and Creative in the River Market, which has more space to spread out and sells wares by local makers, and Mugs Café in Argenta, which also offers expanded seating and hand-crafted drinks, not to mention some of the city's favorite pancakes.
If you want a cup more off the beaten path, try 2Twenty1 on the corner of Second and Center streets or its sister shop The Paranoid Android in the Tech Park. For tea drinkers, stop by The Green Corner Store to sip your choice of 30 loose leaf varieties at the tea bar.
Brunch or Bust
When a pastry just won't cut it, brunch is a must. At the Corner is the reigning champion downtown serving farm-to-table brunch bites six days a week, with lines often down the block to get a taste of their themed weekend brunch menus.
SoMa has no shortage of brunch options either — The Root Cafe's brunch is iconic, and Raduno Brick Oven and Barroom is always a hit, especially on its small-but-mighty patio — but if you're craving around-the-clock brunch eats, try Press Waffle Co. Sweet or savory, topped with chocolate chips or fried chicken, this menu offers fresh takes on a beloved classic.
Take In the View
Once you're fueled up for the day, take the opportunity to explore the beauty of our riverside city hub. Rent a bike from the Rock Town River Outfitters and hit all three pedestrian bridges, or take a leisurely walk through the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden or go on a mural hunt. (Pro tip: Both the Little Rock and North Little Rock convention and visitors bureaus have maps on their websites of where to find public art.)
► Spring through fall, shop the Little Rock Farmers Market and Argenta Farmers Market on Saturdays, or the Bernice Garden Farmers Market on Sundays.
► Take in cultural offerings and shop specials during the monthly 2nd Friday Art Night (2FAN) in Little Rock and Third Friday Art Walk in Argenta.
► During warmer months, the second weekend means Dogtown Throwdown in Argenta with closed streets, outdoor dining and live entertainment.
- NOON -
Little Rockers Who Lunch
Now that you've worked up an appetite, it's time to grab a quick bite before jumping back into the day. Because of its influx of 9-to-5ers throughout the week, downtown has a variety of restaurants designed to get you fed and on your way. Grab a sammy and a local brew at EJ's Eats and Drinks, a slice (with ranch, of course) at Iriana's Pizza, a cupcake to-go from Community Bakery or peruse the lineup of vendors in Ottenheimer Market Hall.
Of course, if you'd rather take in your surroundings a bit more, try an old favorite like Flying Fish, a newer option like food-truck-turned-restaurant Wicked Taco Factory or class things up at the Capital Bar and Grill.
Shop Hop & Museum Crawl
One of the best things about downtown is its unusual mix of new and old. Most of the city's museums are here — most notably the Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Old State House Museum and Clinton Center — where you're invited to dive into Arkansas history, plus a rotation of traveling exhibits. There's also the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History and Art, where you can shop the Galleries and Bookstore at Library Square.
Speaking of, there are lots of local shops to visit in the area. One of our latest favorites is Pink Olive, a newly opened boutique in SoMa that originated in Manhattan and is filled with bright gifts, stationery and decor.
If you prefer a little more spice with your shopping, look no further than Bang-Up Betty in Argenta and AR-T's in SoMa. Both stores were born from local creatives expanding their well-loved work into brick-and-mortar locations, and both are an impeccable blend of all things lovely and saucy.
For the Kids
Contrary to popular belief, downtown isn't just for grownups. Pack up the family and hit the:
► Riverfront Park playground and splash pad
► Museum of Discovery
► Arkansas Travelers at Dickey-Stephens Park
► Central Arkansas Main Library and Argenta Branch Library
► Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center
► Loblolly Creamery (of course)
- NIGHT -
The Patio Life
Downtown Little Rock's River Market is known for its nightlife, but even if crowded clubs and bars aren't your speed, there's lots to do in the area after sundown. For the patio lovers, kick back under the cafe lights in East Village at The Rail Yard with its rotation of food trucks or at Camp Taco's kitschy new digs and astroturf-lined outdoor space. Buenos Aires Grill & Cafe not only offers authentic Argentinian dining, but one of the most unique patios in the city, often filled with live music.
These neighborhoods are also home to much of the city's performing arts stages. Grab tickets to a local show at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, The Studio Theatre, The Weekend Theater or Argenta Community Theater, or catch a touring Broadway show at the Robinson Center.
Late Night Sips
When a nightcap is in order, your options run the gamut. For elevated sipping (quite literally), make the climb to Agasi 7, a rooftop bar with tasty drinks and eats and unmatched views of the skyline. A taste of local spirits awaits at Rock Town Distillery, where the bar is stocked with their award-winning vodka, gin, bourbon and rum, while Ristorante Capeo's wine list offers a delightful trip to the Old World.
Local breweries abound in downtown and Argenta — there's Diamond Bear, Lost Forty, Stone's Throw and Flyway, to name a few — but if you're in the mood for a dive, opt for Vino's where you'll catch some live music with your in-house brew.
There's always something new happening by the river. Here are a few we're looking forward to:
► Henrietta’s restaurant downtown
► Blackberry Market in Argenta
► El Sur brick-and-mortar in SoMa
► Sterling Market Food Hall in East Village
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