Especially for Midwestern groups, a short trip to Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas, can be the perfect three-day weekend getaway filled with adventure, history, and most of all -- tons of fun. Both with a bigger city feel while holding true to that Midwestern friendliness, Little Rock and Hot Springs are close enough to spend a full day in each without rushing too much. Think your group may be interested in a 48-hour stay in Arkansas? Here are some of the best sites to check out to fill a day in each city!
If you want your trip to focus heavily on education and history, Little Rock is a great place to start! Students can check out Little Rock Central High School, the spot where, in 1957, nine African-American students tried to enter the school as desegregation was beginning, and the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division had to guard them from opposing groups. Then, you can stop by Bill Clinton's Presidential Library, where students can see full-scale replicas of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. To top it off, stop by the State Capitol, where the doors are plated with 24 karat gold!
For a bit more fun like the locals do, stop by the River Market District for local shops and farmers markets unlike any other in the country, where you can grab your own souvenirs of the day. Swing by the Little Rock Zoo to explore over 200 species of animals small and large, all within a smaller-sized zoo easy enough to walk through in an hour or so. Finally, stop off at Wildwood Park to catch a musical or theatrical performance in the Gertrude Butler Pavilion, or tour the Bruce Gardens for botany inspired by countries around the world.
Once you've seen all you can in Little Rock, drive just under an hour west to start a new day in Hot Springs! Here is where you can really have a true Arkansas adventure. Known as "America's Spa," take your student group for a day of fun in these natural hot-water springs, where you can either kick back and relax like you're at the spa, explore "Bath House Row," or swim through the fresh water streams. Head down to Lake Ouachita for marina options like boating, tubing, skiing or swimming, or take a hike through Ouachita Mountain. You can also challenge yourself to climbing to the top of the mountains where Hot Springs Mountain Tower sits -- make sure to bring your camera if you make it all the way!
To get cooled off from the outdoor excitement, visitors can stop by the Mid-America Science Museum, famous for it's innovative partnership with NASA and the Smithsonian to create a truly fascinating experience for adults and kids alike. Finally, if you feel like spending the day at an exciting theme park, choose Magic Springs, filled with coasters, kiddie rides, and a massive waterpark that could compete with the Springs themselves.