Looking to get outside with the family and have a little adventure and fun? Want a great family vacation that won’t break the bank? You get all that and more in Arkansas, The Natural State. Long before husband and kids I lived in Oklahoma for two years and friends and I would head over to Arkansas for camping trips. I fell in love with the mountains and natural beauty and was excited to revisit it and share it with my family this summer as we made our first stop in Arkansas: Little Rock.
Here’s our itinerary for Day One:
Little Rock Zoo
Little Rock Zoo is an easy to access and park at zoo ($3 per vehicle) and is a great way to spend a few hours in Little Rock. They have over 700 animals and the grounds are easy to navigate with plenty of signs. Animal exhibits include big cats, great apes (one of the few exhibits in the world that include all three species of great apes: chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas), zebras, reptiles, birds, and more.
The zoo also has a beautiful antique carousel for $3 per person and you can take a tour on the Diamond Express, the zoo’s train also for $3. We had lunch in Café Africa and found the offerings very comparable to the Houston and Dallas zoos which we have also visited. If you’re going in the summer, there are plenty of cooling stations throughout the zoo as well.
The zoo is pretty well maintained and most of the animals kids would be looking for are there along with some unexpected surprises like this bald eagle. He is one of two that Little Rock Zoo took in after they were shot and could no longer fly. (Side note: Who shoots a bald eagle???) The zoo also has a playground as well. It’s a great stop on a Little Rock visit and it’s right next to our next stop!
War Memorial Park & Splash Pad:
War Memorial Park is conveniently located in the heart of Little Rock and right around the corner from the zoo, so after exploring the zoo we headed over to the splash pad to cool off. The beautiful park is free and has ample parking. There were also changing rooms for the kids to get into their swimsuits.
The park features an 18 hole golf course, walking trails, a pond, picnic areas and tables, and a playground. The kids favorite part of War Memorial Park was the splash pad- and one of their favorite parts of our whole trip. It’s one of the coolest splash pads we’ve ever been to because it didn’t feel like a splash pad. It felt like a trip to an old school swimming hole.
The natural splash pad is a great representation of The Natural State made from rocks and boulders brought in from around the state. The rocks form places to climb, child size caves, and waterfalls.
It’s a great place to cool off and is no charge. There’s also plenty of benches for parents to watch their kiddos having fun. Because it’s such a nice splash pad and is free of charge, it can get busy but we went later in the day after the zoo and it didn’t feel over crowded. With the play ground, beautiful grounds, picnic area and the splash pad, War Memorial Park is a great place to spend the afternoon in Little Rock.
Little Rock Zoo and War Memorial Park are two conveniently located, budget friendly, and fun ways for families to get outside and explore beautiful Little Rock so definitely add them to your itinerary as you visit Arkansas.