20 Things To See and Do in 2022

20 Things To See and Do in 2022
Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock is the home of the Arkansas Travelers. (Sydney Bryant)

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts — The more than $128 million renovation of the renamed Arkansas Arts Center has stayed on schedule despite the COVID-19 pandemic and, reopening in the spring of 2022. The center is home to a permanent collection featuring the works of greats like Ansel Adams, Thomas Hart Benton and Picasso, plus traveling exhibits. The museum offers a children’s theater and classes for children and adults seeking to learn a skill like pottery, woodworking and more. Photo courtesy of Arkansas museum of fine arts

Southwest Trail — The Southwest Trail is a multipurpose trail running from the Arkansas River Trail to Hot Springs National Park along an abandoned railway and connecting eight communities in Pulaski, Saline and Garland counties.

Museum of Discovery — Located in the River Market District, the museum offers family-oriented, hands-on, interactive exhibits that include the lifelike tornado exhibit and the world’s largest musical, bipolar Tesla coil, according to Guinness World Records. The museum offers field trips and birthday parties when health and safety precautions allow, and virtual versions when they don’t.

Local Flavor — From outdoor dining to curbside pickup, the region boasts one of the most diverse, creative and robust restaurant scenes in the nation, with more than half of Little Rock and North Little Rock’s 900-plus restaurants operating as independents. From mainstays like Whole Hog Cafe and U.S. Pizza to upscale steakhouses, fine dining, ethnic and international cuisine, Little Rock has quickly built a reputation as a “foodie” destination.

Festivals  — Travel the world and never leave the region, and enjoy good food in the process. A wealth of festivals celebrates the culture, including the delicious food, of the people who have come from around the globe to make Little Rock home. Choose from the Arkansas Italian Food and Culture Festival, the Greek Food Festival, IndiaFest, the Jewish Food and Cultural Festival and World Fest. Or attend them all.

The Arkansas Travelers — Established in 1901, the Arkansas Travelers baseball club has for more than a century allowed fans to catch professional baseball’s rising stars on the way to the big leagues. The Travelers, affiliated with Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners, normally play 70 home games a year at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, with a wealth of theme nights that provide entertainment for the whole family.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre — After a pandemic-forced hiatus, the Rep returned in 2022 with a slate of comedies and the Stephen Sondheim Musical “Into the Woods.” A night at the Arkansas Repertory Theater is an intimate experience offering notable productions performed by a mix of local talent and established performers from around the country.

Ballet Arkansas — The nonprofit organization is the foremost professional ballet company of the State of Arkansas. Ballet Arkansas provides access to world-class dance performances and educational programs throughout the state each year, presenting a vibrant and diverse lineup of performances featuring classical, neoclassical and contemporary works.

Cheese Dip Tour  — The origin of cheese dip as we know it can be traced to a Central Arkansas Mexico Chiquito in 1935. The restaurant’s locations still offer the golden treat, and other delicious examples exist around the Metro area, including at Diablos Tacos & Mezcaleria and Heights Taco & Tamale Co., which won the U.S. Senate cheese dip-queso faceoff in 2016.

Clinton Presidential Library and Museum — Commemorating the administration of the 42nd President of the United States, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is located within the Clinton Presidential Center and Park. The Center includes the Clinton Foundation (Little Rock office) and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Dog Days — No need to leave Old Rex at home if you’re planning a day or night out. There are plenty of dog parks and many of the area’s popular bars and restaurants feature pet-friendly patios. The Bark Bar on Little Rock’s Spring Street caters exclusively to canines with an indoor/outdoor, off-leash play area.

Little Rock Zoo  — Founded in 1926 when a bear and wolf were abandoned in Little Rock by a departing circus, the Little Rock Zoo boasts more than 500 animals, some of them endangered, representing more than 200-plus species. The majesty of exotic wildlife on display continues to make the zoo one of the Little Rock Region's great treasures.

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra — The ASO is a nonprofit, professional orchestra serving Arkansas. The orchestra has performed virtual concerts and its "Bedtime With Bach" series drew thousands of viewers and national recognition from entities like CNN and The Washington Post. The virtual concert series began with "A Lyric Return" featuring music from Claude Debussy and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site — Still a functioning and respected high school, the site
of the 1957 desegregation crisis commemorates one of the landmark moments in Civil Rights history. The site offers visitor access and a visitors center and the outdoor Commemorative Garden and Elizabeth Eckford Commemorative Bench are accessible to the public.

SOMA — Visit the Esse Purse Museum and view history through fashion’s lense, browse a quirky selection of antique and curio shops, grab a sweet treat at Loblolly Creamery, brunch at the Root Cafe or enjoy Southern dishes with a gourmet twist at South on Main, the restaurant named for this lively and offbeat neighborhood south of Interstate 630.

Day Trips — From a lazy float on the Buffalo River, established as America’s first national river in 1972, to a relaxing mineral bath and massage on Hot Springs’ historic bathhouse row, to a winery tour and a sip in Arkansas Wine Country near Altus, there is an eclectic collection of adventures within daytime driving distance of Central Arkansas.

Libations — The Metro area is the epicenter of a thriving brewpub scene that includes Lost Forty Brewing, Flying Saucer Draught Emporium and Brewski's Pub & Grub in Little Rock, while Rock Town Distillery has its award-winning liquor lineup on Main Street. Central Arkansas Water works closely with the breweries, as water is essential to their product. Brewers claim the water quality is so good it's like starting with a "blank canvas" when crafting beer.

Arkansas State Capitol — Designed in the Neoclassical style, the Arkansas State Capitol building was built more than a century ago as a replica of the U.S. Capitol. The building features Arkansas granite, six bronze doors and three chandeliers crafted by Tiffany's of New York. The dome has a 24-karat gold plated cupola. The Capitol also offers video, virtual reality and audio tours while visitors can stroll the grounds and take in the various memorials.

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum — Located at North Shore Riverwalk Park in North Little Rock, the museum is the only place in the world where you can see two floating Naval vessels that bookend World War II: the tugboat Hoga, a National Historic Landmark recognized for her efforts during the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941; and the submarine USS Razorback, which was in Tokyo Bay during the surrender of Japan.

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center — One of the newest museums in the region, the center invites visitors to explore Arkansas’ African American history, life and culture in the state-of-the-art facility. Walk down Ninth Street and learn about Black-owned businesses, explore the legacy of the Mosaic Templars of America, learn about Black legislators in the 1890s and listen to firsthand accounts of life in the segregated South.