Date: June 25, 2021 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Molly Anne Sandefur |
Experience the walkable neighborhoods of the Capital City and its neighbor to the north | A Special At Home in Arkansas Promotion
Bernice Garden in Little Rock’s SoMa district.
The past decade has brought renewed interest in walkable urban spaces across the country, and Little Rock and North Little Rock are no exception. With shops and restaurants returning to Main Street on both sides of the river, it’s easier than ever to fit more of the city into a day trip—just find a place to park and hit the pavement.
In Little Rock, one of the biggest areas of growth downtown is the South Main Street district, also known as SoMa (somalittlerock.com). Beginning at the junction of Main Street and Interstate 630, this area is buzzing with local restaurants, bakeries, bars, specialty shops, and photo ops in front of murals by Arkansas artists. If visiting on a Sunday, stop by Bernice Garden (thebernicegarden.org) for the weekly farmers market (held mid-April through November), where you can buy produce and artisan goods.
Across the Arkansas River, Argenta (argentaartsdistrict.org) in North Little Rock is similarly popular, especially for a night out. The Argenta Outdoor Dining District has recently become the place to be for eating out as well as live music and revelry; and while many of the area’s restaurants and bars have reopened with indoor dining, the pop-up district remains a draw on Friday and Saturday nights.
Back in Little Rock, Hillcrest (hillcrestmerchants.net) and The Heights (facebook.com/intheheightsLR) are beloved for their small-town feel. Take a stroll along either side of Kavanaugh Boulevard, the thoroughfare that winds its way from one neighborhood to the other, to visit abundant coffee shops, eateries, boutiques, and galleries that make these areas so unique. Read on for more of our favorite places to shop, design, dine, and visit.
Open for 14 years, M2 Gallery moved to SoMa in 2018 and recently expanded to include a second floor. The gallery features paintings, photography, drawings, and sculptures by artists from all over the country.
Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing (pyramid1988.com) was founded in 1988 with a focus on Black art, culture, and education. Owned by Garbo and Dr. Archie Hearne, the bookstore-meets-gallery also hosts signings, storytimes, and virtual events. At Art Group Gallery (artgrouparkansas.com) in Pleasant Ridge Town Center, browse works in a range of styles and mediums, all created by the studio’s 19 artist owners. Shopping for that special someone? If you’re looking for fine jewelry or gifts, stop by Sissy’s Log Cabin (sissyslogcabin.com) for service and selection that can’t be beat.
When shopping for your home, the Riverdale Design District is a must; don’t miss Debi Davis Interior Design (debidavisinteriordesign.com) for sophisticated yet livable furnishings and décor. Nearby is mertinsdykehome (mertinsdykehome.com), which features a mix of transitional and contemporary styles in furniture and accessories. Kaufman By Design West (kaufmanlumber.com) offers 10,000 square feet of flooring, lighting, hardware, and décor for any stage of your home project, and Ken Rash’s Arkansas (kenrashsoutdoorfurniture.com) is your resource for everything outdoors, from firepits and grills to everything you need to outfit your back deck.
Certified Pies (certifiedpies.com) is quickly becoming a favorite for pizza and wings among locals. Operating out of Arkitchen’s commercial space, the pies are currently available for curbside pickup. A Southern menu of seafood and steak as well as a sleek, indoor/outdoor atmosphere makes Cypress Social (cypresssocial.com) a must-visit near Maumelle. In Argenta, stop by Brood & Barley (facebook.com/broodandbarley) for well-crafted pub grub and local beers on tap.
When visiting the area with little ones in tow, stop by The Wonder Place (thewonderplace.com) in west Little Rock to let their imaginations run wild. Interactive play spaces include a water table, musical treehouse, air maze, art studio, and more—all hands-on activities to encourage learning and fun. Esse Purse Museum (essepursemuseum.com) makes a great girls-trip destination, with its permanent exhibit displaying a century of women’s history through purses and their contents. Don’t forget to book a relaxing massage or facial at Rejuvenation Clinic Day Spa (rejuvenationclinic.com) and head home feeling refreshed and renewed.
Take in the natural beauty just west of the city center at Two Rivers Park, a 1,000-acre preserve where the Arkansas and Little Maumelle rivers meet. Here, you can walk or bike the pedestrian bridge that connects to the Arkansas River Trail.