Our first stop in our two days in Little Rock was the William Clinton Presidential Museum and Library. I was really excited for this visit because they had a special exhibit on the Olympics while we were there (fitting because the Rio Summer Olympics were going on during this time.) I was also looking forward to this museum because Clinton is the first president a really remember being in office during my lifetime. I was amazed by how much I still didn’t know! As it seems with all presidential libraries, there was enough to read in all the exhibits to last weeks, so we had to pick and choose which exhibits we read in depth.
By far our favorite part was the special exhibits on the Olympics. They had separate areas for both the Summer and Winter games. They had lots of memorabilia from the Athens and London games that we enjoyed reminiscing over. The Winter games exhibit also had a bobsled that we could climb into and one of the workers was kind enough to take our picture for us!
After the museum we took a trip out of town to visit Arkansas Post National Memorial. It is in the middle of nowhere Arkansas, but I really enjoyed the trip and found it to be very interesting. We were the only people there when we visited. The area has had many flags flown over it during it’s existence. The fort is no longer there because the river now covers it’s location. The fort saw battles in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. If you ever have a chance, head out to Gillett, Arkansas and give Arkansas Post a visit.
We woke up early in the morning to head down to Bathhouse Row for our hot springs spa appointment at Quapaw Bathhouse. We were signed up for a couples bath. We paid extra to have some bath salts thrown in to help soothe our muscles after all our car time the day before. We really enjoyed the soak and even though the time seems short, it’s just the right amount of time so you don’t get too hot from the hot springs!
Following our time at the spa we went into the visitor center and got to check out the old bathhouse styles and equipment. Then we took a walk along the Promenade. After that it was time to head up the mountain to the Hot Springs Observation Tower. We had great views from the top and I liked that you could take in the views from both the inside and an observation deck outside.
Following out time in the tower we went into town for lunch at Olive Garden, followed by a stop at the best Ice Cream shop in Arkansas: Scoops Ice Cream, then it was onward to Little Rock where we would spend the final days of our trip.
We arrived in Little Rock a little sooner than we anticipated so we chose to visit Little Rock Central High National Historic Site. I really enjoyed the layout of the visitor center and felt like I was part of that movement while visiting. It really brought history to life.
Day 8 of our Southern Tour was filled with lots of time in the car! After spending the night in Natchitoches, we went out to Cane River Creole National Historical Park and got to walk through the grounds of an old plantation. It was already quite hot and muggy so we didn’t spend long, but it was easy to think about what life would have been like on the plantation. I especially enjoyed the set up of the plantation store.
After that it was back in the car and on our way to the next state on our trip…or should I say states? The town of Texarkana lies right on the border of Arkansas and Texas. We ate lunch on the Arkansas side at one of our more favorite southern fast food joints, Whataburger. Then it was down the main drag to the Post Office where you can get our of your car and straddle the border. We weren’t the only crazy tourists who stopped to do that! There also is a nice plaque dedicated to John F. Kennedy who spent some time campaigning in Texarkana.
After that we hopped back in the car and continued our trek into Arkansas. Our next stop was Hope, Arkansas: Birthplace of President Bill Clinton. We had only anticipated being able to stop in the visitor center seeing as how there had been a fire in the house earlier in the year and hadn’t been giving out tours while it was being restored, but when we walked in they asked if we would like one! We were pleased to learn that they had restarted tours just a few days before! As chance would have it, just like the tours at Abe Lincolns house in Springfield, IL and Grant’s home in St. Louis, we had the tour to ourselves. It was very interesting to learn about Bill’s life as a young boy, living with his grandparents, and having been taught the values of integration early on in his life. Clinton is the first president I really remember being in office during my lifetime but I felt like I learned so much more in this little town called Hope.
It was late afternoon by the time we left Hope, but our journey for the day was not quite complete. We had one more hour to drive to reach our destination of Hot Springs. We were eagerly anticipated our natural hot springs spa experience the next day after all our time in the car.
At the end of January and beginning of February, Andrew and I took two short trips. One to a site in the city that we hadn’t visited yet, and one to Arkansas so that he could play in one of the Preachers basketball games.
Our first weekend we visited Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. This site is run by the National Park Service. When we first arrived in St. Louis we had visited Grant’s Farm across the street, but to me, visiting Grant’s house was much more exciting. We went on a beautiful January Day…temperatures were in the 60’s or 70’s….and somehow were still the only ones on our tour that Sunday morning after church. I liked that once they brought you into the house you were given time to look around on your own. They also had a really well put together museum after you made it through the house.
The next weekend we took a trip down to Arkansas. We went so Andrew could play with the Preachers against Crowley Ridge College. I used it as an excuse to visit a new state. We only made it about 30 miles into Arkansas so there isn’t much to say but it was hillier and more tree covered than I anticipated. I’ll have to make a more extended visit in the future.