When the Little Rock Zoo opened its gates in 1926, it contained fewer animals than many people's homes. At the time, its inhabitants were, in total, a circus-trained brown bear and an abandoned timber wolf. From its formative days, the Little Rock Zoo has expanded dramatically, now home to more than 700 animals from more than 200 unique species. Visitors can witness lions, tigers, and jaguars up close; interact with exotic birds; and carefully navigate spider monkeys' webs. In addition to conserving wildlife, the zoo also preserves a unique antique carousel, one of only four in the world to feature an undulating wooden track rather than conventional moving poles.
Arkansas Extended Learning Center culls a massive, seasonal lineup of informative classes, recruiting chefs, artists, athletes, and other professionals to share their wisdom with students of all ages. Pupils can pick up new hobbies such as fly-fishing or digital photography, or sharpen nascent abilities in fields such as cooking and wine-tasting. Otherwise, they can tone up their physiques in fitness and dance classes, discover a new way to communicate in foreign-language workshops, or learn how to cut their way out of a hedge maze during gardening and landscaping tutorials.
Profiled in the Arkansas Times and on THV, Rock Town Distillery crafts small-batch artisan spirits using Arkansas materials. Local red winter wheat transform into vodka and gin, corn and wheat become the award-winning clear Arkansas Lightning, and charred white-oak barrels grown from Arkansasian barrel trees cradle young bourbon as it ages. Each day, the distillery hosts warehouse tours, complete with the grain-to-bottle production story of each spirit and tastings of all liquors at the end.
Cary and Gina Martin were on a bus tour of Minneapolis–Saint Paul when Cary was struck with a thought: why not bring these types of tours to Little Rock? Gina quickly got on board, and Little Rock Tours and Travel was born. Initially, both Martins kept their jobs in broadcast journalism–Cary was a news anchor and Gina was a reporter, which inspired them to incorporate video clips into the tours. Eventually, Cary and Gina left their day jobs to run their business full time, but this journalistic aspect of the tours remains one of its strongest draws. Little Rock Tours and Travel also plans sightseeing tours, including trips to local casinos and DeGray Lake Resort State Park as well as dinner cruises down the Arkansas River.