Clinton Library, photos courtesy Little Rock CVB
A trip to Arkansas’ capital puts young visitors in the middle of a vibrant city with a cultural and historical reach that stretches around the globe.
One of the up-and-coming cultural centers of the South, Little Rock has a variety of big attractions for youth groups. At the Clinton Presidential Center, visitors will learn about Bill Clinton’s presidency and the importance of government in today’s world. Next door, the headquarters of Heifer International offers an inspirational look at the fight against global poverty.
At a number of historic sites in the area, among them Central High School and the USS Razorback submarine, students can step into the shoes of people who have lived through extraordinary times. And in the bustling River Market District, the Museum of Discovery is a favorite stop for student groups to learn about science and technology.
[ Clinton Library ]
Although today’s students may have little memory of Bill Clinton as a sitting president, his presence still looms large in Little Rock, where he spent much of his adult life before getting into politics. The Clinton Presidential Center has impressive museum displays that give visitors an overview of Clinton’s life and political career and that feature numerous artifacts from his time in the White House.
Youth groups will enjoy two special parts of the exhibits: A re-creation of Clinton’s White House Cabinet Room has replicas of the table and chairs used in the room for daily discussions; in the next room, a full-scale model of the Oval Office presents Clinton’s presidential workplace in exact detail, including the historical artwork and personal mementos that decorated the room during Clinton’s time in office.
The Clinton Center offers a number of special educational programs for young visitors, with experiences tailored to elementary, middle school and high school groups.
[ USS Razorback ]
Just across the Arkansas River from the downtown district, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock is home to the USS Razorback, a submarine that served in World War II. A tour of the submarine allows young visitors to get a taste of a 20th-century sailor’s experience.
Guides lead groups on 45-minute tours of the submarine that go below deck to examine the working and living quarters used by seamen of the 1940s. The submarine is still operational and features many original installations and fixtures.
Inside the museum, exhibits trace the submarine’s history from its construction in 1943 through her service in World War II and Vietnam, then to its time in Turkey and its return to the United States.