We get it. Talking about vacations and tourism when we’re all stuck at home feels a little…awkward right now. Sure, we all want to be planning our next trip to our favorite destination, but the truth is that none of us know when those trips might actually happen. Right now, we’re all more worried about our next trip to get groceries than we are our next trip to the beach. Which, in turn, makes doing our job a little difficult here at the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau. What is our role in all of this if we don’t actually have any visitors right now?
The answer is that now is when we plan for the future, for the visitors we’ll see when this is over. And now is when we rebuild our community to ensure that the Little Rock of tomorrow is the best it’s ever been. Because even though our current travel plans mainly consist of trips to our temporary home offices, the spirit of travel still exists in each of us, a steady desire to explore and discover, learn and grow. And that spirit of travel? Well, its journey – and yours, too – runs right through the heart of Little Rock.
We won’t pretend to have all the answers or that our crystal ball is clear on what our world will look like once we’ve put this crisis behind us, but what we know for certain is that Little Rock is ready to see you.
Here you’ll find a city full of incredible people just waiting to greet you. Take Matt McCleod, an artist whose work you literally can’t miss. His building-sized murals join a new class of public art that have brought new life to our downtown core. And then there’s Mr. Elihue Washington, of Lassis Inn, our not-so-well-kept secret spot for fried fish. He won a James Beard award this year; just another milestone in the story of a family that’s been serving Little Rock diners since 1905. Or there’s Phil Brandon, a former white-collar IT executive who found happiness opening Arkansas’s first distillery since Prohibition (The first legal one, at least.). Now, ten years later, Rock Town Distillery’s Main Street tasting room is decorated in awards and trophies his gins and Bourbons have collected from around the world.
One of the benefits of being a just-the-right-size kind of city is that all of the things you’ll want to do and all of the people who make Little Rock so special are all so close. Right off Main Street is Bella Vita Jewelry and when you go inside, you’ll want to ask Brandy McNair. In 2008 she launched her jewelry design business at local craft shows. Now her designs can be found in stores around the world. While you’re there, be sure to snag a snack from Coco Belle Chocolates. Carmen Portillo, Arkansas’s end-all, be-all queen of chocolate makes the best truffles you’ll ever have. And who could forget Heather Smith, whose shop Domestic Domestic is a temple to all things made in America.
While we’re proud of our people, we’re not telling you about them just to brag. We just can’t wait to meet you— and for you to meet our people. We hope that real soon, you’ll be able to enjoy a meal inside some of our fantastic restaurants And meet the people who make them great. We’re home to culinary innovators like Scott Rains and Scott McGehee, and to culinary masters like Louis Petit, Tomas Bohm, Sami Lal, and Armando Balaños, all immigrants who chose Little Rock as their home, the perfect place to unleash their culinary talents upon the world. They and their fellow restaurateurs are the reasons that publications like Wine Enthusiast, Bourbon & Boots, Food & Wine and Southern Living have all raved about our food scene as being one of the best in the south and one of America’s most undiscovered foodie paradises.
Certainly, none of us could have predicted the events of the past few months. What we do know for sure is that Little Rock’s greatest strength is its people. Our entrepreneurs and our restaurateurs, our creators and our innovators. We, like you, have been through a lot, and all we want is to welcome someone new to town. We’ve missed the chance to do that these past few months.
We’ve missed seeing new faces on the sidewalks and at our dining tables. Our hotel beds have gone empty and our meeting halls are too quiet. Hospitality is a way of life for us; our niceness is in our nature. So, whether you’re a first-time visitor to our city or you’re a Little Rock or Arkansas native taking your first steps away from home, know that you’re welcome here and that we’re excited to see you. You’ve been sorely missed.