Find out how Arkansas' tourism developed in the 1990s in response to its famous native, then-President Bill Clinton.
The different cities along the Clinton Trail provide a unique tour through this panoramic southern state and allow tourists to experience a part of Clinton’s roots. The first city along the route in southwestern Arkansas is Hope, where Clinton was born in 1946 and raised until the age of 7. Visitors can see Clinton’s two childhood homes in the area, his birthplace marker, former public school, and the new Hope Visitor Center and Museum located downtown.
The next stop on the tour is the resort city of Hot Springs, 80 miles away, known for its thermal bathing industry and also as President Clinton’s home until his graduation from Hot Springs High School in 1964. Besides the Clinton homes, his high school, the church in which he was baptized, two of his choice eating establishments, and his favorite boyhood movie theater, Hot Springs offers a lot of family fun. Allow three days for the Alligator Farm, House of Reptiles, riverboat tour, wax museum and, of course, a thermal bath.
The next city along the Clinton Trail is Fayetteville, to which Clinton returned to teach at the University of Arkansas Law School. While living in Fayetteville, Clinton began his political career and married Hillary in 1975. The Arkansas Air Museum in Fayetteville has a noteworthy collection of vintage aircraft and original hangers.
The final stop along the route is, of course, Little Rock, where the Clintons moved after Bill was elected Attorney General in 1976. Two years later he became the youngest governor in the nation. There are numerous sites relating to Clinton in Little Rock including former homes, the Governor’s Mansion, the Arkansas State Capitol, the Old State House and the Statehouse Convention Center, and the Clintons’ former Baptist church. Families with younger children will also enjoy the Children’s Museum of Arkansas, the hands-on Museum of Discovery, and the IMAX shows at the Aerospace Education Center.
Each of these cities has developed comprehensive brochures which show visitors how to find Clinton-related destinations and exposes families to the numerous other attractions that the state offers, such as the fading but still fascinating Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs or the annual autumn air show featuring vintage WWII aircraft at Hope.
In order to help families coordinate their visits, the Department of Parks and Tourism in Little Rock has recently released their first-ever “Arkansas Family Fun Pack.” This travel packet comes complete with a Navigator’s Guide to Arkansas Fun (full of family attractions throughout Arkansas for parents) as well as an Arkansas Explorer’s Guidebook (full of games and puzzles for kids 6-12 years and fun facts about Arkansas to help them learn while they explore).
In order to further promote Arkansas and its parks as an outdoor destination, the State Parks system developed a web site especially for kids at www.arkansaskids.com featuring fun events, facts and figures and information about camping and hiking through the park system in “The Natural State.”
Ordering info: To order Clinton brochures contact the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800/844-4781 or 501/376-4781, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce at 800/766-4626 or 501/521-1710, the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800/SPA-CITY or 501/321-2277, or the Hope Visitor Center and Museum at 800/223-4673 or 501/722-2580. To order an Arkansas Family Fun Pack call the Little Rock Department of Parks and Tourism at 800/NATURAL or 501/682-7777. For more information on Resource Raccoon call 501/682-2187 or visit online at www.arkansas.com.
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