Skip to Main Content

Essential Arkansas: From the Clinton Library to Crystal Bridges

Program No. 21208RJ
Get to know Arkansas, from the Clinton Library to Crystal Bridges, from hot springs and mountains to Ozark music and southern cooking — this place has it all!

Enroll with Confidence

We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Protecting the Environment

We offset a portion of the emissions created by your travel. Learn more

At a Glance

Arkansas is “the Natural State,” swathed in vast forests of oak, pine and hickory and adorned with rivers winding down from the Ozark Plateau and Ouachita Mountains to the mighty Mississippi. Discover these and other pristine natural treasures of Arkansas and encounter the great cultural gifts enshrined in its cities and towns. Experience the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, explore state parks, quaint towns and lesser-known gems and find yourself immersed in Ozark traditions and music as you learn how Arkansans preserve them.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles a day, standing in botanical gardens and museums for a few hours. Ability to get on and off motor coach with minimal assistance several times a day.

What You'll Learn

  • Enjoy an in-depth look at American art at the Crystal Bridges Museum, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House.
  • Learn the legacy of Clinton’s presidency on a visit to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, a state-of-the-art facility.
  • Explore Hot Springs and Eureka Springs and learn about other interesting towns and cities that have sprung there.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
Profile Image
Jay Barth
Dr. Jay Barth, a native of central Arkansas, is the Graves Peace Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Politics at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and serves as Chief Education Officer for the City of Little Rock. His academic work includes research on politics of the South, state government and politics, LGBT politics, political communication (particularly radio advertising), and the achievement gap in Arkansas. He is the co-author with the late Diane D. Blair of the second edition of "Arkansas Politics and Government: Do the People Rule?”

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Mechel Wall
Mechel Wall View biography
Mechel Wall is a mother to eight, a grandmother to eight, and the wife of Barry Wall. She is the owner and operator of WallFlower Farm, a women-owned specialty cut flower farm in Pea Ridge. She has been a volunteer trail leader at Crystal Bridges and is currently the Benton County Master Gardener. She is the founder and was the board president of Benton County Charter School Org, Inc. and a sponsor and founder of one of Arkansas’s first charter schools — Arkansas Arts Academy.
Profile Image of KT Cockerell
KT Cockerell View biography
KT Cockerell, a native Texan, loves to share colorful Texas history with visitors. She enjoys the adventure of discovery while leading groups and in her own personal travels as well. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe and locally. KT has been involved with the travel industry for over 20 years. KT and her husband Alan enjoy living in the small rural town of Seguin, where they have raised their four daughters.
Profile Image of Tari Intardonato
Tari Intardonato View biography
Tari Intardonato was a teacher for many years before taking her skills to the road. She enjoys leading field trips with Road Scholar, during which she shares her knowledge and love of presidential libraries, history, textiles, and little out-of-the-way gems. Tari is an avid reader and loves sewing, watching British TV shows, and spending time with her family.
Profile Image of Lowell Collins
Lowell Collins View biography
Lowell Collins has been a Bentonville resident for the past 40 years. She is a retired speech-language pathologist who spent 35 years working with pre-schoolers with developmental delays. Since 2010, she has been actively involved in Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, completing the guide training program for trails and grounds, architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright House. She is a Master Gardener with expertise in native plants. Lowell has a passion for Bentonville and for sharing it with the many Crystal Bridges guests.
Profile Image of Jay Barth
Jay Barth View biography
Dr. Jay Barth, a native of central Arkansas, is the Graves Peace Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Politics at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and serves as Chief Education Officer for the City of Little Rock. His academic work includes research on politics of the South, state government and politics, LGBT politics, political communication (particularly radio advertising), and the achievement gap in Arkansas. He is the co-author with the late Diane D. Blair of the second edition of "Arkansas Politics and Government: Do the People Rule?”
Profile Image of Daniel Cockrell
Daniel Cockrell View biography
Daniel Cockrell is the director of the Old State House Museum in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas and was previously the adult education/living history coordinator there. He has a B.S.E. in applied sciences and an M.A. in history from the University of Central Arkansas and has more than 25 years of teaching many subjects. Daniel has been with the Old State House Museum as an interpretive specialist since 2005 and has served as a historical interpreter at key historic sites in the region.
Profile Image of Rex Nelson
Rex Nelson View biography
Rex Nelson has been chronicling Arkansas history as a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since the 1990s, and has held the role of senior editor since 2017. He has worked as a political consultant and served as director of policy and communications for Governor Mike Huckabee. An avid football fan, he also serves as the voice for the Ouachita Tigers radio network.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on, a website that supports local bookstores.
While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
8 days
7 nights
17 meals
7 B 5 L 5 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Little Rock, Arkansas
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your Road Scholar name tag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will serve as our primary educational resource. Transportation will be primarily by private motorcoach. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/ conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Clinton Lecture, Presidential Library, Arkansas History
Little Rock, Arkansas
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 3 miles over the course of the day over city streets and some uneven terrain; standing up to 3 hours at museums.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We'll start the day with an informative presentation by a local expert on Bill Clinton’s rise to power. We’ll learn how successes and failures during the early part of his career shaped his future. Next, we’ll take a field trip to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center on the banks of the Arkansas River. We will have an expert-led exploration of the presidential library that covers 20,000 square feet and learn about Bill Clinton’s vision of the center as a place where people can come together to discuss issues of today and challenges of tomorrow. We will also have some time to explore on our own.

Lunch: At the Clinton Presidential Center.

Afternoon: We’ll return to the hotel by coach in the early afternoon. Next, our Group Leader will provide a walking exploration of the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park. Later in the afternoon, we’ll be joined by a local historian who will discuss Arkansas history and culture, providing context for the sites we will visit this week.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Historic Central High, State Park, Travel to Bentonville
Bentonville, Arkansas
Courtyard by Marriott Bentonville

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 250 miles, approximately 4 hours riding time. Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 3 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board a motorcoach and ride to Little Rock’s Central High School. There, we’ll delve into Southern history and culture with a Ranger-led field trip. Once a national symbol of resistance to desegregation, Central High is still in use. We will visit the National Park Service Historic Site Visitor’s Center next door to find out more about the struggles of the “Little Rock Nine” — black students who were enrolled following the Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Inside the school, we will hear from a Park Ranger with extensive knowledge of the school’s history. We’ll then travel to Petit Jean Mountain and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. On the way to the Institute, we’ll learn about this lesser-known Rockefeller who became Governor of Arkansas.

Lunch: At the Rockefeller Institute, we’ll take in the beauty of the park from the top of the mountain as we dine.

Afternoon: Next we’ll ride into Petit Jean State Park, enjoy a scenic overlook, and see first-hand why Arkansas is called “The Natural State.” We’ll then continue the trip to Bentonville on our motorcoach. Upon arrival in Bentonville, we’ll check in to the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a welcome reception and dinner.

Evening: After dinner, the Group Leader will take us on a short visit to the quaint town square for a better sense of life in Bentonville.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Art Trail Walk
Bentonville, Arkansas
Courtyard by Marriott Bentonville

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 3 miles, standing in museums up to 3 hours; groomed nature trails.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll spend the day focused on the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the most-talked-about museum in the United States in a generation. Designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the museum consists of a series of pavilions nestled around two creek-fed ponds. A series of outdoor trails covering 120 acres of forests and gardens surrounds the museum. We’ll learn more about its origins and development during a late morning field trip. Endowed by the Walton Family Foundation, it joins the ranks of the richest museums in the country and has collected an impressive collection of American art. The museum’s grounds include more than three miles of nature trails. We’ll have an opportunity for a walk led by a professor of art to see outdoor sculptures and the natural Crystal Spring.

Lunch: In the Crystal Bridges Museum.

Afternoon: Next, led by a museum docent, we will explore the Crystal Bridges museum and see highlights of the collection of American art masterworks from the Colonial era to modern day such as Charles Wilson Peale’s and Gilbert Stuart’s portraits of George Washington; Normal Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter; and works by John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, and Andy Warhol. The museum also hosts touring exhibits from national art institutions. There will also be an opportunity for a self-directed exploration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman Wilson House, meticulously moved to the site from New Jersey. Beginning in the late afternoon, transportation from the museum to the hotel will be provided on a regular schedule until 7:00 p.m. for those who wish to stay longer for dinner and/or evening activities.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You might like to make a reservation for dinner at the museum’s award-winning restaurant. Alternatively, the motorcoach will take those who would like to go into the Bentonville town square, where a variety of restaurants await.

Evening: At leisure. Coach transportation to the hotel will be provided on a regular schedule until 7:00 p.m. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, Ozark Folk Center
Mountain View, Arkansas
Ozark Folk Center Cabins at Dry Creek

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 165 miles, approximately 5 hours total riding time. Walking and standing at the Folk Center; steep hill to restaurant, shuttle available.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and drive to Thorncrown Chapel outside Eureka Springs. Nestled on a wooded hillside, the majestic glass and wood beam frame encompasses 425 windows and more than 6,000 square feet of glass, providing a connection with nature and opportunity for quiet reflection. We’ll then head into Eureka Springs and take a narrated tram ride around the historic town, learning about local history as we admire the Victorian architecture.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: As we ride through the Buffalo River National Recreation Area, we’ll learn something of its natural history. We expect to arrive at the Ozark Folk Center mid-afternoon. This state park is dedicated to preserving the region’s cultural traditions. We will go to the Crafts Village for a self-directed exploration. We’ll be able to see working artisans who make and sell wares in the traditional method in these areas: blacksmithing, weaving, candle making, wood carving, pottery, quilting, broom making, and much more. We’ll then get our room keys and take the shuttle to our cabins with some time to freshen up and relax on the deck amid the beauty of the mountains.

Dinner: We’ll take the shuttle (those who wish to climb the hill are welcome to do so) to the Skillet Restaurant on site at the Folk Center for a meal featuring down-home Southern cooking.

Evening: Near the restaurant, we will walk to a performance space and experience the important role that music plays in the life of Ozark Mountain people during a concert in the center’s auditorium. In addition to regional folk tunes played on fiddles, banjos, mandolins, dulcimers, autoharps, and more, we’ll see how dancing and story-telling blend with the music and preserve mountain traditions. Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Mountain View, Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 120 miles, approximately 2 hours riding time. Walking up to 1 mile and standing for 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the Skillet Restaurant.

Morning: We’ll learn more about Ozark traditions in a presentation at the Folk Center, then check out of the hotel and board our motorcoach. We’ll ride down to the town of Mountain View and drive around the square where folks gather to sing and play Ozark music passed from generation to generation. Then we will continue on towards Little Rock.

Lunch: At a restaurant along the way.

Afternoon: Arriving back in Little Rock, we will stop for an exploration of the state capitol with an expert docent. The Neoclassical building was constructed of Arkansas granite from 1899-1911 and has a dome reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol. Next we will visit the Old State House Museum, next door to our hotel. This was the original state capitol, dating from 1833. We’ll learn about significant events in its history. We will then check in at the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. You may choose to eat in the hotel restaurant or venture out into the nearby River Market district.

Evening: At leisure. Rest and relax or go out for some further independent exploration to see and do what interests you most.

Garvan Gardens, Hot Springs, Farwell Dinner
Little Rock, Arkansas
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 120 miles, approximately 3 hours riding time throughout the day. Walking up to 2 miles; hilly terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will set out for a full day in Hot Springs, named for the array of natural springs that still supply heated water for thermal baths. We’ll begin at Garvan Woodland Gardens, with more than 200 acres of floral landscapes, streams, and waterfalls in a natural woodland setting. A docent will show us highlights of this gem of the Ouachita Mountains.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like in Hot Springs. There are restaurants on Central Avenue across the street from the bath houses.

Afternoon: Hot Springs National Park may be the smallest in the National Park System, but it is one of the most significant in terms of nature, geology, and history. The park was designated as Hot Springs Reservation in 1832 to protect the naturally flowing thermal springs. The naturally occurring springs have been managed to conserve their production for public use. With a local expert, we will learn about the history and geology of the area as we walk along Bathhouse Row and visit a bathhouse. We will then ride back to the hotel in Little Rock for some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner. Reflect on everything we’ve seen and learned about “Essential Arkansas” and its history, culture, and natural beauty.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
Little Rock, Arkansas

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Recommended For You

loading spinner