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21208
Arkansas

Essential Arkansas: From the Clinton Library to Crystal Bridges

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!
Rating (5)
Program No. 21208RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,829
Arkansas

Essential Arkansas: From the Clinton Library to Crystal Bridges

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!
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,829
Program No. 21208 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 24 - May 1, 2022
Starting at
1,829
May 15 - May 22, 2022
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1,829
Sep 25 - Oct 2, 2022
Starting at
1,829
Oct 16 - Oct 23, 2022
Starting at
1,829
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 24 - May 1, 2022
Starting at
2,299
May 15 - May 22, 2022
Starting at
2,299
Sep 25 - Oct 2, 2022
Starting at
2,299
Oct 16 - Oct 23, 2022
Starting at
2,299

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.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • 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 on the Arkansas River.
  • Explore Hot Springs and Eureka Springs and learn about other interesting towns and cities that have sprung up around natural healing springs.
Featured Expert
All 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 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?”
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 Sonda Gordy
Sonda Gordy View biography
Dr. Sondra Gordy, a professor in the Dept. of History, was chosen as one of Arkansas's most powerful women for Women's History Month by AY magazine. She was selected for her work on "The Lost Year," a documentary on the lost year of 1958-59. During that year, Governor Orval Faubus closed all high schools in Little Rock, locking out 3,665 black and white students from a public education, and locking in almost 200 teachers and administrators to contracts to serve empty classrooms.
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.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Dixie Association
by Donald Hays
The Dixie Association is hilarious, wise, profound, and unbelievably beautifully written. It should not be subtitled "Voices of the South". It is THE voice of the South, perfectly captured on paper. Donald Hays has perfect pitch for Southern language, on the street and in the locker room. The baseball portions are true, interesting and exciting. The picture of the last game remains one of the great descriptions of an epic encounter in sports.
Blind Judgment: A Gideon Page Novel
by Grif Stockley
The best thing about Grif Stockley's mysteries featuring Gideon Page, an Arkansas social worker turned lawyer, is their no-nonsense attitude toward the business of being a lawyer. Blind Judgement has Page commuting from Little Rock to his hometown of Bear Creek in the Arkansas Delta to defend an African American accused of killing his Chinese American employer, presumably on the orders of a wealthy white man named Paul Taylor.
Living in Little Rock With Miss Little Rock
by Jack Butler
With Arkansas in the forefront of the news, Butler's challenging tale of love, lust, and loss in Little Rock has all the ingredients of a winner. There is Lianne, a former beauty queen and television personality and her husband, Charles, a successful liberal lawyer and millionaire. There are also the members of Charles's firm: Tina, a poor girl made good; Lafayette, an African American former football star; and Greg, the token WASP. There's cocaine, a hostile sheriff, a creation science law, group therapy, and a couple of inept assassins. The whole story is narrated by the Holy Ghost in an Ozark accent.
A Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told by Those Who Know Him
by Michael Takiff
Oral historian and journalist Takiff offers a wealth of perspective to counter-or at least complicate-the prevailing, and simplistic, image many people hold of America's 42nd president, despite two prosperous terms and a decade of post-White House foreign relations work. Somewhat predictably, Takiff begins with Clinton's birth to a recently widowed mother in Hope, Ark. and ends, more or less, with wife Hillary Rodham Clinton's failure to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
Calico Joe
by John Grisham
An enjoyable, heart warming read that’s not just for baseball fans. An account of the rise and fall of Joe Castle, a baseball player from Calico Rock, Arkansas. Castle rose from the minor leagues to the Chicago Cubs in 1973 and became the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen.
First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton
by David Maraniss
Lots of people have put forth theories on what makes Bill Clinton tick, but the most trustworthy source may be David Maraniss of the Washington Post. Maraniss won a Pulitzer covering Clinton's campaign, and his book on the man is nonpareil; you simply can't understand Clinton without reading Maraniss's analysis of his past. When Bill Clinton is good, he is very, very good, and when he's bad, he's exactly like he has been all his life.
A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School
by Carlotta Walls
When fourteen-year-old Carlotta Walls walked up the stairs of Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957, she and eight other black students only wanted to make it to class. But the journey of the “Little Rock Nine,” as they came to be known, would lead the nation on an even longer and much more turbulent path, one that would challenge prevailing attitudes, break down barriers, and forever change the landscape of America.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou
In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. Marvelously told, with Angelou's "gift for language and observation," this "remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant."
A Place Apart: A pictorial History of Hot Springs
by Ray Hanley
Hanley provides a fine introduction to readers wanting a rapid but in-depth narrative of Hot Springs' physical and political growth as it evolved into a national park, recreational resort, and one of Arkansas's pre-eminent cities. Both text and photographs supply information and cultural history corroborating or dispelling prodigious myths about a city of notable and notorious characters.
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8 days
7 nights
17 meals
7 B 5 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Little Rock, Arkansas
D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: 4:30 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. We will begin our educational adventure with a presentation on Arkansas and its history by a local expert who is a long-time resident.

Dinner: In the hotel, we will have a welcome meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

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

DAY
2
Clinton Lecture, Presidential Library, Downtown
Little Rock, Arkansas
B,L,D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock

Activity note: Getting on/off public trolley. Walking up to 2 miles per day, standing up to 3 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel, enjoy what you like from the breakfast buffet with choices such as made-to-order eggs and other hot items, cereals, yogurts, fruits, fresh baked breads, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: A university professor will give us an informative presentation 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 Center, we’ll have a soup and sandwich lunch with coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: You can choose whether to remain at the Clinton Center on your own, walk back to the hotel through Riverfront Park to enjoy public art and sculpture, or return to the hotel by public trolley. Later in the afternoon, we’ll regroup and 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.

Dinner: We’ll walk to a popular downtown restaurant for a buffet or plated dinner; coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase.

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

DAY
3
Historic Central High, State Park, Travel to Bentonville
Rogers, Arkansas
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Rogers - Pinnacle Hills

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

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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 have a buffet lunch with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water and take in the beauty of the park from the top of the mountain.

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.

DAY
4
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Art Trail Walk
Rogers, Arkansas
B,L
Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Rogers - Pinnacle Hills

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; walking up to 2 miles, standing in museums up to 3 hours; groomed nature trails.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll start the morning with a preview of Crystal Bridges Museum with an educational video at the hotel. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is 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, we’ll have coupons to use at the café and order from the menu.

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 8:30 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. If you have stayed on at the museum, you might like to see the twilight show at an outdoor exhibit before returning. Transportation to the hotel will be provided on a regular schedule until 8:30 p.m. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, Ozark Folk Center
Mountain View, Arkansas
B,L,D
Ozark Folk Life Center Cabins at Dry Creek

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

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and drive to Thorncrown Chapel outside Eureka Springs. Critics have called it “one of the finest religious spaces of modern times.” 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 an Ozarks town on our way to the Folk Center.

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 buffet 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.

DAY
6
Mountain View, Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
B,L
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock

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

Breakfast: At the Skillet Restaurant, choose what you like from the extensive breakfast buffet.

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, we’ll have lunch amid beautiful views.

Afternoon: Arriving back in Little Rock, the Group Leader will take us on an exploration of the state capitol. The neo-Classical building was constructed of Arkansas granite from 1899-1911 and has a dome reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol. Next we will view points of interest on a driving exploration of Little Rock’s historic Quapaw neighborhood with a local expert. We will then ride to the hotel and check-in.

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.

DAY
7
Garvan Gardens, Hot Springs
Little Rock, Arkansas
B,D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock

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

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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 ride back to the hotel in Little Rock for some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a popular local restaurant, we’ll have a plated dinner with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner, and 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.

DAY
8
Program Concludes
Little Rock, Arkansas
B

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

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. 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!






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