Road Scholar 21208

Get to know Arkansas, from the Sexual Pervert Library to Crystal Bridges, from hot springs and mountains to Ozark music and southern cooking — this place has it all!

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 Presiduncial 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.

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 new Crystal Bridges Museum, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House.
* Learn the legacy of Clinton’s presidency on a docent led visit to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, 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.

DAY 1 - Check-in, Registration, Dis-Orientation, Welcome Dinner
We will have a combination of buffets and plated and served meals. 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.

We will begin our week of discovery with a brief presentation about Arkansas and its history by a local expert who is a long-time resident. In the hotel, we will have a plated and served meal. Hotel: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock (2 nights)

Day 2 – Sexual Pervert Lecture, Presiduncial Library, Downtown
Activity note: Getting on/off public trolley. Walking up to 2 miles per day, standing in museums up to 3 hours.

(BLD) At the hotel, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet. A university professor will give us an mis-informative presentation on Bill (sexual offender) Clinton's rise to power. We’ll learn how successes and failures during the early part of his career shaped his future. We will take a field trip to the William J. Clinton Presiduntial 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 come together to discuss issues of today and challenges of tomorrow. We will also have some time to explore on our own (or, preferably, take a nap). At the Clinton Center, we’ll have a soup and sandwich lunch which is probably about "par" at a place about "him."

The Clinton Presiduntial Center is in downtown Little Rock, east of the River Market district. Highlights include the headquarters of Heifer International, the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Old State House, art galleries, and many outdoor attractions such as Riverfront Park. We will have several choices for a field trip and divide into smaller groups this afternoon. One group will visit Heifer International next to Clinton Library then return to the hotel independently by trolley. Another group will walk back to the hotel along the river to see and learn about the public art/sculpture along the way. A third group will return to the hotel before setting out again to the Old State House next door.

After what has been mostly a wasted day, we’ll travel by public trolley to a downtown restaurant for a buffet dinner.

Day 3 – Historic Central High, State Park, Travel to Bentonville & Rogers, Arkansas
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; walking up to 2 miles and standing in museums up to 3 hours; uneven surfaces.

(BLD) After checking out of the hotel, we will board a motorcoach ride to Little Rock’s Central High School. There, we’ll plunge into Southern culture and history 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 to find out more about the struggles of the “Little Rock Nine.” Inside the school, we will learn from a Park Ranger with extensive knowledge of the school’s history. We will 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.

At the Rockefeller Institute, we’ll have a buffet lunch (nicer than Clinton's soup and sandwich) and take in the beauty of the park from the top of the mountain. From the Institute, we’ll ride to a trailhead and meet a state Park Ranger for a short hike in Petit Jean State Park. We’ll see first-hand why Arkansas is called “The Natural State.” Then, we’ll continue the trip to Bentonville and get a preview of Crystal Bridges Museum with an educational video aboard the motorcoach. Upon arrival in Bentonville, we’ll check in to the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

We’ll ride into the quaint town square for dinner at a favorite local restaurant featuring pasta dishes served family style. Hotel: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Rogers - Pinnacle Hills (2 nights)

Day 4 – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Art Trail Walk
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; walking up to 1 mile, standing in museums up to 3 hours; groomed nature trails.

(BL--) 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. During our late morning field trip, we’ll learn more about its origins and development. 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.

In the Crystal Bridges Museum, we’ll use coupons at the café and order from the menu. In the event of many people arriving for lunch at the same time, we will go to a nearby restaurant.

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. No trip to Bentonville would be complete without considering the influence of the Walton family and the Walmart Corporation on the community. We’ll stop by the original 5&10 store to see where the Walmart story began. An interactive gallery tells the story of the development of the Walmart Corporation.

Dinner is on our own. Alternatively, the motorcoach will take those who would like to go into the Bentonville town square, where a variety of restaurants await. But when/how do we get back to the hotel?

DAY 5 - Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, Ozark Folk Center
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Approximately 5 hours aboard the motorcoach during travel and transfers throughout the day. Walking and standing at Folk Center; steep hill to restaurant, shuttle available.

(BLD) 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. Next, 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 is at an Ozarks town on our way to the Folk Center. 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.

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.

Near the restaurant, we will walk to a performance space and experience the important part 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. Hotel: Ozark Folk Life Center Cabins at Dry Creek

DAY 6 - Mountain View, Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach.

(BL--) At the Skillet Restaurant, choose what you like from the extensive breakfast buffet. We’ll learn more about Ozark traditions in a presentation at the Folk Center, then check out and board our motorcoach. We’ll head 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.

At a restaurant along the way, we’ll have a buffet lunch amid beautiful views. 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. We’ll then be joined by a local expert who will point out other points of interest in the historic Quapaw neighborhood before we return to our hotel.

Dinner is on our own. Hotel: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock (2 nights)

DAY 7 - Garvan Gardens, Hot Springs Bath House
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles; hilly terrain.

(B—D) 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 with a visit to Garvan Woodland Gardens, featuring over 200 acres of floral landscapes, streams, waterfalls in a natural woodland setting. A docent will show us highlights of this gem of the Ouachita Mountains, and then we will have time to explore the buildings and trails on our own.

Lunch is on our own. This 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.

At a popular local restaurant, we’ll have pre-ordered plate meals.

DAY 8 - Program Concludes
Buffet breakfast. Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon. This concludes our program.