In addition to a bucket list to see all 30 Major League Ballparks, my family also has a goal to see each presidential library in the country (the National Archives oversees 13 libraries). On a recent trip to Little Rock (such a family friendly city- read about our adventures in Little Rock here), we spent the morning at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library & Museum. The Clinton Center opened in 2004 to both showcase the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton and as an educational venue for exhibitions, lectures, and programs. It’s the top rated place to visit in Little Rock, Arkansas and the Center provides living history for all ages.
Traveling With Kids:
There are scheduled, free tours offered throughout the day.
The museum has tons of wide, open spaces and an elevator for all three floors, making it easy to maneuver strollers and wheelchairs. Aside from the stairs, I was comfortable letting my kids explore on their own.
Restrooms are located on each floor.
The Center also includes the restaurant “42” for lunch Monday through Saturday, and dinner Thursday through Saturday.
Don’t forget to get your Presidential Library Passport stamped at the front desk.
Top 10 Things Kids Will Enjoy Finding at the Clinton Center:
1. Campaign pins from the Clinton/Gore 1992 and 1996 campaigns. Which slogan do you think is the most original and unique?
2. The official table in the Cabinet Room. Look at the back of the chair to see the official title before making your seat choice.
3. Daily schedules of each day Clinton was in office. The agendas are kept in binders underneath each yearly station. My children spent almost an hour pouring through these, checking to see what the president was doing on (what is now) their birthday, and on special holidays. The second floor has a massive timeline, with a separate station for each year Clinton was in office. We enjoyed reading the timelines of each year, and a quote from the corresponding year’s State of the Union address, while our children read through the binders. (the daily schedules are also digitized).
4. Hand drawn portraits of Clinton gifted to him by children throughout the country.
5. Collection of gifts and mementos from around the world. President Clinton was a well traveled president, visiting over 74 countries on six continents while he was in office. We especially liked the collection of nesting dolls, profiling various world leaders.
6. The blue boxes which contain records of Clinton’s presidency. Try counting them- it’ll take a while. Hint: there are 4,536 boxes, which represent about 2-3% of the 80 million pages in the collection.
7. Ten person table set for a state dinner- much fancier than our house! There’s also an explanation of all the preparation that goes into planning a state dinner.
8. State gifts presented to the Clintons by foreign dignitaries. Our favorites were the swords and pearl earrings from Indonesia.
9. Collection of President Clinton’s saxophones.
10. Traditions for various holidays, from the Easter egg roll on the front lawn (over 30,000 guests attend each year!) to the yearly theme for Christmas.
11. Crystal Tree of Light created by Dale Chihuly in 1999 for the Clintons.
12. The Oval Office, exactly the way it looked the last day President Clinton was in office. You can have your photo professionally taken sitting at the Resolute desk for a fee.
Bonuses: Before you leave, check out the gift shop and the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine the Clintons used- it took three years to complete and was state of the art at the time it was in service. Also on property are the Bill Clark Wetlands, the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, and the Anne Frank Tree Installation.
Eating Nearby: If you don’t choose “42” take a very short drive to several options on Presidential Clinton Avenue or cross streets. Our favorite was Arkansas Ale House at Diamond Bear Brewing Company which offered options for children’s meals, my daughter’s self proclaimed “favorite burger”, really good salads, and tons of beer options.