Arkansas also has the claim of being the home of a former president. Visitors can see relevant sites to the life of Bill Clinton, known as the “Billgrimage,” which allows you to get a passport with stamps in different locations around the state. These locations span throughout the states, from the foothills of the Ozarks to the capital of Little Rock. Each site is within a few hours drive of one another, so they can easily be added to a road trip.
President Bill Clinton, 42nd President
Born in the small town of Hope, Arkansas and raised by his grandparents, Bill Clinton grew up in a desegregated grocery store, a rarity in the 1940s South. His mother returned from nursing school in New Orleans and later remarried. They moved to Hot Springs, where Clinton went to school and became involved in clubs and civic duties and also learned to play the saxophone. A trip to the White House to meet President Kennedy attributed to his career path, as he later studied at Georgetown University. He then went on to be a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England and attended Yale Law School. In 1974, he ran for a seat in the House of Representatives, followed by a run for Arkansas Attorney General, and then governor at age 32, the youngest in the state’s history. He lost re-election and went back to work as a lawyer, but ran again and won in 1982. In 1993, he became president and is remembered for his policies of welfare reform and for signing the Brady Bill.
Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock
William J Clinton Library is the best place to learn more about President Clinton. The complex includes the research library, a park, the local branch of the Clinton Foundation, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and the museum. The museum has exhibits on Clinton’s life and career, including replicas of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. The library regularly hosts special events and traveling exhibits.
Nearby, you can also visit the Governors Mansion Historic District, where the Clintons lived for 12 years, the Old State House Museum, where Clinton announced his run for president, and the Arkansas Gazette building, which served as the campaign headquarters.
Clinton House Museum, Fayetteville
Located in Northwest Arkansas, the Clinton House Museum is where Bill and Hillary lived after they were married when both worked at the University of Arkansas. The modest home features displays on their early lives and the original owners of the house. They also have a replica of Hillary’s wedding dress and campaign memorabilia from both Clintons.
Nearby, you can also visit Waterman Hall at the University of Arkansas Law School, where both Bill and Hillary were faculty members.
Birth Home, Hope
President Clinton Birthplace Home is the “place called Hope” he famously mentioned in speeches and also a National Parks Service site. Added to the National Historic Register in 1994, it opened as a museum shortly afterward. Inside, you’ll see exhibits on Clinton’s early life in the small town of Hope. Rangers lead guided tours every 30 minutes.
Childhood Homes, Hot Springs
While Clinton was born in Hope, his family moved further north to Hot Springs when he was eight years old. Around town, you’ll find his former high school, Hot Springs High School, two of his boyhood homes, and Park Place Baptist Church, where the family attended church. These locations are not open to visitors, but you can see the outside of them. Stop for a photo op at the large sign in the middle of town dedicated to Bill Clinton.
Nearby, you can also see the suite where Clinton stays at the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa while visiting family and where he had his high school prom, as well as a favorite restaurant before his healthy lifestyle change at McClard’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant.
For even more Bill Clinton-related sites you can visit in Arkansas, see this post on the Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s website.