The Clinton family is synonymous with Arkansas, where Bill Clinton served as attorney general and then governor before heading to the White House in 1993. Now, as Hillary now makes a bid to become the 45th President of the United States, we’re taking a look at noteworthy Arkansas sites with Clinton connections.
This is where it all began. On August 19, 1946, Virginia Blythe gave birth to William Jefferson Blythe, III. Named for his father, who died a few months before his birth, the future president spent the first four years of his life in Hope.
You can visit the restored, 1940s-era home where Bill says he learned to walk, talk, pray, and read. Free guided tours of the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home leave every thirty minutes and include a visit to his backyard sandbox and swing.
Bill moved from Hope to Hot Springs when his mother married Roger Clinton. Although the ranch-style house he once lived in at 213 Scully Street is still there, it’s not open to the public. You can drive past the home, though, as well as Hot Springs Junior High and Hot Springs High School, where Bill became inspired to pursue a career in law.
If you want to step inside a place with a clear Clinton connection, head to the Arlington Hotel, where Bill enjoyed his prom in the Crystal Ballroom. Grab a cocktail and soak up the ambience in the hotel’s bar, decorated with bright tropical murals.
While in Hot Springs, stop in McClard’s BBQ, the 42nd President’s favorite BBQ joint. Dan Rather interviewed Bill over a plate of ribs here, and after he was elected, Mr. Clinton had a plate flown to him in the White House.
Bill met Hillary in the law library at Yale University in 1971. After working together on George McGovern’s failed campaign in Texas, the two bought a home in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and were married in its living room in 1975. You can tour the Clinton House Museum ($8), which contains a replica of Hillary’s wedding dress and memorabilia from Bill’s early political career. The Clintons’ first home is a short walk from the University of Arkansas, where both taught at the School of Law.
When Bill was elected Attorney General of Arkansas in 1976, the Clintons moved to Little Rock. Here, you can drive past the home where they lived at 5419 L Street, and the one where they moved with their newborn daughter, Chelsea, at 816 Midland Street. While in the car, swing past the Rose Law Firm at 120 E. 4th Street. Hillary was the first woman to become partner at the firm.
Although you can’t visit these homes or the law firm, you can arrange for a free tour of the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, where the family lived while Bill served as governor from 1978 to 1980, and from 1982 to 1992.
Bill announced his run for the presidency at the Old State House Museum, a building he says is his favorite in Arkansas. Drop by to see exhibits on important state figures, including the Clintons (free). Then, drive past the Clinton/Gore Campaign Headquarters on 112 West 3rd Street. Come lunchtime, grab a bite at the campaign staff’s favorite restaurant, Doe’s Eat Place.
The Clintons left Arkansas when they set off for the White House. You can learn about those eight years at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. Not only does the museum include exhibits on Bill’s accomplishments, but it celebrates Hillary’s as well ($10).
Wrap up your whirlwind trip through the Clintons’ Arkansas with a stop at the Clinton Museum Store, located in the River Market District near the Clinton Presidential Center. There, you’ll find Clinton t-shirts, presidential memorabilia, and gifts to commemorate Hillary’s run for office.