“Southern” doesn’t quite do it. “Charm” is only part of it. “Genuine” is a great place to start, though.

Little Rock, Arkansas offers genuine Southern charm, but there’s much more. The food and cocktail scene in this comfortably sized city on the banks of the Arkansas River rivals far larger locations, and the history and culture here is enthralling and inviting.

Start your visit to Little Rock downtown in the River Market District, where you can sample more than 30 restaurants, all within walking distance. Downtown is also home to half a dozen local micro-breweries and an award-winning distillery. Rock Town Distillery offers tours, a tasting room and private events, served up alongside their highly-decorated gins, bourbons and vodkas. Their limited-edition Feast in the Field gin is made using botanicals from Heifer International’s nearby Urban Farm. Heifer is a non-profit dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty by empowering women, caring for the Earth and creating income opportunities for the underserved. The campus hosts tours of the Urban Farm, their green headquarters building and Heifer Village’s mix of galleries, hands-on exhibits, videos and activities that focus on global issues.

One global issue that figures prominently in Little Rock’s story is the struggle for civil rights. One of the most compelling and authentic sites in our country’s struggle for equality, the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is both a working (and highly regarded) high school and a monument to the nine brave young African American teenagers who integrated the school in 1957. Tours and a visitor’s center offer insight into one of America’s most pivotal chapters.

There’s so much more to explore in Little Rock, from mountain hikes to sunset kayak tours, but the best way to discover it is to plan a visit now.