Located in northwest Arkansas’ Benton County, Centerton is a small town that’s experienced quite a boom in recent years; since the early ‘90s, its population has increased from just a few hundred to over 12,000.
It’s near enough to the neighboring states of Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas that day trips are easy to do, so it’s a great place to hang your hat while experiencing all the region has to offer.
The area is full of natural, historical, cultural, and art-related sites and venues, so finding fun and educational things to do won’t be a problem.
Below are 13 of the best things to do in and around Centerton.
1. Do Some Caving
Much of the limestone under the ground in northwest Arkansas has been eroded by water over countless eons. The subterranean landscapes are now filled with a labyrinth of caves and grottos that are fascinating places to visit if you aren’t claustrophobic – or worried about all the creepy-crawlies that live inside.
War Eagle Cavern near Beaver Lake is the closest to Centerton and is available for tours. It’s inexpensive to visit and has a fascinating history in addition to its amazing geologic structures.
Blanchard Springs is also convenient to reach from Centerton. It is open to guided tours and operated by the U.S. Forest Service.
2. Centerton Farmer’s Market
For the non-winter periods of the year, Centerton’s Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday, at City Hall Park on Main Street downtown.
They feature a wide array of products grown and made locally. In addition to fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, they offer arts and crafts, health and body products, and prepared foods like honey, salsa, and apple butter.
Farmer’s markets are as much social events as they are a means of just getting the things you need, so if you’re interested in meeting locals and supporting the local economy, make it a point to spend an hour or two checking it out.
3. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Unlike most other places you’ll ever visit, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville combines the wonders of the natural world with beautiful manmade structures in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing.
It’s full of a wide range of American art created in different regions and eras using varying media.
In addition to their permanent exhibits, they also host temporary ones, and even offer instructional and educational courses at various times. Check out their website to see what’s on the calendar.
There are indoor and outdoor areas you’ll want to check out, so dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.
4. The Walmart Museum
It’s difficult to know whether Sam Walton had an inkling of the retail leviathan he’d create when he opened a few humble five and ten cent stores in rural Arkansas so many years ago.
Love it or hate it, Wal-Mart has a pretty impressive story, and it all started in Bentonville in the early ‘50s.
Walton’s vision was to give average working people the things they wanted and do it more cheaply than anyone else.
He largely succeeded in doing just that, and the museum is a great way to see the fascinating history that went along with it.
There’a gallery and café onsite too.
5. The Peel Mansion Museum & Heritage Gardens
In the 1870s, Samuel West Peel constructed a grand, Italian villa-style home on what was then the outskirts of Bentonville.
The grounds around the home consisted of nearly 200 acres, much of which was planted with apple trees.
Now, the home has been turned into a museum and garden that’s one of the area’s biggest attractions with history buffs and flower aficionados.
Guided tours are available if you’re interested, and there is a Civil War-era cabin and gift shop onsite. It’s one of Bentonville’s most visited and well-preserved historical sites, so swing by when you’re in the area.
6. Daisy Airgun Museum
For many young boys in rural America, their first introduction to guns was a Daisy Airgun.
In that respect, they were training tools, but seeing that long narrow box wrapped under the Christmas tree made many boys’ hearts pound with excitement.
It’s a great story, and for those lovers of quirky Americana, the Daisy Airgun Museum is worth a look.
It’s easy to get to, inexpensive, and offers visitors a fascinating insight into the company and its product’s evolution.
You may recognize some of the funny old time advertisements.
7. Rogers Aquatics Center
Like a Club-Med for kids, no expense was spared when constructing the Rogers Aquatic Center.
It sits on three acres of amenity-packed land not far from downtown and includes leisure and lane swimming pools, kiddie pools, a splash pad, water flumes, and a 40-foot water slide.
For those parents who’d rather watch from the sidelines, there’s plenty of covered seating areas. Since summers in Arkansas can get downright miserable when hit with the double-whammies of high temperature and humidity, you’ll probably want to pack your swim trunks and flip-flops too.
It can be a bit of a zoo at peak times, so if you’d rather avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the week.
8. Museum of Native American History
Before the areas around Bentonville, Rogers and Centerton were settled by Europeans, they were the domain of Native Americans, who were adept at eking out their livings from the often harsh terrain.
The Museum of Native American History in Bentonville consists of displays, artifacts, and exhibits that include tools, weapons, and household items which were used in the 14,000 years before settlers arrived.
Each section of the museum covers a different era. Your time here will be fun and educational, and there are a few interactive exhibits that kids find especially interesting and engaging.
The museum is inexpensive and located near downtown Bentonville.
9. Rogers Little Theater
As far as anyone knows, there’s no such thing as the Rogers Big Theater, so until one is discovered, visitors will have to content themselves with the Rogers Little Theater.
It’s a one of a kind historic venue that’s one of the area’s go-to spots for theater productions produced locally. Many previous guests have remarked that for such a small town, the shows were very professional and well done.
Compared with its ritzy Broadway cousin, the admission fee is dirt cheap. If you’re a local, you may see a few faces that you recognize on stage.
It’s family-friendly fun that shouldn’t be passed up.
10. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House
Depending on who you believe, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson house has alternately been described as a damp, dark and claustrophobic catacomb that’s not a fit dwelling for humans, and another of the master American architect’s miraculous wonders.
The only way to decide which camp you fall into is to take a tour of the home on the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
You’ll need to get special tickets, though they’re pretty cheap. Audio guide machines are available if you’d like a professional narration.
It may not be one of Wright’s best efforts, but it’s worth a look.
11. Slaughter Pen Hollow Multi-Use Trail System
Located on Northwest A Street in Bentonville, the sprawling new Slaughter Pen Hollow Multi-Use Trail System draws mountain biking enthusiasts from numerous neighboring states.
The full course covers nearly 20 miles and has a change in elevation approaching 2,500 feet, so it’s best left to the relatively fit.
For those not so keen on such challenging trails, there are other less demanding options. At different times of the year, they host bike races that are fun to watch, drawing big crowds.
The trail system’s flat areas are great for bike training the little ones as well.
12. Shiloh Museum of Ozark History
The Ozark region of Arkansas and Missouri is rich in history and pioneer culture that’s best seen by visiting the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History.
Located in Springdale, it focuses on the fearless men and women who explored and settled the harsh land during an era where danger lurked around every corner, and just putting food on the table was a full-time job.
The grounds consist of six historic buildings that include exhibits, artifacts, and relics of bygone eras.
The museum houses one of the area’s most extensive photo collections of Ozark life, numbering nearly half a million.
13. Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
Since it’s the only botanical garden of its kind in northwest Arkansas, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is well worth a visit. The grounds include 12 distinct and uniquely themed gardens that feature native plants, flowers, and trees, as well as non-native species from different states and countries.
The facilities are available to rent and host a number of seasonal festivals and instructional courses throughout the year. Check online to see what’s on their calendar for when you’ll be in the area.
Consider a spring visit when the gardens will be in full bloom if you can.