On my Arkansas journey, I had the opportunity to explore the charming city of Bentonville nestled in the northwest corner of the state. Bentonville is widely recognized as the hometown of the retail giant Wal-Mart, which has its world headquarters located here.
As I ventured beyond the city limits, I discovered that the surrounding area was a haven of rugged landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty. Positioned near the borders of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, Bentonville attracted visitors from across the country who were drawn to its scenic wonders.
One of the highlights of the area was the magnificent Ozark National Forest, which sprawled across the land, inviting sports enthusiasts, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts. With its vast expanse, the forest offered endless opportunities for recreation, whether it be hiking, biking, birdwatching, or simply immersing oneself in the tranquility of nature. Regardless of the season, I was treated to awe-inspiring sights of undisturbed forests and majestic mountains that left me in awe.
Another gem in the vicinity was Beaver Lake, a picturesque reservoir that beckoned water enthusiasts and those seeking serenity by its shores. The lake provided a playground for various water activities, including boating, fishing, and swimming. It served as a refreshing retreat where I could escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and bask in the peaceful ambiance of the surrounding nature.
With so much to offer, Bentonville presented an array of activities and attractions that catered to all interests. From its rich history to its vibrant arts scene, the city provided a diverse range of experiences. Whether I was exploring its world-class museums, strolling through charming downtown streets, or indulging in local culinary delights, there was always something new and exciting to discover.
If you find yourself in Bentonville, be sure to check out the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which showcases an impressive collection of American artworks. The museum not only displayed captivating masterpieces but also boasted stunning architecture and picturesque trails that meandered through its lush grounds.
As I discovered during my time in Bentonville, this city offered a plethora of attractions and activities that catered to every interest and curiosity. From its natural wonders to its cultural treasures, Bentonville welcomed visitors with open arms and left a lasting impression. Now, I present to you the 15 best activities that you can do while in Bentonville.
1. The Walmart Museum
Little did Sam Walton know that his entrepreneurial spirit would pave the way for a retail empire that would shape the global industry. A visit to the Walmart Museum was an absolute must during my time in Bentonville. Nestled on North Main Street, this captivating museum offered more than just a stroll down memory lane. It housed a delightful old-style café where I savored a nostalgic experience along with a range of exhibits and displays that chronicled the remarkable ascent of the Walmart brand.
Exploring the museum was like taking a journey through time, witnessing the brand’s evolution and its impact on the world of retail. Engrossing exhibits showcased the innovative strategies, the dedicated workforce, and the community spirit that contributed to Walmart’s meteoric rise to retail domination. From Sam Walton’s original store to the expansion of the company’s reach, each step of the Walmart story was laid out before me in a captivating and informative manner.
As I immersed myself in the museum’s exhibits, I couldn’t help but marvel at the rich history and the enduring legacy of this retail powerhouse. The displays brought to life the spirit of entrepreneurship, the values that shaped the brand, and the profound impact Walmart has had on communities worldwide.
It’s important to note that the Walmart Museum has specific operating hours, so I recommend checking their website before planning a visit to ensure it aligns with your itinerary.
2. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
I had the chance of immersing myself in the world of American art at the esteemed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This captivating museum quickly emerged as the go-to destination for art enthusiasts in the area, offering an unparalleled collection that showcased the finest works of American art.
Stepping into the museum, I found myself embraced by a haven of creativity and artistic expression. It was a perfect sanctuary to escape from the elements and immerse myself in the beauty of American art. The collection spanned a wide range of styles, periods, and mediums, ensuring that there was something to captivate and inspire every visitor.
As I wandered through the galleries, I marveled at the masterpieces on display. From iconic paintings to striking sculptures, each artwork told a unique story and showcased the diverse artistic landscape of America. It was a truly enriching experience, as I discovered renowned artists and discovered new favorites along the way.
Beyond the walls of the museum, I found myself drawn to the outdoor trails that meandered through the surrounding landscape. These trails, seamlessly integrated into the museum’s grounds, provided a refreshing opportunity to stretch my legs and breathe in the crisp, fresh air. The fusion of art and nature created a harmonious ambiance, allowing me to appreciate the beauty both inside and outside the museum.
Situated on Museum Way, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art stood as a testament to the region’s commitment to promoting art and culture. Its location was easily accessible, inviting visitors from near and far to explore the treasures it held within.
3. Pea Ridge National Military Park
In the midst of my historical exploration, I had the opportunity to visit the Pea Ridge National Military Park, where a significant Civil War battle unfolded on March 7th and 8th, 1862. Stepping onto the hallowed grounds, I couldn’t help but be transported back in time, envisioning the Union and Confederate troops engaged in a fierce struggle for control.
Nestled in a remote corner of Arkansas, the Pea Ridge battlefield witnessed a clash of forces. Despite being outnumbered, the Union troops displayed remarkable bravery and tactical prowess, ultimately emerging victorious. Their triumph not only secured their hold over vast stretches of Arkansas and Missouri but also left an indelible mark on the region’s history.
As I wandered through the park, I marveled at the well-preserved exhibits that chronicled the events of this pivotal battle. Each display offered a window into the past, shedding light on the struggles, sacrifices, and strategic maneuvers that shaped the outcome. It was a treasure trove of historical knowledge, painting a vivid picture of a lesser-known chapter in the Civil War narrative.
Immersing myself in the park’s outdoor expanse, I embraced the opportunity to connect with the landscape that had witnessed such monumental events. The vast majority of the park’s attractions were open-air, allowing visitors to breathe in the surrounding nature as they explored the remnants of the battlefield. It was essential to come prepared, dressing appropriately for the weather to fully appreciate the experience.
The Pea Ridge National Military Park stood as a hidden gem, preserving the memory of a crucial battle that often goes unnoticed on the larger stage of Civil War history. Its exhibits and informative displays served as poignant reminders of the bravery and sacrifices made by those who fought on these grounds.
4. Museum of Native American History
Long before settlers arrived, this land was home to a vibrant tapestry of indigenous cultures spanning thousands of years. Immersing myself in the Museum of Native American History, I embarked on a captivating journey through time. The museum’s dedicated mission to enlighten and educate the public about this remarkable segment of local history was evident in its meticulous curation. The exhibits were thoughtfully organized into five distinct eras, allowing visitors to grasp the nuanced evolution of Native American societies.
As I ventured through the museum, I was struck by the profound insights I gained into the daily lives of these ancient civilizations. The exhibits provided a window into their hunter-gatherer lifestyles, their nomadic migrations across the region, and the cultural practices that shaped their existence. The artifacts, displays, and exhibits showcased within the museum were truly unparalleled, offering a glimpse into the intricate tapestry of Native American heritage.
What impressed me further was the museum’s commitment to accessibility. It warmly welcomed visitors of all abilities, ensuring that everyone could partake in the rich cultural experience it offered. Additionally, the museum accommodated large groups, fostering a sense of community engagement and shared learning.
Leaving the Museum of Native American History, I carried with me a profound appreciation for the rich cultural heritage that once flourished in this land. The museum’s commitment to preserving and sharing these treasures was evident in its meticulous curation and dedication to educating visitors.
5. Orchards Park
As a fan of parks, I always appreciate their ability to provide a tranquil space for relaxation, as well as a playground for children to revel in their youthful energy without any worries of disturbing others.
Orchard Park’s central location made it incredibly convenient to explore the surrounding attractions in the area. The best part? It offered free admission, allowing everyone to enjoy its charms without any financial burden.
The park boasted a picturesque pond, which often played host to graceful Canada geese, adding a touch of wildlife to the scenery. The gentle sounds of a charming little waterfall provided a soothing ambiance, creating the perfect atmosphere to sit back, unwind, and soak up the natural beauty. Whether I wanted to find a cozy spot to relax or bask in the warm sunlight, the park offered ample seating areas to accommodate my needs.
To my delight, Orchard Park also served as a platform for local artists to showcase their talent. Their vibrant works of art added a dynamic touch to the park’s already enchanting surroundings. Strolling through the park, I had the opportunity to appreciate these captivating displays, immersing myself in the creativity and cultural richness of the local art scene.
On my visit to the Amazeum, I was immediately captivated by its unique and playful atmosphere. The clever combination of the words ‘amazing’ and ‘museum’ perfectly encapsulated the essence of this extraordinary place, where learning, exploration, and pure fun seamlessly intertwined.
The Amazeum defied traditional grammar rules, breaking free from the constraints of conventional educational spaces. It stood as a testament to the limitless possibilities of engaging young minds in a way that surpassed expectations.
As I ventured through the museum, I discovered a world where learning and play coexisted harmoniously. The Amazeum expertly struck a balance, keeping children actively involved, engrossed, and surprisingly content. It was a true haven for young minds, igniting their curiosity and nurturing their boundless energy.
Every corner of the museum was brimming with interactive exhibits, captivating displays, and hands-on activities meticulously crafted with the little ones in mind. From engaging scientific experiments to immersive artistic experiences, the Amazeum offered a wide array of opportunities for children to learn, explore, and express themselves freely.
Having likely endured visits to more mundane destinations like the Walmart Museum, I felt that dedicating a few hours at the Amazeum was the least I could do for these young adventurers. Their faces lit up with joy as they eagerly embraced the enriching experiences and endless discoveries that awaited them.
7. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House
During my visit to the Crystal Bridges Museum, I had the privilege of exploring the remarkable Bachman-Wilson house, a masterpiece crafted by the renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Just like many of his iconic designs, this house effortlessly merged with its natural surroundings, creating a harmonious blend of architecture and environment.
Originally constructed in New Jersey, the house underwent an extraordinary journey to its current location in Arkansas. With unwavering determination to preserve this architectural gem for future generations, a devoted couple meticulously disassembled, relocated, and reconstructed the house on the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum.
While the Bachman-Wilson house may not be hailed as one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most monumental achievements, its significance and charm are undeniable. It beckons visitors to step inside and witness the genius of its design firsthand.
As I wandered through the house, I marveled at its thoughtful layout and attention to detail. Every aspect of the interior was meticulously crafted to enhance the connection between inhabitants and the natural world. The seamless integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, the strategic use of natural light, and the incorporation of organic materials were all testament to Wright’s visionary approach.
Standing in the presence of this architectural gem, I couldn’t help but appreciate the dedication of those who safeguarded its legacy. Their efforts allowed visitors like myself to experience the magic of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work in this unique setting.
8. The Peel Mansion Museum & Heritage Gardens
The Peel Mansion Museum and Heritage Gardens—a captivating ensemble consisting of a meticulously restored 19th-century home, an engaging museum, and breathtaking gardens. It was an experience that I highly recommend to anyone visiting the area.
The historic mansion, originally constructed on the outskirts of the city, was the brainchild of a retired Colonel with a passion for farming. As I learned during my tour, the Colonel planted numerous apple trees across the expansive acres of land surrounding the house. It was evident that he had poured his heart and soul into creating a harmonious blend of natural beauty and architectural elegance.
Stepping into the restored home, I was instantly transported back in time. The meticulously preserved rooms exuded a timeless charm, offering a glimpse into the lives of the families who once called this place home. From the exquisite furnishings to the intricate details, every aspect of the mansion spoke of a rich and storied past.
As I ventured outside, the enchanting Heritage Gardens awaited me. These meticulously landscaped gardens showcased a remarkable variety of both local and non-native plants, trees, and wildflowers. It was a symphony of colors, fragrances, and textures that captivated my senses. Exploring the gardens felt like embarking on a serene journey through nature’s finest artistry.
The Peel Mansion Museum and Heritage Gardens offer guided tours, providing visitors with fascinating insights into the history of the home and the botanical wonders of the gardens. However, if you prefer to explore at your own pace, you are more than welcome to do so. Strolling through the gardens and savoring the tranquility of the surroundings is a delightful experience in itself.
I highly encourage you to make time for a visit to the Peel Mansion Museum and Heritage Gardens during your stay in Bentonville. It is an extraordinary destination that immerses you in the allure of a bygone era and invites you to appreciate the beauty of nature in all its glory.
9. The Preacher’s Son
On my visit to Bentonville, I dined at The Preacher’s Son restaurant, which has quickly gained a reputation for its delectable cuisine prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Despite its relatively short existence, this culinary gem has made a lasting impression on both locals and visitors alike.
The menu at The Preacher’s Son boasts a tantalizing array of dishes, many of which offer a unique twist on classic favorites. From the savory flavors of their smoked duck and delectable pasta dishes to the indulgence of their delightful desserts, every bite was a testament to the culinary expertise of the chefs.
As I savored each mouthwatering dish, I couldn’t help but appreciate the thought and care that went into selecting the finest locally sourced products. The emphasis on quality ingredients truly elevated the dining experience, adding a touch of freshness and authenticity to every bite.
After relishing a satisfying meal in the inviting ambiance of the restaurant, I decided to explore the hidden gem that awaited downstairs—the Undercroft Bar. Stepping into this nostalgic watering hole was like stepping back in time, evoking a sense of nostalgia that transported me a decade or two into the past.
The bartenders at the Undercroft Bar were masters of their craft, skillfully crafting cocktails that showcased the best ingredients and flavors. From classic concoctions to unique creations, each sip was a delightful experience in itself. The attention to detail and commitment to excellence were evident in every glass that was skillfully prepared.
The combination of The Preacher’s Son restaurant and the Undercroft Bar created a harmonious dining experience, where culinary delights met vintage charm. The exceptional food, warm ambiance, and expertly crafted beverages made for an unforgettable evening in Bentonville.
10. Wishing Spring Gallery
As I stepped inside, I was immediately greeted by an impressive collection of prints, carvings, photography, and an array of other captivating arts and crafts. The diverse range of artwork on display had garnered regional and national recognition, drawing visitors from all corners of the country. This charming gallery proved to be the perfect destination for all-around art lovers and even those in need of a little artistic motivation.
One of the highlights of the Wishing Spring Gallery was its ability to offer pieces that couldn’t be found elsewhere. It was a treasure trove of truly one-of-a-kind items, making it an ideal place to find a unique addition for your home or a special Christmas gift for a loved one.
Among their notable offerings, the gallery particularly excelled in the art of stained glass. The intricate designs and vibrant colors showcased the mastery and creativity of the artists involved. Each piece radiated a sense of craftsmanship and artistic expression, leaving a lasting impression on all who had the pleasure of viewing them.
As I explored the gallery’s various exhibits, I couldn’t help but feel a renewed sense of inspiration and awe. The talent and dedication evident in each artwork served as a reminder of the power of artistic expression and the beauty it brings to our lives.
11. Bentonville Town Square
The Town Square boasted an impressive selection of shops, restaurants, galleries, and cozy coffee shops. Each corner revealed a new treasure waiting to be discovered. Whether I was in search of unique gifts, delectable cuisine, or captivating artworks, the Town Square offered a delightful variety of options to suit every taste.
What struck me most about the Town Square was its remarkable transformation in recent years. Once a bleak and largely overlooked area, it had now been rejuvenated into a vibrant hub of community life. The revitalization efforts had breathed new life into the square, attracting visitors and locals alike. It was evident that a sense of community had taken hold, as people gathered to enjoy the lively ambiance and engage in leisurely conversations with friends over a refreshing beverage.
Situated on North Main Street, right in the heart of downtown Bentonville, the Town Square served as a hub of activity and a central meeting point for residents and visitors alike. Its convenient location made it easily accessible, allowing for seamless exploration of the surrounding attractions and landmarks.
As I strolled through the Bentonville Town Square, taking in the vibrant sights and sounds, I couldn’t help but appreciate the undeniable charm and inviting atmosphere that permeated the area. It was a testament to the town’s commitment to fostering a thriving community and creating a welcoming space for all who visited.
12. Lawrence Plaza Ice Rink and Splash Park
Going about my adventures in Bentonville, I discovered a fantastic option for families seeking both cool relief in the scorching summer heat and exhilarating winter activities. The Lawrence Plaza Ice Rink and Splash Park proved to be a haven of fun for kids of all ages, regardless of the weather outside.
Whether I was visiting during the sweltering summer heatwave or amidst a snowy landscape, the Lawrence Plaza offered a delightful escape from the elements. It was evident that this unique attraction was designed with kids and families in mind, providing a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone.
The ice rink was a popular spot, offering the thrill of gliding across the ice, surrounded by laughter and joy. Skating proved to be an excellent form of exercise and a wonderful way to create lasting memories with loved ones. Equally enticing was the splash park, where children could frolic and cool off in the refreshing water. The combination of these two attractions made Lawrence Plaza a hub of excitement and entertainment.
Given the popularity of the ice rink and splash park, it was not uncommon for the area to be bustling with families seeking a respite from the heat or a thrilling winter adventure. However, for those who preferred a quieter experience, I found that visiting during non-peak times, such as weekdays or in the morning and afternoon, provided a more tranquil atmosphere.
13. Slaughter Pen Hollow Multi-Use Trail System
I discovered a remarkable investment made by the municipality: the Slaughter Pen Hollow Trail System. It became evident that the city had prioritized the well-being of its residents by providing a multi-use trail system that encouraged outdoor activities and promoted a healthier lifestyle.
In a time when many Americans were grappling with weight and health concerns, these trails served as a sanctuary where people could immerse themselves in the beauty of nature while engaging in physical activities that burned calories and enhanced overall well-being.
What impressed me most about the Slaughter Pen Hollow Trail System was its inclusivity. It catered to individuals of all ages and fitness levels, offering sections suitable for walkers, joggers, hikers, and bikers alike. This accessibility allowed everyone to reap the benefits of these trails, regardless of their preferred activity or level of physical fitness.
Admittedly, some sections of the trails posed challenges during wet weather, as they became slippery and muddy. However, with careful planning and appropriate footwear and attire, it was possible to appreciate the trails year-round. This adaptability ensured that residents and visitors could enjoy the Slaughter Pen Hollow Trail System regardless of the season or weather conditions.
14. Stay at the 21C Museum Hotel
I also had the chance of experiencing the distinctive charm of 21C hotels. Unlike nationally known chains, these hotels possessed a unique quality: the incorporation of vibrant and whimsical works of art into their designs.
Originating in Louisville, Kentucky, the brand was established by a wealthy couple who sought to create something extraordinary. Their vision materialized in the form of 21C hotels, which quickly gained recognition and expanded to various locations across the country.
One of the brand’s most iconic symbols was the green penguin, which adorned the hotels’ premises. These playful creatures could be found throughout the hotels, inviting guests to engage with them creatively. It was encouraged to relocate the penguins to different areas at one’s whim, adding an element of interactive fun to the experience.
This distinctive approach breathed new life into the hotel industry, setting 21C hotels apart from the conventional and often stagnant offerings. The infusion of art into the hotel’s atmosphere created a vibrant and dynamic ambiance that enhanced the overall guest experience. It was a refreshing departure from the norm and truly made 21C hotels stand out from the crowd.
15. Work on your Golf Game
Having learned the hard way that the phrase “use it or lose it” holds true, especially in the realm of golf, I can attest to the importance of continuous practice to maintain those hard-earned skills. So, when I found myself with some free time in Bentonville, I knew a visit to The Back Nine Golf Academy would be a wise choice to prevent my abilities from slipping away unnoticed.
Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to stop by and get acquainted with the instructors and explore the facility before committing to any lessons or practice sessions. Their warm welcome and willingness to showcase their expertise put my mind at ease, assuring me that I was in capable hands.
The academy was equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and knowledgeable instructors who understood the intricacies of the game. Whether it was perfecting my swing or honing my putting skills, they had the tools and experience necessary to help me shave off a few strokes from my game. With their guidance, I felt confident that my golfing abilities would remain sharp, avoiding any unfortunate regressions.
The Back Nine Golf Academy provided a valuable opportunity for golfers of all levels to maintain and improve their game. So, if you ever find yourself in Bentonville with some spare time on your hands, I highly recommend paying them a visit.