Jan 14, 2022
Continuing our exploration of Northwest Arkansas towns, we move to the iconic Bentonville. No matter the season, Bentonville has a vast array of activities. From the beautiful downtown square, the incredible trail systems, the focus on world-renowned artwork, and so much more, it’s hard to cover it all in a 3-minute blog. We will give our picks for things to see and do. Just know that Bentonville is constantly changing and adding new amenities to a packed list of fun!
First, Crystal Bridges and The Momentary art museums. Each museum houses incredibly unique features with both indoor and outdoor grounds to explore. A quick distinction between the two, The Momentary is dedicated to modern art while Crystal Bridges hosts an expansive collection amongst its modern art offerings. One generous feature of both museums, they are free to the public.
Crystal Bridges highlights a variety of world-renowned American Artwork. The permanent collection features art spanning five centuries. There is a vast array of mediums including but not limited to paintings, photography, sculpture, fiber arts, and more. You will find many well-known names in the collection, such as renowned artists Georgia O’Keefe and Andy Warhol. The outdoor space at Crystal Bridges also hosts outdoor sculptures amongst 5 miles of walking trails allowing visitors to enjoy the Arkansas scenery as well as the impressive collection.
Opened in 2020 as a satellite facility of Crystal Bridges, The Momentary is housed in a very unconventional space; a former cheese factory. You read that correctly; formerly, a cheese factory turned into a contemporary art space. This is one of the most fascinating aspects of the Momentary, re-envisioning an area that other towns may have overlooked as a by-product of industrial space.
The Momentary focuses on more contemporary art, including performing arts, festivals, and culinary arts. They are also home to several artists in residence, which allows renowned artists to connect to the beauty of Northwest Arkansas and create unique pieces based on that experience.
For the kids, try the Scott Family Amazeum. With several interactive exhibits, kids are encouraged to explore and learn about NWA and the land, people, and industries that built it.
Your options for art aren’t limited to the museums. Nearly everywhere you go in Bentonville you are within a stone’s throw from a work of public art. There are over 100 recognized public works of art with many found around the square and the 8th Street Market entertainment district. Most notable is probably the Buckyball at Crystal Bridges, which is a favorite year-round. Relax under BuckyBall with family and friends and watch the colors change. Other works can be found near Crystal Bridges such as “Open Hearts” at Compton Gardens and “LOVE” in the Crystal Bridges Gardens. There are new works added all the time so there is always something new to see.
Moving onto one of the best parts of NWA if you enjoy biking, Bentonville is known as the “Mountain Biking Capital of the World.” It may seem boastful to call yourself a capital of anything in the world, but honestly, the riding here is seriously that good. It would be a shame to visit Bentonville and not test out
some of these trail systems if you are so inclined. The purpose-built trails have difficulty ratings for all skill levels, from easy green trails to black diamond, downhill inspired jump lines. Bentonville is home to several trail systems, but two of the most popular trail networks include Slaughter Pen and Coler Mountain Bike Preserve. Slaughter Pen is 23+ miles of single-track, accessible off of Walton Blvd. near the dog park and also along with segments of the Razorback Regional Greenway, the Back 40 trail system, and Crystal Bridges Art Museum. Those that ride the section that follows Crystal Bridges can observe public works of art or stop at the museum itself.
Coler Mountain Bike Preserve was completed in 2020 and has 17+ miles of trails at every skill level. These trails make you feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere when in reality they are only two miles from downtown. The more experienced line of trails includes multiple jump lines, rocky sections, and gap jumps. There are also paved trails for those looking for a more leisurely ride or to walk through the trails. On this walking trail, you can find Airship Coffee, a micro-café only accessible via the walk/bike routes. No drive-thrus, no cars, just great coffee and food in a gorgeous natural setting.
Another major highlight of Bentonville is the beloved downtown square. This is the most common place to find the farmers market, the Christmas Parade, and First Friday. This is where you will find The 5&10, Walmart Museum and Spark Café, and several other establishments. The Walmart museum welcomes tens of thousands of visitors a year, allowing people to learn some of the retail giant’s history.
Some notable downtown establishments include the Record ( an industrial-style venue), the Meteor Theater, 21c Hotel, and Compton Gardens. Just off the square is where you will find Lawrence Plaza. It is a splash park during the summer, and it is an ice rink in the winter. These are just a few of the activities that are available to you in the square.
Finally, let’s talk about some of the incredible food that can be found in Bentonville! You can be sure that there is something for everyone at 8th Street Market. The booths and food trucks are constantly changing and expanding. There is a focus on diverse restaurants at 8th Street Market allowing a foodie to experience cultural dishes from around the globe. And what collection of restaurants would be complete without a local brewery? Try new taps at the famous Bike Rack Brewery, located at the heart of 8th Street Market. Additionally, there are a gluten-free bakery, Brightwater culinary lab, and several food truck options.
While in the square, you must check out Onyx Coffee for a high-quality cup of coffee or tea. Onyx has a passion for providing the very best in beverage choices and using the finest responsibly sourced ingredients. For a full meal in downtown Bentonville, a few delicious recommendations include Table Mesa, Tavola Trattoria, or Preacher’s Son.
Bentonville has plenty to offer everyone who is looking to buy a home here. Whether you are looking for an outdoor adventure or a more city feel, this area has it all. There is art, trails, community spaces and so much more.