12 Attractions in Benton, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Benton is a small city in Saline County, Arkansas with a population of just over 30,000 residents. Despite its small size, Benton has quite a few unique attractions that make it worth visiting on your next trip through central Arkansas. From museums and historic sites that offer a glimpse into the past to outdoor recreation and fantastic festivals, Benton has something for travelers of all ages and interests.

In this article, we will highlight 12 of the top attractions and things to do in and around Benton, Arkansas. Whether you love history, art, sports, or just plain fun, you’ll find plenty of sites and activities to fill your itinerary when visiting this charming Arkansas town.

Old State House Museum


The Old State House Museum located right in downtown Benton should be one of your first stops when visiting the city. This free museum is housed in the oldest standing state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. It was constructed in 1833 and served as Arkansas’ state capitol until 1911 when the capital was moved to Little Rock.

Today, the Greek Revival-style building contains 15 restored rooms filled with exhibits that trace the history of Saline County and the state of Arkansas from prehistoric times through Reconstruction.

Highlights include Native American artifacts, period furniture, and images depicting early state politics and government. Make sure to check out the Museum Store too before you leave to take home some local history.

Bryant Railroad Museum


Located just 10 minutes south of Benton in Bryant, Arkansas, this museum is a must-see for train enthusiasts visiting the area. The Bryant Railroad Museum contains artifacts, photos, and equipment that bring the area’s rich railroad history to life.

Inside you’ll find model train displays recreating the Rock Island Line that came through in the late 1800s along with vintage railroad crossing signs, lanterns, and other equipment used over the past century. Be sure to climb aboard one of their real vintage railroad cars parked on the tracks outside too.

The Pullman-built sleeper car dates back to 1950 while the 1918 caboose transports you back in time as soon as you step through its little red door.

Saline Crossing Regional Park & Recreation Area


Nature lovers won’t want to miss a stop at Saline Crossing Regional Park during their trip to Benton. Situated on 108 acres in the Ouachita foothills, Saline Crossing offers abundant recreational opportunities along the Saline River like hiking, kayaking, fishing, cycling, camping, and more.

Several hiking trails lead through hardwood forests filled with fruit trees, wildflowers, and scenic river views. Anglers will find rainbow trout stocked in the Saline River from November through February. There’s also a dog park, outdoor fitness equipment, picnic sites, and fifteen electrical RV campsites available.

Have lunch at one of the covered picnic tables or throw down a blanket under the majestic cypress trees by the river.

Benton Parks and Recreation Adult Softball Complex


If you happen to be visiting Benton during softball season, catch an amateur league game at this top-notch softball complex located within Bishop Park. Opened in 2016 after extensive renovations, the Benton Parks and Recreation Adult Softball Complex contains four fields with covered dugouts, bleachers, concession stands, and plush Bermuda grass.

From March through October you can usually find a game going on most nights of the week out at “The Bishop” as it’s known locally. So grab some snacks at the concession stand and plop down in the bleachers to cheer on Benton’s club and recreational teams as they slide into home beneath the bright ballpark lights.

Royal Theatre


Take a trip back in time with a show at downtown Benton’s Royal Theatre. This historic movie palace first opened in the late 1920s and showed films through the early 1980s before closing for renovations. After being restored to its original glory, the 500-seat Royal Theatre reopened in 2005 as a multi-use performing arts venue.

These days you can catch live music concerts, plays, dance recitals, old movie screenings, and other entertaining events in the beautifully preserved Rococo-style main auditorium complete with twinkling ceiling lights. Check their event calendar online to see what’s coming up during your Benton visit.

Gann Museum of Muscial Instruments


Music lovers shouldn’t miss a stop at the Gann Museum of Musical Instruments nestled right in the heart of historic downtown Benton. This quirky little museum houses an impressive collection of over 1,000 musical instruments gathered by local musician and teacher Bob Gann over the past 50 years.

Display cases contain rare and one-of-a-kind instruments like Czechoslovakian sousaphones, Swiss alpine horns, and Chinese temple bells. You’ll also find walls adorned with autographed photos of music legends like Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson who once owned or played some of the instruments in the collection.

Visit on a Saturday afternoon and you may catch Bob Gann himself giving an impromptu lesson on one of the many pianos or leading an informal jam session with fellow local musicians.

Airport Park


Home to the Benton Municipal Airport, Airport Park offers a nice grassy open space to enjoy picnics plus a front row view of small planes taking off and landing on the runway. Kids love watching and waving at the pilots and passengers inside the cockpits of the private propeller planes and corporate jets utilizing this public use airport.

Several shaded picnic tables positioned along the airport’s perimeter provide the perfect vantage point for plane spotting without obstruction. So pack a lunch or pick up take-out food in Benton to dine al fresco while appreciating this unique city park backdrop.

Creekwood Public Golf Course


Golfers flock to Creekwood Public Golf Course when visiting Benton. This affordable 18-hole course offers bent grass greens, Bermuda fairways, and scenic views of Creekwood Creek throughout the challenging 6,500 yard layout. Additional amenities include a driving range, practice putting greens, pro shop, rental clubs, PGA instruction, and a full-service restaurant inside the roomy clubhouse.

Schedule a tee time to play anytime from March 1 through November 30 when the weather cooperates. Just remember proper golf attire is required out on the links at Creekwood. Juniors can play 9 holes for free after 3pm when accompanied by a paying adult too, making this a very family friendly course as well.

Benton Farmers Market


One of the best ways to get a taste of Benton is by stopping by the Benton Farmers Market held every Saturday from mid-April through October. Rain or shine, you’ll find dozens of local vendors lined up in Melton Park selling seasonal fruits and vegetables freshly picked from area farms.

Beyond produce, the market also features artisanal baked goods, jams, honey, cuts of meat, fresh flower bouquets, and handmade arts and craft items. Arrive early before 9am for the best selection. Once you’ve worked up an appetite browsing the booths, grab breakfast or lunch from one of the hot food trucks on site serving savory crepes, coffee, barbecue, and other tasty eats.

Old Tyme Daze Festival


Time your visit to coincide with Benton’s annual Old Tyme Daze Festival held each May and you’ll be treated to a fun-filled weekend celebrating the city’s heritage. This family friendly fest brings Carnival rides and games to Benton’s youth ballfields at Bernard Holland Park while musical acts perform on the main stage.

The event centerpiece is a parade winding through downtown with unique floats often sporting this year’s creative theme. You’ll also find dozens of arts, crafts, and food vendors lining Market Street along with displays of classic cars and farm equipment symbolic of Benton’s traditional small-town roots. With free admission, Old Tyme Daze offers affordable entertainment the entire family can enjoy.

Splashzone Waterpark at Bishop Park


Cool off from the Arkansas heat during summer months at this small but action-packed water park within Bishop Park. Splashzone features fun aquatic attractions like an Olympic-sized pool with diving boards, curvy hydro tube slides, a lazy river float, sprayground, and kiddie pool area. Daily passes grant access to all park amenities while annual memberships offer the best value for repeat visitors.

Splashzone’s sister park next door, Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark, provides year-round wet fun as well with indoor and outdoor pools, thrill slides, wave pool, and more. Exciting additions like a café and bar open in the evenings make this an ideal spot for adults to let loose and slide the night away too. With back-to-back parks, Benton serves up endless amounts of water fun for all!

Shopping in Downtown Benton

A stroll down Market Street in Historic Downtown Benton rewards shoppers with a nice collection of boutiques, gift stores, and cafés. Pop into Arkansas Stitches for custom embroidery, monogramming, and other personalized décor then grab a coffee next door at The Hive Coffee Shop. Kids can pick their own toy at Kidding Around while Mom browses the trendy women’s clothing racks at Copper Willow Boutique.

Other shops on Market Street cater to antiques lovers, bookworms, guys wanting to gear up with hunting/fishing supplies, and anyone needing hardware, yard tools, or lumber. Those needing a break from shopping sprees can grab homemade ice cream, pastries, or diner fare from Market Street establishments like DJ’s, the Old South Restaurant, or Yahoo’s Shaved Ice. With its blend of dining, services, and retail, Market Street offers a convenient one-stop for Benton visitors to eat, play, AND shop local all in one place!

Conclusion

From fascinating museums and live entertainment to outdoor recreation, sports, and annual festivals, Benton, Arkansas overflows with attractions to fill any visitor’s itinerary. The diverse options highlighted in this article merely scratch the surface of sites and activities you’ll find across this charming small city.

Whether traveling solo, as a couple, or with a family in tow, Benton offers rewarding experiences for all interests and ages. So be sure to spend some time discovering the top attractions defining this surprising Arkansas destination on your next trip through the Natural State.

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