12 Attractions in Bentonville, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 18, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Bentonville, Arkansas is a charming city nestled in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. While it has a small town feel with a population around 51,000, Bentonville offers visitors plenty to see and do.

As the world headquarters of Walmart, Bentonville has developed rapidly in recent years. Money from the Walton family has helped transform downtown Bentonville into a trendy district packed with boutiques, restaurants, galleries and cultural attractions. The economic growth has also brought an influx of diversity, arts and cuisine.

Yet the city still retains its Southern hospitality and connection to nature with biking trails winding through the countryside. The surrounding Ozark Mountains and areas like Pea Ridge National Military Park allow you to take in beautiful scenery and learn about the region’s history.

From world-class museums to down-home cooking, here are the 12 top attractions that you must experience when visiting Bentonville, Arkansas:

1. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The crown jewel of Bentonville attractions is Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Founded by Alice Walton of the Walmart empire, this majestic museum features a world-class collection of American masterpieces spanning five centuries.

Wander through the galleries to admire iconic works like Asher B. Durand’s “Kindred Spirits” and Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter”. Contemporary superstars like Andy Warhol also have eye-popping creations displayed. The collection includes major works from legendary artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

The museum’s setting is almost as impressive as the artwork. Crystal Bridges features a series of pavilions nestled into the Ozark landscape and designed by acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie. Lush gardens, scenic trails, a restaurant and a glass-enclosed bridge over the creek make this an ideal place to spend an afternoon.

2. The Momentary

Another outstanding museum brought to Bentonville by the Walton family is The Momentary. Housed in a former Kraft Foods plant, this multi-disciplinary space has no permanent collection. Instead, The Momentary hosts rotating festivals, concerts, exhibits and events centered on visual and performing arts.

Past festival themes have covered topics like the art of radio, Latin American art, electronic music and even cheese! The lineup is always eclectic. Grab a drink from the on-site restaurant and bar or wander the outdoors commissioned art installations as you take in a show or performance. With FREE general admission, The Momentary makes high arts and culture accessible for all.

3. 21c Museum Hotel

For visitors who want to actually spend the night surrounded by art, the 21c Museum Hotel combines upscale contemporary accommodations with exhibitions open 24/7. Works by both local and international artists adorn the lobby, hallways and rooms of this funky boutique hotel. Special solo and group exhibitions rotate through the museum space located just off the lobby.

Even if you don’t stay overnight, 21c welcomes the public to view the exhibitions for FREE and grab a craft cocktail or upscale bite at the hotel bar and restaurant. Don’t be surprised if you see a penguin statue decked out in costume – the resident penguins are the hotel’s beloved mascot!

4. Bentonville Town Square

The heart of historic downtown Bentonville centers around the charming Town Square. Dating back to the 1860s, this park-like central plaza now hosts a lively farmer’s market from April to October. The square explodes with booths selling fresh produce, baked goods, arts and crafts on Tuesday and Saturday mornings.

Surrounding the square you’ll find plenty of restaurants housed in preserved 19th century buildings along with boutiques selling everything from custom leather goods to kitchenware. Special events like craft fairs, concerts and holiday festivities ensure there’s always something lively happening.

Be sure to snap a selfie in front of the Old Benton County Courthouse’s red brick facade or take a breather on one of the park benches shaded by soaring trees. Kids will enjoy scrambling over the splash pad fountain on hot summer days too!

5. Walmart Museum

You can’t come to Bentonville without paying homage to Arkansas’s retailing behemoth. At the original Walton’s 5 & 10 store on the town square, the Walmart Museum traces the meteoric rise of Sam Walton’s brand from its humble discount shop origins to global giant status today.

Browse exhibits of vintage Walmart products and advertisements along with replicas of Sam Walton’s original office and first store layout. Watch the short film at the heartwarming “Front Porch Theater” for insight into Walton family history. Exhibits also highlight Walmart innovations like barcode scanning and corporate culture focusing on service, excellence and family values. Don’t miss the latest displays chronicling the company’s focus on environmental and social responsibility initiatives too.

6. Peel Mansion Museum

History buffs will love touring the 1875 Peel Mansion just half a mile from downtown Bentonville. This restored Italianate Victorian home belonged to Colonel Samuel Peel, an attorney instrumental in establishing Bentonville. The historic house museum operated by the Bentonville Historical Society transports you back to the 1870s Victorian era through restored furnishings and décor.

Guided tours deliver insight into the prominent Peel family as well as Victorian traditions and mourning rituals. Special events like crafting workshops let you experience 19th century domestic skills first-hand. The formal gardens cultivated with native plants are a tranquil place to stroll after your house tour too. Don’t miss the Peel family cemetery located on the property for a glimpse into the area’s early settler history.

7. OZ Trails

Northwest Arkansas is well-known for its extensive network of multi-use trails perfect for cycling, running and hiking. Bentonville serves as the gateway to the renowned Razorback Greenway trail system. Nicknamed “OZ Trails” in homage to mountain biking meccas in places like Moab, Utah, Bentonville boasts hundreds of miles of expertly constructed natural surface trails winding through the Ozark hills.

Legendary trails at Slaughter Pen attract mountain bikers from across the world to bomb down rock gardens and banked turns with names like Blood Sweat and Gears. City-maintained trails like the 8-mile Slaughter Pen Jam and the 18-mile Back 40 flow right into downtown Bentonville, linking up with the 36-mile Razorback Regional Greenway. The downtown Bike Rack has rentals and all the beta for navigating Bentonville’s acclaimed singletrack.

8. Scott Family Amazeum

For family fun with an educational twist, the Scott Family Amazeum children’s museum gets rave reviews. This inventive museum designed just for kids immerses them into hands-on learning through 100 interactive exhibits focused on science, technology and world cultures.

Kids can splash around a water table, climb a treehouse, experiment with laser mazes and design vehicles for the raceways. Exhibits like the noisy Sound Space encourage curiosity about music and acoustics while the tinkering studio sparks creativity. Seasonal exhibits mean there’s always something new to discover, from physics fun on the roller coasters to celebrating different world cultural holidays and traditions.

9. Bike Rack Brewing Co.

All those mountain bike trails and downtown explorations are sure to work up a thirst! Grab a craft beer at one of Bentonville’s most popular brewpubs located right downtown. Bike Rack Brewing Co is a cavernous spot with garage door walls that open to the outside when the weather is nice. Closer to 20 taps flow with IPAs, stouts, sours and experimental brews dreamed up by Bike Rack’s expert brewers.

Popular picks range from standards like Rowdy Beaver IPA to specialties like the Blackstrap Stout with molasses and crushed peanut butter cups. Bike Rack doesn’t serve food, but numerous food trucks park outside to deliver tacos, barbecue and other tasty pairings. It’s also dog and kid-friendly, so the whole family can join. With outdoor games like ping-pong and cornhole, it’s easy to while away an afternoon sipping brews on the outdoor patio.

10. 8th Street Market

Downtown Bentonville dining options shine at the 8th Street Market food hall and event venue. Once a tired former Kraft Foods warehouse, the 8th Street Market has transformed into a vibrant hub for artisans, restaurants and entertainment along a pedestrian corridor connecting downtown to the Razorback Greenway.

Today the 8th Street Market encompasses over 45 vendors offering everything from freshly baked empanadas, tacos, ramen noodles and wood-fired pizza to old fashioned candy shops. Many restaurants focus on cuisine from across Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, offering adventurous eaters exotic flavors. Several vendors also boast bars slinging up local craft brews and creative cocktails to be enjoyed at colorfully decorated communal tables. Don’t miss the seasonal makers market for local arts, crafts and produce too.

11. Pea Ridge National Military Park

Just 15 minutes northeast of Bentonville lies Pea Ridge National Military Park, a 4,300-acre Civil War battlefield maintained by the National Park Service. This site protects the grounds where the pivotal 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge was fought over control of Missouri. Visitors can explore the battlefield by following the 4-mile tour road weaving past historic homes, reconstructions of pioneer cabins from the 1800s and monuments marking key points on the battlefield.

The excellent on-site visitor’s center features thorough exhibits on the battle and wider Civil War history through photographs, artillery,replicas and mini-film showings. Rangers also give guided tours and give evening campfire talks in summer. Nearly 30 miles of hiking and equestrian trails crisscross sections of the park for those seeking a more in-depth battlefield experience past the driving tour.

12. Copeland’s Restaurant

No trip to Bentonville is complete without dining at the original world famous James Beard-nominated comfort food joint, Copeland’s Restaurant. Brenda Copeland first started serving up home cooking like Grandma made from the back of a Conoco gas station in 1983. Today three generations of the Copeland family run this beloved Ozark institution that’s expanded to a full restaurant while retaining its signature charm and generous portions.

Expect hearty comfort classics from chicken fried steak and catfish platter to meatloaf and chicken pot pie served up cafeteria style with unlimited helpings of sides like mashed potatoes, green beans, yeast rolls and cobbler. Don’t expect any healthy pretenses here – it’s all about down home deliciousness celebrating flavors most folks’ Grandmas perfected generations ago across the rural South. Just come hungry and leave happy with a full belly!

Conclusion

Bentonville delivers small town charm paired with world-class cuisine, culture and natural beauty that makes it a surprisingly delightful getaway in the Ozark Mountains. History buffs, art aficionados, families and outdoor explorers will all discover memorable attractions to fill their trip itinerary when visiting Bentonville, Arkansas.

Whether admiring America’s finest artworks at Crystal Bridges Museum or sampling inventive flavors at the 8th Street Market food hall, Bentonville offers scenic flair infused with the Walmart fortune. Neighboring mountains teeming with renowned mountain bike trails, the Pea Ridge Civil War battlefield and Copeland’s family-style comfort food round out quintessential Ozarks experiences.

So come savor Arkansas hill country hospitality paired with cosmopolitan amenities when you escape to Bentonville for your next vacation!

Leave a Comment