12 Parks in Benton, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled in the rolling Ouachita Mountains of central Arkansas, Benton is a small city with a population of just over 35,000 residents. Despite its small size, Benton boasts an impressive array of parks and recreational areas for locals and visitors to enjoy. From manicured ball fields and playgrounds, to winding trails and reservoirs perfect for fishing, Benton’s 12 parks offer something for everyone.

In this article, we will explore Benton’s top parks, detailing the amenities and recreational opportunities available at each one. Whether you’re a family looking for new weekend adventures, an angler searching for the perfect fishing hole, or simply want to enjoy Arkansas’ natural beauty, you’re sure to find an ideal outdoor space in one (or more) of Benton’s 12 treasured parks.

Benton City Park

As the largest park in Benton spanning over 100 acres, Benton City Park is a beloved community space used year-round by residents. The park houses a playground with modern equipment, 1.3 mile scenic walking trail encircling a peaceful lake, pavilions for events, restrooms, and plenty of open space for lawn games, picnics, or simply relaxing under the shade trees on a nice day. Two fenced-in dog parks provide designated off-leash areas for pets to play.

Of note are the park’s six professionally-groomed baseball/softball fields with bleacher seating used by local little league teams for games and practices. Benton City Park frequently hosts community events like movie nights, races, and seasonal festivals that bring residents together.

With so much to offer locals of all ages, Benton City Park is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the city’s outdoor recreational spaces.

Bernard Holland Park

Boasting Benton’s largest playground, Bernard Holland Park offers families nearly an acre of state-of-the-art equipment and rubberized surfaces perfect for children’s recreational play. Kids can climb spider web towers, whirl down twisting slides, test their balance on rope bridges, or simply monkey bar from one challenging structure to the next.

When they need a break, kids can refuel at picnic tables before heading back out for more fun. Adjacent to the playground, a large open field provides space for activities like kite-flying, Frisbee, or seasonal pick-up sports games.

With picnic pavilions, restrooms, a scenic walking path circling the playground’s perimeter, and plenty of shade trees, Bernard Holland Park appeals to parents too. Its playground even earned recognition from Navigate Recreation as one of the Top 50 playgrounds in Arkansas, making it a destination for families across the region seeking an extraordinary play experience.

Bishop Park

Named after former parks department director Gary Bishop, this 25 acre park contains a beloved disc golf course regularly used for local tournaments. Winding through scenic woodlands with elevation changes from its hilltop location, Bishop Park’s 18 hole course challenges players of all skill levels with a range of long, tricky shots and shorter “ace run” opportunities. Concrete tee pads and signage at each basket provide a professional feel.

In addition to disc golf, Bishop Park contains 1 mile of mountain biking trails that traverse thick forests filled with native plants and wildlife. A small playground at the park entrance provides fun for kids, while picnic tables positioned under mature shade trees give groups a place to gather when they need a break from the action. With its top notch disc golf course and great trail system, Bishop Park is arguably one of Benton’s most popular outdoor recreation spaces.

Bob Oliver Baseball Complex

Home to Benton’s Dixie Youth Baseball program, Bob Oliver Baseball Complex contains five fields specifically designed for young players ranging from t-ball through minor league teams. Two fields are outfitted with LED lighting, allowing for practices and games to occur after daylight hours. Modern dugouts, protective fencing and netting, bleachers, and concession stands give the complex a big league feel that thrills young players.

A large playground located between fields provides entertainment for players’ siblings and younger children during games and practices. Abundant parking makes the complex easily accessible for the many families participating in Benton’s beloved youth baseball program each spring and early summer.

Caldwell Park

Originally constructed in 1938 as one of Benton’s first parks, Caldwell Park received major renovations in the early 2000s transforming it into a modern community gathering place complete with a splash pad, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, walking trail, and Veteran’s Memorial Plaza. The park’s showpiece is undoubtedly the 3,500 square foot splash pad containing over 20 interactive water features for children to enjoy from spring through early fall.

With seating for parents, shade sails, and a sloped soak zone to contain water runoff, Caldwell Park’s splash pad provides hours of safe, free entertainment for local families. The adjacent playground with standard and toddler sections gives another recreational outlet when kids need a break from water play. Caldwell Park’s scenic walking trail, open green space, and memorial plaza make it popular for community events too.

Creekside Park

Nestled along the rolling banks of Hurricane Creek, Creekside Park spans over 40 acres and connects to Benton’s broader trail system. Amenities include a playground, 1 mile looped walking trail, picnic pavilion, butterfly garden, and open space for lawn games.

Anglers flock to the creek banks and wooden fishing pier jutting over a tranquil pool to try their luck at catching catfish, sunfish or bass. Interpretive educational signs detail native species found in and around the creek.

With its peaceful natural setting and abundance of outdoor recreational facilities, Creekside Park is a popular gathering spot for Benton residents. The butterfly garden containing milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants delights visitors when vibrant monarchs stop by on their seasonal migrations.

Whether you come to fish, walk, play or simply relax by the creek’s rippling waters, Creekside Park offers a much-needed connection to nature within Benton’s city limits.

Dave Ward Drive Soccer Complex

Boasting 14 full size soccer fields, two fenced dog parks, and an 18 hole disc golf course, Dave Ward Drive Soccer Complex spans a whopping 250 acres to provide ample recreational opportunities for Benton residents and visitors.

In addition to being home field for select soccer leagues and camps, the park hosts annual tournaments like the Benton Invitational Soccer Tournament each February. Teams travel from across the state for the weekend-long competition.

When not in use by soccer leagues, Dave Ward Drive Soccer Complex’s meticulously maintained grass fields convert into open space where community members play pick-up games, practice cheerleading routines, fly kites, or simply stretch out on sunny days. The scenic disc golf course winds through mature forests filled with native plants and wildlife, presenting players with technical wooded shots in addition to open field holes.

With so much to offer athletes, families and nature lovers alike, it’s no wonder Dave Ward Drive Soccer Complex ranks among Benton’s most beloved multi-use parks.

Gann Park

Situated along Muddy Fork Creek, Gann Park spans 15 acres filled with recreational amenities including a playground, walking trail, Veterans Memorial Plaza, picnic pavilion with grills, and open fields for play. A scenic wooden footbridge arches over the creek, connecting the park’s north and south sections. Abundant wildflowers like black-eyed susans and cardinal flowers grow along the creek banks, attracting butterflies, songbirds and other wildlife.

In addition to its peaceful natural scenery, Gann Park contains several baseball/softball fields used by little league teams for practices and games. Bleacher seating offers prime vantage points for watching exciting plays. Families often picnic under shade trees behind the backstop while waiting for games to finish. A small fenced dog park provides a designated area for pet play.

With its ideal blend of recreational facilities and natural spaces, Gann Park appeals to Benton residents of all ages seeking outdoor fun and relaxation.

Governor Sidney S. McMath Park

Dedicated in honor of former Arkansas governor Sid McMath who hailed from Benton, this 64 acre park lies adjacent to Lake Norrell and serves as the main hub for water recreation within Benton city limits. Known locally as “Norrell Lake Park,” amenities include a swimming beach with bathhouse, fishing pier, boat ramps, picnic pavilions, playground, one mile interpretive trail circling the lake, and campsites available for rental through the Army Corps of Engineers’ website.

From pedal boating and stand up paddle boarding to bank fishing and beach swimming, Governor Sidney S. McMath Park offers water lovers myriad ways to enjoy the park’s panoramic views and cooling waters during warm months. Birders rejoice over sighting herons, kingfishers, ducks and even occasional bald eagles. Six park pavilions provide options for hosting birthday parties, family reunions and even lakeside weddings.

With its stunning lakefront setting and abundance of recreational facilities, Governor Sidney S. McMath Park deserves its reputation as the crown jewel of Benton’s parks system.

Old Post Park

Nestled in historic downtown Benton, quaint Old Post Park provides a relaxing, shaded oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of modern city life. Originally constructed as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in the 1930’s on the former site of 19th century frontier outpost Fort Tileston, today the half-acre park pays homage to Benton’s storied past. Visitors delight in reading plaques detailing the park’s unique history, including its tenure as a Confederate training ground during the Civil War.

While small in size, Old Post Park charms visitors with scenic walking paths, arched wooden footbridges over spring-fed creek beds, artistic stone walls, and native flowering plants that attract birds, butterflies and other pollinators. Several antique benches provide quiet spots to sit and reflect under the canopy of towering oak trees that pre-date the city itself.

Whether enjoying a peaceful lunch break, reading the historic plaques to learn more about Benton’s heritage, or simply observing nature at work in an urban setting, Old Post Park proves that sometimes small places hold the most intrigue if you slow down to appreciate them.

Riverside Park

Stretching nearly one mile along the Saline River’s banks, Riverside Park connects Benton’s broader trail system while providing residents direct access to scenic waterfront views and recreation. Paved walking trails encircle Riverside Park, allowing visitors to meander along the river’s edge, resting at need at numerous benches and picnic tables conveniently situated under shade trees. Interpretive signs detail wildlife commonly seen in and along the river such as beaver, river otter and many species of fish.

In addition to its peaceful walking trails, Riverside Park contains two fenced dog park areas for pets to play off leash. Other amenities include a playground, basketball courts, sand volleyball pit, open field space for games, and a large pavilion perfect for hosting family reunions or community events. Riverside Park’s idyllic waterfront location makes it one of Benton’s most popular outdoor gathering places year-round.

River Center Park

Constructed on the site of a former industrial brownfield property in downtown Benton, the vibrant River Center Park transformed blight into beauty when it opened in 2013 after nearly a decade of planning and construction. Today the 12 acre park serves as the central hub connecting Benton’s scenic riverfront to its historic downtown district.

Park features include an amphitheater that hosts regular community events and concerts, a misting playground for hot summer days, open lawn space for games, winding walking paths with educational signs highlighting local ecology, and a striking pedestrian bridge allowing easy passage over the Saline River to riverside walking trails on the opposing bank.

Filled with native flowering plants, the park also functions as an urban greenspace to bolster butterflies, birds and other vital pollinators right in the heart of downtown. With its family-friendly recreational facilities and emphasis on ecological education, River Center Park promotes opportunities for Benton residents and visitors to have fun while learning the importance of environmental conservation – a model for sustainable urban design.

East Side Park

The newest addition to Benton’s impressive roster of parks opened in 2019 on part of the former Alcoa mining site. Nicknamed “Benton’s Central Park,” the sprawling 130 acre open space dubbed East Side Park already rivals the city’s most popular parks in amenities and offerings.

Visitors delight in amenities including a one mile paved walking trail, 18 hole disc golf course winding through scenic forests filled with native plants, a dog park with separate large and small dog areas, miles of natural surface trails for hiking/mountain biking, a playground and picnic pavilion.

Given its immense acreage and location atop the Ouachita foothills, East Side Park contains stunning vantage points overlooking downtown Benton and the Saline River valley. Families fly kites and play games in open grassy fields, while outdoor enthusiasts take advantage of the park’s excellent single-track mountain bike trails and disc golf course. With so much to do against the backdrop of natural beauty, it’s easy to lose track of time during an adventurous day exploring East Side Park.

Conclusion

For a mid-sized city, Benton offers big-time outdoor recreational opportunities across its 12 magnificent parks spanning over 1,000 acres.

From scenic walking trails and playgrounds for families to sports fields, fishing access and even a swimming beach, residents and visitors alike find limitless ways to stay active amidst Arkansas’ splendid natural beauty in Benton’s beloved parks system.

Which park tops your list for future adventures? Planning a day exploring several via Benton’s interconnecting trail network makes for ideal weekend fun. Just don’t be surprised if you discover new favorite spots that keep calling you back thanks to southern hospitality paired with the city’s wealth of first-rate parks and public spaces. Benton proudly carries on Arkansas’ tradition of outstanding outdoor recreation.

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