12 Things To Do with Family in Benton, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, Benton is a charming small town in central Arkansas. With its quaint downtown area, numerous parks and recreational spaces, and family-friendly attractions, Benton makes for an ideal weekend getaway or day trip destination for families in the region looking for wholesome fun.

From hiking scenic nature trails to visiting the state’s only diamond mine where you can dig for real gems, Benton offers a nice mix of outdoor adventures and one-of-a-kind attractions the whole family can enjoy together. The downtown area also features cute boutiques, old-school soda fountains, and a community theatre putting on lively local productions throughout the year.

In this article, we cover the 12 best things to do in Benton for families looking to make memories while enjoying quality time with one another. For each activity, we outline key details like location, operating hours, ticket prices, and more so you can easily plan your Benton family itinerary.

Dig for Diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Without a doubt, the top attraction bringing families to Benton is the famous Crater of Diamonds State Park located just outside the city limits. As the world’s only diamond-bearing site open to the public, the park allows visitors to dig around in a 37.5 acre plowed field in search of real diamonds, amethysts, garnets, and other dazzling gems.

The finder’s keepers policy means you get to take home any glittering stones you unearth during your time mining the volcanic crater. Just last year, a visitor discovered the largest diamond found in the park’s 50+ year history, a whopping 4.38-carat yellow gem!

With shovels and knee pads provided for digging, this outdoor adventure makes for a exciting and affordable family activity. Admission starts at just $10 per person while children 6 and under enter free with an adult.

Location: 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR
Hours: 8am – 4pm daily
Admission: Ages 13+ $10; Ages 6-12 $6

Hike Arkansas’s Longest Suspension Bridge at Bona Dea Trails

For families who love the outdoors, the stunning Bona Dea Trails located right in Russellville offer an excellent place to hike and explore together. The reserve’s main highlight is undoubtedly the sky-high Bona Dea suspension bridge extending nearly 800 feet long and hovering some 60 feet high above Lake Bona Dea.

As Arkansas’s longest suspension bridge open to the public, it provides phenomenal views of the surrounding Ouachita National Forest. Families can walk the gentle 1.5 mile trail out to the bridge together taking in dense forests and a pretty waterfall along the way.

With camping also available on-site, this makes for a fun adventure to do over a long spring or fall weekend. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the expansive wooden bridge!

Location: 26399 Arkansas Highway 27 S, Russellville, AR
Hours: Trails open daily 8am – 30 minutes before sunset
Admission: Free

Tour Historic Downtown Murfreesboro

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, downtown Murfreesboro transports visitors back in time with its incredibly well preserved buildings straight out of the late 1800’s. Families can easily spend a fun morning or afternoon walking the quiet brick roads peering into the windows of old general stores, saloons, and other heritage buildings.

A must-visit shop for kids and adults alike is unconstitutional famed Coleman’s Old-Time Soda Fountain and Ice Cream Parlor established in 1915. Relax with a classic banana split, root beer float, or chocolate malt served up at the vintage counter by staff in retro uniforms.

Afterwards, pop into the 1904 jailhouse turned quirky gift store or have the kids pose by the antique fire truck parked out front. Nearby, a free mini-museum displays intriguing artifacts discovered at Crater of Diamonds State Park just up the road.

Location: Downtown Murfreesboro Historic District
Hours: Shop and restaurant hours vary
Admission: Free

See a Show at The Royal Theatre

Located in downtown Benton, the historic 1930s Royal Theatre puts on community plays, musicals, and other performing arts shows families can enjoy together. The intimate 145-seat theatre features impressive Romanesque arches hand-painted by a Hollywood set designer and an elegant chandelier as the centerpiece.

Fun annual productions like singing Christmas Trees or silly summer children’s shows let kids play a role on stage while parents watch from the audience. Tickets average just $8 per seat making this an affordable outing for arts-loving families to share. Show schedules are posted on the theatre’s website.

Location: 111 West Central Ave, Benton, AR
Hours: Showtimes scheduled evenings & weekends
Admission: $8 average per seat

Take a Dip at Bishop Park Aquatic Center

Cool off with a day of splashing around Bishop Park Aquatic Center, an outdoor water park in the heart of Bryant. Sprawling across 5 acres, this family-friendly park features a leisure pool, vortex, two story slides, rapids run, spray grounds, and a shaded toddler area.

Families will love floating down the lazy river together while kids can spend hours zooming down slides or playing in dumping buckets. Affordable daily passes start at $7 for Bryant residents while out-of-towners pay just $10 per person making this an accessible water fun zone for all. The park is open daily during summer months.

Location: Bishop Park, 6501 Bishop Rd, Bryant, AR
Hours: 12 pm – 6 pm daily mid-May through early Sept
Admission: $7 (Resident) $10 (Non-resident)

Grab a Sweet Treat in Downtown Benton

No family trip to Benton is complete without stopping for dessert on the lively Downtown Square lined with shops and eateries. Just steps from the historic Royal Theatre, old-fashioned dairy bar McGuire’s Ice Cream Parlor serves up homemade frozen custard, milkshakes, and sundaes topped with whipped cream and cherries.

Other sweet stops include Mama’s Kitchen Bakery known for its giant old-fashioned cinnamon rolls dripping with gooey icing and Eat My Catfish cheesecake shop offering smooth, creamy flavors by the slice. With quirky storefronts all around, downtown Benton provides the picture-perfect backdrop for family ice cream outings.

Location: 101 W Central Ave, Benton, AR 72019

Tour Arkadelphia’s 7 Famous Historic Homes

History buffs young and old will enjoy touring Arkadelphia’s Historic District situated along the beautiful Ouachita River. This National Register neighborhood features seven impeccably restored Victorian homes built between 1869 to 1899 that provide a glimpse into 19th century life.

Families can pick up a free map from the Clark County Historical Museum and take a self-guided walking tour of properties like the Blakely House with original porcelain doorknobs or Cresthull built from bricks made by slaves. Costumed tour guides offer scheduled tours showing kids and parents around the majestic period interiors.

It’s just a quick half mile walk connecting all seven homes making for an engaging history lesson kids won’t even realize they’re learning!

Location: Arkadelphia Historic District
Hours: Self-guided/Exterior Home Viewing Daily; Interior Tours by Appointment
Admission: Free

Camp & Fish at Lake DeGray State Park

Nestled in rolling foothills covered with towering pine trees, Lake DeGray State Park offers the ideal basecamp for families who love the outdoors. The park provides excellent opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing together.

Kids will enjoy spotting deer grazing across the park’s peaceful meadows or casting lines trying to reel in some the lake’s bounty of rainbow trout, bass and catfish. Newly renovated campsites and cabins make for comfy accommodations after action-packed days spent outside breathing fresh mountain air as a family.

Location: Arkansas Scenic Byway 7, Arkansas
Hours: 6 am – 1 hour after sunset daily
Admission: Free

Learn About Diamonds at Arkansas Museum Of Natural Resources

After a fun day of searching for gems in nearby Crater of Diamonds State Park, continue your family’s education on diamonds and minerals at this intriguing museum in Smackover. Interactive exhibits let kids touch glowing minerals under black lights, examine meteorites, walk through a recreation mine tunnel, and try panning for real gem stones.

Families can even get a rare look at the most perfect diamond ever discovered in North America – the 40.23 carat Uncle Sam dug up at Crater of Diamonds in 1924! With free admission and just a 15 minute drive from the park, this makes an ideal add-on for the day.

Location: 102 Hickory Street, Smackover, AR
Hours: Mon – Sat, 8:30am–4:30pm
Admission: Free

Shop for Antiques on Picturesque Antique Alley

Stretching for nearly 25 miles along Highway 278, aptly named Antique Alley offers a genuine treasure hunt for families as it winds through quaint small towns dotted with antique stores. With over 40 boutiques to explore across Mt. Holly, Old Washington, and other charming pit stops along this Arkansas Scenic Byway, you’re sure to stumble upon some true gems from the past.

Let kids pick out vintage toys that catch their eye or hunt for the perfect curio to decorate their bedroom back home. Between browsing all the sets of silverware, formal china, and other home goods, families will enjoy snapping photos amidst the incredibly nostalgic settings too.

Location: Arkansas Scenic Byway 278
Hours: Vary by Shop
Admission: Free

See a Show at Reynolds Performance Hall

If your family trip falls when the University of Central Arkansas is in session, consider catching a music, theatre, dance, or other performing arts production at the impressive Reynolds Performance Hall in Conway.

With superb acoustics and amenities, the sleek 650-seat venue hosts student and guest performances appealing to all ages like sing-a-long operas, jazz bands, or even illusionist magic shows. Kids will be amazed by some of the outstanding student talent while parents appreciate the affordable $10-20 tickets making performing arts accessible.

Touring the pretty campus before the show makes for a nice full evening out together!

Location: 160 Eminence Ct, Conway, AR 72034
Hours: Showtimes scheduled evenings & weekends
Admission: $10-20 per seat

Explore the Old Mill at T.R. Pugh Memorial Park

No family visit to Arkansas is complete without stopping to see one of the state’s most photographed spots – the historic Old Mill located at T.R. Pugh Memorial Park in North Little Rock. Originally built in 1933 as part of the opening scene in Gone With the Wind, kids will recognize the classic waterwheel structure from the intro to “The Wonderful World of Disney”.

Families can feed ducks swimming in the adjacent pond, play in large playground, or pose for pictures in front of the iconic mill set beautifully against forested hills in the background. The park also features botanical gardens, hiking trails, and a picnic area for an enjoyable afternoon with no admission fees.

Location: 2600 Baucum Pike, NLR, AR 72116
Hours: Sunrise – 30 minutes after sunset daily
Admission: Free

Conclusion


With incredible parks offering outdoor fun, historic small towns oozing charm, and a range of one-of-a-kind attractions families won’t find anywhere else, Benton makes an excellent spot for making memories together as a family.

Whether your crew prefers action-packed adventure or leisurely sightseeing, you’re sure to find activities that appeal to both kids and parents alike with this list of the top 12 things to do in the Benton area. So pack up the family car or minivan and head to central Arkansas for wholesome bonding experiences enjoying quality time together.

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