Although Bentonville is known as the headquarters of the world’s biggest corporation, this Ozark mountain town of 50,000 residents in Northwestern Arkansas oozes small-town charm. From a world-class art museum to delicious High South cuisine to unique accommodations, here’s how to spend a perfect weekend in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Things To Do In Bentonville
Enjoy Amazing Art At Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art
Established by Alice Walton (Walmart founder Sam’s only daughter), the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is one of Bentonville’s most visited attractions. Thanks to the Walmart Corporation, there is never a fee to walk under the 30-foot bronze spider sculpture that guards the main entrance and view Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection. You’ll see works of art like:
- Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1, the world’s most expensive painting by a woman,
- Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, the famous personification of the women who worked in factories during World War II,
- George Segal’s Depression Breadline, a bronze sculpture that’s also incorporated into the FDR memorial in Washington, DC,
- and many other famous paintings, photographs, and sculptures by American artists.
Pro Tip: While there’s no cost to visit the permanent collection at Crystal Bridges, there may be a fee to tour special exhibits and attend special programs and other events.
Tour The Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House
When you visit Crystal Bridges, don’t miss the Bachman-Wilson House, just a short walk from the main museum. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the home is an example of the architect’s Usonian design, an open concept filled with natural light and designed to co-exist with its natural surroundings. The Bachman-Wilson House was originally constructed along the Millstone River in New Jersey, but the residence was carefully moved to the art museum in 2015.
Pro Tip: In addition to the Bachman-Wilson House, admire the architectural genius of Frank Lloyd Wright by visiting these nine additional sites in the United States.
Experience The Momentary
If contemporary art is more your style, then check out The Momentary. Formerly a 63,000-square-foot cheese factory, this massive art, exhibition, and festival site opened in February 2020. It is a sister site of Crystal Bridges dedicated to visual, performing, and culinary arts. Stroll through the galleries to admire the works of several contemporary artists. Order a bite from the Momentary Food Truck, relax with a beverage at RODE Bar, or try your hand at bocce ball.
Visit The Walmart Museum
Whether you prefer Walmart or one of its competitors, it’s hard not to admire the hard work and incredible success of Sam Walton. After serving in World War II, Sam and his young family settled in Bentonville, where he opened Walton’s 5 and 10 (Five and Dime) on the west side of the Bentonville City Square. From that modern variety store he opened in Northwest Arkansas in March 1951, Sam grew the Walmart chain to 1,960 stores at the time of his death in 1992.
Now the Walmart Museum, Sam Walton’s original store, is filled with exhibits that tell the story of his life and the 10 rules he followed to build his business. Visitors can see Sam’s office, hermetically sealed to preserve it as it was the day Sam passed away, including a clutter of books, yellow legal pads scribbled with notes, and one of the blue Walmart baseball hats that Sam regularly wore with his business suit.
Also on display is Sam’s red 1979 Ford F150 pickup. The scraped and dented vehicle (with chew marks on the steering wheel courtesy of Sam’s English Setter, Ol’ Roy) is a testament to Sam’s humble nature. Visitors are encouraged to touch the door handle to receive the gift of frugality.
Fun Fact: The red truck outside the Walmart Museum is Betty, a replica ride used for parades, store openings, and special occasions.
Explore The Peel Mansion And Gardens
The Peel Mansion is a magnificent Italianate estate just a short drive from Downtown Bentonville. Completed in 1875, it was the home of Samuel West Peel, a businessman, attorney, and the first native Arkansan elected to the United States Congress. The historic red brick home is furnished with authentic Victorian era pieces and surrounded by a stunning rose garden and old-growth oak trees.
Museum Of Native American History
Founded by David Bogle, a Bentonville businessman who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, the Museum of Native American History is home to more than 10,000 Native American artifacts. One of the museum’s biggest draws is Tusker, a 12,000-year-old wooly mammoth reconstructed from three mammoth skeletons found in Siberia. Although there is no admission fee to visit the Museum of Native American History, donations are appreciated.
Cheer For The Home Team
Sports lovers will want to drive 20 minutes south of Bentonville to the Arvest Ballpark in Springdale to cheer on the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. After moving from Wichita, Kansas, in 2008, where they were known as the Wichita Wranglers, the Naturals became a Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and were crowned the Texas Leagues Champions in 2010.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss these seven incredible outdoor activities when you visit Bentonville, Arkansas!
Best Restaurants In Bentonville
Located inside the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Eleven is named after its opening date of November 11, 2011. But if you are expecting this museum restaurant to offer an overpriced, limited menu of selections that seem on par with a high school cafeteria, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Instead of a pre-packaged iceberg lettuce salad with a few cardboard-looking carrot shreds, you can dig into an Ozark-inspired Nicoise salad that features soft butter lettuce, crisp green beans, sliced radishes, and a salmon filet. Or you can opt for a sirloin steak salad that tops a base of peppery arugula with thin strips of beef, chunks of tomatoes, and corn salsa.
Table Mesa Bistro And Bakery
From cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped Medjool dates to grown-up quesadillas filled with Gulf shrimp and spicy poblano sauce, Table Mesa Bistro, located on the south side of the Bentonville City Square, is a modern take on Southwestern and Latin American cuisines. Whatever you choose, pair it with a specialty margarita like the prickly pear or strawberry basil.
Where To Shop In Bentonville
One of the things that makes Bentonville such a charming small town is its bustling city square. The clothing stores, boutiques, and other specialty shops that encircle the flower-filled green square in the heart of Bentonville have evolved over the years. But the walkable downtown is reminiscent of life in the early 1960s when the candy-striped awning first rolled out over the red brick sidewalk in front of Walton’s Five and Dime.
As you explore the 16-block historic Third Street District, you’ll discover art galleries, clothing boutiques, and specialty shops. Some of my favorite places to visit are KYYA Chocolate, Label Boutique, and The Spice and Tea Exchange. And I always try to bring my furry kids a little something from Three Dog Bakery. South of the Bentonville Town Square, other fun shops include The Fancy Frog Boutique, Two Friends Bookstore, and The Cigar District.
From late spring through mid-fall, the downtown square hosts a farmers market every Saturday. Purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables like juicy peaches, sweet berries, and heirloom tomatoes, or grab a bite while enjoying live music and other attractions.
Pro Tip: If you fall in love with Bentonville, consider making it your new hometown. You may qualify for a $10,000 cash award (and a mountain bike) to make that dream a reality.
Best Hotels In Bentonville
Because Bentonville attracts many corporate travelers during the week, hotels are often booked Monday through Wednesday. However, weekend lodging and transportation rates are usually lower, making Bentonville a great weekend destination.
21c Museum Hotel Bentonville
From Chicago to the Carolinas, if there is a 21c Museum Hotel in town, you can bet I’ll recommend it. For the past decade, this regional chain of boutique hotels has converted historic buildings into comfortable accommodations paired with a chef-driven restaurant. Just a few blocks from the Bentonville City Square, the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville offers 104 rooms and The Hive restaurant.
The Victoria Bed And Breakfast
Another fabulous option within walking distance of all that downtown Bentonville has to offer is The Victoria Bed and Breakfast. This 5,000-square-foot Victorian on the edge of the Compton Gardens offers six elegantly styled rooms, each with a private bathroom, and includes a full breakfast.
Other Hotels In Bentonville
Several nationwide chains also offer accommodations in Bentonville, including DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Bentonville, La Quinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham Bentonville, and Comfort Inn Bentonville.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Bentonville as part of a road trip to Memphis, be sure to check out these additional stops in Arkansas on your way to Tennessee.