A Week in Bentonville, Arkansas
Joss and I were able to get away for a week to visit family in Bentonville, Arkansas. We’d never been before but have heard such good things about the city, which did not disappoint! Here is a quick overview of some fun things to do in Bentonville.
Crystal Bridges is a relatively new museum. It was founded in 2005 by Alice Walton – and, thanks to a continuous Walmart sponsorship, general admission is free for all ages. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum is operating at limited capacity. While you may be able to just walk in and gain admission, it’s a good idea to reserve your spot online in advance.
Joss doing some “spider yoga” beneath Louise Bourgeoise’s iconic “Maman” sculpture
When we first arrived, we had to wait 30 minutes before we could enter, but that just gave an extra opportunity to wander the grounds! You could spend several hours just exploring the trails that surround Crystal Bridges. They’re lined with fun animal and other sculptures, which create numerous photo opportunities!
“Stella” by André Harvey and “Shore Lunch” by Dan Ostermiller
In addition to Tony Tasset’s giant “Deer” sculpture, we also saw several families of real-life deer!
Starting in September, Crystal Bridges is bringing back its Northern Forest Lights installation, which pairs creative light installations with sound throughout the grounds. We missed it, but I’ve heard it is beautiful!
Another Bentonville favorite, the Scott Family Amazeum is a multi-faceted children’s museum. Kids can explore everything from working in a grocery store to an old-fashioned farm, with plenty of science and art mixed in.
As you can imagine, it’s very hands-on, which may not be the best during a pandemic. However, the museum is currently closing for one hour every two hours. During this hour, the museum is cleaned and sanitized. And there are lots of hand sanitizing stations throughout the museum, along with limited capacity.
Conveniently, the Amazeum is located just down the road from Crystal Bridges. You could fit both activities into a day, especially since there’s a 2-hour time limit at the Amazeum right now. But your kids will probably go to sleep very easily at the end of the day!
Arkansas is a truly beautiful state. And a word of caution: It’s a lot hillier than Tulsa! If you have a child prone to car-sickness, you may want to bring along some anti-nausea medicine. Most of the time, this wasn’t an issue. But one time we did travel along curvy roads for an extended period of time, and…the results were not pretty. We made sure to bring barf bags and medicine after that.
That said, make sure you explore outside of the city as well. Tanyard Creek Nature Trail is actually located in Bella Vista, but so many of the cities in Northwestern Arkansas meld together, it’s just a short jaunt away.
As you can tell from the pictures, if you’re going during the summer, it might not be a bad idea to outfit your kids in swimming clothes and water shoes! Joss and I both enjoyed walking along this small creek. But we took off our tennis shoes, and the rocks on the bottom HURT! But that didn’t stop him from submersing himself while my back was turned, making the painful trip back towards our shoes.
Other unique features of Tanyard Creek are a waterfall, which we saw another family swimming under. Just watch out for the very slippery, moss-covered rocks! And there are also some small “caves,” which were used as shelter way back when.
A final note: Just down the street from Tanyard Creek, you can visit the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel. This was designed by the same architect who designed Thorncrown Chapel, which we visited in Eureka Springs last year. Beautiful!
Other Places to Explore in Bentonville
The Momentary. We didn’t spend much time at The Momentary, a satellite to Crystal Bridges. The interior of The Momentary was closed when we arrived. However, we did enjoy walking around the outside of the building and drooling over the dreamy “robot coffeeshop” inside!
The Walmart Museum. We didn’t spend any time here at all because it was still closed due to COVID. However, if it had been open, we would have definitely made a stop. It’s located on “the square” in downtown Bentonville, and the whole area is full of fun retail shops and restaurants.
Short Stop Grill. Short Stop Grill has made a name for itself for its GIANT soft serve ice cream cones. We had to visit because my dad really wanted a picture of Joss with their large size. So if you want a fun photo op, go here! We also got ice cream at Trash Creamery in downtown Bentonville. Yum!
Photo Credit: Aaron Bowen