Whether you’ve never heard of Bentonville, Arkansas or have heard all the rage about this up and coming trail town, these 16 awesome things to do in Bentonville will blow you away from epic rides to local cuisine and a radical community!
This blog was sponsored by Visit Bentonville however the opinions expressed in this blog are, and always will be, truly our own.
Known for it’s incredible mountain biking, Bentonville is widely known among avid trail riders but though people often come to Bentonville for the riding, it’s what lies outside of the trails that makes them stay. The community is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and the focus on local, high quality food was amazing.
Bentonville was a high priory destination to hit on our next summer road trip so when Visit Bentonville reached out to us about coming to visit for an epic weekend on the trails, we were stoked.
I’m super excited to share with you why this destination was on the bucket list and why you‘re going to want to add it to yours too😊
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Let’s get started with the Ultimate Guide to Bentonville, Arkansas!
Getting to Bentonville, Arkansas
Located in the northwest corner of Arkansas, Bentonville hovers right on the border of where the midwest meets the south. Bentonville is smack dab in the middle of nowhere yet at the same time it’s only a a few hours away from many major cities.
- 6 hours from Dallas, Texas
- 5 hours from St Louis, MO
- 8 hours from Nashville, TN
- 10 hours from Chicago, IL
- 12 hours from Denver, Colorado
Flying to Arkansas
Bentonville is located just 10 minutes away from the Fayetteville Airport (XNA) making it semi-easy to just fly into town. The benefit of flying into Bentonville is that you barely need a vehicle when you’re staying in the town of Bentonville so it adds simplicity and saves you money. Plus, Fayetteville Airport may be one of the easiest airports we’ve ever flown in and out of.
Bentonville is also quite a drive away from many places so that in itself would require more another day or two in getting to and from Bentonville.
Use this search box to find flights to Bentonville (XNA)
Reasons We Love Bentonville
Bentonville is mountain biking haven and according to the passionate head trail builder, the town could one day become the top mountain biking destination on the world. Crazy when you consider that only a decade ago, there weren’t any trails here!
Trail builders of Bentonville are putting down a mile and a half or trails per week and I’m not talking just clearing some rocks and cutting down a few trees. These bike networks that are being installed are built for flow and skills. They are perfectly built into the contours of the hills and always have fun man-made features like berms, jumps, drops, and more.
Advanced riders can always find something challenging to launch off of, and as an intermediate rider myself, I love that many of the features can be rolled and that there are alternative lines if I can’t make one of the features.
Bentonville is awesome for beginners too! Beginners will love exploring Esters in Coler Park and if mountain biking isn’t your thing, not to worry. Bentonville hosts 30 incredible miles of greenway AKA bike paths.
I’ve never seen mountain biking so accessible in a town. The trail network quite literally starts from downtown. You can be anywhere in Downton Bentonville, hop on your bike, and be downhilling the Slaughter Pen trail system within minutes.
The access is like nothing I’ve seen before and with dozens of great restaurants throughout downtown, you can easily finish your favorite ride with great drinks and a good meal.
While mountain biking is certainly exciting, what impressed us most about Bentonville was the happiness factor. From the service industry to the entrepreneurs all the way up to the town mayor herself, everyone seems so happy.
Bentonville is a display of community at its finest, in fact, I don’t think anyone really knows the meaning of community until they come here. Everyone is truly trying to lift one another up and the feeling emits into the town, making it the kind of place you want to stick around in longer.
Tips for Visiting the Ozarks
No trip to Bentonville is complete without riding the epic mountain bike trails. Don’t worry, you don’t have pack up your favorite bike to ride here (though it’s certainly an option if you’re hardcore).
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert rider, Phat Tire Bike Shop has you covered with the best rentals in town. The customer service and bike rentals are impeccable and are guaranteed to provide a fun time exploring Bentonville by bike.
In addition, many AirBnb’s in the area have mountain bikes included in their vacation rentals.
Even if you aren’t willing to try mountain biking, the bike shop also offers road bikes and cruiser/hybrid which are great for exploring the amazing bike path network.
Bike rental rates:
- Full Suspension MTB + E-Bikes: Same Day $60, 24 Hour $75
- Premium Full Suspension MTB: Same Day $100, 24 Hour $120
- Hard Tail MTB: Same Day $40, 24 Hour $55
- Cruiser/Hybrid Bike: 2hr $20, 4hr $28, 24hr $38
- Road Bikes: Same Day $45, 24 Hour $65
Download the App
Bentonville has an awesome Downtown Bentonville app which lines up all the things to do and places to eat in one simple, interactive app. My favorite part about the app is that it lists all the up and coming events in one place, making it easy to find out what’s going on during your stay in Bentonville.
Things to do in Bentonville, Arkansas
Ride the Epic Singletrack
If it wasn’t already clear, the biking in Bentonville is out of this world. There’s so much to ride in Bentonville and due to the short, but numerous, trails in each area. Seriously, the variations of riding here are endless. Because of that, we’ve written a separate blog, a complete guide to Moutnain biking in Bentonville.
Read Next: Complete Guide to Mountain Biking in Bentonville. (BLOG COMING SOON)
Crystal Bridges Art Museum
Before being known as a mountain biking town, Bentonville was famous for its rich art culture and the prime hub for that art scene is at Crystal Bridges Art Museum. This museum, home to more than five centuries of artwork, is commonly found among the top 20 museums in the nation.
Though the museum holds many million dollar pieces of art by famed artists from Andy Warhol to Georgia O’Keeffe, what’s most visually inspiring to me about the museum is the stunning modern architecture. The museum is brilliantly designed with glass bridges intricately weaving around the river running from Crystal Spring (Tip: this is what gives the museum its name).
What’s even more amazing than the art and architecture at display here is the fact that the museum is completely free to enter, a rarity among big museums. There’s even a separate entrance that’s only open to foot/bike traffic making it easy to stop by after exploring the trail networks of Bentonville.
Explore the North Forest Lights (Seasonal)
Besides being a year round destination for art connoisseurs, Crystal Bridges is home to a stunning seasonal display called the North Forest Lights.
During the winter months, the paved trails just outside of Crystal Bridges light up in the evenings with 7 unique displays of light and sound which are meant to be an artistic expression of nature and represent the hidden forms of music that nature communicates to us with.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think the North Forest Lights would be anything to write home about but they turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The lights in itself are cool but it’s the choreographed overlap to calming and powerful music that makes it a unique experience.
- Adults: $22
- Youth 7 to 18: $10
- Kids 6 and under: Free
Go Rock Climbing
Before I even knew about the biking in Bentonville, the nearby climbing at Horseshoe Canyon was what first brought the town to my attention. Horseshoe Canyon is the largest climbing area in Arkansas and is only 2 hours away, making for a major hub for climbing.
Horseshoe Canyon hosts nearly 600 routes in grades varying from 5.5 to 5.14. The routes here are not only great quality, but it’s a very scenic destination. Though Horseshoe Canyon is known for great crack climbing, more than half the routes are sport however, there are still nearly 100 trad routes and 100+ boulder problems in the area.
Photos shown above, credit: MountainProject.com
When all else fails for weather, Bentonville has a great, full scale climbing gym with a bouldering area, campus boards, top roped routes, lead routes, a beginner’s climbing area, a gym, and a lounge.
Fly + Ride/HIke/Climb from Thaden Field
Want to experience something really adventurous and unique to the area? Hop on a plane and go explore the untouched wilderness of the Ozarks.
After the recent development of FIELDHOUSE shelter in the local Thaden Field airport, recreational aviation is on the rise in Bentonville. The FIELDHOUSE airfield now hosts flight school, a small hangar exhibition, a restaurant, and most importantly, scenic flights and backcountry access.
Summit Aviation now makes it so you can hop on a chartered plane and go off into the Ozarks for a day of any adventure you wish from mountain biking, to hiking, climbing, and paddling.
One of the coolest adventures to me is the opportunity to go explore one of Northwest Arkansas’s best climbing areas, Horseshoe Canyon. The top of the canyon is a prime spot to land a plane and through a chartered flight, you can be at the crag in a mere 20 minutes. From there, you can set up top rope anchors, rappel into the canyon, and climb out when you’re ready to head home.
Visit the Walmart Museum
Bentonville is famous for being the location of the first Walmart store. Though I know how big Walmart is, at first I didn’t understand why Walmart was such a big deal in this town. Yeah it’s a billion dollar company but it’s corporate and aren’t we trying to promote small businesses?
The truth that I later found out was not that everyone swears by Walmart, but rather that everyone looked up to Sam Walton and the behaviors he modeled as a leader.
By touring the Walmart Museum you get a great taste of the story of Sam Walton and my favorite part, the 10 aspects of business that we stood for. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I will say that one of the aspects is “Swim Upstream” and anything that promotes going against the grain, is something I’m inspired by.
Admission is free and the museum is open daily.
Stop by 21C Hotel + Museum
21C Hotel isn’t just your typical hotel, it’s also a restaurant and museum. This museum is unique because unlike Crystal Bridges who focuses on all eras of art, 21C is dedicated solely to contemporary art.
The museum is free to enter year round and doesn’t take long to explore due to its small nature.
Like the name implies, 21C is also a hotel. Click here to jump to the section on where to stay in. Also, don’t miss stopping for lunch at The Hive.
Where to Eat in Bentonville
You might come to Bentonville for the mountain biking or maybe even the art, but one of the biggest reasons you’ll stay, or return, is for the food. I love how innovative the chefs in Bentonville are and that most restaurants are trying to find creative ways to combine local ingredients, and to deliver a unique dining experience.
Louise at Thaden Field
Recognize this name? In the very same shelter that houses aircrafts, flight school, and hosts plane charters is a modern cafe-style restaurant, Louise. Of all the places we ate in Bentonville, Louise was one of my favorites.
I like it’s spacious, open location with a view of the airfield, the high quality food, and the coffee drinks were incredible (microfoam, anyone?) and I loved that they had oat milk. The restaurant serves food all day long and has both indoor. and outdoor seating.
Grab a bite at Pressroom
Pressroom surprised me and it was easily one of my favorite eateries in town. The restaurant is not fine dining but the food was better than any other restaurant in town and with a modern interior and lots of windows, I liked the open atmosphere.
The restaurant is catered to all meals from breakfast, to lunch, dinner, morning coffee, and happy hour.
Be sure to taste one of their energizing juices like the Gingerslap shot, order one of their delicious pecan “Big Sticky” Rolls as an appetizer, and be sure to try the Baked Egg & Chorizo.
Bonus: Pressroom has a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.
8th Street Market
*8th St Market is by far my favorite hangout in town. This community oriented market isn’t just one restaurant, it’s multiple. This modern, co-op style building is dedicated to serving up excellent food and providing a welcoming atmosphere.
One entire section of the building is built around shuffleboard, which is free to play, and this makes for a seamless collaboration between the restaurant seating areas.
Some of our favorite restaurants in the Market include Yeyo’s Mexican Grill, The Holler (which has great burgers), Markham & Fitz chocolate shop (be sure to try their legit sipping chocolate), and Bike Rack Brewery.
Located inside of historic 21C Boutique Hotel + Museum is a fresh, contemporary, farm to table restaurant known as The Hive. The name is rightfully given with bees and flowers adorning the bright, white interior of the restaurant.
I love the vibe at The Hive but perhaps the most popular reason to visit is to taste the delicious delicacies produced by The Hive’s famous head chef Matthew McLure. The chef strives to combine a variety of different styles of cuisine but most prominently, that of the South.
Whatever you do, do not miss the Pimento Cheese which is a specialty of the south and the Sweet and Spicy Fries (best fries I’ve ever tasted). The Hive Power Bowl was an all around favorite for our group but we also loved the Roast Pork Sandwich.
The Pedaler’s Pub
Looking for a low key hangout to grab some grub and relax with your crew? Pedaler’s Pub is the place for you. While the food here is nothing to write home about, the upbeat but un-presumptuous vibe makes it great place for dinner if you’re rolling in straight off the trails.
If fine dining is your jam, head to Fiamma located right in the middle of historic downtown. Fiamma is a high end, Italian inspired restaurant with specialty meat entrees, homemade bread and pasta, and a huge wine list.
Fiamma sources their meats locally and this, combined with a great chef, makes the meat + fish entrees especially flavorful.
Some of the restaurant specialties include the pappardelle pasta plate, the gnocchi with shrimp, pan seared scallops, and smoked duck.
The Buttered Biscuit
The Buttered Biscuit serves up more than just buttery balls of dough, although the biscuits are definitely their specialty. Local Bentonville owners, Anna and Sam, have created a diverse menu of breakfast favs with an emphasis on high quality ingredients and locally sourced products whenever possible.
The Buttered Biscuit has something catered to all your breakfast cravings from sweet treats like cinnamon rolls, waffles, and French toast, to specialty eggs benedict plates, omelettes, and biscuit sandwiches like the Razorback which was my personal favorite.
Phat Tire Bike shop
Yup, you read that right. Now obviously this isn’t a restaurant, but one of the coolest secrets of Bentonville is that Phat Tire has free beer on tap (granted: you get 1 pour).
If you’re looking for a place to grab a quick drink after a hard day of riding, stop by the bike shop before heading into town for dinner.
Looking for a super classy experience? Riverside Grill is upscale and it shows in the entire experience. While Riverside Grill has long been known as one the best restaurants in Bentonville, I wouldn’t recommend it for those rolling right off the trail.
The steak and seafood here is delicious and the wine tasteful, but it’s definitely more suited to the luxury travelers rather than the outdoorsmen. Be sure to try the bacon wrapped shrimp and crab cakes for appetizers.
Where to Stay in Bentonville
Camping is not in abundant supply in Bentonville but fortunately, the few options in the area are fantastic.
The #1 place to camp in the area is definitely Blowing Springs Campground. This campground is located at the start of the Back 40 trail network, is right next to a kids pumptrack, and sits right on the greenway which takes you to Bentonville and the Slaughter Pen Trail Network.
Though not technically a part of the city of Bentonville, camping at Blowing Springs provides great amenities including restrooms, showers, laundry, and wifi, allows big rig and tents, and has full hookup sites.
Click here to make a reservation at Blowing Springs Campground.
With the recent development of Coler Park, there are plans for a new campground to be located within the park. It isn’t clear what the max RV size will be however, it will definitely be open to tent campers and is probably the best option at that. At Coler Park, you’re only a 10 minute bike ride from downtown Bentonville and Slaughter Pen Trails. The only negative is that 1) you have to cross a major street without crosswalks (not kid friendly) and 2) the campground isn’t open yet.
As far as other campgrounds nearby, the only other option is driving distance from town. Prairie Creek State Park Campground is a scenic state park with both tent and RV sites and even has electrical hookups. This is a great option if you’re tent camping or have a trailer and have a car that you can use to get around.
Of course, as the birthplace of Walmart, there is the budget friendly option for Vans/RVS of boondocking in the Walmart parking lot.
Related blog: How to Find Free Camping in the US
When it comes to accommodation, you have a lot of options in Bentonville. There’s a growing number of both hotels and vacation rentals in town.
21c Boutique Hotel + Museum – If you’re looking for the most unique, upscale accommodation experience in Bentonville, there’s no doubt that you should stay at the 21c boutique Hotel. As mentioned earlier in this post, the hotel is also an contemporary art museum and hosts and amazing restaurant, the Hive.
As the home to a contemporary art museum, it’s no surprise that the hotel models the same level of modern design with open spaces, large windows, and creative interiors. Bonus: The hotel is congenitally located at the start of the Slaughter Pen Trail Network and is just 1 block from historic downtown Bentonville.
Four Points Bentonville – The Four Points is your typical hotel accommodation and we had no complaints about our stay here. The rooms were clean and the beds were extra comfortable. There was a pool, gym, free coffee was provided in the lobby each morning, and upon request, they gave us free tea to brew in our room. The customer service was exceptional. The hotel provides breakfast with certain room packages.
Double Tree Suites by Hilton – Located right across the street from the Four Points, the Double Tree is a slightly more upscale hotel with friendly staff, comfortable beds, a gym, and a pool onsite. The hotel provides breakfast at an additional charge.
Top AirBnbs/Vacation Homes:
- The Henry cottage (in downtown) – Sleeps 6
- Market District Condo (near downtown + 8th St Market) – Sleeps 6
- Luxury Studio A apartment – Sleeps 2
- The Main Lodge (near Crystal Bridges) – Sleep 6
- Downtown House with patio and pool – Sleeps 4
- Ozark Mountain Lakeouse with outdoor garden, patio, and lake access (near Back 40) – Sleep 11
Hope this inspired and/or helped you plan a trip to Bentonville! If you have any questions about visiting, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
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