AOK Guide to Bentonville, Arkansas

Travel blogger Amanda Martin shares a weekend travel guide to Bentonville, Arkansas

Hello from Bentonville, Arkansas! This post has been on my to-do list for entirely too long. My parents moved to Northwest Arkansas about four years ago....and it is total a hidden gem. I love to visit and explore the area. It is jam packed with good food, shopping and outdoor activities. Bentonville is known as the birthplace and headquarters of Walmart but the city is so much more than that. It boasts a unique aesthetic that I can only describe as historical southern charm mixed with eclectic hipster vibes. 

Arkansas is the "Natural State" and Bentonville is located in the Northwest corner of the state on the edge of the Ozark Mountains. It is absolutely beautiful (especially in the fall) with tons of trees, hills, lakes, rivers, trails and curvy roads. It is an easy drive from Oklahoma, North Texas, Missouri, Kansas or even western Tennessee. There are also lots of other small towns surrounding it including Rogers, Bella Vista, Eureka Springs, Fayetteville and Springdale, all which are charming in their own ways! 

Apologies in advance for not having a ton of good photos for the activities and restaurants....since my parents, my brother, and a few close friends live in NWA (NW Arkansas), I'm usually more focused on the people in front of me and less focused on taking pictures for the blog or Instagram when I'm in town. The below photos have been taken over the last couple of years! 

travel blogger @amandasok kayaks in Northwest Arkansas

What to Do
Crystal Bridges Museum - disclaimer: I have yet to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum..... but I know it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in NWA! They strive to unite the power of art with the beauty of nature. The museum is nestled in 120 acres of Ozark woods and surrounded by 3.5 miles of walking trails all while being right in the middle of downtown Bentonville. During the holidays, they put on the "North Forest Lights" display on the surrounding trails.

The Walmart Museum - located in the original Walton's 5 & 10 building on the square (which opened in 1900), the museum always has free admission and tells the story of Sam Walton / the beginning of Walmart. I love that it still looks like a mom and pop shop on the inside and includes a yummy ice cream soda shop! Sam Walton and the Walton family really helped make Bentonville what it is today and their story of starting small and growing to be such a major commercial retailer is truly inspiring! Note: at the time of posting, the museum is closed due to covid.

Bike & Hike -  There are soooo many trails in NWA - 140 miles to be exact (both paved and unpaved)! Tanyard Creek Nature Trail (which is actually located just north of Bentonville in Bella Vista) is my personal favorite for a quick hike. It is only 2.2 miles but has a gorgeous stream and waterfall - it is especially pretty in the fall when the leaves are turning colors. Biking is a BIG deal in Bentonville, people come from miles around to mountain bike the Ozark mountain trails. You can rent bikes from Phat Tire if you don't have your own! Find trail info here.

Go to the Lake - NWA is home to tons of lakes, streams rivers to explore! Many are open to the public and offer beaches or boat rentals (like paddle boards, kayaks, paddle boats or canoes). Find lake info here.

lifestyle and travel blogger Amanda's OK hikes the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Northwest Arkansas

Where to Eat & Drink
Onyx Coffee Lab - my favorite coffee OF.ALL.TIME. I buy their beans to use at home and always have to make a stop at the coffee shop for an Onyx Delight (a honey, cinnamon, vanilla latte)! It's also just super aesthetically pleasing with pretty tile counters, greenery and wood + yellow accents. Note: at the time of posting, Onyx is open for takeout only due to covid. 

Oven & Tap - local pizza restaurant named for it's wood fired pizza oven and beer tap wall! 

Tavola Trattoria - super yummy Italian food. Come hungry and ready for all the carbs! I recommend the saltimbocca .... insert drool emoji. It will leave you miserably full from all the rich creaminess but it is worth the pain. 

Tusk & Trotter - an American Brasserie with casual yet upscale food made with local ingredients when possible. Everything I've had here is always drool worthy, full of rich flavor and very unique! 

Louise - this cafe is located in the Thaden Fieldhouse at the little Bentonville airport! The diner-style cafe faces the runway so it is really fun to watch planes take off and land while you are eating. It is named for a Bentonville native, Louise McPhetridge Thaden, who was one of the greatest female aviators of her time. They have a great brunch, lunch and dinner menu with lots of healthy, vegetarian and vegan options. 

Pressroom - this cute, bright and airy restaurant has a little bit of everything! A great coffee/beer/wine/cocktail drink menu as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner, Pressroom will please everyone! 

Crepes Paulette - my family talked about this restaurant so much that by the time I tried it, I had extremely high expectations......and I was not disappointed! They offer authentic French crepes (all handheld) with a fusion of other cuisines and flavors inside! They are owned by a Bentonville local + her French husband! They started as a food truck and have expanded into a brick and mortar location. 

Scotch & Soda - a great place for a craft cocktail! This whiskey bar has a contemporary, upscale tavern vibe. They have over 300 whiskies available and offer whisky flights and yummy bites. Don't worry, if you aren't a whiskey person they offer other liquors as well! 

8th Street Market - this "food hub" is such a fun place to visit and hang out at! They have a ton of food stalls, food trucks, a brewery, a giant life size shuffle board game, lots of lounge areas to sit in.... the local culinary school is even located here! I LOVE Markham & Fitz (a chocolate shop with the best chocolate bars + hot chocolate drinks), Yeyo's (delicious tacos), The Holler (the ultimate "hang out" area with food, drinks and life size shuffle board), and Bike Rack Brewing. There are also lots of little food stalls and shops (including an amazing cheese shop). 

hot chocolate from Markham & Fitz at 8th Street Market

Onyx coffee in Bentonville, Arkansas is travel blogger Amanda Martin's favorite coffee

Where to Shop
Elysian - this is my favorite boutique in Bentonville! They have such chic, stylish, and unique pieces. 

Remedy Road - this boutique has the coolest ethical and unique gifts, clothes and accessories.

Swanky Chic - a classic boutique with original locations in DFW. They pride themselves on keeping prices affordable and all of their pieces are in-style and adorable! 

Label - this store has SUCH good premium designer brands (think: Free People, Lack of Color, Barefoot Dreams, etc.) but the prices are stern! I usually just look, drool and get outfit inspiration! 

travel and lifestyle blogger Amanda Martin shares Bentonville, Arkansas's historical charm

Where to Stay
21c Museum Hotel - if you've been around for long you may recognize the name "21c" from a lot of my OKC posts! This boutique hotel chain has a location in Bentonville, too, which of course comes with it's own modern museum and bar/restaurant (The Hive)! I've not personally stayed at the Bentonville location (because I stay at my parent's house when I am in town), but if it is anything like the OKC location, I know it would be a wonderful home base for your NWA stay. 21c always has big, lofty rooms with lots of natural light plus they are pet friendly and they provide bike rentals! 

travel and lifestyle blogger Amanda Martin shares her weekend guide to Bentonville, Arkansas

Bentonville (and all of NWA) is the perfect weekend getaway destination for a family, a couple, or a group of friends! It is big enough to keep you occupied and entertained but small enough that you can squeeze it all into a few days. They also have a lot of fun events throughout the year (when covid isn't happening) so be sure to check out Visit Bentonville's calendar! If you have been, I'd love to hear what your favorite spots are. If you haven't been, what are you waiting for?! 

Amanda's OK Blog

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