Bentonville, Ar might not be on your travel radar, but like so many towns I visit, it deserves to be. Not only does a surprisingly culinary scene await you in the many Bentonville restaurants, but Crystal Bridge Museum of American Art is a museum not to be missed. Keep reading to learn why this small Arkansas town is worthy of a visit!
This post is sponsored by Visit Bentonville. All opinions are mine.
A Surprising Culinary & Art Scene Awaits in Bentonville Arkansas
The city of Bentonville on the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas is such a hidden gem! Located just over three hours south of Kansas City, five hours from St. Louis, and under two hours from Branson, it’s the perfect weekend getaway from many cities. My grandparents were from Northeast Arkansas and I spent a lot of time in Arkansas when I was younger. I considered it a place I had to go, not necessarily a state I wanted to visit.
Since I started blogging, however, I have been to Arkansas several times and have really come to enjoy the state. This was my second visit to Bentonville, but the first time I really got to get out and explore. I was also in the Little Rock area a couple years ago when I toured P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm. As an adult, I have come to appreciate Arkansas in a new way!
Bentonville has really come to life over the last 12 years with the addition of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and is now a mecca of art, music, recreation, and food. Visionary thinkers and city planners have created an open and welcoming city – diverse in people and experiences and so much fun.
I almost always love the places I visit on blog trips, but rarely do I think “that’s a place I could actually live.” I could honestly picture myself in the Bentonville area. I so appreciate the welcoming attitude, the diversity, the emphasis on art, outdoors, and locally produced food!! Here are just a few of the reasons you need to visit Bentonville to try all the fantastic food and see what the city has to offer first hand.
Some of My Favorite Restaurants in Bentonville Ar
You might be as surprised as I was to hear about the emphasis on local eating in Bentonville. During panel discussions we were part of on our press trip we learned all about how many local chefs work with local farmers. Not only do many local restaurants source as much food as possible from local growers, Bentonville also boasts an amazing culinary school called Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the American Culinary Federation.
Here, food is looked at as art and students can learn about animal butchery, cheese making, coffee barista, wine and beer making, bread baking, and so much more. I would love to take a few classes at Brightwater myself! With a school like that, it’s no wonder that Bentonville is home to so many delicious restaurants.
Preacher’s Son Bentonville
One of the only entirely gluten-free restaurants in the country, Preacher’s Son Bentonville is a must stop. It’s located in a beautifully restored church and the decor is fabulous! There’s also a hidden speakeasy in the basement that you need to see! If you go, I highly recommend that you go in a group and try lots of the starters. We tried with Burrata with shaved beets, roasted cauliflower with chimichurri, and the mushrooms with house made ricotta and grilled gluten-free bread. If no one had told me that Preacher’s Son Bentonville was entirely gluten-free before we showed up, I would have had no idea. Everything was wonderful!
Pressroom Bentonville is located near the Bentoville Square and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has a full bar as well as delicious coffee and was packed every time I walked by – it looks to be quite a local hangout. From the modern decor to the food, this stop was one of my favorites. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast there. If you need a pick-me-up in the morning, I highly recommend the gingerslap 2 oz remedy shot. With ginger, lemon, apple, and raw honey, it will give you a boost in the morning! I also had the egg sammie with egg, cheese, bacon, avocado, mayo, seeded bread, served with fresh greens. Sooo good!
The Hive Bentonville
Located inside the amazing 21c Hotel in Bentonville, the Hive is a super cute bar and restaurant. I love the beehive decor made from recycled materials and the food and drinks are quite tasty too. Like many of the restaurants we ate at in Bentonville, the Hive’s cuisine pays homage to the High South.The Hive is directed by an award winning executive chef originally from Arkansas. I had the Berkshire Hog Chop with butternut squash, roasted broccoli, and rosemary. It was absolutely delicious!
Eleven at Crystal Bridges
I don’t normally think of museum restaurants as places I’d like to eat, but like so many other things in Bentonville, Eleven at Crystal Bridges defies my preconceived ideas. The cuisine at Eleven focuses on the menu of the High South, comfort food like bean soup and corn bread. My grandparents always had a big pot of bean soup on the stove when we arrived at their house in NE Arkansas – something I didn’t appreciate when I was younger, but really enjoy now. If you’re not a fan of beans, they also have trout, chicken, soups, and lovely salads.
Fun things to do in Bentonville, Ar
After all that eating, you’re going to need to get active in Bentonville too. Luckily, amazing museums, lots of colorful murals, a fun town square with locally owned shops, miles of bicycle trails, and more are just some of the fun things that will keep you active on your stay in Bentonville. Here were a few of my favorite stops on our stay.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Opened in 2011 by the Walton Family Foundation, this beautiful museum is a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. In fact, during our panel discussions we learned that this museum really set off a reinvention of the town. The culinary scene really began after Crystal Bridges opened. Crystal Bridges is free for everyone and houses lovely works of art including Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola, pieces by Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell.
In addition to the inside collection, Crystal Bridges also features more than 3.5 miles of outdoor walking trails with art along the way and a Frank Lloyd Wright house that was moved to the area from New Jersey after being repeatedly flooded in its original location. 45,000 school children visit the museum each year!
Built in 1875, the Italianate Villa Style Peel Mansion is fun step back in history. I love touring restored buildings to see how people used to live, and this free tour does not disappoint. From fun stairwells to period furniture and a lovely garden, I really enjoyed walking around the Peel Mansion and learning about the family that built the house. The Peel Mansion is home to many special events and is available for rent as well.
Museum of Native American History
The Museum of Native American History (MONAH) currently houses over 10,000 of the finest Native American artifacts. I am so glad we stopped by for a visit. This musuem is another free place to visit in Bentonville and will be a big hit with anyone who is fascinated by Native American history. I know my kids would love to hunt for arrowheads in the rock garden out front. I saw so many artifacts that I have never seen before. the Museum of Native American History is a must on your trip to Bentonville!
Full of cute shops, coffee shops and the Walmart Museum, the Bentonville Square is a fun place to spend a few hours. I loved browsing through the shops and searching for murals. You could spend the whole day here, eating, drinking, and browsing your way down the cute streets!
With so many good things to eat, such rich educational opportunities and a lot of free things to do as well, Bentonville has just the right mix for families looking for a fun weekend getaway or cuoples needing a romantic getaway. What are you waiting? Head on out to Bentonville and prepare to be wowed!
Many thanks to Visit Bentonville for this fun trip. I learned so much about the area and even think I could live in this beautiful town. It has just the right mix of culture, arts, and food! To learn more about Bentonville, please visit here.
Have you been to Bentonville? What was your favorite part?