Bentonville, Arkansas

Located at the heart of the Benton County, the city of Bentonville is the tenth-largest city in the US State of Arkansas. The city spreads cozily over the foothills of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains, with the megalopolis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, only 160.93km west, and Kansas City, Missouri, some 337.96km to the north. The city is mainly known for its natural beauty, a walkable downtown, cultural diversity, and booming economy, being home to the world’s largest retailer. Known as the fastest-growing city, Bentonville’s population was an estimated 49,298 in 2017, which was over 30,000 residents more than there were in the year 2000. The city of Bentonville covers a total area of 88.71 sq. km, of which 0.52 sq. km is occupied by water and 88.19 sq. km is occupied by land. 

Attractions In Bentonville

Bentonville, Arkansas
Downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. Editorial credit: shuttersv / Shutterstock.com

With the city having a well-developed cultural scene, many come to Bentonville for the museum experience to pay a visit to some of its most famous landmarks, including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Bentonville Museum of Art, both showcasing the artwork and various types of displays throughout years. Simultaneously, since the city experiences mild winters and warm summers, there is an ample opportunity year-round to see the city thanks to its many paths, including short fitness trails, on-road bicycle routes, pedestrian pathways, and a trail for all-terrain biking. 

Crystal Bridges Museum

Giant metal spider sculpture at Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville
Giant metal spider sculpture at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Editorial credit: Vineyard Perspective / Shutterstock.com

With a free entrance, the museum is at a walkable distance from downtown, featuring sculptures, paintings, outdoor art, a library, an art studio, a store, a restaurant, and a stage for outdoor concerts. Crystal Bridges opened on November 11, 2011, is a world-renowned museum founded by heiress Alice Walton and designed by well-recognized architect Moshe Safdie, with a permanent collection of five centuries of American art, from the Colonial to the contemporary eras.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville
The Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, is set around the scenic ponds and luscious forest with many glass-and-wood pavilions. Editorial credit: shuttersv / Shutterstock.com

The Constable-Hamilton Portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1797, and The Reader, painted by Mary Cassat in 1877, are two notable works of the museum. Valued at over $450 million, other featured artists include Andy Warhol, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Norman Rockwell. Not only is it a culturally-significant place, but spreading over 0.48 sq. km, the museum is set around the scenic ponds and luscious forest with many glass-and-wood pavilions, making it a dream-come-true destination for the fans of the art of photography. The art fanatics can also find their piece of heaven at the new contemporary art venue, The Momentary, opened in 2020, which was renovated out of a former, 63,000 square Kraft Foods plant, now serving as a visual display and a multi-disciplinary space for various art, including live performances, festivals, and culinary experiences, among others. Also, the annual Bentonville Film Festival takes place in the first week of May and is attended by 85,000 people annually.

Activities In Bentonville

Great Blue Heron hunting along a wetland area in Osage Park, Bentonville.
Great Blue Heron is hunting along a wetland area in Osage Park, Bentonville, Arkansas.

For the outdoor enthusiasts, there is always a trail or a park every way around. There are twenty-two parks that cover over 1.21 sq. km of the city's area that is maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department, with more than 80.46km of walking, running, hiking, and biking trails. There are also almost 48.28km of mountain biking trails to conquer, including the Slaughter Pen, Park Springs Park trails, and Blowing Springs Trail. The game of cricket is a popular sport in Bentonville that features its own cricket league with eighteen teams is also an option to try out for the curious. Impacted by the city's cricket culture and demanding their own playing grounds, in 2018, Bentonville's plans for a public cricket pitch were approved for a new city park. Meanwhile, the 50,000-square-foot Scott Family Amazeum children’s museum has hands-on activities for the kids, including a pioneer-style cabin and farm, a Hershey’s chocolate learning lab, and a “Tinkering Hub” to explore technology. Other popular tourist attractions include the Sunflower Center, filled with agricultural exhibits to explore and activities to engage in, and the Arkansas Zoo, a truly captivating experience for the entire family. During the summer season, one should also not miss out on spending a whole day, or a few, at the Scott family Amusement Park set picturesquely on the banks of the Arkansas River, with playgrounds, concerts, and other events.

Amenities And Getting There

With no shortage of outdoor activities, a small-town feel, and a big personality, it is no surprise that Bentonville is a high-in-demand tourist attraction, whose popularity is also due to the recently completed Interstate 540. Named in 2015 as one of America’s top five up-and-coming tourist cities by The Huffington Post, the city has seen visitors from France, Africa, Switzerland, and Japan. Interestingly enough, there are many who come to Bentonville to stay, as well. With various lodging options available, including no shortage of hotels in the vicinity and helpful and knowledgeable real estate agents, both short-term and long-term experiences become a breeze to organize. Meanwhile, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, established in 1998, allows easy access from any major airport in the nation, with XNA airport code and only12 miles southwest from the city's heart. 

Bentonville's well-developed varied culinary scene can be experienced at The Preacher's Son restaurant, based in a former Gothic Revival Church. Some of its dishes prepared out of local farms include a finger-licking-good smoked chicken paella and the "A and A Farm Peach Salad." Bentonville is also popular among Japanese cuisine lovers. Posing one of the hottest dining places in the city with fresh sushi is the Arkansas Sushi House set on the northwestern side. If that ever gets too crowded, there is always the Gold Town Sushi & Korean BBQ down the street, as well as the Kobe Sushi & Grill around the corner. 

History Of Bentonville

Confederate Statue in front of courthouse, downtown Bentonville, Arkansas
Confederate Statue in front of the courthouse, downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. Editorial credit: shuttersv / Shutterstock.com

Boasting over thirty listings on the National Register of Historic Places, the early history of Bentonville can be recorded back to when it was known as Osage, with the Osage Indians occupying the hunting grounds. At the same time, the first settlers moved into the area in 1837 to establish their farms. Granting the city its current name in 1843, they have done so to honor the Missouri politician, Thomas Hart Benton, who was a strong supporter of the Arkansas Statehood in 1836. During the Civil War years and before the Battle of Pea Ridge, Bentonville served as the stage for the Confederate Army, based some twelve miles northeast of the city. Although there were no direct battles in Bentonville, the town suffered some significant burning of buildings by the Confederate, Union, and guerrilla outlaws that had to be reconstructed in the post-war period, between 1863 and 1877. A notable historical fact from 1936 involves the aviation pioneer Louise McPhetridge Thaden, born in Bentonville, the first female to win the Bendix Trophy for completing the transcontinental, point-to-point aeronautical race. 

Historical Buildings

Street view of downtown Bentonville
Street view of downtown Bentonville and the historic square buildings during the fall season. 

Most of Bentonville’s historical buildings are from the post-war Reconstruction era, between 1863 and 1877, with the oldest one from 1873, which is the year the reconstruction has begun. The Wal-Mart headquarters composes over 20 buildings around 8th Street and Walton Boulevard but is planned to re-open in a new centralized location within the next few years. Also on the National Register of Historic Places, there are the Bentonville High School, the Third Street Historic District, the Massey Hotel, the Putman Cemetery, and the train station. Bentonville is home to the H&H Classic Parts, set in the northwest of the city, where one can witness some mesmerizingly-classic Chevys carousing around the streets. As well, for containing so many historically-rich sites, including the famed Crystal Bridges Museum and the Compton Gardens, the Newsmax magazine has named Bentonville as one of America’s uniquely American cities and towns.

Wal-Mart

Walmart Museum and Store in Bentonville, Arkansas.
View of the Walmart Museum and original 5&10 store by Sam Walton in Bentonville, Arkansas. Editorial credit: RozenskiP / Shutterstock.com

Bentonville is the birthplace and world headquarters for Wal-Mart, Inc., the world's largest retailer, with more than US$500 billion in revenue and 2.3 million employees. Today, tourists are welcomed free of charge to learn the fascinating story of how the little store became a conglomerate in retail at the attached Wal-Mart Museum, including a 1950-style soda fountain as one of its highlights. Since over 1100 companies conduct business Wal-Mart, it is pretty clear why the population of the once-small town has exploded over the years, making it into one of the top cities in the whole country to live and work, as well as a culturally diverse mecca. In turn, the influx of population from all spots worldwide both called for and helped inspire the beautiful neighborhoods, a nationally recognized school district, and the booming economy that Bentonville is known for today. 

Share