11 Things to Do in Bentonville, Arkansas

Posted by
Sarah Boles
February 25, 2024
Updated February 23, 2024

Exploring Bentonville

Bentonville, Arkansas is booming, but it’s more than just biking. Here are the best activities to do in Bentonville—on wheels and off. 

You may be surprised to find out the birthplace of Walmart and the self-described mountain biking capital of the world are both Bentonville, Arkansas. And while you will literally find a groomed trail and a discount superstore around every corner, what makes Bentonville the ideal place to visit is how it has woven its dedication to biking, architecture and public art into every facet of the city. 

Just like the entire state of Arkansas where you can find everything from isolated cabins to awe-inspiring treehouses, Bentonville has something for every type of traveler. Here you will find miles of trails (of all levels) for those who seek fresh air and exercise on vacation. You will also find public art installations throughout the city for those who find it relaxing to slow down and contemplate. Bentonville also has two unique art museums to wander. Best of all, it is the perfect budget destination, thanks to its free museums and public access to nature.

Here are 11 must-dos for your next visit to Bentonville, Arkansas.


Explore on two wheels

Biking in Bentonville
Biking in Bentonville – Photo: Sarah Boles

The obvious answer for what to do when you visit the town is to take advantage of the 70 miles of biking trails in Bentonville, which connect to hundreds more throughout Northwest Arkansas. 

It’s hard to pick just one, so if you like to ride bikes (even if you’re a beginner) make sure to schedule time for multiple bike rides. Coler Mountain Bike Preserve is always my recommendation.

If you have kids or dogs, head to the east side of N. Walton Blvd., where you will find the Bentonville Bike Playground and the Bark Park. From here you can bike the paved N. Walton Blvd Trail for some smooth, easy riding. Or, take the paved trail north to the Slaughter Pen for more technical options. 


Stroll the wooded trails of Compton Gardens

Compton Gardens has a busy parking lot, for good reason. You could set this up as your home base for your entire visit. From here you can wander the paths of the botanical gardens—make sure to look for the infamous man in a canoe on the roof. This spot also marks the southern terminus of the Slaughter Pen trails, so you can park here and ride out on the trails as far as you like (even all the way to Crystal Bridges, which has lots of bike parking). 

Right across the street from the Compton Gardens parking lot you will find the city’s outdoor ice skating rink. If you don’t visit in the winter months, no worries. Wright’s, one of Bentonville’s beloved barbecue joints, is right there as well. It has plenty of outdoor seating on the porch and even more around the back – perfect for relaxing and refueling after a day on the trails.


Immerse yourself in art at the Crystal Bridges Art Museum

Crystal Bridges Museum
Crystal Bridges Museum – Photo: Sarah Boles

A visit to Bentonville isn’t complete without experiencing its iconic Crystal Bridges Art Museum. Enjoy free admission and parking, indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as a large outdoor space within the museum with games and space to appreciate the greatest work of art—the museum’s unique architecture. 

The museum itself is a work of architectural brilliance, one that truly needs to be experienced in person to be completely appreciated. A series of enclosed bridges cross a spring-fed pond to form the interior spaces of the art museum. 

To enter through the main entrance of Crystal Bridges, you will travel down several floors to the main atrium. We recommend taking the elevator so you can enjoy a unique view of the pond, bridges, and green roof on the way down. Once you reach the atrium, you have options. Make your way to the temporary exhibition gallery. Entrance to this section requires a fee, however you are free to wander the rest of the grounds at your leisure for free. 

We have so many favorite spaces at Crystal Bridges. One of the namesake bridges houses a restaurant with open seating that lines floor-to-ceiling windows. We recommend spending some time there taking in the view of the museum grounds from either side – or reading a book, visiting with friends, or people-watching. 

Another favorite spot is the outdoor space between the bridges, where you can play yard games like oversized chess and checkers, access the walking trails, have a picnic, or visit the children’s makers’ lab. 


Rediscover your creative side at the Scott Family Amazeum

Bentonville Amazeum
Bentonville Amazeum – Photo: Sarah Boles

Next door to Crystal Bridges you will find the Scott Family Amazeum. Park in the Amazeum’s garage (a work of art in itself), or walk the trail from Crystal Bridges lined with outdoor exhibits. 

While this museum of creativity and discovery was created with families in mind, don’t let a lack of little ones keep you from checking it out. (If you do have kids, the Amazeum is a must-do.) Plan to spend several hours here exploring indoor and outdoor hands-on exhibits and nature-play areas. Paint on the walls, do science experiments with candy, and create objects with loose parts in the themed labs. 

Keep in mind when planning your visit, Wednesday evenings are free, and the Amazeum is closed every Tuesday. Also, check out their website to see if any special programming is happening while you’re in town. They have maker programs for teens, like screenprinting and leatherwork, as well as adults-only evenings with drinks and apps to enjoy while you play and create.


Take a stroll around Bentonville Square

This downtown park has a fountain and gets a luminous makeover for the holiday season, possibly seen from space, but most enjoyed up close and in person. Make a wish and throw coins in the fountain, have a picnic and watch the people walk (and bike) by. Window shop and visit the iconic Walton 5 & 10 (more on that later). 

The weekend before Thanksgiving, the thousands of lights that adorn the square are lit, and they have a parade through downtown to kick off the holiday season. 


Journey to the top of the world’s first bikeable building

Speaking of bikeable buildings…. Appreciate Bentonville’s dedication to unique, purposeful architecture by visiting Ledger, the world’s first bikeable building. Switchbacks lead you up the six floors to the rooftop where you can admire Bentonville from above. 

If you don’t have bikes with you, don’t worry. You will see people walking and riding scooters as well on the switchbacks. We highly recommend doing this in late October through early November to appreciate the fall colors, but the view impresses year-round.


Wander the streets of downtown Bentonville to experience all the public art

Public art in Bentonville
Public art in Bentonville – Photo: Sarah Boles

From interactive murals with QR codes, to sculptures, to tiled art installed in the sidewalks, Bentonville has a fierce dedication to public art. 

Do not miss one of Bentonville’s most unique murals Lakes and Rivers. This mural of two smallmouth bass represents the huge increase in kayakers on Arkansas’ waterways in the past half-decade. Lakes and Rivers adorns the east-facing wall of Ledger’s parking garage, just off Main Street. It will be hard to miss if you walk from Bentonville Square to the temporary Wal-Mart Museum. 


Experience even more art in Bentonville 

The Momentary Bentonville
The Momentary Bentonville – Photo: Sarah Boles

The Momentary, the contemporary art version of Crystal Bridges, is another must-do while in Bentonville. Wander the grounds, take selfies with the signs, and enjoy a concert on the lawn, all without setting foot inside. The Momentary, like Crystal Bridges, does not charge general admission. Some indoor exhibits and events do cost. Be sure to check their site to see what’s going on while you’re in town. 


Combine bouldering with a James Beard semifinalist’s authentic cuisine at 8th Street Market

8th Street Market Bentonville
8th Street Market – Photo: Sarah Boles

Possibly our favorite corner of Bentonville, the 8th Street Market has something for everyone. From a bookstore to food trucks to a brewery to a massive public boulder, you can easily spend a few hours here. The fact that the concert grounds of the Momentary sit right across the street makes it the perfect place to shop and dine after enjoying an afternoon of art or an evening of music.

If you only have time to try one of the restaurants at 8th Street when you visit, we highly recommend Yeyo’s El Alma de México. Authentic dishes, cozy atmosphere, outdoor dining, and the food—wow. Even the chips are memorable. Try to plan enough time during your visit to allow you to try more of the wide range of dining 8th Street has to offer from Jamaican to Indian, and barbecue to ramen, and more. 


Enjoy fine wine and breakfast burritos at Meteor Cafe

The Meteor cafe Bentonville
The Meteor Cafe – Photo: Sarah Boles

Wine, craft beer, and breakfast burritos: the Meteor Café has it all. A popular spot for bicyclists pre or post-ride, the café also has an in-house bike repair shop and store. Meteor has vegan-friendly options to fuel your adventures, and conveniently sits two blocks northwest of the Momentary, making it easy to access via car, foot, and bike. It’s also right across the street from the Visit Bentonville office, in case you have any last-minute questions during your visit.


Rest your head at this bike-centric motel

When deciding where to stay, don’t settle for average when visiting Bentonville. Find somewhere that embraces the city’s love for architecture, public art, and of course biking. We recommend checking out The Bike Inn, a self-proclaimed “bike-centric motel”. Here you will find quirky rooms filled with biking decor, and just a fun scene overall. You can also rent bikes here (and guides), making this a convenient base camp if you don’t bring your own ride.

If the Bike Inn is all booked up, consider turning to rental sites like AirBnB and vrbo. Bentonville has all the normal hotel chains, but if you visit you will want to immerse yourself in the character of the city. Most of the hotels sit near the interstate, not near the trails, art, and architecture that makes Bentonville so unique.


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