Bentonville, Arkansas: A Food & Travel Hub Not To Be Missed

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Bentonville, Arkansas
File Bentonville, Arkansas under the “Destinations that Totally Surprised Me” category. I’ll be the first to admit that the only reason I knew of this small town in Northwest Arkansas was for being the birthplace of Walmart. But after recently being invited to the Visit Bentonville Food and Travel Summit, I quickly realized that Bentonville has so much more to offer.

We had the chance to listen to several prominent Bentonville individuals during the aptly named Quality of Life Panel, with a few key facts jumping out to me: 40 people are moving to Bentonville every week, it has the highest performing school district in Arkansas, and several of these individuals came from places like Austin, Santa Fe, and San Francisco to move to Bentonville. That’s saying a lot!

Joe Randel, of the Walton Family Foundation, made a statement regarding the quality of life in Bentonville that really struck me: “With the art, culture, food, and adventure, Bentonville is one of the most compelling places in America. You can have a great work/life without compromising your ambition.”

To make it easier for you to plan your own trip to Bentonville (because I know you’ll want to), I divided my own experience into four main categories.


Crystal Bridge Museum of American Art is undoubtedly the crown jewel of Northwest Arkansas. Deriving its name from Crystal Spring, a natural spring that feeds into the museum ponds, the goal of the museum is to provide a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. The permanent art collection ranges from early America to current day and, much to my delight, a Frank Lloyd Wright house was also acquired in 2013. General admission to view the Crystal Bridges permanent collection is free, courtesy of Walmart.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art & Meteor Guitar Gallery

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art & Meteor Guitar Gallery

When visiting the birthplace and headquarters of the world’s largest retailer, it’s only natural that the Walmart Museum would be a must-see. I’m particularly fond of visiting destinations that have the “first” of something, so being able to see the original Walton’s 5&10 variety store was a real treat for me. You can then view an exhibit gallery on the history of Walmart in the museum, where the mission is to educate, engage, and inspire visitors about the heritage of Walmart. Finally, relax and enjoy an old fashioned ice cream treat at the Spark Café Soda Fountain.

The Walmart Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas

You wouldn’t expect to be in the middle of an art gallery when staying in a hotel, but that’s exactly what you get at the 21c Museum Hotel. The cool thing is, even if you aren’t staying as a guest, the art installations are free to see. One of my favorite aspects of the 21c Museum Hotel was the army of green penguin statues that seemed to follow you around. They were constantly being moved to new locations and even followed me into the elevator! Each 21c property has a different color and they are perfect for a fun selfie opportunity.

21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas

While the Meteor Guitar Gallery isn’t technically hailed as a museum, it does boast an impressive collection of guitars in their shop and a rotating art gallery. The store itself is kind of a museum of rock ‘n’ roll paraphernalia and the venue also hosts weekly live entertainment. Not to be missed if you’re a music lover!

Culinary Scene

During the Culinary Panel, where we had the pleasure of meeting several local chefs, I was shocked to learn that Bentonville’s food scene was relatively new. As recent as 2010, Table Mesa was the only restaurant located in the downtown area. It was exciting to see the passion and community among the chefs, who all had a desire to see Bentonville thrive as a food destination. I must say, Bentonville has come a long way in such a short time.

Pressroom was exactly what you’d look for in a brunch location: tons of natural light, a friendly atmosphere, and of course delicious food! I enjoyed every bite of my avocado toast, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also craving the tasty meals on my fellow traveler’s plates.

Pressroom | Bentonville, Arkansas

Located in the heart of the Bentonville historic district, Table Mesa Bistro was easily one of my favorite restaurants. Despite a vast menu of Latin cuisine, I chose to go with my old reliable: fish tacos. And I’m glad I did, as they did not disappoint! Our Visit Bentonville representative suggested an order of the Cheap Dates as a starter, and I think it’s safe to say that our entire table enjoyed the bacon wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola cream cheese. Yum!

Table Mesa | Bentonville, Arkansas

Sitting in the very heart of Downtown Bentonville, Tusk and Trotter has a great casual, trendy vibe. I started off with a Cranberry Sage margarita, which was so perfect that I had a second. We then ordered the Charcuterie & Cheese Board as a starter for our table, which also happens to be the top recommended item by Chef and Owner Rob Nelson. The Tusk Burger and Truffle Frites were my meal of choice and, let me tell you, I could have easily eaten another full plate of those frites!

Tusk & Trotter | Bentonville, Arkansas

We enjoyed a nice catered breakfast from Buttered Biscuit at Brightwater and a dose of caffeine from local roaster, Airship Coffee. A few locals had highly recommended Buttered Biscuit, so I’d love to visit the actual establishment then next time I’m in Bentonville.

8th Street Market may have been my favorite spot in all of Bentonville. Not only is it the home of Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, but the market is a food mecca. Merchants range from Bike Rack Brewing, authentic Mexican food at Yeyo’s Mexican Grill, a super fun local hangout called The Holler, and quite possibly the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had at chocolate makers Markham & Fitz. 8th Street Market is absolutely worthy of being on your Bentonville bucket list!

When taking a break from art-viewing at Crystal Bridges, do yourself a favor and stop for a bite at Eleven. The restaurant is all about atmosphere, with huge glass windows to let the natural light filter in and incredible views of the surrounding grounds. For a taste of TRUE cornbread, be sure to order the Beans & Cornbread.

Eleven at Crystal Bridges | Bentonville, Arkansas

I can’t say enough good things about The Hive. The ambiance is great, our server was super friendly and attentive, and my Prime Beef Ribeye was ah-mazing! Since the restaurant is located inside the 21c Museum Hotel, just be sure to keep an eye out for those pesky green penguins.

The Hive | Bentonville, Arkansas

Outdoor Activities

While the Bentonville Square may initially evoke a feeling of 1950’s Hill Valley, I can promise that you won’t see Marty McFly riding his skateboard around town. However, the City Square is a perfect spot to window shop at the many boutiques, take a leisurely stroll, enjoy a beautiful afternoon sitting by the fountain, or enjoy the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

Bentonville, Arkansas

It’s true that Crystal Bridges has a vast art collection indoors, but you will also find 4 miles of walking & biking trails on the lush grounds. It was a bit chilly when I visited, but the fall colors made for an enjoyable walk to the Bachman-Wilson House and through the sculpture garden.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Bachman-Wilson House | Frank Lloyd Wright

I learned that the Northwest Arkansas area has become a mecca for biking enthusiasts. Unfortunately, weather didn’t allow us to experience the vast collection of biking trails, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. Phat Tire Bike Shop offers a great selection of rentals, guided tours, and trail maps. This will be #1 activity when I return to Bentonville.


Located in the basement of Preacher’s Son, Undercroft is a speakeasy that is not to be missed. If you see a side archway simply marked “bar” or the basement door marked “coatroom”, then you know you’re headed in the right direction. You can expect low lighting, fantastic drinks, and a packed house — basically everything you’d want in a speakeasy.

Hailed as A Local Hangout, The Holler really does have a nice, fun vibe to it. The second I walked in the door, I was greeted with great music, a giant shuffleboard to play, and people with smiles from ear to ear. Truly a fun spot in Bentonville that lives up to it’s reputation as the local hangout.

8th Street Market & The Holler | Bentonville, Arkansas

As you can see, Bentonville is so much more than the birthplace of Walmart. If you want to experience a destination that has a small town feel but boasts a great food, travel, and art scene, then Bentonville should definitely be on your list. Just be careful, you may find yourself wanting to move there!


Did you like it? Pin it!

Bentonville, Arkansas is a hub for food and travel that should not be missed. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Walmart Museum, the 21c Museum Hotel, 8th Street Market, and tons of great restaurants can be found in @VisitBentonville. Click to learn more about Bentonville or save for later! #TasteAndTravelBentonville