At the onset of 2019, we set a couple goals for the year: travel more + save money. The best way we figured we could accomplish both of these goals was to take some Midwest road trips as a family. At just around 3 hours from our home, we set off on our first visit to Bentonville, Arkansas!
We had no idea what a great getaway Bentonville is, and I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I looked at it each other over our weekend in Bentonville and said: “Why have we never done this?!” Both of us are from the Kansas City area originally, so it was surprising to us that this special place existed just a few hours away.
Our first stop in Bentonville was the Crystal Bridges Museum, which was honestly just jaw dropping. It’s so visually appealing and hosts artwork from world-renowned artists like Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, Ansel Adams and Dale Chihuly. Oh, and its FREE!
It was fun to experience the museum with our kids. My daughter took photos of all of the art on my phone, and it was interesting to see what art she found compelling. Because the kids were with us, we took the museum at a brisk pace, but it was great for the kids to keep constantly moving from exhibit to exhibit. As a mom, I was thrilled we were spending the day experiencing new things instead of on technology!
I loved how the museum extended into the natural surroundings. One of the current exhibits, the Color Field, is an outdoor sculpture exhibit, and several of the sculptures invite interaction. This was great for the kids, who were constantly on the move and wanting to touch all of the art! (Yikes!) The Crystal Bridges Museum also offers a great kid-friendly space called the Studio, where the kids could create artwork of their own.
One of my very favorite exhibits was the inflatable pieces by Claire Helen Ashley. After getting to hear from her on a panel of artists the night we arrived, I appreciated these pieces and her vision even more. The kids were allowed to (carefully) touch these pieces as well.
There is a great restaurant inside the Crystal Bridges Museum called Eleven. The food was fresh and delicious, and even the kids meals were healthy: grilled chicken with fruit. They also serve beer/wine if that’s your sort of thing. (It was just what we needed when our patience for the kids was waning–LOL!) I would definitely plan to eat at Eleven on your trip to Crystal Bridges.
We stayed at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, which was incredible. Again, how did we not know this place existed? The hotel is modern and unique, and check-in was a breeze. Inside the hotel is a great restaurant called The Hive. At the end of the day, we parked the kids in one of the cozy booths in The Hive and had ourselves a little adult time. The cocktails were great, and I wish we had time to eat dinner here. Next time!!
While we were in Bentonville, we also had the chance to wander through the Saturday morning farmer’s market right there on the square in downtown Bentonville. I forgot all of my hanging clothes at home (ugh!!!), so I also visited several of the boutiques in downtown Bentonville, including Blue Moon on the Square and Label. The downtown area is right outside the front door of the hotel, and has a very idyllic small town feel.
Downtown Bentonville also hosts the Walton’s 5&10, and inside the store, is the Walmart Museum. The kids loved picking out an old-school toy (Brooklyn got pick-up sticks and Max an Etch-a-Sketch). The Walmart Museum was interesting and easy to navigate. My favorite part was the preserved office of Sam Walton. Oh, and this was another FREE activity!
Just next door to the Crystal Bridges Museum is the Scott Family Amazeum. Our kids had so much fun playing and creating at the Amazeum. We only had about an hour to explore it, so we will definitely be making our way back there sometime. Because we have passes to Union Station here in Kansas City, the Amazeum was also FREE.
Also walkable from our hotel, were several great restaurants. Everyone said we had to try Onyx Coffee Lab, which did not disappoint. It was packed on Saturday morning, likely due to the great coffee and “instagrammable” decor. On Saturday evening we ate at the Preacher’s Son, originally a church turned restaurant and bar. The food was amazing, and we loved the unique experience of dining in what was clearly an old church.
We also had a chance to head back to the Crystal Bridges Museum in the evening to experience the Forest Concert Series, which is running through the summer (and is also FREE for kids). It was so cool to be immersed in the trees while taking in the Alt-Country music from Yarn & The Vine Brothers. The kids even saw a few deer roaming around, and each of them got to make a magic wand during the concert.
We came home from Bentonville and the Crystal Bridges Museum worn out but filled with so many great family memories. Although this was a sponsored trip, we genuinely loved Bentonville and cannot wait to go back!!!