Hit the Road: an outdoor adventure to Bentonville, Arkansas

Get lost in Crystal Bridges (or the surrounding trails). | Photo by @the_ryanc

Get lost in Crystal Bridges (or the surrounding trails). | Photo by @the_ryanc

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We’re kicking off our summer road trip series — Hit the Road — with an outdoor adventure-themed trip to Bentonville, AR. With elaborate hiking and biking trail systems, nearby lakes, and cafés in the middle of the woods, Northwest Arkansas is a great destination for experienced adventurers + novice nature seekers alike.

Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the area + our insider recommendationsCity Editor Travis visited in 2020.

Drive time: ~3.5 hours

Est. population: 54,000+

Avg. high in June: 85°

🥾Things to do

Razorback Regional Greenway

37.5 miles of shared-use pathway connects a multitude of trail systems + attractions, including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art + downtown Bentonville. Whether by foot or by bike, this is your non-car highway to Northwest Arkansas.

Slaughter Pen Trail

Bentonville is known for biking. This mountain bike trail flows alongside the Razorback Greenway + integrates with the community (literally alongside houses, apartments, and pedestrians). Described as a “living lab for trail advocacy,” Slaughter Pen is a result of $13 million contributed by the family behind Walmart.

Compton Gardens

This celebration of Ozark horticulture includes lush woodlands, native plants, and an on-site arboretum. It’s an urban oasis, named after Dr. Neil Comptonaka the “savior of the Buffalo River.”

🍽️ Fuel up after hiking

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Airship Coffee

Fresh coffee + incredible tacos. Find it on 5th Street (just off the downtown square) or at Coler Preserve — an open air experience only accessible by walking or biking (see above for both the aerial view by @the_ryanc and the view from inside — yes those are swing seats — by Editor Travis).

The Hive

This is where James Beard Award-nominated Chef Matt McClure pays “homage to the High South” — think: black walnuts, corn, hickory smoked hams, peaches, and sweet onions. Oh, and it’s right next to the Slaughter Pen trailhead.

Table Mesa Bistro

Described by the owner as “lively food,” this restaurant serves a combination of Latin-style dishesfrom ceviche + fajitas to Asian-Latin fusion. Find it on the Bentonville City Square.

🏕️ A cabin, a castle + a campsite

Picture via VRBO

Want to Drop Inn? We’d go splitsies with you. | Picture via VRBO

The Drop Inn

Oh, like dropping in on a bike, but also an inn like a place to stay. We get it. This “tiny home” is literally located on Slaughter Pen, including a private access trail. It has one bedroom + sleeps three for $184 per night. Features include an outdoor fire pit with twinkle lights.

Castle by the Square

For something a little bigger, this rental has four bedrooms + sleeps eight for $197 per night. It includes a rooftop terrace, a balcony, a turret, bike hooks, and even a suit of armor. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a five-minute walk from the square.

Prairie Creek Campground

For a more immersive outdoor experience, pitch a tent at this lakeside campground with Beaver Lake overlooks, boat access, and a playground for the kiddos. Campsites start at $20 + sleep up to eight people. You’re only a 25-minute drive from the city square.

Bonus: Local food recommendations

Editor’s pick: Brooke Bierhaus is a documentarian + on-air host for Downtown Bentonville. Full transparency, I had already written my story today when her suggestions hit my inbox, and I had a deadline to make. However, here are some other recommendations from a true local.

Thanks, Brooke!

Stay tuned for the July installment of our Hit the Road series. We’ll be highlighting a 30-mile road trip.

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