When we tell people we're hosting a worldschool pop-up in Bentonville, we're often greeted by blank stares, raised eyebrows, or polite smiles. What on earth could possibly be the draw of this little town tucked away in the northwest corner of Arkansas? I think part of the appeal is that not too many people know about Bentonville yet (and shhhhhh, don’t tell them).
For those who’ve heard of Bentonville, it is likely due to the connections with the Walmart Corporation. Sam Walton opened Walton’s 5 & 10 directly on Bentonville’s town square in 1950 and the corporate headquarters are still housed in this town of 52,000.
Sounds sort of boring, but this town is anything but mundane. Part of Bentonville’s charm is the natural beauty of the area. Bentonville is at the edge of the Ozarks with forests, hills, rocks, rivers, waterfalls, caves, swimming holes, conservation areas, and easy access to other beautiful towns in the mountains like Eureka Springs or Fayetteville, a bustling college-town.
Bentonville is a inviting town with a sweet town square, splash pads, loads of parks/playgrounds, neat festivals, a very reasonable community center (family membership is $45/month for non-residents)… and world-class museums and mountain biking trails! Who knew? Plus, the Walton family has reinvested back into Bentonville’s community, creating unique opportunities for locals and travelers.
ART & MUSEUMS
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art This beautiful building is located on 120 acres of woods, trails, water features, and outdoor sculpture. Entrance to the museum is always free and they have a permanent collections and featured exhibitions. However, one of the most unique exhibits is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House. This home was originally built in New Jersey but has been relocated to Crystal Bridges. A self-guided visit to the home is free and tours are only $10/person (ages 19+).
Museum of Native American History In this museum you’ll find a collection of 10,000+ artifacts and loaned pieces, all telling the stories and histories of the first inhabitants of this land. Admission is free and the museum offers in-person and virtual programs and other low-cost educational opportunities. Most of the collection is inside the museum, but the outdoor grounds offer a natural medicine garden (expanding this year in Spring 2022). Additionally the kids will love hunting for arrowheads in the gardens and they can even keep one if they like!
The Momentary This museum always has something new to experience – the contemporary art exhibits are in flux, changing multiple times throughout the year. Not only are there indoor and outdoor art displays, but there also is an amphitheater and indoor performance halls which host talks, lectures, music, and other events. During our pop-up in Bentonville, we will be able to see the Albuquerque Pop-Up Powwow. Again, entrance is free.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Mountain Biking As far as biking goes, Bentonville sports a huge assortment of trails for all experience levels. These trails include pump tracks, flat paths, mountain biking trails, jumps, and boulders… you’ll know which trails match (or challenge) your skill level by following the color-coded system, similar to ski slopes. I am not very knowledgeable about MTB trails but found this great article with the rundown: A Complete Guide to Biking in Bentonville, Arkansas
Additionally, the end of our pop-up coincides with the start of Bentonville Bike Fest – complete with jumps, contests, races, professional demos, free swag, live music, and a Guinness World Record Attempt on Sat June 18, 2022.
Creeks, Caves, & Swimming Holes We’ll also spend plenty of time cooling down by the water. Tanyard Creek has multiple places for kids to splash and you can walk behind the waterfall there. Stunning! The Coyote Caves will be a new destination for our group to explore… and we’ll return to our favorite Blue Hole for some swimming, rock skipping, and perhaps a rope swing adventure!
Food & Drink And of course after all this activity you’ll want to rest, rehydrate, and refuel. Bentonville has a great craft beer scene plus specialty foods, artisanal coffee, chocolatiers and more! I can’t write it up better than the others… read more here and here. But of course, nothing beats the 99¢ ice cream right on the town square!
Whether you join our pop-up or just go exploring on your own, there is so much to see and do in Bentonville. If you find yourself smack dab in the middle of the US, you definitely will not be disappointed by all Bentonville offers!
Here are the event details: https://www.worldschoolpopuphub.com/events/bentonville-arkansas-june-2022