In the embrace of the Ozark Mountains lies the region that is defined as Northwest Arkansas, or NWA for short. Surrounded by towering mountains and sprawling forests, the towns caught in the middle of the Ozark Plateau are bustling with life. Regardless of what you’re after, these top 15 things to do in Northwest Arkansas will have something in store for you.
1. Walmart Museum
While you may be tempted to laugh at such an idea, Walmart Museum is a big part of Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas in general.
Besides teaching you about how Walmart began and what its idea of the future is, this museum is important for another reason. The family that started it all is not responsible for just launching such a great retail store. Over the years, the Walton family has funded more than a single museum or a project in the region. Visiting this place is paying your respects to the company that’s helped NWA in a lot of ways.
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Address: 105 N Main Street, Bentonville
Phone number: 479-273-1329
Website: Walmart Museum
2. George’s Majestic Lounge
If you find yourself in the Fayetteville area and on the hunt for some of the most outstanding live music venues, then you’ve just come across your prey.
George’s Majestic Lounge has quite a history, going far more back than most people remember (or care to admit they remember). They’re the longest-running club in Arkansas and they’ve got piles of signed yearbooks from the University of Arkansas to prove it. They host live bands on a weekly basis, sometimes even more frequently than that. Depending on how long you plan on staying, you might spend multiple nights out down in George’s Majestic Lounge.
Open from 7 pm (Friday 6 pm) to 2 am
Address: 519 W Dickson St., Fayetteville
Phone number: 479-527-6618
Website: George’s Majestic Lounge
3. Scott Family Amazeum
People traveling with children are going to find Scott Family Amazeum to be to their liking. After all, it was designed to cater to younger audiences.
However, due to its fun and interactive nature, the museum is definitely one of the best places to visit on your journey through Northwest Arkansas. If you’re not traveling with young ones or simply aren’t interested, you’ll be pleased to hear that the museum is located near Bentonville downtown square, so you’re quite close to all the goings-on.
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Entry fee: $9.50 Adults and kids
Open from 10 am to 5 pm (except on Tuesday and Sunday)
Address: 1009 Museum Way, Bentonville
Phone number: 479-696-9280
Website: Scott Family Amazeum
Being the fourth-largest city in Arkansas might mean very little on its own. However, this city is packed with cool things to see and do, so get ready.
From tasting wines at Tontitown Winery to perusing the exhibits at Arts Center of the Ozarks, Springdale is an upwell of culture, history, and sports. Observing the Parsons Stadium is an excellent lesson in Springdale history and contemporary sports alike, while the best possible activity you can partake in is going on an at least one excursion by train on the regional Arkansas and Missouri Railroad.
Location: Washington and Benton counties
5. Razorback Greenway Trail
Northwest Arkansas has some of the most untouched and unspoiled wilderness areas that simply beg the adventure.
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The same can be said about Razorback Greenway Trail, a route of 36 miles stretching all the way from northern Bentonville to Fayetteville. It is often traversed by cyclists and more adventurous pedestrians! This is somewhat of a recurring theme in this part of Arkansas, and the one that seems to attract the greatest number of local tourists. Biking is definitely one of the best ways to explore a new area and see what it has to show.
6. Siloam Springs
Only partially in Arkansas, Siloam Springs and West Siloam Springs (Oklahoma) combine to form a city that’s a real jewel of the entire region.
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While undoubtedly boasting immense beauty and picturesque buildings, there’s only one thing to do if you plan on coming here – visiting Sager Creek. Sure, hiking and biking are always a possibility (that is if you avoid humid summers), but it is this creek and waters that replenish it that are the true attractions of the town. Supposedly, spring water filling the creek has some uncanny healing powers that bring in a lot of curious people all year round. Come and face the mysterious aquatic nature of Siloam Springs!
Location: Benton County
7. Eureka Springs
For a small town that it is, Eureka Springs sure emits a powerful cultural vibe that attracts visitors year after year.
An hour drive from Bentonville, you’ll find this quaint little town in the shadow of Ozarks. Set between the lakes of Table Rock and Beaver, Eureka Springs is best known for its summer festivals. Throughout June and July, a literal feast of colors and spectacular shows will liven up the spirit and entrance the mind.
Not only that, but the music festivals are equally lavish and really make Eureka Springs worth the visit. This year, you’ll be able to enjoy the sounds of Opera in the Ozarks and Spaceberry Music Festival just to name a few.
Location: Carrol County
8. Bella Vista
The story of Bella Vista is an enticing one. What started off as a resort destination in 1917 has since become a thriving community of people with a shared passion for the northwestern corner of NWA.
Golf courses, stables, and endless hiking trails are just some of the things that make Bella Vista what it is. The joint forces of the people who’ve grown attached to this green heaven have helped incorporate Bella Vista as a city in 2007, with its own services and all. It even used to be a retirement community at one point, and it’s not difficult to see why. The sheer beauty of the seven lakes, clean golf courses, swimming pools, and overall rejuvenating effect of Bella Vista most certainly have a positive effect on one’s body and mind.
More than anything, Bella Vista is often visited by cyclists on mountain bikes, ready to conquer The Back 40 Trail. As the name suggests, cyclists (and pedestrians) can enjoy 40 miles of trails made just for them, with some sections being fairly challenging!
9. Fayetteville Ale Trail
Craft beers have found their way to every connoisseur’s heart, and not just because of the unique blends that many a brewery brags, but also due to enabling consumers to support local business directly.
Fayetteville Ale Trail was launched by Experience Fayetteville in 2013 for this very reason. Head downtown to Visitors Center or drop by any of the local breweries involved in the program, and you’ll be able to obtain an Ale Trail passport. Each time you visit one of the 15 craft breweries around town, you’ll get a stamp in your passport, marking your progress along the Trail. If you collect all of them, turn your passport in at Experience Fayetteville and you’ll win a prize!
You don’t have to pay any entrance fees to follow the Ale Trail, however, do keep in mind that the Trail spans not just Fayetteville, but also Siloam Springs, Bentonville, Springdale, and Rogers. If you’re not driving, you might want to look into organized tours or services such as Pinnacle.
Pinnacle Car Service
Phone number: 479-205-0505
Website: Pinnacle Car Services
10. Ozark Mountains
Or the Ozark Plateau if you prefer to call it that, is a mountain range spanning several countries including mostly Arkansas and Missouri, a small section covering Oklahoma and just a pinch of Kansas.
As you would expect from a gorgeous mountainous region that also happens to be a national forest, cycling and hiking are the two common pastimes. Besides that, you can always go ziplining if you’d like to observe the lush greenery as you’re gently sliding above it. While people more commonly visit landmarks that rest in Missouri part of Ozarks called St. Francois Mountains, Arkansas has its fair share of delightful destinations such as Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks. With the only butterfly house in the region, twelve gardens each with a different theme and many workshops, it’s no wonder that it’s visited by 80,000 people each year. We highly recommend stopping by and enhancing your knowledge of horticulture, especially if you’re traveling with children.
Entry fee: $7 for ages 13+, $4 for ages 5-12, No fee for 4-year-olds or younger.
Open from 9 am to 5 pm
Address: 4703 N. Crossover Road, Fayetteville
Website: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
11. Clinton House Museum
A more recent page in the history of Arkansas and part of the infamous ‘Billgrimage’, Clinton House Museum stores some relics from when Bill Clinton ran for a president.
Not only will you be able to see remnants of election materials and other kinds of memorabilia, but you’ll also find a replica of Hillary Rodham’s wedding dress. After all, this was their first home and also the one where they got married in 1975. While this 1,800 square feet Tudor-revival house doesn’t seem all that remarkable on the outside, it was, for a time, the center of all political activity in Arkansas.
Open from 10 am to 5 pm (except Wednesday and Sunday)
Address: 930 W. Clinton Drive, Fayetteville
Phone number: 479-444-0066
Website: Clinton House Museum
12. Crystal Bridges Museum
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is a must-have destination on your NWA itinerary for a multitude of reasons.
First of all, its glass and wood design is a spectacular sight to behold, even for an untrained eye. Several pavilions converge on two natural ponds that only add to the overall contemporary vibe of the museum. Inside, you’ll find Charles Willson Peale’s portrait of George Washington as a part of the permanent museum collection. A lot of other artists, all US citizens, have their paintings featured as well. It is a collection worth seeing, and a lesson in American history that many will know how to truly appreciate. Also, don’t forget to check out their website as they often run the most amazing events that will further expand your experience of the museum.
Open on all days except Tuesday
Address: 600 Museum Way, Bentonville
Phone number: 479-418-5700
Website: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
13. Beaver Lake
While technically part of the Ozarks, many visitors consider Beaver Lake to be worthy of an entire day (or four) spent there.
You’ll be enjoying hours on end fishing, camping or taking part in watersports. The many creeks found here really enable hybrid fishing, especially at Cedar Creek and War Eagle Creek. This 28,000-acre man-made lake is here as a consequence of building a dam across White River. Anyone with any real appreciation for beautiful meadows, great, sprawling forests and hiking trails will certainly find themselves at home around Beaver Lake, a great representative of the natural beauty of North America. It’s easy to visit thanks to great access points such as Roger and Eureka Springs. That’s where you’ll also be able to get in on some of the boat tours that really emphasize the beauty of the lake and this region in general.
Location: Benton County
14. Walton Arts Center
With so many things to do around Fayetteville, it might seem like an unlikely prospect that you’ll be able to experience it to the fullest extent.
However, making just a bit of time for visiting Walton Arts Center is going to be as gratifying and culturally elevating as possible. Much like in the case of the Crystal Bridges Museum, a lot of funding came from Walton family, the same ones that were behind Walmart in the first place. With all the art facilities imaginable at your grasp, you’ll be more than highly rewarded for coming here. Starr Theater, Baum Walker Hall, and McBride Studio are only a portion of the greatness of Walton Arts Center. Whether it’s music, movies or captivating plays you’re after, have no doubts – you’ll find it here.
Open on workdays from 10 am to 2 pm, or 90 minutes prior to the show
Address: 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville
Phone number: 479-443-5600
Website: Walton Arts Center
15. Pig Trail
You’ve already heard about the Fayetteville Ale Trail, but how about a Pig Trail? Is that something that would be of interest to you prior to hearing more about it?
Regardless of how it sounds, there are neither pigs nor boars on this trail, just an occasional Razorback here and there (a local sports fan, so don’t let the name unnerve you). Pig Trail is, in all fairness, one of the best routes to cover in NWA if you have a motorbike with you. It is a 19-mile long section of the road taking you on some of the best scenic routes while cutting through Ozarks. You’ll get to see rivers, valleys, waterfalls and the towering Ozarks all in one go.
Location: State Hwy 23 through Ozarks
You don’t really need to head down to Central America to find breathtaking spectacles of nature. The Ozarks govern a region so big and beautiful that it would take weeks to explore it, not to mention all the picturesque towns sleeping in its shadow. There’s plenty to see and do right here, in Northwest Arkansas. This also means you must have some nooks and crannies of your own to share, especially if you live in the area.