A Complete Guide of Things to Do in Northwest Arkansas
In the summer of 2017, Logan started a rotation at a clinic in Northwest Arkansas, little did we know we would eventually move here in the fall of 2018 and fall in love with this area.
If you’ve read our bios, you’ll know that I grew up in a city and have always lived in cities or at least the suburbs of cities. Logan grew up in a small town and the first time he lived in a city was when we moved to St. Louis for his optometry school program.
I mention this because when we were looking for jobs in his last year of school we were reminded of Northwest Arkansas. In our opinion, it has the best of both worlds. It has all the amenities of a big city, but with significantly less traffic and a small-town community feel!
Another fun fact is that Northwest Arkansas is the home to Walmart! Yep, this is where Walmart Corporate is located along with many other large companies like Tyson and J.B. Hunt.
Northwest Arkansas is also the home to the University of Arkansas so of course, Razorback sports are a big deal around here. Because of these companies and the university, there is a lot of funding for arts, restaurants, and events – which we will cover in this guide of things to do in Northwest Arkansas.
Where is Northwest Arkansas Located?
As you might have already guessed, Northwest Arkansas is located in the northwestern corner in the state of Arkansas. It is primarily made up of the cities of Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville (which we will cover in this post) although there are a few outlier towns and cities in the area too – Eureka Springs and Bella Vista being two of these.
When we moved here we quickly found out that most people refer to this area as Northwest Arkansas versus the specific city they live in – which took some getting used to! But considering most of the cities are within 15-30 minutes of each other, it’s easy to spend a weekend in Northwest Arkansas and visit all of the areas in this corridor.
How to Get to Northwest Arkansas
Flying to Northwest Arkansas
While it might surprise you, Northwest Arkansas has its own airport (XNA) that has many direct flights – Dallas, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles just to name a few. Compared to Tulsa, the next closest airport, prices aren’t too much more. And because of the direct flights to and from larger cities, international flights are easy to catch in Northwest Arkansas too.
If you decide to fly to XNA you can use a rideshare program like Uber or Lyft to your hotel, but we would recommend renting a car because public transportation is only limited to Fayetteville and parts of Springdale.
Driving to Northwest Arkansas
Driving is the most popular choice when planning a trip to Northwest Arkansas since it is an easy road trip from many places in the Midwest or the Southeast United States.
- From Tulsa, Oklahoma: Approximately 2 hours
- From Little Rock, Arkansas: Approximately 3 hours
- From Kansas City, Missouri: Approximately 3 hours
- From St. Louis, Missouri: Approximately 5 hours
- From Dallas, Texas: Approximately 5 hours and 30 minutes
Where to Stay in Northwest Arkansas
21c Museum Hotel Bentonville
If you are looking for a fun and hospitable place to relax after spending some time touring, 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville will immediately make you feel at home.
Each one of the 21c Museum Hotel properties offers a contemporary art museum, paired with a boutique hotel and chef-driven restaurant to provide you a compelling and unique experience during your stay.
The 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville is no less, captivating guests with its Southern charm and encouraging each guest to open their eyes to a new world of contemporary art, flavorful dishes, artistically posh pet-friendly rooms, and so much more.
Location: 200 NE A St, Bentonville
Other Places to Stay in Northwest Arkansas
South Walton Suites Hotel: This hotel is perfect for families or business travelers since it has more spacious rooms and a kitchen.
Graduate Fayetteville: Perfect for those who like being within walking distance of amenities, Graduate Fayetteville is located right off the downtown Fayetteville square and a short distance from the University of Arkansas campus and Dickson Street.
Stay NWA: Stay NWA has 30+ luxury rental properties available in Northwest Arkansas. Some can accommodate larger groups as well.
Things to Do in Northwest Arkansas
Because Northwest Arkansas encompasses many different cities, I have broken this list up by area covering the highlights! For more inclusive larger itineraries, you can check out our other Arkansas posts or you’ll find specific city guides linked below each area. Regardless of where you visit in Northwest Arkansas, you’re sure to enjoy your time here!
Things to Do in Northwest Arkansas: Bentonville
Crystal Bridges Museum of Art
Crystal Bridges Museum of Art is home to some of the best contemporary art you’ll ever find with rotating exhibitions from well-known artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Dale Chihuly, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Crystal Bridges also offers miles of free bike trails in Northwest Arkansas where you can view scenic outdoor beauty as well as various sculptures and other art pieces along the trails. While at Crystal Bridges be sure to check out the gift shop to look for items crafted by local artists, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.
Location: 600 Museum Way, Bentonville
Hours: Saturday-Monday: 10am-6pm, Tuesday: Closed, Wednesday-Friday: 10am-9pm
Cost: FREE, some special exhibits do cost
READ MORE: Visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of Art
The Momentary is a new contemporary art and event space that is located in Bentonville. The main goal of The Momentary is to cultivate art and cultural experiences. It has rotating art exhibits, epic event spaces, an adorably pink Onyx Coffee location, and The Breakroom – where you can get a bite to eat. Before you leave, be sure to stop at the Tower Bar that has handcrafted cocktails and epic views of Bentonville!
Location: 507 SE E St, Bentonville // MAP
Hours: Sunday 10am-7pm, Tuesday & Wednesday 10am-7pm, Thursday-Saturday 10am-10pm, Closed Monday
Cost: Free to visit, except for certain events
The Walmart Museum & Walton’s 5 & 10
The Walmart Museum may not be something you would consider when looking at things to do in Northwest Arkansas but it’s incredibly engaging. The Walmart Museum opened in 1990 to educate, engage, and inspire visitors about the history and heritage of Walmart.
At the museum, learn the legacy of Sam Walton from the very beginning and stop by Walton’s 5 & 10 for some classic candies or games. After, indulge in an inexpensive treat at The Spark Cafe, such as a Moon Pie Sundae.
Location: 105 N. Main Street, Bentonville // MAP
Hours: Sunday: 12pm-9pm, Monday-Thursday: 8am-9pm, Friday & Saturday: 8am-10pm
Scott Family Amazeum
At the Scott Family Amazeum, you can discover the connections between science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). There are multiple different hands-on activities to discover including a nature area with a 35-foot tree canopy, a weather and nature area that where you can feel hurricane winds, and an Ozark Cave. There is also a market inspired by Walmart, a Nickelodeon play lab, and an art studio. My personal favorite is Hershey’s Lab where you can make your own chocolate!
Location: 1009 Museum Way, Bentonville // MAP
Hours: 9am-11am, 12pm-2pm, 3pm-5pm daily (hours spaced for current guidelines and cleaning), closed Tuesdays
Cost: $10/person *Currently you must reserve tickets in advance in order to visit!
Climb Bentonville has over 16,000 square feet of boulder, lead, top rope, and kids climbing areas. In addition to rock climbing, there are also yoga and fitness classes available. Because Climb Bentonville has various levels of climbs, anyone from beginners to more advanced climbers can enjoy the experience.
Location: 801 SW 14th St, Bentonville // MAP
Hours: Sunday 11am-6pm, Monday-Friday 12pm-9pm, Saturday 9am-9pm
Cost: Day Pass Starting at $17
Things to Do in Northwest Arkansas: Rogers
War Eagle Mill
Located near Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas, War Eagle Mill is a working gristmill that has been operating on this location since 1832. Having been destroyed by disasters such as flooding and fire it has been completely rebuilt and renovated many times since its opening.
Although it dawns a new look, War Eagle Mill still offers delicious homemade products, household goods & gifts, and even a small restaurant called The Bean Place Cafe.
Location: 11045 War Eagle Rd, Rogers
Hours: 8:30am-5pm, daily, March 1st-January 1st
TopGolf Northwest Arkansas
Logan and I first tried TopGolf when we visited Oklahoma City and we were pleasantly surprised by how fun it was! Neither of us are avid golfers. Nor are we very good at golf. So I was a bit concerned that TopGolf wouldn’t be enjoyable but I was so wrong!
TopGolf is basically a big driving range where you can rent out a bay and hit golf balls at various targets for points! It’s an inexpensive way to practice your golf swing and have a little fun in the process. Kind of like bowling, even if you’re terrible you can still have a good time!
Location: 3919 S JB Hunt Dr, Rogers
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10am-11pm, Friday & Saturday 10am-12am
Things to Do in Northwest Arkansas: Fayetteville
Walton Arts Center
We feel lucky to have a theatre like the Walton Arts Center in Northwest Arkansas because they bring many performances from around the world to this area. To make the experience even better, the venue is very intimate so there’s not a bad seat in the house!
One of my favorite performances I’ve seen there thus far was Once on This Island which won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Currently, live performances have limited capacity but they are offering a number of virtual experiences to enjoy from home!
Location: 495 W Dickson St, Fayetteville // MAP
Cost: Ticket prices vary by performance
Big Box Karaoke
Big Box Karaoke is an amazing place to have a get-together with friends or family for a special occasion or for just your average Friday night! Even if you aren’t typically a fan of karaoke Big Box is still perfect for everyone because you can rent out your own room to sing with just those in your party instead of strangers.
Trust me when I say, Big Box Karaoke is one of the most fun things to do in Northwest Arkansas and I recommend it to everyone! Be sure to check out their weekly specials on their website when you book.
Hours: Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday: 4:30pm-11pm, Friday & Saturday: 4:30pm-1am, Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Location: 115 N Block Ave, Fayetteville // MAP
Cost: Rooms start at $40/hour
St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable
Hidden down a windy and lush forest road, St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable will immediately make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale or The Secret Garden which makes this one of the unique things to do in northwest Arkansas.
The stained glass windows and doors are from a church in England which helped inspire the European architecture. St. Catherine’s is available for special events like weddings or other parties but is also open for viewing pleasure and meditation at certain times. Make sure you call ahead to make sure you can go!
Hours: Sundays 12:00pm-3:00pm
Location: 2140 N Stone Chapel Ln, Fayetteville
Fayetteville Ale Trail
The Fayetteville Ale Trail is a self-guided brewery tour where you can try a number of craft beers from local breweries. There are currently 17 stops that can be found all over Northwest Arkansas. Be sure to request your free Ale Trail Passport so you can get your passport stamped and turn it in for a prize!
READ MORE: The Best Breweries in Northwest Arkansas
Arkadia Retrocade is keeping nostalgia alive with hundreds of retro arcade games, video games, and board games that are all free to play after you pay the cover charge of just $5. We had the best time stepping back to our childhood playing hours of Atari, PacMan, N64, and a variety of other games. Arkadia Retrocade is perfect for kids and adults alike!
Hours: Sunday 12pm-6pm, Tuesday-Thursday 2:30pm-10:30pm, Friday 2:30pm-12am, Saturday 12pm-12am, Closed Mondays
Location: 1478 N College Ave, Fayetteville // MAP
Cost: $5 for unlimited games
Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks
Although the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks is a small garden, it’s the perfect place to bask in the serenity of nature, have a picnic, take a stroll, or even enjoy live music during the summer months in Northwest Arkansas. They currently have 12 gardens to view each with different flowers, plants, and trees as well as designs.
Hours: Sunday-Saturday 9am-5pm
Location: 4703 N Crossover Rd, Fayetteville
Cost: $7/adults, $4/children
Things to Do in Northwest Arkansas: Springdale
Visit A Local Winery
I know you might not think that wine made in Arkansas is up to par with that of California wines you can buy in the supermarket, but hear me out. Arkansas wine is GOOD. It’s a little sweeter than wines I’ve had but it makes the wine unique. Two wineries that you should check out in Northwest Arkansas are Tontitown Winery and Sassafras Springs Vineyard.
READ MORE: A Complete Guide to Arkansas Wineries
See Local Street Art
All over Northwest Arkansas, you’ll find small and large-scale pieces of urban contemporary street art. As your walking, the streets of Fayetteville, Bentonville, and Rogers, keep an eye out for these one-of-a-kind artworks.
Location: Downtown Fayetteville, Springdale, Bentonville, and Rogers
Bike Trails in Northwest Arkansas
Northwest Arkansas offers some impressive bike trails with scenic outdoor beauty that perfect for all nature lovers. In fact, there are over 200 miles of hard and soft trails to ride on! So be sure to take a spin on your spokes at one of the paved trails or off-road trails.
Best Paved Biking Trails in Northwest Arkansas
- Razorback Regional Greenway
- 36-miles from south Fayetteville to Bella Vista Trail in north Bentonville. It has many places you can stop along the way in the cities of Northwest Arkansas
- Lake Fayetteville Trail
- 5.5 miles, paved multi-use trail
- Location: Fayetteville
- Easy (Although there are a few hills that can be rough)
- Crystal Bridges Trail
- 1 mile paved walking and biking trail. This stint is small but has a steep incline and connects to a variety of other trails.
- Location: Bentonville
- Moderate with a steep incline
- Lake Atalanta Loop
- 2 miles, but connects to a variety of other trails.
- Location: Rogers
- Easy with a few inclines
Best Mountain Biking Trails in Northwest Arkansas
To be honest, we’re VERY new to mountain biking. Like fresh baby mountain bikers. So we haven’t explored many trails yet. But here are some of the most popular ones in Northwest Arkansas and we’ll update this post as we continue to find more.
- Slaughter Pen Trail
- 20 miles and has easy access to Lake Bella Vista and Blowing Springs mountain bike trails.
- Location: Bentonville
- There is a wide range of trail difficulty from green to black diamond. However, most of them are blue trails which are moderate mountain biking trails.
- Lake Fayetteville Nature Trail
- 6.9 miles of off-road gravel trails with some dips.
- Location: Fayetteville
- I personally think this is a great place to start riding off-road if you are trying to get into mountain biking.
- Lake Atalanta Trails
- There are 13 miles of trails at Lake Atalanta ranging from easy, moderate, difficult, and one black diamond trail. There is also a popular pump track right by the Railyard.
- Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail
- 20 miles of trails available, the longest loop is 9 miles.
- Location: Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, Beaver Lake
- Blowing Springs
- The entire loop is 6 miles and connects easily to Slaughter Pen Trail.
- Difficult ranges from green, blue, and black diamond.
Don’t have a bike? You can rent one!
READ MORE: The Best Restaurants in Northwest Arkansas
Shopping in Northwest Arkansas
There are a number of awesome places to shop in Northwest Arkansas – many of which are locally owned specialty stores! Here are just a few of my favorite places.
Cheap Thrills Thrift Store
One of the quirkiest things to do in Northwest Arkansas is hands down, Cheap Thrills! Walk into Cheap Thrills and peruse through the vintage garb from every era. Even if you aren’t looking for something special, you’re most likely to find something posh that you can’t leave without at this top thing to do in Fayetteville.
Location: 120 S E Ave, Fayetteville
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:30am-6pm, Closed Sundays
Beautiful Lives Boutique
Beautiful Lives Boutique is a nonprofit, local thrift boutique that provides women with affordable clothing that is fashionable! In a world where fast fashion is all around us, you can feel good about shopping for gently used items at Beautiful Lives Boutique. In addition, when you shop at Beautiful Lives Boutique, they share the profits with a number of organizations that help women and children in the local community and globally too.
Location: 245 E Township St, Fayetteville (There is a location in Bentonville too!)
Hours: Closed Sundays
Dandy Roll is a fun, vintage store that mostly has home goods but some clothes as well. If you are looking for a print or vintage map to display in your home, this is the spot to find it!
Location: 107 W Walnut St Suite A, Rogers
Hours: Monday-Friday 11am-7pm, Saturday 10am-7pm, Closed Sundays
Pinnacle Hills Promenade
If you want to visit popular retail stores then the open-air shopping areas at Pinnacle Hills Promenade is the perfect place to visit. A few of the stores located at Pinnacle Hills Promenade are William-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Kendra Scott, and Dillards. There is also a large Malco movie theater and Dave & Busters.
Location: 2203 S Promenade Blvd Suite 3200, Rogers
It’s easy to see why Northwest Arkansas is perfect for a weekend trip! Continue to check back as we explore our new home and add more things to do in Northwest Arkansas to this list. In the meantime, you might also like this list of the best restaurants in Northwest Arkansas!