Northwest Arkansas – More than “Walmart-land”
Sam Walton may have put Bentonville, Arkansas on the map after he created Walmart, but Northwest Arkansas has a great deal of history, natural beauty, and adventure to offer travelers who venture beyond the pavement and city lights. From healing springs to mountain views, art and history museums to hiking trails, Northwest Arkansas has the fresh air and rejuvenation you’ve been craving.
Eureka Springs was founded in 1879 around an area known by the Native Americans as Healing Springs. A scant three years later, the area was awash with investors, engineers, and developers and even had its own “Improvement Company” to further develop the area. Perched atop the Ozark Mountains like a crown jewel, the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa was built a few years later, and is still in operation today, combining well-preserved history with scenic views and a variety of activities for the intrepid traveler, but it has a dark secret: known as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel”, the Crescent has a few guests that never left!
The area has a wealth of Civil War history, and sites such as Pea Ridge National Military Park have preserved history, artifacts, and even genealogy records for future generations to learn and explore. Eureka Springs doesn’t just preserve history, either; they also have a refuge for exotic cats rescued from all over the country.
Founded in 1850 by Blackburn Henderson Berry, a settler whose family would rise to prominence in Arkansas government, the little town of Berryville was rebuilt from ruins after the Civil War to eventually become the “Turkey Capital of the World.” From the Saunders Museum to the Carroll County Heritage Center Museum, the people of Berryville have painstakingly captured and curated priceless artifacts from America’s past.
Berryville and the surrounding Ozark mountains are also popular with motorcycle riders who come to enjoy miles and miles of peaceful scenic views and friendly “hitching posts” throughout the region. Other popular outdoor activities include hiking, ATV trails, and enjoying a lazy float down King’s River.
Ever since its humble beginning in Bentonville, the rapid growth of Wal-Mart into one of the largest global retailers in the world has been a wonderful boon to the City. Through the philanthropy of the Walton Family Foundation, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art offers free admission to a world-class establishment designed by architect Moshe Safdie. Another important museum in the area, the Museum of Native American History, also offers free admission and has an extensive collection of Native American artifacts.
The Walton Family Foundation was also instrumental in creating the Razorback Regional Greenway, a 36-mile and growing network of parks and bike trails for the whole family to enjoy. From food festivals and restaurants with Beard-Award finalists to an extensive array of outdoor activities, Bentonville offers a sweet slice of life that balances a hometown feel with all the culture of a major city. Bentonville can also serve as the perfect hub for your outdoor excursions, especially when you need to make a quick stop at an auto parts store or one of the many AT&T stores in Arkansas (cell reception can get tricky in this rural state); for your convenience, they also happen to have a Walmart.
Once a trading post between early farmers and the Cherokee, the City of Siloam Springs was first incorporated in 1881 after the waters were reported to have healing properties. Once the railroad came through town in 1897, the area became an important center of trade and commerce in the region. Today, visitors can try their luck at the Cherokee Casino or pedal down the Sager Creek Bike Trail, or get an adrenaline rush at the Skydive Skyranch. If you’d prefer to be slightly less terrified, you can enjoy the award-winning 4-mile Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in nearby Gentry, or just take a charming stroll by the shops and storefronts downtown.
Northwest Arkansas has a lot to offer and these locations are just a few that travelers should check out when making a trip.