Monday, January 27, 2020

Exploring Downtown Bentonville

Downtown Bentonville

Bentonville: A New American Town


From a world-class art museum to a world champion squirrel cook-off, downtown Bentonville has transformed the city into the a New American Town (the city's tagline). The area on and around the square offers something fun for everyone.

Downtown Bentonville is very walkable and pedestrian-friendly. Therefore, like much of beautiful Northwest Arkansas, this area is more fun to explore outside of a vehicle (so park your car). I visit downtown Bentonville often when I am hiking on the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway - which passes by just a few blocks east of the square.  

The beautiful community sits at the foothills of the Ozarks, which create an awesome setting for its many miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. When you visit the downtown area, you can see the city's pride overflowing. In short, Bentonville feels like it has reinvented itself into a New American Town over the past decade.

The Bentonville Square


Bentonville Square

The heart and soul of downtown Bentonville is its beautiful square that feels like a bit of "Mayberry" filled with friendly shop owners, residents, and visitors. In my humble opinion, the crown jewel of the square is the park-like setting in the middle that features benches, nice shade trees, gorgeous flowers (in season), a cool water fountain, and the Bentonville Confederate Soldier Monument. This little park is a fun place to just sit and hangout (and people watch) when you have time to kill at the square.

Benton County Courthouse

The historic Benton County Courthouse (pictured in the background) was built in 1928 using the Classic Revival style by Albert O. Clark. (Clark was an architecture who built many buildings in Arkansas during the early 1900s). 

On most Saturdays when it's warm, there will be musicians performing at the northwest corner of the square (N Main and NW 2nd Street). I actually met a couple who drove all the way down from Kansas City so that they could play on a Saturday morning for the Farmer's Market. Most of the musicians are really good. It's kind of like a mini-free outdoor concert. 

Street Peformer Playing Music

Downtown Bentonville Festivals


Residents and visitors get to enjoy several fun events and festivals throughout the year. Many of them are hosted on or around the square. Here are a few of the more popular ones that I can think of off the top of my head:
  • Bentonville Film Festival
  • Run Bentonville Half-Marathon
  • World Champion Squirrel Cook-Off 
  • The Art Stroll

Bentonville Farmer's Market


Bentonville Farmer's Market

Speaking of events, each Saturday morning from the months of April through October, the square is home to the Bentonville Farmer's Market. The farmer's market features dozens of local vendors who sell fresh, organic foods, tasty treats, plants and flowers, and handmade crafts. This is one of the largest and most popular farmer's markets in the Northwest Arkansas. There are usually a few food trucks that sell grab-and-go breakfast and lunch entrees. 

Downtown Bentonville Eateries


As you can tell by my blog, I do a lot of hiking. One reason that I do so much hiking is to work off all the delicious food that I enjoy eating when I visit the Bentonville square. Here are my favorite restaurants, food trucks, and coffee shops.

The Flying Fish
 
The Flying Fish on the Bentonville Square
 
The Flying Fish is my favorite restaurant in downtown Bentonville. The restaurant is large with a lot of seating - which is good because this place is popular and gets very crowded around lunch and dinner. The atmosphere is amazing. They always have cool blues music playing, as well as several TVs tuned into sports games. The walls are lined with with what must be the world record for the largest number of Billy Bass Fish. The staff are amazing! They work so hard and are always very friendly. My usual is either their Fried Catfish Po Boy Sandwich or their Fried Catfish Basket. Another cool thing about the Flying Fish is their customer loyalty cards. Each time you visit, you earn another stamp on your card. Once you reach 8 stamps, you get a free meal (equivalent to $10).

Priato Pizzeria 

Priato Pizzeria Food Truck

Downtown Bentonville is home to some pretty cool food trucks. One of my favorites is Priato Pizzeria just a few blocks north of the square across from Lawrence Plaza. They serve artisan crafted Neapolitan style pizzas. They also have a nice patio with plenty of seating. During warm weather there are umbrellas over the tables to keep you cool while enjoying your pizza.  

Yeyo's Mexican Grill

Yeyo's Mexican Grill

I have a thing for good street tacos. Another favorite food truck of mine is Yeyo's Mexican Grill which located in a back ally off of Central Avenue just west of the square. Words simply cannot describe how good the food is. There is seating available in picnic tables next to the food truck.

Spark Cafe and Soda Fountain

Spark Cafe and Soda Fountain

I am not really a coffee drinker. However, I love ice cream! The Spark Cafe and Soda Fountain is my favorite ice cream shop in Bentonville. One thing that you will notice (and love) about this place is  the prices. Since this is meant to be a replica of an old fashioned soda fountain, the prices are a lot cheaper. The Spark Cafe and Soda Fountain is actually part of the Walmart Museum on the square. 

Onyx Coffee Lab

Onxy Coffe Lab in Bentonville

Downtown Bentonville definitely has a trendy coffee culture. I mentioned earlier that I am not much of a coffee drinker. However, since it feels like many of the people in my life are, I often find myself at coffee shops lol. The Onyx is usually quite crowded with coffee lovers and craft beer connoisseurs. I love their hot chocolate lol. 

Pressroom

Pressroom in Bentonville


I call the Pressroom 'that fancy brunch place' lol. I really enjoy their crispy chicken sandwich and frites (not a typo). I know that their breakfast entrees are quite popular too.

These are just a few of the restaurants and coffee shops in downtown Bentonville. (Don't be offended if I left your favorite place out lol). You can find something to suit nearly any taste. 

Historic Homes

Bentonville Bed and Breakfast
Historic home turned B&B on North Main
The neighborhoods around Central Avenue and North Main Street are filled with beautiful, historic homes that are worth preserving. These grand homes were built by many of the town's early businessmen, doctors, and lawyers. In his book, Bentonville Before Walmart, Micheal Knott said that West Central Avenue was once referred to as the "silk row of Bentonville" - because the women who lived there were wealthy enough to afford expensive silk. 
  

Lawrence Plaza


Lawrence Plaza in Bentonville

Lawrence Plaza is a large public space just a couple of blocks north of the square (next to the 21C boutique hotel). When it isn't being used for an event like the Bentonville Film Festival, Lawrence Plaza is either a splash pad during the summer, an ice rink during the winter, or just a fun place for people to hangout at.

In short, if you are looking for an exciting place in Northwest Arkansas that offers lots of dining, coffee shops, unique events, fun  outdoor space, and small business shopping, then check out downtown Bentonville. You can find lots of free parking near the square. However, my favorite mode of travel to downtown is via hiking on the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway. Discover why downtown Bentonville has made the community a New American Town.


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