"Summer of Siron Travel" - Bentonville
I can't get over how great things are in Bentonville, Arkansas.
I'm always looking for a fun day trip (especially in the summer) that takes us away -- but not too far. Sometimes, we just want a change of scenery that thrills the kids and keeps our budget in check. I found all of that and SO much more in a sweet little town called Bentonville.
I bet some of my Arkansas followers are shaking their heads at my new found love of their pretty state. I've already had a few of you Natural State folks message me and say, "I can't believe you didn't realize how awesome we are."
Well, this weekend we took our SECOND day trip to Bentonville and it solidified my new found love.
The first time I went was with my sister and the kids. This past weekend when I went, I took my husband, Jon. He was actually the one who originally put a little bug in my ear about discovering Bentonville. He used to travel there pretty often for work, and would always say how clean and nice it seemed.
He was right.
It's a pretty, clean, and neat city filled with history and helpful people. Truly, one of the things I love most about my experiences in Arkansas are the people. Everyone is always holding doors, happy to answer questions about local restaurants, and it seems diverse so there's a little something for everyone.
Did you guys know that Bentonville is the Home of Wal-Mart?
There's a Wal-Mart on EVERY corner it seems when you visit. In fact, the first Walmart ever is still on the square! Its vintage red and white exterior is hard to miss, and you won't want to!
Stop by and grab a fun family photo (#walmartrun) and show your kids how small businesses can become big ones.
Beyond all of the Wal-Mart vibes you'll get when you're visiting, there are two main attractions that we like to visit. Let me break them down for you...
THE SCOTT FAMILY AMAZEUM:
This place is so cool. It's a constant flow and mix of science experiments, activities, physical challenges, you name it! Both of my kids (ages almost 7 and 20 months) really enjoy it. You'll love it as much as they do. From the time you walk in the front door you're immersed in educational interactive fun. Science, history, water elements, and even a little nod to Wal-mart will leave you wanting more. It's truly the perfect place for those hot summer days when you're not at the pool but need to get the kids out of the house. They even have an outdoor play area that's completely fenced (love that because I'm a toddler mom) tons of places to sit and watch your kids play, and fun man made streams that you can stick your feet in while you're hanging out during those hot summer months. I love how they have a couple of dedicated play areas inside for kids under 2 that are gated so you're not spending your whole day chasing a toddler around the facility. Those Arkansas folks aren't playing around when it comes to museums. Now let's talk about how much it's going to cost you to have ALL of this fun.
-If you go to the Amazeum with a family of four it will be around 38.00 if you're not members. It could be worse, but you guys know I'm a total cheapskate.
-If you go directly to the Amazeum and purchase a family membership for a family of 4 it will give you unlimited access for a family of 4 for 95.00 annually. Honestly, if you plan on visiting a few times, particularly if you're in Arkansas this will definitely save you money, but i'm cheap so here's how you get around all of that and take your entire family of four for less.
- The Amazeum and other discovery centers that are affiliated with the ASTC consider a membership at any of their facilities across the country a membership. So, the smartest thing to do if you're in my area is the find the cheapest ASTC discovery center and become a member. That membership will then get me into any ASTC center that I want for free. So, in my case the cheapest membership is at the Springfield, MO Discovery center (we go there often and it's fun too - https://www.discoverycenter.org), but because I have that membership, when I go to the Amazeum we pay nothing. And for a family of four to become members for a year it's only 75.00 dollars. You'd be paying that in around two trips and now you can go as often as you'd like!
-Once you're a member grab a list of other ASTC museums (typically offered at the front desk) and always check to see if there's a new one to discover when you travel. It's FREE , so why not get the most out of your membership.
Buying the membership is a particularly great option as a family Christmas gift, birthday gift, or if you've decided not the take a major vacation this year you might consider a membership as a fun summer treat. It's totally worth it.
Beyond the kids museum, Bentonville is home to one of the neatest art museums around.
CRYSTAL BRIDGES ART MUSEUM:
You want to know what the coolest part of Crystal Bridges is? It's free. Yep. You can take your entire extended family, have a super relaxing artsy fartsy experience and it's free. This museum is a monster and filled with so much to see. Like I said, general admission is free which means the art that is on display year-round you'll have access to. If you'd like to check out a special exhibit you can do that for a small fee. Trust me, there's plenty to see without paying. You can walk around outside on the beautiful well manicured grounds, check out the home of Frank Lloyd Wright (more fun history for yourself and the kids) and see all of the fun glass architecture that gives the museum its name. There's water, there's a gorgeous restaurant serving one of my favorite kinds of coffee, and there's a kids' art studio where you can sit down and create your own pieces of art together. It's great and did I mention it's free?
Another fantastic thing about both of these places is the distance between them. They're side by side! So, once you finish up at the kids museum crystal bridges is right next door! I'll link websites to all of these places at the end of this post.
OK, so for us a day out means a new restaurant (unless there's a Cheesecake Factory around...) Bentonville is filled with so many places I'm excited to try but for now we can't stop eating at our new favorite. On my first trip I grabbed a lady who looked like a local and asked her to give me the low down on good eats in town and boy did she.
TUSK & TROTTER:
The sweet lady who told me about this place had me at "they have bacon ice cream" not because I love bacon, but because I love risk taking and trying new things so I knew we had to go. I'm still thinking about it... right now.. and drooling... and I ate there for the second time yesterday... We started our meal with a 5.00 appetizer they call Salt and Vinegar chips. I wish you could taste them. with me. right now. They come with homemade sour cream and onion dip and honestly it's the best thing. I will spend my life trying to figure out how to make the whole situation and let's pray I don't figure it out because eating that regularly is the LAST thing my diet needs right. But if you go, you gotta get em'. When I told my daughter when we were going back to Bentonville the first thing she asked was can we eat at the same place we ate last time... the kids menu ROCKS. The chicken strips (hand breaded to perfection), salt and pepper fries, even the fruit cup is good (it's the good stuff, not the crappy fruit no one wants). You guys know what I'm talking about. The first time I went I tried "The Big Cheesy" it's a meat free option and it's good, I thought it was great until I tried my sister's sandwich. HANDS DOWN if you go you MUST order the Chicken Club. Fried. End of story. They make their own sweet pickles. all of the flavors and textures are just so darn good. The prices aren't bad the service is great the food is phenomenal. Oh, and I did try the dessert with the bacon ice cream. You should too.
I hope this is helpful and as always feel free to comment with suggestions on other places we should try! You can leave questions in the comments as well.
Be looking for a post on a fun way we're choosing our summer Saturday activities and please keep in mind that kids are simple. If you're feeling like doing something special with your kids this summer is out of reach please know that you don't need a membership somewhere to create something special for them. In the end, all our kids want is for us as parents to make them a priority. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post that will create memories that are just as precious right in your own neighborhood.
Do you have any other spots you'd recommend? Send them my way - we'd love more options.