Nestled in the nation’s Heartland, Bentonville, Arkansas, is an ideal destination for families to reconnect—and adventure seekers to explore. By meshing traditional and contemporary offerings into what has become known as the OZ experience, the region boasts world-class art and culture, breathtaking natural beauty, and a culinary scene that satisfies any palette with down-home dishes and uptown fare. FLY OZ™, OZ Art NWA™, and OZ Trails™ are just a few examples of what make OZ an incomparable experience for visitors from all over the world.
In the Middle of It All
The land of OZ is a quick car ride from most any direction, including from the Lone Star State. From Dallas-Fort Worth is an easy road trip, under six hours. Houston residents and Austinites can reach Northwest Arkansas in under 10 hours. Beyond Texas, visitors from Kansas City can get to Bentonville in three hours, and folks from Oklahoma City can make the east-bound trek in three-and-a-half hours.
Those who prefer the sky-bound route will land at XNA (Northwest Arkansas National Airport), where they are welcomed by a colorful, striking large-scale artwork, Ice and a Slice, by London-based French artist Camille Walala. The vivid geometric stylings set the tone for the vibrant cultural destination.
XNA is only a 20-minute drive from Bentonville, and direct flights to and from Houston, Austin, and DFW are often available several times a day.
Speaking of flying, check out Thaden Field, the coolest airport in the country, while in town. Named after female aviation pioneer Louise Thaden, this airport also features a café, flight school, a flying club, and FLY OZ™, which promotes backcountry aviation.
Natural State of Mind
The city’s title of “Mountain Biking Capital of the World” is a well-earned moniker. The OZ Trails™ network features about 500 miles of shared-use trails of rugged terrain surrounded by natural wonders exclusive to the Ozarks. From pitchy climbs and bumpy descents to jumps and tricks on breakaway single track, the trails of the Bentonville area offer thrilling, challenging rides. But you don’t have to be a mountain bike rider to enjoy the trails. They are perfect for seeking an adrenaline rush or taking a relaxing walk to soak up the scenery.
A Permanent, Public Exhibition
Magnificent works of art complement the natural wonders of the trails. OZ Art NWA™ and Bentonville have partnered to showcase 100 sculptures and installments that pop up along the trails, are displayed on the sides of structures, and appear in some surprising places.
A downtown stroll leads to brilliant murals, vivid neon signs, and thought-provoking sculptures around every corner. Green spaces and gardens are within walking distance of downtown Bentonville.
World-Class Culture in a Down-Home Setting
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is known all over the world not just for its incredible exhibits, but also the natural beauty that surrounds what is truly an architectural marvel. The museum occupies a lush 120-acre park dotted with striking sculptures, a natural spring, and breathtaking walking trails that link it to downtown Bentonville. The park also features pavilions, two spring-fed ponds, house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall.
The museum opened in 2011 and hosts approximately 600,000 visitors a year. More than 300,000 students from 171 school districts in nine states have also visited the museum on field trips, thanks to the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program. The permanent collection at Crystal Bridges spans five centuries, ranging from colonial American works to modern avant-garde pieces by historically underrepresented artists.
In 2020, the museum opened a satellite contemporary multi-disciplinary space in downtown Bentonville called the Momentary. Its trademark “You belong here” neon artwork produced by Travis Strachan sums up the sentiment that art is for everyone.
The Momentary has already established itself as a key cultural component of the OZ experience, featuring spectacular visual and performing arts, culinary favorites, exclusive festivals, and hands-on programs by artists-in-residents.
Culinary Masterpieces Served Up with Style
Bentonville’s culinary scene has earned a sterling reputation for versatility and quality, with eateries offering homegrown staples alongside upscale restaurants featuring more exotic fare. Despite the variation in style, they all have in common a commitment to giving customers exceptional service, an inviting atmosphere, and quality cuisine that complements the full Bentonville experience.
Local chefs are also masters of adjusting menus to coincide with harvest changes, and farm-to-table culture is a large component of the city’s collaborative culinary scene.
Why Aren’t You Here Already?
With so much going on in the land of OZ, the only difficulty you’ll have when you’re here is deciding which experience to take in first. And the only regret you’ll have is that you haven’t visited sooner. Don’t wait any longer and plan your visit to the city that celebrates its rich history while embracing its bright future.