20 Cool Things To Do: A Guide to Activities, Attractions in Northwest Arkansas

by NWA Metro Guide Staff  on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 12:00 am  

14. Bentonville Square
Rockwellian at its core, Bentonville’s downtown square — indeed, the city itself — has undergone something of a renaissance the past decade. The square still recalls iconic America, now tinged with urbanism with the arrival of the chic 21c Hotel. Old favorites such as the Farmer’s Market continue to draw visitors, as do new events such as Around the Bloc, First Fridays, Backstage Downtown, Lighting of the Square and the annual Christmas Parade. Balanced against an influx of high-end shops and restaurants, it’s truly where Arkansas’ past and future meet.

15. War Eagle Mill
This Rogers landmark is the only working mill in Arkansas and continues to grind out fresh flour as it has since 1832, four years before Arkansas became a state. (Talk about job security.) Then as now, it was all about location, and the mill thrived, grinding away despite flood and fires. Visitors can observe the century-old milling process, take in the mini-museum and shop for food, recipes and kitchenware or enjoy the Bean Palace Restaurant on the third floor. The fall craft fair is an annual attraction.

16. Northwest Arkansas Naturals Baseball
A major part of northwest Arkansas’ recent growth has been the addition of minor-league baseball. The Naturals are the Double-A farm team of the Kansas City Royals — a fitting affiliation, considering the Royals’ owner is Wal-Mart CEO David Glass. Arvest Ballpark in Springdale was named the Ballpark of the Year in 2008, when the franchise began. If you need an excuse to visit the wide-open concourses, luxury boxes, restaurant, party area, souvenir shop and kids zone at the $50 million park, come for promotions such as “Kids Eat Free Family Sundays,” “Buck Night & Thirsty Thursday” and “Ozark Electric Monday Night Lights.” Also, they play baseball.

17. Razorback Greenway
It’ll be 36 miles when complete in 2014, linking Bentonville, Rogers, Lowell, Springdale, Johnson and Fayetteville via a scenic, multi-use trail for cyclists, walkers and runners. The $38 million Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway — Razorback Greenway, for short — is funded primarily by a federal transportation grant and a gift from the Walton Family Foundation. It’ll connect area attractions such as Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to the north and the University of Arkansas to the south. In between, trail users and commuters will be able to access attractions and the home offices of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services.

18. Eureka Springs
This hamlet is many things — historic, artsy, charming, relaxing, perhaps even therapeutic — but most of all, it’s just Eureka. Part Hot Springs, part Breckenridge with helpings of Branson and New Orleans thrown in, Eureka Springs is a Victorian resort jambalaya nestled into the Ozarks just east of Bentonville. It’s known as America’s “Little Switzerland” for the alpine feel afforded by the winding streets and paths at its core. Plus, the entire city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

19. Tontitown Grape Festival
Gobs of spaghetti, carnival rides, live music. Need we say more? The annual Tontitown Grape Festival, held to commemorate a 1898 thanksgiving by Italian immigrants, brings the vibrant culture to the forefront of a festival offering acres and acres of crafts, games and rides. The star attraction, though, is the multi-night dinner of homemade pasta sauce – 6,000 pounds, to be exact — served up with fried chicken and all of the fixings. Other standout activities include the Run for the Grapes, a large book sale in the church onsite and the Queen Concordia Pageant. The festival is typically held in early-to-mid-August.

20. Prairie Grove Battlefield Historic State Park
On Dec. 7, 1862, Confederate troops attempted to stop Union forces from advancing south on Fort Smith, a clash that resulted in some 2,700 casualties. More than 150 years later, the park has a one-mile walking trail with markers describing the battle and the pre-Civil War Ozark Village, which is open for tours. Make it a day trip and take your lunch out to the picnic tables and playground and make the rounds at the museum housing artillery and weapons from the battle. The state’s largest battle re-enactment happens here in even-numbered years in early December.



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