I’m writing this post from Madrid, which we love, and posting it from Granada, which is a very impressive place. So I have to admit, we like traveling to Europe so much better than anywhere we travel in the U.S. But we take one little American vacation to celebrate Chad’s birthday and our four-year travel-versary during our extended time in Missouri after Puerto Rico. To Arkansas!
We started our Arkansas trip in Bentonville, because I love a good museum and I’ve heard great things about Crystal Bridges. I’d planned to go down Friday night and spend the full day Saturday exploring the museum and surrounding area, but we changed plans to meet friends in Columbia, had a severely flat tire, and ended up not leaving for Arkansas until Saturday afternoon. But we arrived in time to check into the hotel and enjoy a fun dinner out in the cute little Bentonville square.
Sunday was the last day of the EPL season, so we spent the morning in our hotel room watching the Liverpool match (which was exciting, though they still finished second) and eating crepes delivered by DoorDash. Then we finally went to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. We had a couple of ours there to enjoy the art and the landscaping and the Frank Lloyd Wright house that had been moved to the premises from the East Coast a couple of decades ago. The house requires a reservation, but everything is free and it was all well-done, though clearly exhibiting art that was one person’s taste (Alice Walton, Walmart heiress) rather than a professionally curated collection. Still, it was very good.
After our visit to Crystal Bridges we drove another three hours to Hot Springs. We checked into our Airbnb and picked up some groceries and went out to dinner. We could tell right away the town has seen better days, but it seemed charming enough.
We also took a quick daytrip to Little Rock to check out the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. Little Rock seemed like a charming town and a place we might like to revisit. The woman who sold us our tickets at the museum called it “quirky.” We tend to like quirky.
During our three days in Hot Springs we hiked pretty much all the trails there (though not the whole of the 10-mile out-and-back Sunset Trail) and had a fun excursion to try out the thermal baths at Quapaw Baths & Spa. It may have been the least spectacular national park we’ve been to, but the history of the area is interesting and we had a really fun time.
On our way back home, we stopped in the town of Eureka Springs. This was our favorite part of the Arkansas trip, though it was rainy and we didn’t get to explore and hike as much as we would have liked. But it’s a place we plan to come back to. It has a similar history to Hot Springs with people placing medicinal benefits to the springs there and a bit of an Old West vibe.
In Eureka Springs we were able to walk to the cute Main Street area from our hotel (the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks) and had drinks and dinner in a super-cute diner-style restaurant. It was a fun and delicious meal and a great end to our Arkansas trip.
Being back in Europe now, it is easy to see how much we love being able to be spending our time here versus the United States but I’m glad we took this little getaway (even though it was super-close to our Europe departure) and saw a part of the country with a couple of attractions I was curious about.
Much more to come in the next days and weeks from Spain!
Quality Inn Bentonville – We reserved a deluxe room, so had a minifridge and microwave. The bed was comfortable and hotel quiet overall on a weekend. The clerk who checked us in was friendly and helpful and we were able to get a late checkout by being rewards members.
Hot Springs Airbnb – My husband and I were very comfortable here. Wifi worked well enough for our needs and the kitchen was good for light cooking. Cute older neighborhood that was an easy drive (5 minutes or less) from main parts of the national park and Bathhouse Row. Great communication from the hosts. We’d definitely stay here again. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/50300737
Best Western Inn of the Ozarks Eureka Springs – Nice hotel with a motel-type layout that makes parking and unloading very easy. We were able to walk to Main Street from the hotel in less than 10 minutes. Steep hill coming back but very manageable. Friendly and helpful front desk staff. Very clean room. We plan to stay here again!