Things to Do in Benton
Named for Thomas Hart Benton, one of the most colorful characters in American Benton is located half way between Little Rock and Hot Springs along I-30. It’s a great place for a day trip or as a stopping point on the way to spend the day in Little Rock.
Benton’s town square is a focal point. Be sure to stop by the Gann Museum of Saline County, the only known structure in the world constructed of bauxite, which is mined in the region.
You can also check out the Royal Theatre, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and hosts live theatrical productions.
Take a trip down Military Road, one of the town’s main drags, which dates to the 1830s and parallels the Old Southwest Trail used by frontier travelers on their way West. The Southwest Trail is part of the Arkansas Heritage Trails System.
Benton and surrounding areas have some great places to chow down. Your breakfast is waiting at The Old Crow General Store (17202 Hwy. 5 S., Benton, 501-794-2393,Facebook.com/oldecrowgeneralstore). Stop by for farm fresh eggs and other farm-to-table goodies. Run by Damon Helton, this is the place to buy local, with Arkansas grown produce, farm-raised meats, baked goods and more. Be sure to check out the flavored honey – with flavors like lemon ginger chocolate and pumpkin spice, you’ll definitely find something delicious to spice up your breakfast table.
When you roll into downtown Benton to visit the Gann Museum, be sure to stop by for a nutritious beverage at The Loft Nutrition. Try the “Taylor-Made,” which is a pomegranate lift-off mango aloe raspberry tea with an added beauty booster for a taste of delightful goodness. Owner Lyndsey Taylor also offers PiYo (a combination of Pilates and yoga) every Wed 6-7 p.m. and Sat 9-10 a.m. at the Loft.
Load up on wonderful Italian food at Bruno’s Italian Villa (15228 I-30 N, Benton, AR 72019 501-315-3663) or enjoy burgers and fries at the Burger Shack (107 S. Market St., Benton, AR 72015 501-778-226).
For something a little more off the beaten path, literally, try Kontiki African Restaurant, located in Alexander (13420 Hwy. 111, Alexander, 501-615-8504). Restaurant owner, Christian Domingo, immigrated from Sierra Leone 19 years ago. The place features fried plantains, akara balls (rice flour and banana), jollof rice, stew, and spiced rice cooked with tomato paste, or more exotic dishes like cassava leaves and fufu. Domingo encourages first-time diners to give the food a try, even if the flavors may seem different. "Ask questions about any of the food and we are happy to answer," he says.
Get Your Shop On
Get your shopping fix at McClain & Co. (410 W. Conway St., Benton, 501-837-7272). Sarah McClain’s store is a 5,000 square foot shopping super store, packed with fun apparel, gifts, art and accessories. You do not want to miss this place. There is a something great for every fashion style. McClain’s newly minted website touts “We’ve got this!” and they aren’t kidding. “We have something for everyone,” says Sarah McClain, owner. "We carry brands that you can’t find anywhere else in Saline County.” Whether you are looking for a gift item, a piece of jewelry or candles, handbags, clothing, bath bombs, etc., we have something you’ll love.” McClain’s brands include Rock Monkey Outfitters, Charlie Southern and Arkansas-based Southern Trend.
Head over to White’s Furniture Store (206 S. Market St., Benton, 501-315-7482) to browse for your next fabulous furniture find.
Antiques & Outlets
Searching for a bargain? Benton is the place to be. Indulge your passion for a good deal as you hunt for fashion, vintage, second hand, collectables and unique treasures in many of the antique malls on that line both sides of I-30.
Drive just a little further down I-30 to hunt for bargains at the Outlets of Little Rock (11201 Bass Pro Parkway, Little Rock, 501-455-9100).
Farmer’s Markets and Pumpkin Patches
Located on the Market Street side of the Courthouse, drop by the Benton Farmer’s Market (114 S. East Street, Benton, 501-776-5900, Bentonar.org/farmers-market-1) for organic food, fruits, crafts, local specialties and vegetables, available during the local growing season.
Pick your own homegrown pumpkin at Roseberry Farms, a 56-acre farm (12223 Hwy. 9, Benton, 501-722-8545, roseberry-farms.com). Visit chickens, goats and rabbits, enjoy hayrides and thrills on the tractor-pulled barrel ride, play in a hay fort and more. Open seasonally in the fall.
Take a train ride Mary’s Place Pumpkin Patch (3705 Hwy. 5 N., Bryant, 501-847-3900, MarysPlaceinBryant.com) Kids can play in a wooden maze, treehouse and a hay mountain. Open seasonally in the fall.
You might as well jump on the interconnected trampolines at the Hangtime Trampoline Park (1206 Hwy. 35 N, Benton, 501-909-2717, hangtimebenton.com). It’s a great place to take your kids and grandkids for birthday parties, field trips or anytime you feel like hopping around.
The Great Outdoors
Paddle your canoe on the Saline River, one of the last major undammed streams in the Ouachita Mountain system. The river offers excellent fishing, scenery and backcountry floating and is considered one of the most underrated fishing rivers in Arkansas with smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass.
Saline River Canoe (4444 Hwy. 5, Benton, 501-749-2266, www.SalineRiverCanoe.com), offers canoe, kayak & tube rentals, shuttle & guide services and store with restaurant & supplies on the Saline River.