Entertaining Out-of-Town Guests in Northwest Arkansas

I’m going to be brutally honest with you: I do not like people in my space.

I like people just fine, but after about 8 hours I need a break. I like entertaining and I even like the idea of hosting out-of-town guests, but after a few days my introvert/control-freak tendencies take over and I go crazy. For years I jokingly said to our relatives “You know what they say about fish and visitors. They both stink after four days.”

Except I wasn’t joking. 

Since we moved to Northwest Arkansas our relatives are no longer close. They all drive 13+ hours to see us. Even I’m not jerky enough to kick them out after 4 days. So the dilemma becomes what to do to get visiting relatives and two kids out of the house and keep everyone entertained. Here are some of our favorites.

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Crystal Bridges Art Trial and Table Mesa Brunch on Sunday

We fell in love with the Crystal Bridges art trail on our very first visit to NWA. In fact, we’ve yet to really see the inside of the museum. We just keep hiking the trail. One of our newest discoveries is the Sunday brunch at Table Mesa. It is delicious. It costs around $16 for adults and kids under 7 are free! We like to park in the deck of the museum, walk to Table Mesa (under 2 miles) and walk back. The walking makes us feel better about stuffing our faces, but knowing you have to walk back keeps the face-stuffing somewhat in check.

Fast Lane

I know. Hear me out, here…Fast Lane is like Chucky Cheese on steroids and your instinct is to avoid it at all costs. We like Fast Lane for its bowling. We took Grandma and Grandpa there over Thanksgiving and had a blast. On Tuesday evenings they have a $2 special: shoes and games are only $2. Last Tuesday our family of four bowled one game (one is all you need for kids under 8) for $17.  

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Rock Painting and Hiding

Obviously you will need to locate some rocks and some paint. Ask everyone to create their own rock and take photos. Hopefully you know about the Bentonville Rocks Facebook page, unless you’ve been living under one (See what I did there? You can also check out this post to learn more.) Post your photos online then take your rocks to your favorite spot.  You could check out the new Lake Atalanta park. It has wonderful places to picnic, cool play structures and a beautiful path around the lake that is paved.  It’s about 1.5 miles, perfect for grandparents and bike-riding kids.

After writing this I remembered that Lake Atalanta is in Rogers, so maybe put your Bentonville Rocks somewhere else, then head to this park!

The Walton Performing Arts Center

When we moved from the Cleveland area, I was so sad to leave behind a thriving theatre scene.  I was thrilled to discover the Walton Performing Arts Center in Fayetteville.  They offer a fabulous Broadway Series, but they have an impressive line-up of family programs as well. For example, in February you can see Circus Oz, described as “an adventurous contemporary circus explosion” or Think Outside the Drum: An Interactive Family Concert. As an added bonus, Hammondtree’s Grilled Cheese restaurant is within walking distance to the performing arts center.

If you really want to live it up, convince your out-of-town guests to watch your kids (Do you really think they came to see you?!?) and catch one of the Broadway series shows with your husband. Just a personal aside- skip Dirty Dancing. We saw it in Cleveland and were utterly underwhelmed.

Museums!

I don’t think you need me to tell you about the Amazeum.  I am weirdly obsessed with all the weighted food in the Neighborhood Market, though. There are some other great museums in this area, as well.

We sent our most recent visiting set of Grandparents to the Museum of Native American History along with our five-year-old.  They thought it was interesting and she loved the movie, the life-size teepee and the getting to find and keep her own arrowhead.

On our last trip to Branson (Yes, I know that’s not NWA! But you’re taking your guests there anyway, right?) we were pleasantly surprised by the Titanic museum. You can’t miss it since the building is a 1/3 scale replica of the front part of the ship. Inside there is an impressive collection of artifacts, a recreation of the grand staircase that you can walk on and full size first and third class staterooms. You can even steer the ship from the bridge and walk “outside” into the cold, night air. My husband and I enjoyed the audio tour and our girls liked the kid version and the “Dogs of the Titanic” facts along the tour. The museum is pricy, about $24 for adults and $9 for kids 5-12.  We thought it was worth the cost, though.

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A great half-day trip is the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks in Fayetteville. There is a small entrance fee and the gardens are not super big, but they are beautiful and there is an adorable children’s garden. They are a great place for children to run and play and a nice stroll for grown-ups. We walked around the entire garden path twice, then walked across the parking lot to connect with a hike and bike trail to walk a little more.

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We love living in NW Arkansas and are so excited to show it off. There is no shortage of great things to keep families and friends busy!

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