Before my visit to Arkansas recently, I didn’t know much about the state. To be completely honest, the only thing I knew about Arkansas was that it was home to Hot Springs National Park. For years, I had wanted to visit Hot Springs, but I was completely unaware of just how many awesome things that you can do in Arkansas as a wheelchair user.
Over the course of four full days, I explored some of the state’s best wheelchair accessible things to do in Little Rock, Hot Springs, and Bentonville. From visiting a Presidential Museum to relaxing at a spa in Hot Springs and rolling on an accessible trail in Bentonville, my four days in Arkansas were jam-packed with fun activities!
If you are interested in visiting Arkansas as a wheelchair user, this travel guide is the perfect place to start planning your trip. I’ll share everything that I did in Arkansas, including where I stayed, where I ate, and what all I did, so by the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll know exactly what you need to do in wheelchair accessible Arkansas. And if you aren’t already interested in visiting “The Natural State”, I’m sure you will be soon, as Arkansas has a lot to offer!
I’ll break this guide up into sections, starting with Little Rock, then Hot Springs, and finishing with Bentonville. So, if you’re just looking for accessibility information for a particular city, feel free to skip ahead to that section.
Wheelchair Accessible Little Rock, Arkansas
My trip in Arkansas started in the capital city of Little Rock. The airport was great and the crew had me off the plane within twenty minutes of landing in Little Rock. It was a smooth process and I loved how easy the airport was to navigate. It’s definitely a small airport, especially compared to my home airport of Atlanta, but I loved it.
Once my mom and I grabbed our luggage from baggage claim, we headed outside to find our wheelchair accessible rental van. I rented a van from MobilityWorks, located in Bryant, Arkansas, and it worked perfectly throughout our entire trip. It had a ramp and tie-down straps to secure my wheelchair, and was about $150 per day to rent. MobilityWorks provided drop-off and pickup at the airport, which was convenient.
After our flight, we were starving, so we headed to Fassler Hall in downtown Little Rock for lunch. Fassler Hall is a beer and sausage hall, and as someone that loves German food, I really enjoyed this lunch.
Fassler Hall is wheelchair accessible and has an accessible restroom, but all of the tables are picnic style tables and they are not wheelchair-friendly, unfortunately. I wasn’t able to pull up to the end of a table, so I let management know and they offered to flip a table around to make it accessible for me. That was very kind of them, but I definitely would’ve preferred for there to be accessible tables without having to ask. Hopefully they will get some accessible tables in the near future!
For our meal at Fassler Hall, we started with the Bavarian pretzels with smoked gouda cheese dip, which were delicious! Then for my entree, I had the sausage sampler. It consisted of three different sausages (I chose a jalapeño cheddar bratwurst, the cheddarwurst, and the “hunter” bratwurst, which was a mix of smoked venison, bison & pork sausage) and they were served with sauerkraut on the side. Yum!
Next, we headed over to the nearby William J. Clinton Library & Museum in Little Rock. The museum showcases the life of the 42nd President of the United States. I always love visiting Presidential museums (remember when I visited the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan?), so I was really excited to check out this museum!
Honestly, it was fascinating to learn all about Bill Clinton, from when he was born in Arkansas to becoming governor of Arkansas and eventually President. No matter what your opinion of his Presidency is, it was quite inspiring to see his journey.
The entire museum was wheelchair accessible with elevators and companion care restrooms were available. All of the exhibits, including the replicas of the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, and the temporary dinosaur exhibit (it’s on display until October 1st, 2023), were spacious and easy for me to maneuver around in as well.
If you’ll be in Little Rock, Arkansas, the William J. Clinton Library & Museum should be a must-visit on your list of wheelchair accessible Little Rock attractions. And don’t forget to roll across the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge before you leave. The bridge is right by the museum and has beautiful views of the river and downtown Little Rock.
Checking into our hotel was our next priority. While in Little Rock, we stayed at Delta Hotels by Marriott. The hotel was only a few miles from the heart of downtown and the staff were super friendly and accommodating!
In my wheelchair accessible room, there was a king sized bed, a desk, and TV. Upon arrival, a piece of furniture was in the way of me getting beside the bed, but after asking a staff member to remove the furniture, I had plenty of space beside the bed. The bed was a good height for self-transferring, but it was on a block frame, so if you use a hoyer lift, it wouldn’t work with the bed, unfortunately.
In the bathroom, there was a roll-in shower with smooth entry, a pull-under sink, and a grab bar on one side of the toilet. There was not a bench or seat in the shower (the one in the photo below is my personal shower chair that I brought with me). The handheld shower wand was also very high, so it was a bit difficult for me to reach and use it.
Delta Hotels definitely has room for improvement in terms of accessibility, but I was able to make it work for my needs. If you’d like to learn more about the hotel, just click here.
For dinner, we headed back to downtown Little Rock for a meal at Capital Bar & Grill. This restaurant is located inside the Capital Hotel, which is one of the city’s nicest places to stay. I’m not sure how wheelchair accessible their rooms are, but I’ll certainly be checking it out next time I’m in Little Rock.
At the Capital Bar & Grill, we started with the pimento cheese appetizer, which was phenomenal. I love pimento cheese and this was a great one! For my entree, I had fried chicken and then banana pudding for dessert. Everything was tasty and I would highly recommend dining here while you are in Little Rock. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but be sure to get a reservation in advance of your arrival, as this restaurant is quite popular (for good reason).
I only had one full day to spend in Little Rock, but I managed to experience some great places during that time. It was enough to whet my appetite and I’m already looking forward to returning to the capital city. There are a lot more wheelchair accessible Little Rock attractions that I still need to explore!
Wheelchair Accessible Hot Springs, Arkansas
I was tremendously excited to spend my second full day in Arkansas in Hot Springs! Hot Springs is less than an hour away from Little Rock, so it made for a perfect day trip. I’ve had Hot Springs on my travel radar for a while and it certainly lived up to my expectations.
Check out my short video of Hot Springs below!
Upon arriving in Hot Springs, we stopped into the Visitor’s Center and the kind lady pictured with me below told us all of the highlights that the area has to offer for wheelchair users. She took her time explaining the numerous must-sees and detailing accessibility, which I tremendously appreciated. Throughout the entire day in Hot Springs, we kept referencing her recommendations and we had a fantastic day because of her. The Visitor’s Center was a perfect first stop in Hot Springs!
After getting lots of great recommendations, we headed to Bathhouse Row. It is a street in Hot Springs, Arkansas that has eight bathhouses along it. All of the bathhouses were built between 1892 and 1923, and they’re just as beautiful today as they were in the early 20th century.
In the early 1900s, people visited these bathhouses to soak in the mineral waters, as they were believed to have healing powers. Today, people still visit the bathhouses to soak in the warm water, but only two of the bathhouses still operate – The Buckstaff and The Quapaw. Supposedly, The Quapaw has a lift that can help wheelchair users into the thermal pool, but I visited on a Tuesday and unfortunately, they’re closed on Tuesdays, so I didn’t get a chance to check it out in-person.
While most of the bathhouses don’t serve as actual bathhouses anymore, you can still visit them for various reasons. The first bathhouse that I went inside was The Lamar, which is the southernmost bathhouse on Bathhouse Row. Today, The Lamar is home to the Bathhouse Emporium and has every kind of souvenir that you can imagine. I bought a Hot Springs National Park Christmas ornament. If you want a souvenir to remember your time in Hot Springs by, this is definitely the place to get it.
Another bathhouse that is a must-visit is Fordyce Bathhouse, which serves today as the home of the Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center. Many of the rooms in Fordyce Bathhouse have been restored to their original state and free guided tours are offered. The guided tour lasted about 40 minutes and explored the lower level of Fordyce. It was a fascinating tour and I learned so much about the history of bathhouses and Hot Springs. The guided tour should be a must-do while you’re in Hot Springs.
Once the guided tour ended, my mom and I got in an elevator and visited the upper levels of Fordyce Bathhouse on our own. The upper levels have various exhibits and serve as a museum. I really enjoyed looking around and reading the different plaques that described the history of the bathhouses.
Right behind Fordyce Bathhouse is an accessible entrance to The Grand Promenade, which is a fully wheelchair accessible walking trail. The trail is made of brick, but it was very smooth for me to roll on in my powered wheelchair. The Grand Promenade runs behind Bathhouse Row and is 0.5 miles long.
Along The Grand Promenade, there are benches and tables, so if you need to take a break, you can. Much of the trail was shaded when I visited, so that was a nice respite from the summer sun. This was a great trail, and not crowded at all, and I would recommend checking it out after you explore Fordyce Bathhouse.
After rolling along Bathhouse Row for a couple hours, we were ready for lunch, so we headed to SQZBX Brewery & Pizza. SQZBX is located in downtown Hot Springs and you could easily walk/roll to it from Bathhouse Row. The restaurant was wheelchair accessible and had a nice companion-care restroom.
For our appetizer at SQZBX, we got the cheesy garlic knots and they were so delicious. I ate way too many cheesy garlic knots, but still found room for the “Biggie Small Pepperoni” pizza. It had small pepperonis all over it and it might’ve been the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. Yes, I’m completely serious. It gave Detroit pizza (my previous favorite pizza) a run for its money.
Since we were in “Spa City”, we wanted to visit a spa while we were in town, so we headed to the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. It was only a short drive from downtown Hot Springs and it has a horse racing track, a huge casino, and an on-site spa, known as Astral Spa. We started our visit to Oaklawn by visiting the spa.
Astral Spa has a plethora of treatments to choose from, but I ultimately opted for the Gentlemen’s Facial, which lasted for 80 minutes, and my mom enjoyed the Heavenly Signature Massage for 80 minutes. The staff at Astral Spa were super accommodating and my facial was simply wonderful. I remained in my wheelchair for the treatment, but I did recline back to make it easier for them to reach my face. When it eventually ended, I was tempted to book another 80 minute facial immediately. If you want to be pampered for a while (and trust me, you deserve it!), treat yourself to a fabulous treatment at this world-class spa.
We were in a state of bliss and fully relaxed after our treatments, but decided to visit Oaklawn’s casino for a bit of gambling. There were hundreds (maybe thousands) of slot machines to choose from and every kind of table game imaginable. Lady Luck was on my side because after about an hour of playing slot machines, I ended up profiting $100 for the night. I’ve gambled in various casinos around the world, including multiple times in Las Vegas, but it’s extremely rare for me to leave with a profit, so I was thrilled to leave as a winner!
To finish our day in Hot Springs, we went back downtown for a nice dinner at 501 Prime. It is one of the city’s best restaurants and if possible, you should get a reservation in advance of your visit. 501 Prime is open Tuesday-Sunday from 4pm-9pm.
We started with the duck egg rolls, which were duck confit egg rolls served with a sweet Thai chili sauce. I had never tried duck before this, so I was a bit nervous, but they were delicious and I would definitely order these again. For my entree, I had the 4 oz. petite filet with béarnaise sauce and mashed potatoes. It was one of the most tender steaks I’ve ever eaten and I ate every single bite. If you are a bit of a foodie like me and love a good meal, be sure to dine at 501 Prime while you’re in Hot Springs.
I had an action-packed and fun-filled day in Hot Springs, Arkansas. As a wheelchair user, there was so much for me to enjoy. From rolling along the famous Bathhouse Row to getting a phenomenal facial and more, I absolutely loved my day trip to wheelchair accessible Hot Springs, Arkansas!
Wheelchair Accessible Bentonville, Arkansas
For the second half of our trip in the state, we headed to northwest Arkansas to the charming city of Bentonville. From Little Rock to Bentonville, it’s about a three hour drive, so not a long drive, but too long for something like a day trip.
During the drive to Bentonville, we stopped for lunch at CJ’s Butcher Boy Burgers. It’s located in Russellville, Arkansas and is a 50s-style, counter-serve restaurant that specializes in burgers and milkshakes. The cheeseburger was phenomenal and I loved the homemade fries with their special “fry sauce” as well. If you’re making the drive from Little Rock to Bentonville, CJ’s should be a necessity.
Once we arrived in Bentonville, we checked-in to our hotel, Four Points by Sheraton Bentonville. The hotel was in a good location, just a short five minute drive from the downtown area. The staff at this hotel were really friendly as well.
My wheelchair accessible room was on the ground floor, which I loved, and had two queen beds. The beds were not on a block frame, so a hoyer lift could roll underneath the beds. The room was a bit tight, but we asked for some furniture to be removed from the room and that made it much more spacious.
In the bathroom, there was a roll-in shower, a pull-under sink, and grab bars were by the toilet. The bathroom was perfect for my accessibility needs, but the handheld shower wand was a bit too high. I would’ve liked for it to be lower, but other than that, I had a wonderful stay. If you’d like to learn more about the Four Points by Sheraton Bentonville or book a stay of your own, just click here.
After settling in, I ventured downtown to The Momentary. The Momentary is a contemporary art museum and it’s completely free to visit, which I was highly surprised/impressed by. The Momentary is fully wheelchair accessible and even has an all-gender/companion-care restroom.
The exhibitions that were on display when I visited The Momentary will likely not still be on display when you visit, as they’re mostly all temporary. However, no matter what exhibitions there are when you visit, I’m sure they’ll be fascinating. The Momentary features really unique artists and even though the museum is on the smaller side, it’s completely worth visiting. I spent about an hour admiring all of the art.
Before leaving The Momentary, be sure to visit the on-site Tower Bar. It’s located on the sixth floor and has great views of the city, and even better drinks. I had the “summer iced tea” mocktail and really enjoyed it. Tower Bar is a fun place to hang out for a while.
For my first dinner in Bentonville, I went to church. Yes, you read that correctly. The Preacher’s Son is a restaurant inside of a restored Gothic Revival church and aside from being one of the most unique places I’ve ever eaten dinner, the food was also really delicious.
To start our dinner at The Preacher’s Son, we had the fried green tomatoes appetizer, which was served with a salmon rillette spread. It was divine. Then, I had the mahi mahi for my entree, which was delicious as well. If you will be in Bentonville, I would highly recommend eating here, as it might’ve been my favorite dining experience from my entire trip in Arkansas.
After a peaceful night’s sleep at the Four Points by Sheraton Bentonville, I started my final day in Arkansas by exploring downtown Bentonville. There are dozens of great shops and restaurants downtown, and most of them are wheelchair accessible. I only noticed a couple shops that had a step to get inside, but hopefully they had a portable ramp or an alternative accessible entrance.
What really impressed me about downtown Bentonville was how clean it was and how smooth the curb cuts and crosswalks were. I had no issues crossing the streets with my powered wheelchair.
Bentonville’s slogan is “A new American town” and it was absolutely beautiful. From the park in town to the gorgeous murals and architecture, downtown Bentonville is a special place that you should spend a couple hours exploring.
Next, I rolled over to Compton Gardens, which joins the Razorback Greenway. The Greenway is paved and stretches for 40 miles through northwest Arkansas, making this an inclusive outdoor experience on a nice day.
The Razorback Greenway connects seven communities in northwest Arkansas and while I would have loved to roll the entire thing, my wheelchair battery doesn’t allow me to go quite that far. However, the two miles that I did roll on it were fantastic. I loved being in the great outdoors on this smooth and wheelchair accessible trail!
Did you know that Bentonville, Arkansas is where Walmart originated and Walmart’s home office is still located in Bentonville?! Since Walmart is such a big part of the city’s history, there is a Walmart Museum as well, which I was able to visit.
The main museum’s location is undergoing renovations until spring 2024, but they have set up a great temporary museum in downtown Bentonville. The museum tells the history of Walmart and how it was founded by Sam Walton. They also use some amazing technology in the museum. For example, I was able to “talk” to Sam Walton via AI. How cool is that?!
It was really fascinating to learn about the history of Walmart and admission to the museum is completely free. Accessible companion-care restrooms are available to use in the museum as well. If you’ll be in Bentonville, this museum is a must-visit!
Another must-visit museum in Bentonville is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Without a doubt, it is one of the best art museums in the entire country and I spent several hours wandering through the museum and admiring all of the artwork.
Crystal Bridges sits in a 120-acre park, complete with sculpture and walking trails. The museum is completely wheelchair accessible with elevators, companion care restrooms, and the exhibits are very spacious. And best of all? Admission to the museum is completely free (are you sensing a recurring theme with the admission price of Bentonville’s museums yet?)!
The museum’s galleries feature a variety of types of art. I really enjoyed the modern and contemporary pieces, but my favorite exhibit was the “Infinity Mirrored Room” by Yayoi Kusama. It was amazing and a bit of a mind bender. While it was my favorite part of the museum, there were so many other pieces of art that captivated me.
To be completely honest, I’m typically not a huge fan of art museums, but I highly enjoyed a few hours at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I’ve explored various art museums around the world and without a doubt, this was one of my favorites that I’ve experienced so far.
If you’re looking for another good recommendation for dinner in Bentonville, check out Conifer. Conifer was recently named one of the south’s best new restaurants by Southern Living Magazine and after dining at Conifer, I can certainly see why.
Everything on Conifer’s menu is gluten-free, but the quality of the food is so outstanding that you can’t even tell. We started our meal with rolls and whipped butter, and I had the half chicken for my entree. The chicken was served with a pepper relish, almonds, romesco sauce, and herbs, and it was incredibly delicious.
Lastly, if you’ll be in Bentonville before the end of 2023, experience the Listening Forest at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The Listening Forest is a nighttime only experience and takes place in the woods at the art museum. Admission costs $25 per adult.
The Listening Forest has eight interactive installations by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and it’s fully wheelchair accessible. There are paved paths to each installation, but I would suggest bringing a flashlight with you, as it gets quite dark in some areas of the Listening Forest.
I loved how interactive each installation was. At one installation, thousands of lightbulbs flickered to the beat of my heart. At another installation, my voice was repeatedly echoed through the woods. The installations were beautiful and I was so glad that I had the chance to experience the Listening Forest during my final night in Bentonville.
My time in Arkansas came to an end too soon, but it made me want to experience even more of the state and I’m already itching to get back to Arkansas and see more. Over the course of four days though, I discovered just how spectacular of a state it is and how many wheelchair accessible Arkansas attractions and points of interest there are. If you are a wheelchair user that’s looking for a fun and unique travel destination, look no further than Arkansas!
*Thank you to Visit Arkansas for working with me on this trip and showing me the best of wheelchair accessible Arkansas! While my experiences were complimentary, all opinions expressed are authentic and my own.