View of Crystal Bridges from a bridge

Art, Architecture, and Nature

By design, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art emphasizes the blending of art and nature. Carefully constructed to preserve the natural beauty of the Ozark forest, the museum’s goal has always been to make art accessible to everyone. In the case of the outdoor installations, it sometimes includes your dog!

I’d hoped this would be a post about the amazing Chihuly exhibit, with both indoor and outdoor installations, currently on display at the museum. When I first inquired about the event I was told Chihuly: In the Forest, the outdoor portion, would be dog-friendly. Then I was told it wasn’t. Then I was told it was just the Saturday night events that weren’t dog-friendly. Then on my recommendation one friend took her pup and got in, and another friend with her dog was turned away.

It quickly became clear to me that it depended on who you asked. So I went directly to Beth Bobbit, Public Relations Manager, for the official word. Because the outdoor space featuring Chihuly is currently classified as a ‘gallery’, there are NO DOGS ALLOWED. This excludes service dogs, of course; they are allowed by law.

*07/18 EDIT: Saturday night Forest Concerts are now dog-friendly. Pets must be leashed and well-behaved, and of course, you must pick up after your pooch.

To those of you following on Facebook, I apologize for any confusion. On with my raving review…

The good news is the Crystal Bridges trail system is made up of EIGHT different dog-friendly trails, all highlighted on their website with information about length, surface, and difficulty.

At this time, only the North Forest Trail is closed (until Novemember 13, 2017) to pooches. You can, however, catch a little glimpse of Chihuly on the Art Trail where floating orbs are installed in the pond.

Chihuly floating orbs

Chihuly on the Art Trail at Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges is situated on 120 acres and boasts over 3.5 miles of trails that include natural and landscaped environments, clear running creeks that are easily accessed for a quick dip of the paw, outdoor sculptures, and artist James Turrell’s Skyspace structure, The Way of Color.

From time to time, there are also featured exhibits and acitivies in the outdoor space- installations such as The Four Seasons by American artist and filmmaker, Phillip Haas, and family events like Artosphere– that allow well-behaved art-lovin’ canines.

It’s a wonderful way to exercise your pup, as well as, all of your senses.

To make the most of your trail experience, download the free app for Apple or Android devices. The app offers interactive trail maps, art and plant guides, and audio-tour information about many of the features of Crystal Bridges’ grounds.

Henri takes a dip in the creek

Time to cool off!

If an outdoor installation is in progress or an event is planned, check the museum website for dog-friendly info or visit the Travel Tails facebook page to see if we’ve checked it out yet. When something this cool is in your hometown, you become a supporting member and you go a lot.

TIP FOR YOUR VISIT: If you’re a first-timer with your dog, start late in the day with your walk or hike. That will allow you to visit the Skyspace as the sun sets, and as you wrap up your evening, stop at the Buckey Ball that marks the entrance/exit drive to enjoy the symphony of color and pattern that is only visable after dark. It’s one of my favorite things!

Crystal Bridges is open Saturday- Sunday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Monday 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. and Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. They are closed on Tuesdays but you are free to walk the trails at any time.

Where to Stay

If you’ll be staying the night in Bentonville, then 21c Museum Hotel, located within walking distance of Crystal Bridges, is where you’ll want to book your reservation. They are dog-friendly, and though their policy recently changed and dogs are no longer allowed in the bar or outdoor dining area, if you can talk someone into grabbing you a drink, you can roam the museum’s gallery space with a cocktail in one hand and a leash in the other.

A Few Other Spots

Both Crystal Bridges and 21c are located in the heart of downtown Bentonville which makes walking to some of our favorite dog-friendly establishments easy.

Be sure to visit our friends, Bobby and Paula, at Three Dog Bakery for some great treats and healthy chews. Henri’s current favorite nosh is the No Hide Chew made of bromeline instead of rawhide. Since bromeline is a natural anti-inflammatory and Henri is getting a bit older, Mommy gives this chew four paws up.

YeYo’s Mexican Grill is a food truck located in an alley across from Three Dog Bakery. They have an amazing Conchinita Pibil that you can wash down with a cold Mexican bottle Coke. You can check out all the other food trucks in the small court area across from 21c.

If it feels like beer:30 head on down the street to the patio at Pedaler’s Pub. They have fantastic pizza- the Italian is still my favorite- and local craft beer from a variety of Arkansas breweries. For wine lovers, visit Ramo D’Olivio (and grab a bottle of Lemon Balsamic -my new summer cooking ingredient obsession). All three of these dog-friendly patios have water bowls available for thirsty pooches.

Exterior building of Crystal Bridges

Architectural detail at Crystal Bridges

For world-class art, architecture, great patio dining, and outdoor fun with your dog, there’s no place like Bentonville, Arkansas, and there’s so much more to see and do. If you’re planning a trip to Northwest Arkansas, drop us a line and let us point your paws in all the right directions!

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Special thanks to MJW Photography for helping us tell better stories!