No offense to anyone from Arkansas, but I don't think it is typically where people think of going when they take a family vacation. And to be honest, we wouldn't have gone on our own accord either, except we had the special occasion of celebrating my husband's grandfather's 90th birthday, and we couldn't miss that. He is the only living grandparent in my husband's family, and he had never met our son (his great-grandson) before, so the trip was very well worth it. From the looks of it, we may be taking another trip out there in 10 years for Grandpa's 100th! :)
And Arkansas proved surprisingly lovely, to the point my husband and I were trying to imagine the logistics of us moving out there. Ahhh, the grass is always greener....and in this case, I think it literally is. I think the air is fresher, the sky bigger and bluer, and the grass greener in Arkansas than anywhere SoCal can offer. Despite the short duration of the trip, and travelling with a toddler, it actually felt like a vacation. The country was lovely, the people were friendly, the pace was chill. It's hard to feel completely chill in LA. Even if you turn everything off, there is always the hum of the freeway reminding you that you need to be on the go.
Flying with the Little Dude was my primary concern - he's flown a few other times, with mixed ease. He's ever evolving, and now at 19 months I didn't know what to expect with him. He's always on the go, and this was a 3 hour flight -- I came prepared with new books, Chuggington videos on the iPad, a coloring book -- and 10 minutes after take-off he'd fallen asleep. And slept the entire flight. BOTH ways! It was amazing. Mom and Dad were stuck in the same position and seat for those 3 hours with the sleeping toddler across our laps, but we are not complaining. And every other part of the trip he was a champ. He didn't sleep the nights quite as well as he does at home, but he still did really well, and we had so much fun with him.
The second day of our trip was our 5th wedding anniversary, so as a surprise to me, my husband got us a couple nights at this fun boutique hotel in Bentonville. 21c Museum Hotel is exactly what it implies: its a museum hotel. The lobby and ground level is a contemporary/modern art museum/gallery, then the guest rooms are on floors above. It was a fun place to stay. I'm assuming the displays/installations change occasionally, so you likely don't see the same art every visit. Across the street from the museum/hotel was a park with a large open water fountain that the kids could run in. It was heaven on earth for our Little Dude.
The last 3 nights of our stay we rented a small house in the hills, which was a perfect choice for a family with a toddler. One morning we saw a deer right out our carport. We were walking distance from a playground for Little Dude to climb and slide. One day we went to Crystal Bridges Museum of American art, which was a very lovely museum with free admission. The grounds are especially nice, and not surprisingly Little Dude liked the outdoors the best.
100th birthday or not, I would actually enjoy another trip out there sometime. Or if we ever plan a cross-country road trip, this would be a stop on that drive for sure.