This year for Thanksgiving, Drew and I headed down to Benton, Arkansas to spend the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. Being one of five girls, my mother has plenty of relatives who all live in the state, most residing in their home town of Benton.
Benton is just about 20 minutes south of Arkansas’ capital city of Little Rock. Though it’s population is about 35,000, it’s grown immensely within my lifetime.
I spent most of my summers and plenty of holidays in Benton while growing up and it holds a special place in my heart. Though I don’t get back as much as I’d like to, it’s so refreshing to spend time in a small town.
We spent Thanksgiving with two of my mom’s sisters – so we had a huge group of people with plenty of conversation, activity and food to go around!
But more than anything, it was so nice to get out of a big city – let alone DC – and spend some time at a much slower pace of life. I’m a type-A person and am a total busybody who always likes to be doing a million things at once. But getting myself out of the city was such a nice reprieve.
It was really relaxing and refreshing to spend Thanksgiving in a small town surrounded by family. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that being busy shouldn’t be as glorified as it is today. Instead, I think carving out intentional time outside of the hustle of everyday life does far more good than any jam-packed social calendar could ever do.
This year was extra special because we had the addition of my cousins’ nine-month-old daughter and 12-week-old puppy.
Downtown Benton, Arkansas
Thanksgiving aside, it’s wonderful to spend time in a small town with so much family history. My mom has plenty of stories of running around Benton’s downtown as a kid in the ’70s. Though it’s changed a ton since then, and even since I was a kid, it still maintains its smalltown charm.
The main drag is full of locally-owned shops, some of which have been there for years. It’s so much fun to pop in and out of shops and along the road.
Another fun stop we made while in Arkansas was McClard’s BBQ in Hot Springs. As if we didn’t eat enough over Thanksgiving.
If you’re ever in Arkansas, McClard’s is a staple for some good food – and even a favorite of former-President Bill Clinton, who grew up in Hot Springs. As you can see from his framed portrait below, the former president is celebrated all over the city and state with pictures and plaques.
McClard’s famous for their meats and sauce – but my personal favorite is the tamale plates – a tamale topped with fritos, beans, chopped beef,
cheese and onions.
As you can tell from the storefront, McClard’s first opened its doors in 1928. The family-run shop used to be a drive up – but the current storefront doesn’t lack any history or charm from its earlier years.
It’s such a fun spot with great food and a unique spot for a meal if you find yourself in Arkansas.
I hope you enjoyed this short post about my weekend in Arkansas and I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving surrounded by family, friends and loved ones.