Whether you love small planes and aviation history as much as I do, want to sit down to a grownup lunch outside where the kids are also happy, or are looking to offer out of town guests a different dining experience, Louise in Bentonville, Arkansas, is a destination to consider.
Park Your Car or Your Plane
Whether you drive to this restaurant or park your plane on the tarmac, entry is through the Thaden Fieldhouse. I have seen a plane and helicopter displayed here, but last week there were several tiny planes for tots wanting to pedal.
On recent visits, the hanger doors were open to the tarmac. Inside is a fun gift shop, with a great toy section.
The Cafe Louise
When I mention Cafe Louise to locals, they rave about the food. The pricing is reasonable, but irresistible signature cocktails like ‘Endurance Mimosa’ and ‘Cruising Altitude’ can bring up the cost.
For lunch, I had the pulled pork sandwich with slaw and pickled red onion plus perfect fries. The menu includes breakfast and dinner, with enhanced sides and options available at dinner.
Check the website menu, as I heard it may be changing a bit.
I love outdoor dining with a view, but when the view is both water and planes, I am on Cloud Nine. There are over a half dozen tables under cover, so sun and rain are not an issue.
Further out, shadecloth and lights float above picnic tables, a fire pit and three or so groupings of chairs overlook Lake Bentonville, part of a 20 acre park with a playground. Yes, the outdoor dining is nestled between water, a tree line and the runway.
Usually I see a few planes in the air during a meal, but last week was busy, with planes taking off, landing, and queued for takeoff. Even a helicopter flew off and returned with six people.
Louise: The Inspiration
Do not miss the historical photos and tributes to the real Louise – Louise Thaden, a Bentonville, AR, native. Her first pilot’s license was signed by Orville Wright. In 1929, she held the women’s altitude, speed and endurance record simultaneously.
My favorite accomplishment is the Bendix Trophy, the prize for an annual point to point aeronautical race. In 1935 women were finally allowed to enter, and Amelia Earhart came in fifth. In 1936 Louise Thaden and copilot Blanche Noyes not only won the race, but set a new east-west speed record.
Other women also came in second that year and won in 1938. You go girls!
This article was written by Connie Cottingham of Garden Travel Experiences.
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