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5 Things to See on a Road Trip Through the Arkansas Ozarks

Road trips in the Ozarks are terrific. Lakes, rivers, flowering trees, fall colors are all worth a look. See for yourself.

Mill at War Eagle in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas

Mill at War Eagle in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas

Road Trip in the Ozark Mountains

Whether you live in the Midwest or are just driving through, consider taking the time for a side trip to northwest Arkansas. You can spend a day driving through the Ozark Mountains or stay longer to see more of the sights in this area. However long or short you choose to visit, it will be time well spent. Here are five must-sees along the way:

1. Make Some Music in Downtown Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs is a fun and quirky place to visit. The hills and dales may make walking a challenge for you, so be aware of that fact. It takes a little skill to drive as well, so go slow and be ready to stop for the jaywalkers.

As a tourist destination, you can expect many delicious restaurants, bistros, coffee shops, and ice cream shops. I can attest to many. There are fine art galleries along with the more affordable souvenir shops on almost every street. Handmade jewelry and other crafts await to delight you.

Hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and cottages for every taste wait to welcome you. Book in advance to get the choice you want.

Along with the regular downtown businesses is Basin Park. This is home to various festivals throughout the year, so check the activity schedule before you go. One exhibit that is always open is the interactive Eureka Springs Music Park. You will find oversize instruments for children and adults to enjoy. I particularly like the huge wooden xylophone and the chimes. Walking under the chimes and creating your own music with a provided mallet is a unique experience.

2. Visit (or Stay!) at the Crescent Hotel

Speaking of places to stay, the Crescent Hotel of Eureka Springs is a definite must. Built in 1886, it has a storied past. Actually, a ghost-storied past! There are ghost tours of the haunted quarters along with ESP weekends, paranormal investigations, and ghost hunting events.

If spooky isn't your cup of tea, there is still something for you here. Have a drink or a pizza on the rooftop, look for an event held in the ballroom, or just spend a night or two. Choose a time when there is a special occasion of your liking, or choose a time when there is nothing planned on the grounds for a peaceful getaway. I have enjoyed every visit, whether overnight or for a few hours, for activities or laziness. You can't go wrong.

Some of the rooms have a view of The Christ of the Ozarks, reminiscent of Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Check the site for the schedule of the Great Passion Play, usually performing spring through fall, closed in winter. It is truly a professional production and the realism is fantastic. Don't worry about seating—there isn't a bad seat in the house.

3. Take in the Beauty of Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year. Pastel spring blooms, flaming fall trees, and an ice castle winter wonderland make this an important stop on your trip.

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Along with the beauty, you can discover the difficulties in the construction of this magnificent chapel. All materials were hand carried to avoid damage to the natural surroundings. Faye Jones, native son of Arkansas, was the architect of this structure, which reflects the arts and crafts style.

Sit in the beauty and reflect on life. Plan a wedding. Stroll the grounds. Plan to spend at least an hour to see this simple and yet complex masterpiece.

Stay the night in a treehouse!

Stay the night in a treehouse!

4. Stay in a Treehouse

We spoke of places to stay, and I mentioned treehouses. Yes, there are several such establishments from which to choose. Some are in Eureka Springs proper and some are a little further out. We stayed in the Big Pine at The Grand Treehouse Resort, a lovely and cozy arrangement of six cottages.

Although they were somewhat near each other, they were arranged in an arc. With the placement of the windows and balconies, we could not see another treehouse, giving us the feeling of isolation in the woods. It was a lot of fun.

If these are booked, there are other treehouse establishments to choose from. Have no fear; there is indoor plumbing, heating, and cooling for our citified comfort!

5. Stroll Through War Eagle

War Eagle is a fun place to stop. Plan to stay for a while, maybe even bring a picnic or eat at the restaurant. The mill still works and grinds many different grains. Purchase some corn flour, wheat flour, bread mix, or something else that suits your fancy. There are unique kitchen wares for yourself or to bring home to the in-laws you left behind. The mill is even generous enough to give you their recipes. Be sure to check their schedules for visiting hours.

Walk along the bridge and listen to the river below. Or walk along the river to feel the cool air from the water in the summertime. There are different festivals held throughout the year. Plan to attend one, or avoid them as your preference dictates.

It may help you to know there is War Eagle Mill, War Eagle Bridge, War Eagle Creek, and War Eagle, Arkansas. Don't be confused. It is all the same place.

Lots More to See in This Region

This little tour is the tip of the iceberg. From here you are very close to Branson, Missouri, which holds many entertainment venues and good eats. There are many lakes in both Missouri and Arkansas for boating, tubing, water skiing, and spending the day on a pontoon boat. Rivers abound for those wanting a float trip via canoe or kayak. Fishing is plentiful in both the rivers and the lakes.

Don't miss a chance to look around and see the Ozark Mountains from your own point of view. You'll be glad you did.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 The Sampsons

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