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Eureka Springs, Arkansas: A Step Back Into Victorian Times

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

The Queen Anne Mansion

The Queen Anne Mansion

Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is one of the most unique towns one could ever hope to find. The entire township is on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the northwest part of Arkansas and sitting amidst the beautiful Ozark Mountains, this town offers a refreshing step back into time.

My mother and I visited this place several years ago and only spent two nights there. We were certainly kept busy in this lovely and charming area. If we were to go back, we would undoubtedly allow many more days in which to take in more of the attractions and allow time to soak up the ambiance of this area.

The town's population is small (around 2,000, give or take), but tourism swells the numbers of people enjoying the sites at any given time.

What to See and Do in Eureka Springs

In addition to the spas and treatments (more on that below!), there are plenty of other ways to spend time in this town.

Check Out the Architecture

Victorian-style houses—from the tiniest of cabins to more massive mansions— predominate in Eureka Springs. Many of these originated before 1900, and some of them are open for tours. Most of the public buildings were rebuilt years ago using native limestone after earlier fires destroyed them.

Catch a Concert at the Bandshell

The bandshell in the town park provides a venue for musical entertainment. Much of this remains today as it was in earlier days.

Go on a Shopping Spree

There are no chain stores in this historic town. Shopping can be an adventure and a pleasure. Among the treasures to be found are more than 20 art galleries plus other unique stores.

Visit the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Since 1992, there is the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, where people can visit over 100 large cats such as lions, tigers, cougars, and leopards. Most come from situations where they were abandoned or abused. On-site are also some bears.

Eat Your Way Through Town

Regarding restaurants, one evening, we chose to dine at Cafe Luigi, which an ad stated was "Recommended by National Geographic Traveler." Delicious Italian cuisine is their specialty. We ate while seated at their outdoor patio, thoroughly enjoying the experience. Multiple choices are available for dining, accommodating every price range.

Go to a Museum

There are a significant number of museums in this town. Included among others are the following:

  • Gay Nineties Button and Doll Museum
  • Hammond Museum of Bells
  • Bible Museum near The Great Passion Play
  • Harp's Doll Museum
  • Miles Musical Museum
Harding Spring in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Originally claimed to cure blindness.

Harding Spring in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Originally claimed to cure blindness.

Take a Dip in "Curative" Spring Waters

Naturally occurring fresh mineral water springs are in Eureka Springs, and in the early days, some people attributed these waters with curative powers. As the word spread, more and more people sought these so-called cures, and industry developed. One can relax and enjoy mineral baths, sauna treatments, and massages.

The railroad could bring health seekers and vacationers to this destination, and the elegant bathhouses and hotels took care of their needs. The trolleys which were also in existence in those days moved people from one location to the next.

If I were back there right now, I would sign up for "The Works" at the Palace Hotel and Bath House. We toured the facility but did not have the time to devote to being pampered as we had more sightseeing we wanted to do. I kept the list of rates and services for the year 1995, the year of our visit. $59.00 would have purchased the following:

  • Whirlpool mineral bath in a claw-footed tub (All baths are drained and sanitized after each use)
  • Eucalyptus steam treatment in a wood barrel used at the turn of the century
  • Clay mask treatment
  • 1-hour Swedish massage given by a state-licensed therapist

Ah, doesn't that sound heavenly?

Nearby Sites of Interest

There are other sites in and around Eureka Springs that are also worth a visit.

  • Christ of the Ozarks and The Great Passion Play brings in thousands of visitors annually.
  • Thorncrown Chapel is well worth a visit! My mother and I loved the serene setting of the glass and steel enclosed building amid a wooded area.
  • We also visited the Natural Bridge, which was a subject of a Ripley's "Believe it or not" column. Pivot Rock, another one of Ripley's points of interest, is in the same area. The top of the rock is 15 times as large as the base upon which it rests.
  • Wooded settings of the beautiful Ozarks surround Eureka Springs. There are nearby lakes which offer aquatic activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing.

Places to Stay in Eureka Springs

There are a significant number of lodgings that can accommodate travelers. These vary from cute little bed and breakfast inns to motor lodges to the large, historic, and haunted Crescent Hotel, where spirits can keep one company.

The Crescent Hotel is supposedly one of the most haunted hotels in the entire United States!

My mother and I chose to stay at the Swiss Village Inn while in Eureka Springs, which is a little outside the downtown area. We were pleased with the amenities.

Trolley ticket stub enabling one to get all around town easily

Trolley ticket stub enabling one to get all around town easily

Getting Around the Town

Trolleys are available to move people through various parts of the town, and transportation is accessible from almost every lodging site and other designated areas.

One is encouraged to make use of these trolleys, which are color-coded, depending upon which area one wishes to see. They run on average about every 30 minutes and can board them at many stops throughout the town.

There are few parking spots in this town, and the streets loop around the historic buildings with several circuitous U, V, and S twists and turns. Believe it or not, there is not one perpendicular street crossing! The speed limit through town is 10 and 15 miles per hour in many places.

Considering that these buildings were constructed initially during horse and buggy days and automobiles were not yet in existence, it reminded me of some of the European villages that I have visited where the buildings and roads are more pedestrian-friendly. Cars have to cope with the more narrow spaces. You can see what driving through the town is like by viewing the video below.

Eureka Springs offers a definite step back into the time of another slower-paced era where one can be refreshed by nature, the mineral waters, pampering at the spas, and so much more.

If you only watch one video, make it this one!

Sources:

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.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are always welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2020:

Hi Wanda,

I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about what there is to do and see in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It is a delightful and scenic place!

Wanda on December 29, 2020:

Never heard of this beautiful place. What delightful step back in time.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 27, 2014:

Hi GmaGoldie,

So happy to know that you enjoyed this hub...even the information about the cat in the Crescent Court Hotel that is reputed to be haunted.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on May 16, 2014:

Peggy,

Delightful - right down to the cat! Thank you!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2014:

Hello Anil and Honey,

Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed this information and the many photos of this beautiful place.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2014:

Hi CyberShelley,

Eureka Springs would offer you that and more! I hope you do get to visit it sometime and get to bask in its unique setting. Thanks for your votes and the share.

Anil from Kerala on May 13, 2014:

Nice dear, photos are more interesting and beautiful, I like pictures and I expect more from you like this.

Shelley Watson on May 13, 2014:

Wow Peggy, what a beautiful, interesting, amazing town. Somewhere I would love to visit and bask in its tranquility and the gentility flowing from days gone by. Up, interesting, beautiful and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 26, 2012:

Hi Vicki,

I just read and enjoyed your hub about Mount Sequoyah. It looks beautiful. Will happily link your hub to this one about Eureka Springs. Thanks for your comment.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on November 26, 2012:

Good job, Peggy, on showing the uniqueness of Eureka Springs. I'm going to link this to my hub I'm about to publish on Mount Sequoyah, in Fayetteville. Sound good?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 13, 2012:

Hi Alicia,

Not only is the architecture interesting in Eureka Springs, but the topography and scenery makes it extra special. Of course most people were originally drawn there because of the healing waters of the spas, etc. I think that you would enjoy a visit there.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 13, 2012:

This is a very enjoyable hub, Peggy! I would love to visit Eureka Springs. It looks like a very interesting and photogenic place. The architecture is lovely.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 18, 2012:

Hi Vinaya,

Thanks for your comment and enjoy your trip to the USA whenever you come. Eureka Springs will undoubtedly look the same long into the future. That is part of its charm.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 18, 2012:

Hi Ruchira,

If you like small towns that have preserved much of the past, you will LOVE Eureka Springs! It is so very charming and quaint. Thanks for your comment.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on May 18, 2012:

One day I will visit your part of the world.

I enjoyed reading this hub. Your pictures are great.

Ruchira from United States on May 18, 2012:

Hi Peggy,

I have not been to this part of the country. But, would like to in the near future and would love to visit this town 'cause small cities have preserved their culture and their sanctity in many ways. Would love to get a taste of it....cheers!

Thanks for such an informative hub. loved reading about it

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 09, 2011:

Hello moonlake,

Nice that you have also visited Eureka Springs. Your family certainly lives in a beautiful part of Arkansas! Thanks for leaving a comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 09, 2011:

Hello sarovai,

Glad that you liked learning about Eureka Springs, Arkansas. People have been going to places like this for years due to the healthful waters. The great abundance of Victorian homes also makes this a visual feast for the eyes. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 09, 2011:

Hi dahoglund,

One of the things that I would have loved to indulge while in Eureka Springs was one of their baths and massages but we did not have the time to spare. If I ever return, it is on my agenda! Nice to know that you and Rose would like a place like this. It is truly quaint, scenic and has much to offer tourists as well as the towns-people living there. Thanks for your comment and votes.

moonlake from America on October 09, 2011:

I've been there and it is pretty. I have family in North West Arkansas. Enjoyed your hub.

sarovai on October 09, 2011:

Mineral springs has the curative medicines. Because naturally it contains sulphur, which is mostly used as medicine , either in one or other form. Thank u for sharing about the Eureka springs, Arkansas.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on October 09, 2011:

This is my kind of place to visit. Love things like band concerts in the park and the band shells. Museums look interesting. Rose would take up residence in a doll museum, I think.We were in the Ozarks just before the Clinton administration as I was supposed to be transferred to Huntsville,AL. We had car trouble going to Huntsville and turned back toward home but drove through the Ozarks. The Huntsville thing was cancelled by Clinton.

The Passion Play reminds me of a friend who went to see one in the Black Hills. He came back complaining that it was some sort of religious thing.Not a church going type.

voted up and across,except for funny.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 30, 2010:

Hello Art 4 Life,

You are fortunate to live about 35 minutes away from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. What a beautiful part of the country...muchless unique town. As you say, Eureka Springs is a "truly magical place..." Thanks for the visit and comment from someone who knows about this place intimately.

Art 4 Life from in the middle of nowhere.... on March 30, 2010:

I live about 35 minutes away from Eureka Springs, it's one of my favorite places to go...I love to sit in the park and people watch...you described it beautifully...it is a truly magical place...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 29, 2009:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for checking out my hub about Eureka Springs and leaving a comment. It truly is a special place.

Mike Lickteig from Lawrence KS USA on December 29, 2009:

I was briefly there once. It is indeed a beautiful place, and I have some nice photographs from my time there. Thanks for posting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 04, 2009:

Hi Tom,

Glad you liked this one, Tom. Will look forward to reading more of yours. Thanks for leaving a comment.

tomdhum from memphis tn on July 04, 2009:

Glad that you looked at my hub. THANKS! The hub on Eureka Springs Arkansas is great. LOL Tom

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 23, 2009:

Hello Hammerj,

We all cannot live in such a place...wouldn't be room for all of us, alas! However...nice to know that they exist and that we can visit them in person or with photos. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Hammerj from Cebu City on June 23, 2009:

Wow this is wonderful..i really like it...how i wish to have a place like this...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2009:

Hi frogyfish,

My mother and I have always enjoyed each other's company when on vacation together. She would no longer be able to do all that walking so am happy that we did it while she could. We have our memories!

Thanks for the comment and hope you get to go back to Eureka Springs as you wish. I would enjoy a re-visit as well.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on June 19, 2009:

I was there briefly a long time ago and have always wanted to go back. You have tempted me well! Beautiful scenery, homes, and your mom looks like a fun vacationer too!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 19, 2009:

Hi kiwi91,

I am happy to let fellow hubbers know if links are not functioning and would hope they do the same for me.

As to Arkansas, we were traveling to meet a friend and used this as an excuse to see what we could while passing through the state. We were really surprised at the great beauty of the State of Arkansas. So.....just sharing some insights with the rest of you who may not know of these sights and things to experience while there. Our experiences were nothing more than an introduction as to the wonders of the state and it's offerings.

kiwi91 from USA on June 19, 2009:

I would never have thought of Arkansas much of a travel destination, but between the Hot Springs and interesting small towns like these, I'd definitely reconsider. Great photos that you've added to the hub, they really add to it.

(BTW, thanks for letting me know about the disabled Youtube video, I just changed it).

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 16, 2009:

Hi Jeff,

Maybe this will be the encouragement you need! Thanks for leaving a comment.

Jeffrey Penn May from St. Louis on June 16, 2009:

Thanks for showing me an area I've "been meaning to visit" for about thiry years... still haven't. I've been nearly everywhere in the Missouri Ozarks, and some in Arkansas, but not the hot springs. Maybe sometime...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 14, 2009:

Hi James, Happy to be able to introduce Eureka Springs to you. We also liked Hot Springs. Your home must really be something!!! Would be fun to live in something that historic. Thanks for your comment.

James A Watkins from Chicago on June 13, 2009:

WOW! What a unique place! I spent a few days in Hot Springs recently—my first ever visit there—and I was so enthralled I seriously thought about moving there. My next trip to Arkansas will definitely include Eureka Springs. I live in a Victorian house—the oldest house in Orlando, built in 1882. Thank you for this fine visit.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2009:

Hi Rochelle, Aren't road trips fun! We made several road trips with my parents and I have memories...but in every case, I would love to re-visit as an adult. Would undoubtedly see things in a different light. Your memories of Eureka Springs are unique and memorable in their own way. Next time I look at a salad with loads of cherry tomatoes, I'll be thinking of you. LOL

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on June 13, 2009:

I visited Eureka Springs in 1960- I was on a cross-country road trip with my parents and we stopped to visit an old neighbor who had a motel and antique shop there.

I really don't remember the town, but we did stop at a lovely Catholic church in the woods, and we ate at a resturant that looked like a log cabin. I remember the salad. It was piled so high with cherry tomatoes that it looked like a dessert. Thanks for all of the photos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2009:

Hi JamaGenee,

OK Pete.....if you are reading....here is another confirmation for you regarding Eureka Springs being worth a visit. Thanks JamaGenee!

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on June 13, 2009:

Pete Maida - Eureka Springs is definitely *not* a tourist trap!

Peggy, I only wish my daughter and I could've stayed longer. Charming!  We were there because a "friend" who grew up in the Ozarks told Ol' Flatlander here it was the shortest route to Daughter's college in Conway (AR).  For a mountain goat maybe...  But if I ever go there again, I'll never leave.  Did I mention how charming it is???  Definitely a trip back in time!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2009:

Hi Lee Ann,

Am sure you could also tell Pete that Eureka Springs is DEFINITELY worth a visit. We loved it and would like to go back someday if our travels ever take us to that part of the country again. Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2009:

Hi Pete,

This one is not a typical tourist trap. Really unusual and as stated, no chain stores. Oh sure........you'd be able to buy Eureka Springs t-shirts and postcards in some shops, but for the most part, the buildings that are open offer unique things, many handmade by artisans in the area, for example.

My mother and I stuck to seeing the more natural things.......toured the town seeing the buildings with the most unusual streets.....via the trolley.......getting on and off at will. We also went out into the adjacent countryside looking at Thorncrown Chapel and Natural Bridge and Pivot Rock. The natural surroundings are spectacular!

I know what you mean about most places that really ARE tourist traps being over-run with stores that sell cheap items indistinguishable from every other place of interest.

This one differs!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2009:

Hi Ethel,

I believe they have more Victorian houses in Eureka Springs than anyplace else...all in one limited location. You would love it there since you like seeing this type of housing. Yes........I thought the title fit..........a step back in time. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2009:

Hi Melody,

Glad you liked this.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2009:

Hello kiran, Isn't traveling via the Internet fun? Like you, I have definitely found places that I would like to visit in other parts of the world. If you come this direction, you will either be on a year + long journey...or have some serious decisions to make as to which part of the country to visit. Our National Parks alone would keep you busy for a long time.

Lee Ann Murphy from Neosho on June 13, 2009:

Great article on one of my favorite places!

Pete Maida on June 13, 2009:

The tourist traps have the same common theme. They have some kind of special attraction surrounded by streets of tourist shops. I've seen them in Blowing Rock, NC, Red Ridge, PA, and Carmel, CA and after you get beyond the attraction it is hard to tell them apart.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 13, 2009:

I love those Victorian American houses, This looks such a charming place. A step back in time. What an unusual place and perfect for a great hub

Melody Lagrimas from Philippines on June 13, 2009:

Another great adventure, Peggy, thanks a lot.

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on June 12, 2009:

Lovely place, i am dying to visit all those places you write about....Thanks a lot for all these interesting and useful information :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 12, 2009:

Hi Candie, One could be a perpetual traveler and not see everything that there is to see. Glad that you liked this "tour" and thanks for the comment.

Candie V from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure! on June 12, 2009:

This is a beautiful town!! There are way too many places I've never been in this country and maybe someday I'll get to a few of them, this being one! Thank you for taking us on a tour!