I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
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
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.
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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.
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!
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