Perched high in the heart of the Ozarks in northwest Arkansas, Eureka Springs is a storybook town with its up and down steep, winding streets and walkways. The city, established in 1879, is built around the natural springs from which it takes its name. The waters have long been noted for their alleged healing powers. Victorian homes, hotels, galleries, boutiques and restaurants seem to cling to the mountainside. The downtown area is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Year-round festivals and events include concerts and operas, car shows, and art and antique festivals. For the more adventurous, abundant hiking and biking trails are nearby. Accommodations range from historic hotels, unique bed and breakfast lodgings and cabins with dramatic nature views to—again for the more adventurous—cave dwellings and tree houses. Eureka Springs is a perfect getaway for all tastes.
Some of the highlights are:
The Crescent Hotel
The Crescent hotel is a mountaintop hotel constructed by Irish stone masons in 1886. It is surrounded by acres of gardens and walking trails. The hotel has a long and distinctive history. At one time it was a hospital specializing in experimental cures, using the curative waters, for cancer. It once housed a morgue. A number of deaths occurred at the hotel through the years. The reputedly haunted hotel offers ghost tours, and—on various TV shows on the paranormal—is described as spiritually active.
The only spirits we saw during our short stay were served in glasses. We enjoyed lunch in the Skybar which serves sumptuous gourmet pizza. It has sweeping views on the outside deck of Eureka Springs and the Ozark mountains. The lobby and common areas of the hotel are well restored and have a vintage flair.
This striking, yet intimate wood and glass chapel is bounded by beautiful rock formations and a lush forest of trees. It has over 6,000 square feet of glass and 425 windows. The structure was designed by Arkansas native E. Fay Jones, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright’s work inspired Jones to become an architect. The chapel was completed in 1980 and added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1990 Jones received architecture’s highest honor, the AIA Gold medal. The chapel remains his most significant achievement.
Pivot Rock Park
Definitely a Roadside America sort of attraction, this century old diversion offers a pleasant break from driving and is downright beautiful with the changing leaves of autumn. There is a charge to take the short hike down to the bridge. Several other interesting formations can be seen along the path. Antique farm equipment sits in the parking area.
Christ of the Ozarks
A striking sight in the mountains overlooking Eureka Springs is this 67-foot statue of Christ with outstretched arms. Christ of the Ozarks is located on the grounds of The Great Passion Play, a religious park. It is one of the most visited attractions in the Ozarks. The statue faces west and is often luminous in the rosy light of sunset. It has welcomed visitors since 1966.
The Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway
The Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway offers 4½ mile tours starting on Saturdays in April and from May through October throughout the week. Onboard, you can enjoy lunch or dinner, and spend an hour and a half enjoying the scenery. There is also an excursion train available without the meal service. The 1940-era diesel locomotive captures an earlier age of train travel. Steam locomotive exhibits are on view at the station. The dining car has a fabulous 1920s vibe.
As mentioned earlier there are varied choices for accommodations in the Eureka Springs area. We opted for a cozy cabin overlooking the White River and Inspiration Point (see a room a view Eureka Springs for a peaceful, romantic cabin with an awesome a view of the river and Ozark mountains).
We last visited Eureka Springs during the off-season in November. Parking was no problem then but may be limited during the summer. Many streets are narrow, and we were glad that we encountered little street traffic.