If ever there was more truth in the saying that big things come in small packages, the Victorian resort village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas is undeniable proof. This is a vacation destination that delivers something breathtakingly special for everyone. The words “I’ve found it!” is probably uttered from the mouths of the more than 1 million like-minded tourists who visit “Little Switzerland of America” each year for a day trip, family vacation, business meeting, wedding, family reunion, or honeymoon. Proudly selected as one of America’s Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Eureka Springs offers not-to-be-missed big and small attractions. The beauty and grandeur of this city is found in the small shops, art galleries, fine dining, outdoor activities, ghost tours, festivals, and luxurious spas and inns. We’ve compiled a list of some must-see places and activities that will awaken all of your senses when you visit this historical gem in the heart of the Ozark Mountains.
What to Do:
Visitor’s young and old alike may never look at a house cat the same way again after they visit the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Center. Home to abused, abandoned, and neglected “big cats,” this refuge provides fun, educational information on the physiology of big cats. Animal lovers will want to spend all day admiring these beautiful creatures.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to behold the beauty of nature, look no further than the Thorncrown Chapel. Designed by noted architect, E. Fay Jones, this forty-eight-foot tall wood structure with 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass, is located in the woods about 3 miles from Eureka. This serene architectural delight, included in Budget Travel’s “12 Most Beautiful Churches in America,” will take your breath away.
Head to the Blue Spring Heritage Center, where you can view prehistoric artifacts that date back 8,000 years. It is one of the largest natural springs in the Ozark Mountains sending 83 million gallons of water each day into a trout-filled lagoon. More than 500 feet deep and an important stopping point on the Cherokee Trail of Tears, visitors can explore the rich history surrounding this scenic site.
Pivot Rock Park is a notable and unique landmark attraction. This natural rock formation has been a tourist attraction for more than 100 years. The park features paved pathways winding through rock formations and the beautiful mountain scenery of the Ozarks. Featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not and photographed by generations of visitors, it is about twice the height of an average person and looks like “a top balanced on its pointed end.” After the kids see the full-size tropical plants and trees growing from natural ground soil on the first floor of Quigley’s Castle, you’ll never be able to tell them not to bring dirt into the house! The dream home of Elise Quigley, an Italian immigrant with a green thumb, this castle features lush perennial gardens and lovely paths, ideal for holding hands and strolling with your true love. Children will be spellbound when they see the spectacular underground formations in Onyx Cave Park. Self-guided tours allow visitors to explore these caverns and learn about chambers and rock formations.
Where to Stay:
There’s a lot to see and discover in Eureka Springs, and because there are no traffic lights along the five-mile long loop of winding streets, there is nothing to stop you! Learn about the history of the incredible Victorian architecture and arts on a walking tour, go shopping, and enjoy some down home southern cooking. Then relax and recharge after a full day of activities in the comfort of a Eureka Springs inn such as Arsenic and Old Lace B&B. This elegant estate property features original artwork, antiques, and crystal chandeliers that adorn the rooms. Choose from five luxury suites with stunning views of gardens and hills. Turn up the romance with whirlpools and luxury spa showers. The massive windows are perfect for watching the amazing fall foliage color shows during peak season (October and early November) while you enjoy gourmet breakfast in bed in the morning. The peaceful views of the Arkansas hills are best viewed from the large wrap-around veranda, and are also an ideal location for intimate wedding celebrations.
After a day of sightseeing, put your feet up on the porch at 11 Singleton House B&B. At this whimsical B&B, prepare to take a trip down memory lane where you will receive a wealth of local knowledge from your hostess, Barb, Eureka’s oldest operating innkeeper. You will learn about how Singleton Street is the only street in Eureka still retaining only original Victorian houses. Choose from one of five cottages available, many with their own private entrance. The lovely garden and pretty outside seating is perfect for reading a good book. You can walk one block to Ermillo’s Restaurant, and enjoy a delicious pasta dinner. Avid shoppers will enjoy the downtown shops, spas, galleries and cafes, which are one scenic block away. Before returning to the inn, admire the beautifully restored Victorian homes as you stroll and star gaze.
Who said elves are only around during the holidays? When you stay at Cliff Cottage Inn – Luxury B&B Suites and Historic Cottages a little “elf” (innkeeper Sandra) will set up any additional extras you might consider for your fun-filled getaway (canoeing on the White River, soaring through an Ozark mountain forest with a 2-hour zip line tour, or enjoying a peaceful horseback ride). Upon your return to the inn (no driving necessary since you are already located in the center of the village) enjoy your lovingly restored historic cottage that has private entrances and spacious Jacuzzi suites. Then explore the age-old cave behind the cottage, which Innkeeper Sandra has converted into a wine cave. Enjoy a glass of wine in your private outdoor hot tub tucked in the woods. Guests might arrive tired and stressed, (a hot stone massage at Healthworks Massage and Reflexology Center will cure those ailments) but you will definitely leave with your spirits revived, heart warmed, belly full, and soul nourished from the overflowing Ozark hospitality.