Have you ever flipped through the pages of a travel magazine and wished you were someplace beautiful? It’s time to stop dreaming about travel, and to start doing. If you’re looking for a picture perfect place to go, surround yourself in the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains. America’s Ozarks cover much of the southern half of Missouri and a large portion of northwestern and north central Arkansas. Portions of the dissected plateau also stretch into parts of Oklahoma and Kansas. Dramatic mountains, rich deciduous forests, plush green meadows, fresh lakes, streams, and bubbling springs invite people to witness wilderness and a diversity of awe-inspiring landscapes.
Historic Downtown Eureka Springs
The city of Eureka Springs, nestled in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, is a top visitors’ destination. The delightful Victorian town is known for having great shops, restaurants and hotels. Artists and art lovers discover pleasure in visiting, owing to the city’s many galleries, studios and special events held throughout the year. Theatre, dance and Opera in the Ozarks reflect the thriving creativity of residents of the historic town. While visiting, stroll the town trails and enjoy blocks of Victorian architecture, lending charm to the mountainside location. Observe castle-like homes with towers, turrets and unique decorative trims. Hop on a narrated Tram Tour to gain knowledge of the city’s history. The entire downtown of Eureka Springs was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and became “Nationally Significant” in 2004. It was honored as one ofAmerica’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Visit www.eurekasprings.com to sign up for a free vacation guide.
This eco-tourist location is ideal for active people. Hiking, biking, birding, swimming, and boating are a few of the fun outdoor activities which annually attract visitors to the region. Boasting over 60 natural springs, three lakes and over 1,800-acres of city park land, Eureka Springs is engulfed by beauty and offers an abundance of Ozark outdoor adventures. There are many visitor-worthy destinations and great places to stay.
- The Crescent Hotel – This historic 1886 hotel has a reputation for being “haunted.” In fact, it was featured on the TV show Ghost Hunters. The hotel, haunted or not, has an undeniably interesting history. During the late 19th century, wealthy guests flocked to the hotel. During their stay, guests were free to stroll the grounds, dine in elegance, dance, and enjoy Eureka Springs’ mineral spas. When the popularity of mineral baths declined, the hotel was taken over by a man named Norman Baker. He declared it his “Castle in the Air.” This pseudo-doctor enticed ailing folks to come for treatment by promoting a false “cancer cure.” In 1939, Baker was indicted for mail fraud, but was released after serving only four years. It is suggested by some that his “patients” still roam the halls in the form of ghosts, leading some to claim the hotel haunted. Today, it is a widely admired landmark hotel which serves as a “symbol of hospitality” for the State of Arkansas and the region. The hotel boasts 76-rooms and includes luxury suites and cottages. To book your stay, visit crescent-hotel.com
- Thorncrown Chapel – Nestled in the natural landscape of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a breathtaking chapel designed by E. Fay Jones. It is constructed in the Prairie School style of architecture popularized by Jones’ teacher, Frank Lloyd Wright. The project was commissioned by Jim Reed, a retired schoolteacher who wished to dedicate the serene environment for reflection and worship. The construction began in 1979. Financial setbacks occurred halfway through the project’s completion. Reed got on his knees and prayed. His prayers were answered. The chapel was opened to the public in 1980. It rests on native flagstones and is constructed of wood. The addition of 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass adds open-air appeal to the enclosed structure. The award-winning chapel is named one of the Top Five Buildings of the 20th century. Despite its “young” age, it listed on the National Register of Historic Places, proving that the structure bears “exceptional” significance. Come for Sunday services at this beloved wedding site. Witness the soaring height of the chapel and discover a connection to God and nature. Check the website for visitor information. Visit www.thorncrown.com
- The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs is called “America’s #1 Attended Outdoor Drama” and relives The Greatest Story Ever Told. The play is staged in an outdoor amphitheater and features special lighting, sound effects, live animals and a cast of 170 Biblically costumed actors who recreate Jesus Christ’s last days on earth. This long-time Christian attraction began in 1968. See the giant statue tower of Christ of the Ozarks, on the grounds of the Great Passion Play. Watch the Easter performances from May 1 to October 31. For ticket information, visit greatpassionplay.com
- Onyx Cave is small cave located six miles East of Eureka Springs. It has been a tourist attraction since 1893, making it the oldest show cave in Arkansas. While the cave has experienced some damage throughout the years, underground intrigue still exists. Take a self-guided 30-minute tour of the cave. Wear radio headphones as you travel along a non-strenuous trail through the cave to observe fascinating formations of stalactites and stalagmites. The cave maintains a constant temperature of 57˚F, a pleasant surprise in summer heat. Upon completion, browse the gift-shop. For pricing and restrictions visit onyxcaveeurekasprings.com
- The Historic Springs of Eureka Springs – Long before tourists, over 62 springs flowed from the hillside of the Ozarks to Eureka Springs. It enabled development of the community. Mineral waters were believed to have curative properties and visitors arrived to drink the pure water and to soak in the spas. Today, more than a dozen springs have been restored. While folks can no longer drink from them, they are fun to see. Basin Spring is located in a small park in the heart of town. Crescent Spring is covered by a Victorian Gazebo. The springs are scattered but worth visiting as they serve to remind us of the town’s important history. Look for small signs directing visitors to these historical spring locations.
- Beaver Lake – This man-made reservoir is formed by a dam across the White River, resulting in 487 miles of natural shoreline featuring towering limestone bluffs, natural caves, trees, flowers and wildlife. There are recreational areas, picnic sites, swimming beaches, campsites and a limited number of motels and resorts. The lake is famous for hosting fishing tournaments and the lake attracts over 3-million visitors annually.
- Winterwood Lakeside Cottage – Enjoy quiet mountainside lodging options just minutes away from Eureka Springs. It is part of a private estate along the pristine shores of Beaver Lake on 85 acres of woods. Discover tranquility and serenity in this lakeside location, showcasing panoramic views of Beaver Lake and the Ozark Mountains. Built in 1995, Winterwood Lakeside Cottage features a soaring open truss ceiling, wooden plank walls, French doors, stone flooring and other special features which lend to its charm. Relax on the lakefront veranda or enjoy mountain or lake activities. Be sure to watch for eagles in this secluded location. For availability, pricing and to learn more about the accommodations, visit winterwoodlakesidecottage.com