We have visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas many times over the years, and each trip we have had an enjoyable time. This laid-back community is nestled in the Ozark Mountains, which offers an interesting terrain to explore. This was our first time to see the town through the eyes of travel bloggers. What we found was still a relaxed and romantic setting, which is perfect for a quick couples getaway.
Rolling into Town
Our visit to Eureka Springs occurred in September, and coincided with our wedding anniversary. The weather was perfect for a visit to this city of artists. We had left Kansas City early in the morning, so that we could enjoy a more scenic route. As we approached the city on Highway 23 from the north, we soon found our path weaving through the rising hills. Here and there we saw signs of the color changes that Fall brings to the leaves, and an overcast sky kept the temperature in check. Before long, we found ourselves at the entrance to the city limits.
A Big Draw
Eureka Springs is host to a wide variety of classic car, motorcycles, and specialty vehicle rallies. It seems like whatever season we visit there is some group descending on the town. A main draw are the winding roads that cross over, around, and through the hills surrounding the region. Add to this the quaint and inviting residents, and you have the perfect atmosphere for groups. This trip it was the Slingshot® owners sporting around town in their three-wheeled vehicles. These rallies inflate the number of visitors to the town, and bring some extra eye candy for us to see while strolling around.
Main Street Dining
For us the town can be split into three main areas. The first is Main Street, which runs fairly north and south. This is one of the original streets, which used to be called Mud Street before it was elevated. One of the many springs in the area runs along this path, and used to flood the area. Once the street was raised it created a venue for lots of shops and dining establishments. We took time to sample some of the fare at three of the restaurants in this section.
Aquarius Taqueria was originally on our schedule for a dinner, but was moved to more of a Happy Hour stop for timing. This restaurant offers some of the best views of the main drag on their raised balcony. We sat there chomping on guacamole and chips, and washing them down with some unique margaritas. All the while, we watched the three-wheelers passing by.
Just up the street a bit, and owned by the same family, we found Local Flavor Cafe. In a town filled with artists, this place obviously has some in the kitchen. The food is creative and extremely fresh. Even though it is right on Main Street, it is easy to pass by its entrance. Bonus points for having such a delightful outdoor dining courtyard.
Speaking of artistic endeavors, at Mud Street Annex, owner Bobbie Foster has created one of the newest hot-spots in town. An eclectic mixture of modern and nostalgic blend into an inviting atmosphere. Be sure to check out the panel in the floorboards that allows guests to see the original spring running twenty feet below the surface. (Read more about Mud Street here>)
Scaling Spring Street
Eureka Springs is criss-crossed with narrow winding streets. This, combined with the steep hills, creates an unusual situation. Many of the buildings, because of this combination, can have ground level entrances on multiple floors. There is one building that actually has this on five different floors. Visitors to this quaint town will certainly get their exercise just climbing the stairs and hills. From Main Street the prime road up the hillside is Spring Street, which is flanked with interesting retail shops, cafes, and dessert spots. This is what we consider the second section of the city, and we spend a considerable amount of time here.
Every visit to Eureka Springs includes at least one trip up and down Spring Street. We love popping into the boutique shops to investigate all the unique items they hold. This is also where we find the little extras that keep us going between meals. With all the climbing, we figured we were burning extra calories. During our visit, we discovered a small eatery that we had never tried. Nibbles Eatery ended up being a shockingly big surprise, and offered up our favorite breakfast of the trip.
Up On The Ridge
The third area section is the south end, which lies on a ridge above the town. The area is serviced by Highway 62, which runs east to Berryville, and west to Rogers. This area has seen the largest growth over the past couple of decades, mostly because the old section of town has limited room to expand. Lots of shops and restaurants have popped up to service the overflow, as well as those just passing across the state.
Cafe Amore had a sign outside stating they served the “Best Pizza in the Galaxy”. This claim certainly captured our attention, so we stopped in to check it out. Being pizza lovers, we were quite pleased to find a delicious pie while away from home. They even have some creative desserts on their menu.
One of our first breakfast was at Filling Station Restaurant. We were a little out of sorts that morning, and ended up not getting what we needed for an article. It was the place we first spotted one of the unusual Slingshot® vehicles, which was designed like the bat-mobile. Perhaps that is the excuse I can use for my lack of concentration. While the food isn’t fancy, it’s good, filling, and reasonably priced.
What’s There To Do In This Town?
When we first started visiting Eureka Springs, we spent most of our time just visiting the shops. Back in those days I was not as good at doing my research, and the internet was not as robust for discovery. This trip we found an abundance of activities to occupy our time. Here are a few of the best.
At the 1886 Crescent Hotel we discovered why this town is billed as one of the most haunted in the country. Taking the Ghost Tour was definitely interesting, even if we didn’t see any spirits. We still enjoyed all of the historical stories about the building and the area. It was a great way to learn more about this neck of the woods.
Looking for an evening filled with belly laughs and good music? We don’t usually attend many variety shows, but we are glad we chose this one. Mike Nichols and the gang at Ozark Mountain Hoedown do a fantastic job at keeping the audience engaged and entertained. The show runs for quite some time, but they do offer an intermission to stretch your legs.
The Blue Spring Heritage Center was a last minute addition to our itinerary, which was referred by a shop owner in town. We are glad we listened, because we found it to be a peaceful visit during a day of activity. It was nice to stroll around the landscaped park-like setting, and enjoy the scenery. The constantly flowing water added a calming soundtrack to our visit.
We have limited experience riding the rails, so a chance to have a luncheon on one was a must-do for us. The Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway offers a few options, which include with or without the meal. We aren’t sure what it was like in the heyday of rail travel, but we are guessing it was something like this trip. It was certainly the most unique lunch we experienced.
Artistry Abounds In Eureka Springs
As I stated earlier, Eureka Springs is a town filled with artists. Signs of their creativity are apparent wherever you wander. The creative names they have given their shops hint at the goodies to be found within. Upon our arrival, we came upon a musical park located near the northern entrance to town. We were ready for some time out of the car, so we wandered around the park playing with the various percussion instruments we found. It was quite an entertaining session for us. (Not sure about the people in the car nearby!) All around town we found interesting artistic touches. Some were old advertisements that still adorn the sides of the brick buildings from days ago. Add to this the unique sculptures, statues, and paintings that dot the landscape, and we found the walks full of intrigue. When you visit be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these little extras that seem to be found in the most unexpected locations.
Lodging In Style
We were fortunate to have the chance to check out a couple of the lodging options during our visit. Both offered an enjoyable stay, but were unique in their own ways. Eureka Springs is a town that sees a lot of couples visiting, so many of the lodging locations offer stays designed with this in mind.
In the past we have stayed in cabins, which can be found inside and outside of the city limits. This visit gave us a chance to take it to a new level when we stayed at the Treehouse Cottages. These elevated, airy roosts are a perfect couples destination. It made us feel like we were the only people in the woods during our stay.
Our other stay was at the Grand Central Hotel, which is located on Main Street. Their location offers easy access to the shops and restaurants downtown. Of course, you don’t have to leave the hotel to get a meal, since one of the finest restaurants in town is on the premises.
Living On The Edge
Not all of the things to do are located in the main part of town. A drive out to the edge offers some other interesting places to visit. The Thorncrown Chapel is probably one of the most photographed locations in the region, and for good reason. It is an architectural masterpiece that can be viewed from inside and out. It’s a short drive west on Highway 62, and the road is filled with beautiful scenery, as well. On the way there, you will pass by the 100′ Observation Tower, which sits behind the Razorback Gift Shop. (A really cool place to spend some time perusing.) Be sure to get change for the admission ($1 each), and take your time on the climb. The views from the top are AMAZING!
Whenever we visit Eureka Springs, we always make the side trip out to Inspiration Point. It’s a little farther west on Highway 62, but well worth the short time it takes to traverse the winding road. This place offers great views of the countryside from high up on the ridge. Be sure to bring a camera for the great selfie opportunity. It just might become your favorite memory from your visit to the area. So tell us what we missed in our roundup of Eureka Springs stops. We’d love to start our list for our next visit. Thanks!