Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs will haunt you. That’s a good thing

By Rose Hansen

Famed for topsy-turvy streets and paradisical springs, scenic Eureka Springs is the can’t-miss destination of the Ozark Mountains.

The Cat House Bar.
The Cat House Bar.

It’s known for its quirks—and things can get downright spooky if that’s what you seek. But it’s also a fun getaway for great food, rowdy bars, and beautiful scenery.

The newly remodeled Carroll County Airport (4M1) is closest to the action. Call ahead to reserve one of two crew cars for the weekend. From there, it’s just a 20-minute drive from the ramp to the bustling downtown.

Start your day with a caffeine hit. Find the picture-perfect rainbow staircase on Main Street. Nearby, you’ll find the bright blue façade of Eureka Springs Coffee House. After a latte, hit the shops. The variety will keep you busy until happy hour. Don’t miss the dizzying hot sauce selection at the Silly Chile, where the spiced popcorn alone merits a stop. At the Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium in the Flatiron Building, stock up on locally made scrubs, soaps, and lotions. To see what else the area offers, take the car to Blue Spring Heritage Center, Thorncrown Chapel, and Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

Eureka Springs

The Downtown New Orleans Hotel illustrates the historic character typical of Eureka Springs. Iconic Grotto Spring. Spring Street shops. Harding Spring.

When it comes to accommodations, no trip here is complete without seeing the famous 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa and its lovely gardens. It’s often called the most haunted hotel in the United States. Prefer a ghost-free slumber? Pick any other historic hotel, bed and breakfast, or vacation rental—from charming Victorians to quirky Spring Street condos.

Happy hour starts early in Eureka Springs. The Cathouse Lounge draws colorful mixed crowds, from leather-clad motorcyclists to banjo-strumming hippies. Other famous watering holes include the Rowdy Beaver Restaurant and Tavern and the Balcony Bar at the Basin Park Hotel, which offers panoramic views. When it comes to dining, the Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave ranks top tier. Dinner reservations are a must on weekends. For more casual fare, Local Flavor Cafe’s sprawling deck provides terrific people-watching, especially as the evening progresses.

Night owls will delight in the city’s many ghost tours, especially those at the Crescent Hotel and its sister property, Basin Park.

But perhaps the most haunting experience this town offers are the many natural springs for which the town is named. Credited with medicinal healing powers, they’ve drawn tourists by the thousands since the city’s founding in 1879. Today, they’re marked by delightful public parks. Surrounded by cascading vines and lush foliage, they do, indeed, feel healing. And they’re sights you’ll remember long after leaving.

Rose Hansen is a pilot living in Arizona.

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