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Eureka means “I found it” and that’s just what you’ll say when you visit this quirky little town in Northwest Arkansas. It may have a population of just 2,000, but don’t tell that to the more than 750,000 annual visitors who come to this Ozarks mecca to honeymoon, hike the nature trails or stay in the “most haunted hotel in America.” There are no stop lights in the town and most of the streets don’t quite match up. But in this historic village, where the entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you’ll find restored Victorian shops, tree houses, great eateries and lots of history.

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Take a tram
A great place to start a Eureka vacation is on Joe Grunnel’s 90-minute Tram Tour, which meanders through the beautiful city streets and brings you up close and personal to the Crescent Hotel and Grotto Spring (one of several springs for which the town earned its name).

Photo courtesy of the Crescent Hotel

Stay at the most haunted hotel in America
Situated on a palatial estate is the Crescent Hotel, which opened in 1886. This mountain-top spa resort offers 76 boutique hotel rooms, as well as the New Moon Spa. Be sure to take in the awesome views from the 4th floor observation terrace and go for a stroll through the Victorian gardens. But the hotel’s real draw is that it’s reportedly haunted and has been featured on “Ghost Hunters” and other paranormal shows. If you dare, learn about some of the guests who “checked out,” via the nightly ghost tours.

Alternatively, stay at the Basin Park Hotel in historic downtown, which is built into the side of a mountain, so that every floor is technically a ground floor. Recommended is the “Spirits of the Basin Tour,” which gives you access to the rooftop of the hotel and a chance to view the underground cave where bootleg liquor was stored. Prepare for a very “spirited” evening. You’re also at the perfect spot for the city’s vibrant nightlife and concerts in the park.

A 65-foot statue overlooks the Ozarks | Photo courtesy of Arkansas Dept of Parks and Tourism

Meet the Christ of the Ozarks
You can’t miss this larger-than-life statue that sits atop a sprawling evangelical campus. Here, the largest Passion Play in the country tells the story of Christ’s last days on earth, performed in an open-air 4,100 seat auditorium, complete with a cast of 150, live animals and special lighting/sound effects. While on campus, see the Bible Museum with thousands of Bibles—from a Genesis scroll on deerskin to the Gideon Bible.

Serene Thorncrown Chapel | Photo courtesy of Arkansas Dept of Parks and Tourism

Visit Thorncrown Chapel
Don’t miss Thorncrown Chapel, created by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé and world renowned architect, E. Fay Jones. Constructed of glass, this exquisite chapel is considered one of the most beautiful and inspiring sanctuaries in the world.

The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge | Photo courtesy of Arkansas Dept of Parks and Tourism

Have a big day with some big cats
Stretching 450 acres and including more than 100 exotic cats, lions, tigers and bears, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is the largest big cat sanctuary in North America. Tour the park and see how this non-profit organization provides a refuge for abandoned, abused and neglected “big cats.” Say yes to sleeping overnight in a tent and hearing the roars of the jungle!

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Bentonville’s Wal-Mart Museum | Photo courtesy of Arkansas Dept of Parks and Tourism

Visit Crystal Bridges
About an hour’s drive from Eureka Springs lies Bentonville, the birthplace of Wal-Mart. Bentonville has a traditional town square that looks like something out of “Back to the Future.” Along the square is the Wal-Mart Museum which showcases the rags-to-riches story of Wal-Mart and its founder, Sam Walton. Like pretty much everything else, there’s no admission charge for the museum. Enjoy an ice cream treat from the Spark Café Soda Fountain and buy a souvenir from days gone at the Walton’s 5&10.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art | Photo courtesy of Arkansas Dept of Parks and Tourism

Meanwhile, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is the Walton family’s gift to America. With exquisite design by Moshe Safdi, the museum itself is a work of art. Inside, Crystal Bridges houses a permanent collection of American Art masterworks from the Colonial era to contemporary times. The museum caters to families with special programs, including an Experience Art Studio and free family tours. Admission is always free.

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Mira Temkin

Mira Temkin

Lover of lore with a thirst for adventure, Mira has her bags packed -- ready to go in a flash. She writes with spirited soul about destinations, hotels and spas.

4 thoughts on “6 things you must do in Eureka Springs”

  1. This article makes me want to make the trip to Eureka Springs! Great information. I need to see this place for myself!

  2. First visit the Eureka Springs Historical Museum to learn about the past and present of this charming town. Exhibits showing the past and present, information and directions from volunteer greeters. Email or download the free app for more information.

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