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    Eureka Springs: the personality of an Arkansas pearl

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    We're leaving the midwest and crossing the southern Missouri border. In our minds the memory of the musical performances and dozens of attractions of Branson (the local capital of entertainment), of the evocative arch of St. Louis (the Gateway Arch - gateway to the west), of the countless fountains are vivid. of Kansas City, of the village of Marceline which hosts the Walt Disney Hometown Museum where we all return a little bit children and of a lot of nature in the form of hills and wooded areas that alternate with rural areas, farms, pastures, villages and some cities.

    In front of us we have one of the thousand faces of this America that we like so much and that we want to know everything, a little at a time. We are in the hilly area of Ozark mountains which also develops in the neighboring area Arkansas (The Natural State) where we are moving, going a little further south, for our second week in the States. This vast natural area consisting mainly of rural villages and small towns is in fact shared by the two states.


    • A bit of history
    • What to see in Eureka Springs
      • Christ of the Ozarks, Thorncrown Chapel and other religious structures
      • Natural attractions
    • Tour in Eureka Springs
    • Events in the city
    • Where to eat
    • Where to sleep in Eureka Springs
    • Where is it and how to reach Eureka Springs

    A bit of history

    While we were defining the itinerary from home (travel preparation is one of the things we like most), we were intrigued by the country of Eureka Springs, in northwest Arkansas, 18 miles from the Missouri border. And finally we are here, in a quiet area with roads between hills, forests, (nothing to do with a city and skyscrapers), in an attractive context starting with hot Springs around which the country has sprung up, which have given it notoriety and which have been vital for the development of the community. People came here to drink the pure mountain waters believed to be healing and plunged into the pools.

    Nowadays the water is no longer considered safe to drink but there are still three springs: Grotto Spring, Magnetic Spring it's the biggest, Blue Spring, north-west of the country. The Blue Spring Heritage Center (1537 Co Rd. 210), was established to preserve and tell the beauty of this site once the land of Cherokee. Its paths flank plants and trees, cross meadows and hilly areas. The center is open from mid-March to mid-November from 9am to 18pm. Admission costs $ 9.75.

    What to see in Eureka Springs

    Our city exploration begins inHistoric District, the heart, an ensemble made up of Victorian buildings, some with wrought iron balconies and others with a “frontier” flavor with typical arcades; a colorful mix of architectures which, despite everything, has its own harmony. The main streets of this slightly sloping downtown are Spring Street, Main Street and Center Street where we find shops, restaurants and some accommodations.

    It is pleasant to walk in aatmosphere with an ancient flavor which takes the mind back in time, to the years when the roads were dusty, traveled by carriages and horses "circulated" instead of cars. There is room for one too Shopping wide-ranging: classic souvenirs, handicrafts, quilting, clothing items, confectionery, and an entire shop (worth a visit) Hats, Hides and Hairlooms (83 Spring St.) dedicated to hats with many proposals (also in a pleasantly retro style) for ladies and gentlemen.

    Judge Roy Bean's Old Time Photo & Wedding (29 S. Main St.) is not the usual photo shop, here you can choose the background setting of the photo ranging from the Victorian period, the twenties or the far west. In the back of the studio there is a private chapel, which accommodates a maximum of thirteen people, where weddings take place. Eureka's Nut House (54 Spring St.) sells candy, dried fruit, coffee, popcorn, even colorful popcorn and many varieties of drinks.

    Christ of the Ozarks, Thorncrown Chapel and other religious structures

    A few minutes from the city center we reach the complex called Christ of the Ozarks (937 Passion Play Rd.) Where a 20 meter high white sculpture depicting Christ stands out. The statue's arms are wide open for a kind of protective embrace over Eureka Springs and its surroundings; its grandeur creates a certain suggestion and in the presence of this work the mental approach with the Cristo in Rio de Janeiro not for the similarity of the statues but for their meaning, the purpose with which they were made.

    Here there is also an amphitheater where it is staged on some evenings between May and October The Great Passion Play, a show that tells the passion of Christ. The cost is $ 27 for adults, $ 17 from 12 to 16 and $ 13 from 11 to 4. Also here we find Holy Land, an outdoor area that reproduces areas of Israel and Palestine linked to the Bible. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 17pm.

    In addition you will find the Bible Museum where some of the rarest collections of bibles in different languages ​​are exhibited and the Sacred Arts Museum where there are works of art related to Christ and the Christian life. These two museums can be visited from Monday to Saturday from 9 to 17 and with extended hours on the days of representation of the Great Passion Play.

    But there is something else we recommend visiting in the immediate area along Highway 62 West. And the Thorncrown Chapel, a small church built according to the “prairie school” architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright, typical for its horizontal lines. It is easily accessible and is located in a wooded area just a few steps from a parking area. The structure, winner of awards for design, has a wooden frame but its peculiarity are the 425 windows that replace the walls and the roof, for a final result of total immersion in the surrounding nature.

    Here religious services are celebrated that unite all Christian confessions and, in a truly suggestive setting, weddings are also held. Except for special events, the chapel is open every day in March and December from 11am to 16pm and from April to November from 9am to 17pm. Admission is free and donations are accepted.

    The series of particular religious structures continues with the St. Elizabeth of Hungray Catholic Church (30 Crescent Dr.), a really nice complex set in a green context. The church is in brick, the windows are in decorated glass and the dome made of Istanbul inspired by Hagia Sophia stands out. A pleasant walkway leads to this site where we find other small buildings and various points in which to stop.

    Natural attractions

    During this trip we have often noticed the presence of caves and this is also the case here where we report the Onyx Cave (338 Onyx Cave Ln.), A series of caves that can be visited from 9 to 17 from Memorial day (last Monday in May) to Labor day (first Monday in September) and in the remaining periods from 9 to 16. They are considered one of the best examples of underground wonders. The internal temperature is 14 ° C all year round. Pets, food, strollers and backpacks are not allowed. In the gift shop it is possible to buy, among many things, fragments of rocks and objects made from them. Admission is $ 8 for adults and $ 3.75 for ages 4 to 12.

    Love for animals has allowed the realization of the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (239 Turpentine Creek Ln.) Whose purpose is to provide shelter, care, protection and well-being to fauna in need. Among the various guests present you can meet parrots, bears, tigers, leopards, lynxes, pumas and macaques. The park can be visited with self-guided tours from 9 am to 18 pm (17 pm in winter) or with guided tours from 10 am to 16 pm (15 pm in winter). The entrance fee for adults is $ 20, $ 15 for ages 13 to 19 and $ 10 for ages 12 to 4.

    Tour in Eureka Springs

    Ready for a 40s train ride? With Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway (299 North Main St.) this is possible and when we see the wagons the feeling is that of a time travel. We will do a narrated tour of about an hour; they inform us of the lack of air conditioning (which is not a problem for us) and then we will resort to ventilation through windows.

    Before getting on board to cross and get to know natural corners of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri we have time to observe some disused wagons, now testimonies of the past. Tickets can be purchased at the gift shop where you can also find snacks and drinks. The tour costs $ 16 for adults and $ 9 for ages 4 to 10. You can take advantage of excursions that include lunch, in which case the price is $ 26 for adults, $ 16 for under 8s and, of interest to many, dog friends are allowed.

    Also ready to set sail on a boat and take a ride on a beautiful body of water called Beaver Lake? An hour and a quarter tour on the "Belle of the Ozarks”Allows you to skirt the shores of the lake, a touch of blue in the middle of the green, and observe some birds, such as ospreys and bald eagles.

    The tours run from May to October and it is worth following the expert guides who know the beautiful surrounding nature. The cost is $ 23 for adults and $ 9 for under 12s. In the lake you can practice sailing, scuba diving, swimming, fishing and you can stay overnight in one of the bungalows of the Beaver Lakefront Cabins (1234 Country Rd.120) to make the experience even more engaging.

    Eureka Springs Tram Tours offers narrated tours (in sideways open trams) lasting approximately 85 minutes which start and end at 137 by W. Van Buren. Tours operate from March to November. Tickets cost $ 15 for adults and $ 7 for under 12s. Blackjack Adventures (2 Judah St.) rents scooters but also canoes and kayaks for those who want to enjoy the waterways.

    Events in the city

    Eureka Springs is a small reality but it is very active and it would be a good idea to visit it during city events. Throughout the month of May the Festival of the Arts takes place in various city locations with art exhibitions, culinary demonstrations and music proposed by the local community. A lively parade takes place along Spring Street, with bizarrely transformed cars, special inflatable balls, jugglers, dancers and musicians.

    In September Scooting The Ozark Rally takes place around the town and around the Ozark Mountains, a race between motorized vehicles (from 50 horses upwards) from all over the United States. The Halloween Festival is actually a set of events that take place in the month of October in preparation for the Halloween holiday, to get the most into the spirit of the celebration, for example with the Zombie Make-up in the Park at Basin Spring Park (4 Spring St.), various haunted tours around town and some houses. The atmosphere is guaranteed!

    Are you looking for a culinary experience? In November The Food and Wine Festival takes place in various locations in Eureka Springs, an event that showcases the culinary excellence of Eureka Springs. On this occasion the local restaurants offer their best dishes and in the village there is an air of food and wine. And for car lovers, the icing on the cake is represented by the automotive events that take place in different months of the year with car models from various eras.

    Where to eat

    We point out some refreshment points and accommodation facilities outside the historic center. The Gaskin Cabin Steakhouse (2883 Hwy 23 N.), in an authentic wooden building from 1860, serves fillets, ribs, shrimp cocktail, Atlantic salmon, fettuccine alfredo and soup of the day. The restaurant prides itself on the quality of the meat served. In 2011 he received two nominations such as "best steak in Arkansas"And" best restaurant in Eureka Springs ".

    Rocking’ Pig Saloon (2039 E. Van Buren) is a family-friendly venue that offers entertainment and serves pizza, sandwiches and barbeque food for lunch and dinner. It is possible to eat inside or outside on the veranda. At Best Western Eureka Inn (101 E. Van Buren) we point out the Gazebo Restaurant, an institution in the village, which serves a generous buffet breakfast every day at a cost of $ 7.95 in a Victorian setting and in the internal gazebo, with tables, from which the restaurant takes its name.

    If you are looking for an elegant and refined but also fun restaurant we recommend Stick Nouveau (63 Spring St.) in the New Orleans hotel building. The restaurant is embellished with art nouveau decorations. Reservations are recommended especially on weekends. The menu changes frequently and there is no shortage of French-inspired touches among the proposals. The New Orleans Hotel (63 Spring St.) is a hotel with a historic charm that dates back to 1862. This accommodation facility equipped with wi-fi has parking and on some occasions even valet service, there is no lift and pets are not allowed. . Continental breakfast is served on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Where to sleep in Eureka Springs

    Crescent Hotel

    In addition to the structures already mentioned in the article, the Crescent Hotel (75 Prospect Ave.), a Victorian-style icon of Eureka Springs. From its gardens, paths lead through the village. The cottages and suites are luxurious. The hotel offers concierge service, has a spa, swimming pool, restaurants and is pet friendly. Among the events that take place we point out weddings but also ghost tours suitable for both children and adults.

    A Queen Anne-style building welcomes theArsenic and Old Lace B&B (60 Hillside Ave.), a classy and elegant property located in a hilly wooded area. The building has four luxurious rooms and one suite, each decorated in a different and refined way. The property is pet friendly, offers wi-fi, a gourmet breakfast and has a beautiful garden. From the veranda you can enjoy the view of the hills. This place is ideal for weddings (with a moderate number of guests) and special occasions. The reference to the film Arsenico and Vecchi Merletti is not clear to us but the building certainly takes us back to the 40s. The Basin Park Hotel (12 Spring St.) is a property built in 1905, now with spa, restaurant, bar and parking. Each of the rooms, equipped with wi-fi, has its own type of furniture.

    Il Bridgeford House B&B (263 Spring St.) with its pleasant Victorian style it offers a family atmosphere worthy of the typical southern hospitality. This is a historic structure built after the American Civil War for Captain John Bridgeford and his wife Mary, both prominent members of the community. The property has parking and self-service continental breakfast. The suite and four rooms are furnished with a strong individuality. Here weddings are celebrated that welcome a maximum of fifteen people. THE Cottages on Main (217 N. Main St.), each with their own style, are recognized by the colorful exterior and porch. The structure is equipped with parking and wi-fi.

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    Where is it and how to reach Eureka Springs

    Eureka Springs can be reached in approximately 3 hours from the Bill & Hillary Clinton Domestic Airport located in the capital Little Rock (30 Airport Rd.). For those who prefer a direct flight to Europe, we recommend Dallas / Fort Worth airport (1 Aviation Dr.) in Texas, which is 2400 hours away. Before booking your plane, we recommend that you read our tips on how to find a low cost flight to the United States. In addition to the tours mentioned to discover the town without a rental car, you can take advantage of the Eureka Springs Transit (6 W. Van Buren) along various tram routes. For fares and routes refer to the official website.

    It was great to get to know Eureka Springs on our journey which took us to the discovery of Missouri and Arkansas, with particular attention to the area of ​​the Ozark mountains. We invite you to discover even the lesser known realities to international tourism, for example the Eureka Springs area in green Arkansas where you really feel welcome and live in the heart of America.

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