Grit Blogs > The Open Book

Escape to Eureka Springs

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor


Tags: Eureka Springs, Arkansas,

Califf Spring, along Main Street in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Known as the City that Water Built, Eureka Springs is a quaint, charming tourist destination in northwest Arkansas. A family trip recently took me to its city limits for a delightful getaway. In fact, I’m having difficulty getting back into the swing of the normal routine, and I’m blaming it on traveling!

A bed and breakfast known as Cliff Cottage was our destination. The others in our party – my mom, two of her sisters, a cousin and one of my sisters – all arrived at the Kansas City airport Thursday afternoon. I met the others at their respective terminals, and we all tromped over to the rental company, picked up a van and we were off.

Driving down U.S. Highway 62 heading for Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Driving south from Kansas City offered a view of some spectacular Missouri landscape, although we were hoping for a bit more color in the fall foliage. It’s a straight shot from KC to Joplin, where we stayed Thursday night. Heading south and east from Joplin was fairly straightforward until close to the Arkansas border when the road began to curve. From then on, it was mountain driving.

It’s a pretty drive into Eureka Springs, and once in the city, we weren’t disappointed. Lots of Victorian houses perched on the mountain side, winding and steep streets, and while there were lots of visitors, the townsfolk were for the most part friendly and helpful.

One of the three homes that comprise Cliff Cottage in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Back in 1856, hundreds of “healing springs” were discovered, and the town of Eureka Springs was founded in 1879 to accommodate those seeking the cure as the local waters were said to have magical, healing properties. The Web site, Eureka Springs Then and Now, has video and more on the history of the town. The Crescent Hotel, for instance, opened in 1886. The town’s spa era continued until around 1910, when “to take the waters” as a means of treating illnesses became outmoded in light of modern medical practices. Low in minerals, the spring waters are extremely pure, and it was bottled at one time through the Ozarka Spring Water Co. Although the company is now located in Pennsylvania, the brand can still be found in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and portions of Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas.

Cliff Cottage is actually three cottages in a row on an upper road (an extremely narrow road) overlooking Main (or as it used to be known, Mud) Street. Each suite in the cottages has a well-known name. We were in the Emily Dickinson Suite and the Sarah Bernhardt Suite, complete with photographs and drawings of the women, and in the case of Emily, a few of her books. In Sarah’s room, a biography of the actress was displayed on the coffee table.

Looking at downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas.A trolley ride took us to the grand Crescent Hotel atop the highest point of town and to a number of shops filled with art, jewelry, pottery and more. We visited the Eureka Springs Historical Museum (did you know Carrie Nation lived in town until her death in 1911? Even smashed a few of the town's liquor establishments.), bought fudge at Two Dumb Dames Fudge Shop, and made a quick stop at The Inn Convenience Store (I just had to mention the names of those shops!). We ate at the Main Street Café, Local Flavor (great salmon and steak!), Geraldi’s Pizza, and the Mud Street Café (which is located in Underground Eureka at the level of the former Main Street).

Thorncrown Chapel, near Eureka Springs, Arkansas.Outside of town, we visited Thorncrown Chapel, an amazing glass structure open to the gorgeous scenery around it. As we sat in the stillness of the small sanctuary, a hawk winged its way around the chapel, heading for the trees up the slope. The chapel contains 425 windows and more than 6,000 square feet of glass. Opened in 1980, the chapel almost wasn’t finished. Read more about its history, and see some amazing photos, on the Web site.

Another stop was the Blue Spring Heritage Center, which spotlights the largest spring in Northwest Arkansas and the heritage of the several Native American tribes. The spring, now surrounded by a large circular stone wall, is a fissure about 3 feet wide and estimated to be 500 feet deep. Each and every day it pumps 38 million gallons of pure water into the White River. As you look down into the pool of water, it looks as blue as the sky.

An Arkansas vista.

The weather cooperated with us. After a rainy Thursday, the rest of the weekend was perfect fall weather. Cool, crisp temperatures combined with fresh mountain air to create the perfect atmosphere for our weekend escape. Thank you, Eureka Springs!

The area is also known for the huge Christ of the Ozarks statue and the New Great Passion Play. A few other Web sites to visit: Eureka SpringsEureka Springs Chamber of Commerce; Eureka Springs Network; and Eureka Springs Online

The area near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. 

jean teller
11/3/2008 9:07:28 AM

Jenn, this is the same group that went to Canada a few years ago. We do have fun! Kim, the views were spectacular. I enjoy visiting mountains, seeing the trees and the great scenery, tho I like returning to the Great Plains and being able to see where I'm heading! :) Lisa, loved your photos of your Minnesota trip. I love the river/water images - beautiful! Living in Kansas, the water sites are few and far between. But I love being on the water. Looks like I need to plan a trip to Minnesota. Great to have feedback from a fellow traveler!


lisa_1
11/2/2008 9:02:50 PM

Jean - Thank you for sharing details about your travels to Arkansas. Being from the north (Wisconsin) I never really knew what Arkansas had to offer. Upon looking into it, I learned it had a lot more than I suspected. Your article proved to me that it needs to be a place we plan travels to! My husband and I love to travel enjoying the outdoors first, along with local flair and customs. We recently took a 8 day trip in northcentral Minnesota where we did many things like you on your trip to Arkansas. Thanks for sharing Jean, enjoy reading your blog! -Lisa (onthefox.blogspot.com)


kim_1
10/30/2008 11:14:23 PM

Jean, I made a trip to Arkansas last weekend too! How I love the changing colors of the leaves on those tree-covered mountains. Thanks for the pictures—makes me miss home! Kim


jennifer nemec
10/30/2008 5:02:12 PM

That looks gorgeous Jean. A place filled to brimming with rejuvination. My favorite vacations were alway the intergenerational ones we took. My brothers, my parents, and my grandmothers had many adventures. :) Jenn