Eureka Springs Offers a Fine Blend of Outdoor Adventure, Arts and Enlightenment
Any way you look at it, spring is simply a fabulous time to get out and explore your world. Whether meandering among the forest flowers or near Pivot Rock Natural Bridge, this time of year brings out the best in our surroundings and us. From a kite festival to the May Festival of the Arts, Eureka Springs takes the season seriously. Add Ozark trail odysseys and patio pauses to these verdant festivals and it’s easy to see why this Northwest Arkansas destination gets leisure right. The petals are unfurling and petals will go ‘round and ‘round as Eureka Springs welcomes visitors into the shadow of the mythical Ozark Mountains. Who can resist a few days of slowing down, slipping among the galleries and settling into a spa date or two?
There’s so much going on every day in Eureka Springs, you don’t even need to book a weekend to experience it. In fact, weekdays leave more room for strolling downtown and stepping onto a trail as well as greater lodging and dining options. You’ll find every type of accommodation you desire from camping to cabins, hotels and vacation rentals. Dining is equally distinctive, whether you prefer a great grillroom, cozy café or something in between. Whatever flame attracts you, romantic dinners for two or a girlfriend getaway frolic, there are dozens of options to satisfy your mood and palate.
A great day can begin when orbiting quiet Black Bass Lake, a no-motor water that quickly transports you into a backcountry ambience over the course of the two-mile Bluff Trail, one half mile of which is fully accessible. Given the name, no angler would look askance were you to cast your fly here. You can also rent a canoe and paddle away your day. Lake Leatherwood City Park provides yet another quick hop into the arboreal wilderness. Encompassing 1610 acres, the recreational hub features an 85-acre spring fed lake, more than 25 miles of hiking and biking trails and 120 bird species. Powerboaters, kayakers and canoers are all welcome on Lake Leatherwood, a favorite fishery for large mouth bass, blue gill and other species. Make a day trip or book a cabin or campsite for a longer playdate with nature.
If you are looking for a little spring at the end of your steps you’ve arrived in the right location, you can easily stroll directly from downtown to 15 of the area’s 66 natural springs. Long nurtured for their health-giving properties, moving outside among the wild springs can’t help but feel good. The unique energy of earth and water fuse together in Eureka Springs unlike few places on the planet. Artists and performers have long harvested this essence to craft exceptional displays and handiworks. There is a contemplative aura that is unmistakable, as evidenced by the success of so many creative individuals at the famous Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow. The Open-Air Meditation Sanctuary leads our musings outside, a serene grove that invites thoughtful strolls, gatherings and time to quietly appreciate this beautiful landscape. E. Fay Jones’ masterpiece, the Thorncrown Chapel, also reflects the inherent spirituality in nature, a 48-foot tall lattice of glass and wood that radiates inward and outward via 425 majestic windows.
Not all cathedrals are found above ground in the Eureka Springs, look no further than the stunning Cosmic Caverns, host to two underground lakes. Though first discovered in 1845, the mystical “Silent Splendor” room was only found in 1993, its walls bejeweled with crystalline forms. The War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake also sprouts an array of formations from high domes to dazzling waterfalls. Not surprisingly, many of the area’s surrounding caves were discovered by prospectors. You can mine some of these legends for yourself on the Downtown “N” Underground Tour, an opportunity to learn the town’s tales and the legends who created them.
Culture spills over here like Blue Spring. Home to the bluff shelter, named on the National Register of Historic Places, 38 million gallons of water surge from Blue Spring every single day. The Sacred Arts Center features area artists in every media, there are several local ghost tours and the Intrigue Theater and The Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down draws some local energy and insight to the stage. Flickering Tales also conveys the audience deep into the mystic Ozark legacy. From art galleries to artful retellings of magic and monsters, Eureka Springs both entertains you and keeps you wondering just how much esoteric energy actually rises from this astounding geography.
Even in a city that takes its culture seriously, there’s still nothing quite like the “May Festival of the Arts,” an entire month dedicated to the Eureka Springs aesthetic. Few large cities can pull off a 31-day artistic celebration but after experiencing this unique festival you might find yourself wondering, “why not all summer long?” Fortunately, from “Jazz in the Park” to the month long “The Opera in the Ozarks,” Eureka Springs keeps people swaying and music playing all summer long. Like the May Festival of the Arts, Opera in the Ozarks plays all week so no need to wait until the weekend for entertainment.
Whether you pick a weekend or a Wednesday to visit Eureka Springs, you’ll always find plenty to do. Take to the trails, paddle a lake then relax downtown among the galleries before selecting a glass of wine to accompany your dinner. Come to Eureka Springs and let your healthy lifestyle bubble up to unforeseen heights. Just visit the Eureka Springs website to make your plans. A blissful state awaits you in the Ozarks.