Independent Nature – Eureka Springs Flows with Family Adventure Possibilities
Teens and tweens today enjoy an unlimited lineup of entertainment, yet this bevy of digital distractions often comes at the expense of actual experiences. Mutual parent-child time has also suffered as a result of our constant companion, the screen. A visit to Eureka Springs invites parents and their children to share time exploring the history, riding trails and visiting a set of independent shops that you simply won’t find anywhere else. And don’t worry kids, there’s no doubt the spectacular natural beauty and curio shops will draw social media snaps as well. From exploring the Cosmic Cavern to taking a Paranormal Tour, Eureka Springs offers one of America’s premier destinations where you can revel in time well spent with our fast-growing kids.
Located in the very heart of the Ozarks, Eureka Springs possesses a spectrum of outdoor places to play combined with a thriving cultural scene, from escape rooms to ziplines. Inside the historic district, you can explore unique establishments like 118-year old hotels and bathhouses that provide a fun timeout to disappear in a Victorian-era spa treatment, a pretty cool upgrade from the mother-daughter jaunt for mani-pedis back home.
Eureka Springs is also well known for its festivals. These all-ages events offer a tremendous opportunity to introduce the kids to something a little different than a YouTube setlist, like Opera in the Ozarks or perhaps your hidden love for strings of another twang at Bluegrass Blast. Eureka Springs adds a seriously funky side to the car show scene during the 27thAnnual Volkswagen Weekend, a good time to share tales of camper van days of yore and inspire a little future wanderlust in the kids. Summer Diversity Weekend celebrates the inclusion of all people, another fine message to share with our young people. Festivals serve another nice purpose, a safe environment where our older children can explore their independence, hang with new or familiar friends and generally go their own way for a spell.
All of historic downtown Eureka Springs is like that, a fun place to experience somewhere new be it in the boutiques, over a meal or walking along the 1.4-mile Harmon Park Loop Trail toward Upper Spring Street. Eureka Springs has always carried a delightful and meaningful vibe, an aura that, in the 19thcentury, made Eureka Springs the second largest city in Arkansas. The Cherokee Nation spoke of a “Great Healing Spring,” one’s sense of comfort and aesthetic otherness remains.
Start your visit inside the Eureka Springs Historical Museum where you learn about the exceptional chronology of this mystical locale. History also comes alive here during the lively tram tour where seasoned guides share tales and myths of the area. The intrigue continues, literally, inside the Intrigue Theater, home to mystics and illusionists.
Downtown’s shops are just as spectacular. Teens and tweens might make a friendship bracelet after collecting beads and other craft making materials. Since kids of all ages love kites and kaleidoscopes, Spring Street offers a spectrum of these colorful objects, as well as scented candles, collectibles, and gemstones. Several antique shops turn traditional mercantile on its head with accessories that will make an impression back home or even on that first day back at school. From novelty socks to fine art, siblings, friends and families discover a dazzling showcase of curios and keepsakes.
The surrounding natural world entices us with still more magical mystery tours, beginning with a stroll around the astounding Blue Spring, a daily outpouring of 38 million (Yes, million!) gallons of crystal-clear water. Water nurtures several gardens that feature ornamental flowers, healing herbs and even demonstration crops. Water could be called the key element throughout the region. You can explore Beaver Lake and the White River with canoe and kayak rentals. There are shuttle services to take you back upriver or you can book a guided overnight trip. You can even rent camping equipment should you choose to bed down under the stars. Many families also choose to cruise Beaver Lake onboard the Belle of the Ozarks, a 12-mile cruise past mountains, bluffs and an ancient burial ground in just over one hour.
Families never have to travel far to find nature in Eureka Springs. Lake Leatherwood features over 25-miles of diverse terrain, a great way to intro mountain biking or even fat-tire biking for a few hours. Hikes convey us past natural springs, creeks, historic stone footbridges, meadows, woodland and, if we’re lucky, into the world of resident wildlife. The centerpiece of the 1610-acre park is the 85-acre spring-fed lake. Power boaters and paddlers are all welcome on Lake Leatherwood, an excellent fishery known for largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill, among others.
The Pivot Rock Natural Bridge allows for an easy intro to the joys of hiking, an easy grade surrounded by interesting rock formations. A river float also eases families into the wilderness. Several outfitters will set you up with canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards or lead take you and your family on a trip to Trigger Gap and elsewhere on the Kings River. Local outfitters will arrange a half-day to two full-day float in the majestic Ozarks.
There’s something extraordinary about a community born of natural splendor. The wild seeps into every element of our experience, from tours of paranormal happenings in and around Eureka Springs to the crystal shops that sparkle on Spring Street. The natural world also encourages us to share and explore our independence, an ideal pairing for bonding with our tweens and teens in new and exceptional ways. Visit the Eureka Springs website to plot your “family time.”