Eureka!

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Standing at the bottom of Howell Street in the picturesque Arkansas town of Eureka Springs, we wondered if we had made the right choice to walk instead of taking the easily-accessed, reasonably-priced trolley. (Howell Street may not officially be the steepest street in the town, but it certainly felt like it.)

My husband and I visited Eureka Springs as a stop on our Covid-19 road trip. The town is built in the beautiful Ozark Mountains and is a haven for tourists who want to take advantage of small boutiques, great food, and beautiful scenery. There are many options for overnight visits—from motels to bed and breakfasts, to hotels, to inns. This trip we chose Lookout Lodge which is located outside of downtown so that we could social distance more easily. The lodge has a trolley stop directly in front of it, if we had been smart enough to take it!

We enjoyed walking around the historic downtown and visiting the small shops that sell everything from souvenirs to clothing to jewelry. The historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places so history buffs will like seeing the architecture and reading about the history. There is definitely something for everyone. One of our favorite finds was the Funnel Cake Factory, a small shop that produces big taste! (There is a small short-term parking spot right in front of the shop if you aren’t walking nearby.) We chose not to eat in any restaurant,  but we were glad that we chose to take out from several places during our stay.

The town holds many treasures for tourists. The Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church is one of the most meaningful to me. Because of the steepness of the town, visitors enter the churchyard through the belltower before passing by statues of the 12 stations of the cross and entering a small, quiet garden surrounding the church. St. Francis of Assisi’s statue is circled by beautiful flowers and a reminder of his prayer that begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”

Across the street from the church is the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa. This historic hotel was built as a showplace facility to encourage growth of Northwest Arkansas and the railroad, but it has also served as a women’s college and a cancer hospital. The building’s alleged ghosts provide enough stories that ghost tours are available. The hotel also offers views of the valley below and of the Christ of the Ozarks statue from its fourth-floor balcony. (We were not able to enter the hotel because it was closed to all but guests due to the pandemic so we will have to wait until another visit.)

Another famous hotel in Eureka Springs is the Basin Park Hotel built in 1905. The hotel’s history includes fines for operating slot machines and for selling “intoxicating liquors” without a license, a dubious distinction shared with the 1886 Crescent Hotel. However, the hotel’s claim to fame and inclusion in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, is the fact that every one of the 7 floors is on ground level due to the steepness of its surroundings.

While the downtown held many fun-filled activities, the area surrounding Eureka Springs also sports many interesting opportunities…too many to mention in this article so stay tuned for more!

Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoys reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers. 

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