Deep within the Ozark Mountains lies the picturesque city of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This slice of Americana is home to classic Victorian charm, natural wonders, extraterrestrial mysteries, and more.
The diverse history of Eureka Springs makes for a fascinating visit. You’ll find eclectic shops and phenomenal dining downtown, relaxing spas and springs, castles, tigers, and more. This Arkansas city is a fairytale of unique attractions and sights.
Here are 16 things to do in Eureka Springs that you and your crew are going to love!
Coolest Places To Say In Eureka Springs
- Best Downtown Spot. Featuring Spa1905 on site, the Basin Park Hotel was built in 1905 and is adjacent to the Downtown -N- Underground Walking Tour. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Eureka Springs. This historic hotel offers a unique blend of vintage charm and modern amenities, making it the perfect choice for your next vacation. (See more about it below.)
- Best Tried and True. The Quality Inn Eureka Springs South is conveniently located at the intersection of State Highway 23 and US Highway 62, within walking distance of the Pine Mountain Jamboree, Eureka Springs’s original live music and comedy stage show. Visitors will enjoy easy access to all Eureka Springs attractions via the town trolley, which stops in front of the hotel. Free hot breakfast included.
- Best Bed and Breakfast. Set in Eureka Springs, less than 0.6 miles from Eureka Springs Historic District, Rock Cottage Gardens Bed and Breakfast offers accommodations with free WiFi, a garden with a terrace, and access to a hot tub. Breakfast is available every morning, and includes American, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Eureka Springs is a veritable wonderland of rushing, burbling natural springs. They are the reason “springs” is in the city’s name! Now, keep in mind that Eureka Springs has over sixty springs within city limits, so you probably can’t fit them into a single day’s visit. However, if you’re in a pinch for time, there are a few springs you simply must visit.
First and foremost, you’ll want to stop by Basin Spring. Native Americans visited these shimmering waters for their healing properties.
Another local favorite to visit is Sweet Spring. This little spring features natural stone, creating a fairytale grotto for you to explore.
Close by, Magnetic Spring offers the perfect picnic spot, with several picnic tables and greenery – rumor has it that metal placed in the spring’s water becomes magnetized!
Finally, swing by Blue Spring Heritage Center and its so-called springs during your trip. This marvelous spring pours over 38 million gallons of water pour into a gorgeous grotto surrounded by natural walking trails. Visit the historic bluff shelter while you’re here, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Eureka Spring hides many others for you to explore if you have time!
Basin Spring Park
At Basin Spring Park, you can visit the so-called Basin Spring and enjoy a unique area tour. Basin Spring Park happens to be the launching point for the Downtown-N-Underground Tour walking tour, where visitors get to explore the city’s architecture, hidden nooks, and unique crannies.
At the park, you can usually catch beautiful live music while relaxing to the sound of a tinkling spring. Today, Basin Spring Park offers a pretty resting space for visitors where you can listen to the spring, and local musicians create their own melody at the park’s wooden gazebo.
Consider a stay at nearby Basin Park Hotel. With many different rooms to choose from and some great amenities, it’s a great place to call home during your visit. And if you’re looking for something spooky, consider a ghost tour of the hotel!
Stay Here: Basin Park Hotel
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Explore the wild side of Eureka Springs by visiting the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Here, big cats romp and play. Tigers, lions, leopards (oh my!) wait to meet visitors to their refuge.
This remarkable refuge provides a safe home for neglected big cats. You might find an Asian tiger preening in lush grass or a cougar leaping from rocks in their exhibit.
The refuge offers day camps, special programs, and other adventures for visitors. You can even stay at a jungle-themed safari lodge or the family-friendly Tree House to enhance your totally wild stay.
Christ of the Ozarks
In 1966, a new landmark graced the forested scenery of Eureka Springs. It rises 70 stories (or 65 feet high) over the tree line atop Magnetic Mountain. The statue is Christ of the Ozarks, and it has entranced visitors since its completion.
Christ of the Ozarks is not just a statue. It was built by Emmet Sullivan, one of the architects who worked on Mount Rushmore. The statue is an engineering marvel made of 340 tons of concrete! More than that, it is also the location of Biblical event recreations.
At the sight of Christ of the Ozarks, visitors can tour The Holy Land. Guests will meet characters from the Bible’s greatest stories, including Simon Peter. After the tour, you can watch The Great Passion Play detailing Christ’s story. The play features live Arabian horses, 170 actors, and a score performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London.
Onyx Cave Park
A short six miles from Eureka Springs, a mysterious cave waits for you to explore it! Onyx Cave Park has been a source of wonder for visitors since its discovery in 1893. The marvelous site is composed of onyx, hence the name.
Onyx Cave Park is a family-friendly location. The kids will love touring caves with fantasy names like Witches Fireplace and Friendly Dragon.
Tours of Onyx Cave Park are self-guided, meaning you can mosey through the caves as long as you like. The caves are well-lit, and you can modify your tour to suit your family as you need.
When a home earns the title, “the Ozark’s strangest dwelling,” you know it’s a great place for visitors to explore. Quigley’s Castle is the home known as Ozark’s strangest dwelling, and its history is equally as strange as its appearance!
The castle dates back to 1943, when Mrs. Quigley decided it was time to build her dream house. She tore down the old house and started building, despite having to stay in a chicken coop while construction went on.
The Quigley Castle has intriguing features not commonly found in homes. Between the walls and living spaces on the ground floor, four feet of dirt creates a natural indoor garden. The feature allowed Mrs. Quigley to grow tropical trees indoors – some of which remain growing in the house today.
Mrs. Quigley’s dream home is as beautiful and unique on the outside as it is inside. Its walls are decorated with rocks, shells, and arrowheads collected by Mrs. Quigley. She continued decorating her home until she died in 1984. Since then, her family has continued to show this marvel to visitors.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church
Nestled in this peaceful Ozark Mountain town is the beautiful St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church. The church evokes an Old World peacefulness to all who visit it. Its graceful lines and tiled roof look like an Italian villa, smack dab in the middle of the Ozarks.
St. Elizabeth’s was designed after the great Hagia Sophia, or St. Sophia’s Church, in Istanbul. Its magnificent bell towers ring out on the hour, a sound that rings home to members of its Parish.
There are many architectural features and sights you’ll want to see when visiting St. Elizabeth. First and foremost are the Statues of the Cross that line the path to the bell tower. Every statue took forty days of work to complete! The grounds also have picturesque landscaping and peaceful gardens for you to enjoy.
Inside the church, you’ll want to take a moment and look up at the chandelier. It contains 7,500 crystals that shimmer against the deep blue ceiling of the Hagia Sophia-inspired rotunda dome. Stained glass windows, remarkable wood and stone carvings, and traditional Catholic altars are just some of the additional pieces to admire during your visit.
To commemorate your visit, you can stop by the church’s gift shop. It offers a wonderful array of rosaries, saint medals, postcards, and jewelry for visitors to select from.
Thorncrown Chapel is nestled on a hillside in the Ozarks, a glass cathedral hidden away from the bustle of the city. This architectural wonder came to be thanks to the imagination of Jim Reed. Reed purchased the land with the intent to retire here, but he got an idea one day walking up to his house – what if he built a chapel here?
Construction on Thorncrown began in 1979, but financial troubles delayed its opening. It was not until Reed prayed for aid that suddenly the funds came through. Thus, Thorncrown opened its doors in 1980 and continues to serve the public as a chapel and tourist destination today.
At Thorncrown Chapel, visitors can escape the world for a moment and find peace surrounded by the wooded wonders of the Ozarks.
Visitors of all walks of life, denominations, and religion come to Thorncrown Chapel to explore its serene beauty. The chapel itself invokes the image of Christ’s thorned crown, with its crisscrossing arches cutting through the walls and ceiling of glass-like thorns. The chapel has Sunday services open to the public, with tours available during weekdays and weekends.
Lush forests and a glistening lake make up the beautiful landmark of Lake Leatherwood City Park. This massive city park spans 1610 acres, including the lake, woods, and springs.
The park came to be in 1940 when workers constructed a nearby limestone dam that formed the park. Today, the trail offers a variety of outdoor activities and pursuits to entertain visitors.
Fishing and boating are popular past times at Lake Leatherwood. The park has a Bait and Tackle shop and boats for rent in case you don’t have fishing gear, too.
Hiking trails populate the area, perfect for hikers, bicyclists, trail runners, and walkers to enjoy the scenery and solitude of the park. You may catch a glimpse of a bobcat, wild turkey, or even a raccoon during your time on the trails! For a more immersive experience, guests can stay at one of Lake Leatherwood’s cabins or campgrounds, too.
Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway
Hop aboard an antique train and get ready to explore the woods of North Arkansas! Eureka Springs has its very own train depot, complete with a 1940-era diesel train. And yes, you can actually ride it!
At the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway, the train itself is a moving museum, built in the 1940s and operating on historic tracks. You can get tickets for the Excursion Train, where a conductor narrates your journey to “Junction,” Arkansas.
Or, you can book tickets to enjoy a luxurious meal in the dining car while watching the Ozarks flash by. The railway offers both lunch and dinner tickets, with dinner meals themed around 1920s cuisine.
The train also features a unique gift shop you won’t want to miss. It’s located in the Baggage Car of the steam engine and offers railway-themed gifts for you to remember your experience by.
War Eagle Cavern
Located about 30 minutes from Eureka Springs, War Eagle Cavern lies on the glistening shores of Beaver Lake. The location is unique; War Eagle Cavern is the only natural cave entrance in Arkansas!
When you visit War Eagle Cavern, you have a variety of activities to select from. You can book a traditional tour of the cavern, where a guide will show you along the stream that flows through the cavern. You’ll meet the bats, salamanders, and other creatures that call the cavern home while exploring the awesome domes and craggy surfaces that make up the cave. An adventurous visitor can take a Wild Cave Tour, where they get to climb, wiggle, and crawl to harder-to-reach cave areas with the help of experts.
Outside of the cavern, you’ll find more activities waiting. Hikes around Beaver Lake are a popular option, while kids often enjoy visiting the Lost in the Wood Maze, panning for gemstones, and the Moonshiners’ Mystery Shack.
Belle of the Ozarks
After visiting War Eagle Cavern, consider taking a ride on the Belle of the Ozarks cruise. The lake cruise takes visitors along Beaver Lake for 12 miles of stunning views.
The Belle of the Ozarks consists of a guided tour. You’ll get to see an Indian burial ground, panoramic views of Beaver Lake’s shoreline, and a 200-acre game preserve island where wildlife enjoy a peaceful existence.
On the lake, visitors can plan for activities like scuba diving, swimming, and fishing to complement their cruise.
Historic Downtown Eureka Springs
Downtown Eureka Springs is the heart and soul of the city. You’ll want to take several hours to explore this marvelous historic district, with its gorgeous Victorian architecture surrounded by the Ozark scenery.
By day, the downtown district boasts plenty of shopping and dining venues to explore. The Eureka Springs Tram Tour takes visitors and locals alike through the district, pointing out unique locations, historical sights, and springs that makeup Downtown Eureka.
For nighttime entertainment, downtown has got your back. Pubs, restaurants, and live music venues provide all the excitement you need to end your evening in Eureka Springs.
Since 1927, Cosmic Cavern has been a must-see tourist attraction for visitors to Eureka Springs. The cavern itself is a 30-minute drive from the city, but the trip is worth it for the views you’ll see inside the cavern.
Cosmic Cavern is one of the top show caves in the United States. It has two bottomless cave lakes that continue to be explored by scientists (because they seriously have not found the bottom of it yet)! Stunning natural formations of stalagmites and stalactites enthrall guests on their tours. You can even take a “Wild Cave Tour” to explore harder-to-reach areas of the cave.
Alongside the hour-long cavern tour, visitors can also pan for gemstones much like prospectors of the past did. The cavern also has a fun gift shop to explore before ending your visit.
Eureka Springs Gallery Association Art Stroll
Eureka Springs is home to a unique selection of art galleries. On the second Saturday of the month, the galleries open their doors to the public for the Eureka Springs Gallery Association Art Stroll.
During the stroll, sixteen of Eureka’s art galleries remain open after normal business hours to allow visitors to explore their exhibits. On the stroll, you might find intriguing paintings, hand-thrown pottery, jewelry, and more! Many of the galleries are near local restaurants, so why not make a whole evening of it and grab a bite to eat, too?
Eureka Springs Brewery
Locals love spending an evening at the Eureka Springs Brewery. Here, legendary beer, delicious snacks, and disc golf come together for plenty of good fun.
The Eureka Springs Brewery offers more than just beer. Their menu includes ciders, wine, and cocktails for adult visitors to enjoy. Their menu features interesting items like the Salmon Sammie, Thai Peanut Flatbread, and Buffalo Chicken tacos – talk about yum!
The brewery’s disc golf course spans five acres of valley views. Picnic tables dot the course, so you can enjoy your food and drink while playing the game. The brewery welcomes guests of all ages, with games, food, and drinks for younger guests available as well.
Eureka Springs FAQ
How should I spend a day in Eureka Springs?
There are many great ways to spend a day in Eureka Springs! You can explore the Historic Downtown area’s shops and restaurants, see the animals at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, enjoy a 12-mile cruise around Beaver Lake on the Belle of the Ozarks, or go underground at Onyx Cave Park.
Why is Eureka Springs so popular?
Eureka Springs is popular because of its beautiful Victorian-era buildings, its natural surroundings, and the many mineral springs in the area.
When is the best month to visit Eureka Springs?
You will find things to do year-round in Eureka Springs, but spring and fall are especially great times to visit, due to the milder temperatures and the many great outdoor opportunities.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO ARKANSAS
- YOUR ARKANSAS VACATION
- HOT SPRINGS: 21 Amazing Things To Do In Hot Springs, Arkansas
- LITTLE ROCK: 14 Amazing Things To Do In Little Rock, Arkansas
- FORT SMITH: 33 Things To Do In Fort Smith Arkansas
Where To Stay In Eureka Springs
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