Unless you live in a neighboring state, northwest Arkansas may not immediately be an area that comes to mind for a peaceful retreat. But that’s exactly what’s found in the small, tourist-friendly town of Eureka Springs where the population barely pushes past 2,000.
Nestled deep in the Ozark Mountains and surrounded by beautiful Beaver Lake, Eureka Springs is a low-key destination perfect for a summer getaway.
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How to Spend a Perfect Day in Eureka Springs, AR
There’s history, scenery, and a charming downtown to explore as well as outdoor adventures like ziplining and kayaking to help you keep cool.
Best Breakfast in Eureka Springs
To start the day, head to Mud St. Cafe located on the main drag. It’s part of a building from the late 1800s that used to be at street level. Back in the day, the spring that runs underneath kept flooding the road and a new one had to be built one level up.
Although there’s a door at the street entrance, you’ll take a flight of stairs down to the “main level” to be seated.
The atmosphere is casual, the coffee is a serve-yourself station where you can top off with endless refills, and the sour cream pancakes nearly hang off the edge of the plate. Add fresh blueberries and a side of homemade sausage for a hearty, inexpensive breakfast.
Get there close to when they open at 8 AM (every day except for Tuesday) to avoid waiting too long because the place fills up fast.
Next up, head to Ozark Mountain Ziplines for a two-hour tour flying through the trees or continue to explore the downtown streets for souvenir shopping. As you curve away from downtown, architecture enthusiasts will enjoy the row of Victorian houses, many of which have now become bed and breakfast inns.
Also, as you explore, keep an eye out for any of the dozens of mineral springs that dot the town. They are set up like fountains, in gazebos, and sometimes down into partially hidden caves, and all have been said to have healing powers.
Lunchtime Spots and Afternoon Relaxation
Where to Have lunch
When lunchtime hits, pack a picnic and head to the beach area of Beaver Lake, which is located just past the dam at Dam Site Lake Campground. Either take a blanket to lay on the grass or take advantage of the nearby benches.
Make sure to abide by the $5 parking (cash only) and afterward, wade into the clear water with a foam noodle found at the local Dollar Store.
If you’re not in the mood for lake time quite yet, head back downtown for lunch at back Local Flavor instead. Everything on the menu is worth trying. Go for the Santa Fe Pita, which can be served vegetarian-style or with meet, if you’re feeling indecisive. Snag a spot on the patio in the shade and beat the heat with a refreshing sangria or iced coffee.
Eureka Springs Historic District & Spa Time
After lunch, continue the search for more springs and make a trip over The Beaver Bridge, a historic, one-lane suspension bridge. When you’re traveling this way, you’ll see a sign for a one-lane bridge.
It’s a short, wooden bridge that is, in fact, one lane, but not the bridge. Keep going and you’ll come across the main one. Then, make your way to the Palace Hotel and Bath House. Part of the spa treatment here includes a soothing steam in a eucalyptus barrel and a mineral soak in an iron clawfoot bathtub.
This historic bathhouse dates back to 1901 with a unique neon sign out front.
If you look closely enough, you’ll see the designer’s moniker. Take an hour (or longer!) to fully relax and appreciate the preservation of the building.
The Crescent Hotel is another place to enjoy spa time. This hotel was built in 1886 and is deemed to be haunted. They host nightly tours on the property and a mini-museum on the top floor across from their famed pizza place. The views are incredible and a single slice can fill you up quickly.
Whether you decide on an early dinner or take a pie to go for a late-night snack, the award-winning smoky BBQ chicken pizza is what people come for the most.
After zen time at the spa, a wine tasting at Keels Creek Winery is a nice way to round out the day. With generous pours and friendly hospitality, it’s a laid-back stop set along East Van Buren (US 62).
Depending on what’s available on the day you visit, you may also be treated to a few tastes of the local hard ciders on tap, too. Pull up a seat and listen to stories from the locals and feel right at home as a temporary resident of the community.
It’s clear that lake lovers travel here the most. A day spent on the boat can’t be beaten and the waters aren’t crowded. But beyond the gentle waves, in the heart of the Ozarks, is this slow-paced, eclectic town where all visitors are welcome.
Whether that means families on summer vacation, girls weekend away, or a solo adventure, there’s plenty to uncover in this area of Arkansas.
Day in Eureka Springs, AR Itinerary
8:30 AM – Breakfast at Mud St. Cafe
10:00 AM – Ozark Mountain Ziplining
12:30 PM – Lunch at Local Flavor
1:30 PM – Beach time at Beaver Lake or shopping downtown
3:30 PM – Spa treatment at The Palace Hotel and Bath House
5:00 PM – Exploring the Crescent Hotel
6:30 PM – Wine tasting at Keels Creek Winery
Eureka Springs Lodging: Where to Stay
Below, find a few of our favorite Eureka Springs hotels.
The cleverly-named Land O Nod Inn is a favorite among visitors and rates are usually around $75/night depending on the time of year. The property has free WiFi, a pool, playground, and adjoining rooms available when you’re traveling with family.
Another budget-friendly option is The Trails Inn with prices per night starting at $65. The room rate includes a continental breakfast, outdoor pool, free WiFi, and walking distance to several family-style restaurants.
If you’re seeking luxury, you’ll find many full-service hotels offering high-class facilities and services, making your stay more inviting. The popular choices of luxury hotels include, but not limited to, the Beaver Lakefront Cabins and 1905 Basin Park Hotel.
The Best Time to Visit Eureka Springs
June and July are arguably the best months to visit Eureka Springs to make the most of lake time; plus, the town’s abuzz with summertime activities. However, visiting in the fall or winter means far fewer crowds and local events like the town’s popular Ozark Mountain Music Festival held in January.
Fun Facts About Eureka Springs
- The Basin Park Hotel was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Every floor of the seven-story building is ground level.
- It’s the only U.S. city whose entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Thorncrown Chapel (a popular wedding location) is the fourth most significant architectural structure in America.
- There are over 60 natural springs located through Eureka Springs’ city limits.
Eureka Springs Day Trips & Tours
I love to do a combination of exploring on my own as well as a few organized tours when I travel. I love to learn about the history and culture in a new location and tours with local experts is a great way to do this. I recommend Get Your Guide because you can cancel most bookings for free up to 24 hours before they start and their customer service is available 24/7 in multiple languages.
A Few Top Tours in Eureka Springs
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Courtney Hartmann is a freelance writer and social media junkie. Korea-born and Kansas-bred, this girl has a zest for life on the move. She’s called both coasts home, NYC for a brief period and San Diego since 2010, to explore new opportunities and fun adventures. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram at @mscourtneybeth.