Dash to the Past: Victorian Artist Colony is One Tank from Civilization

Dash to the Past: Victorian Artist Colony is One Tank from Civilization

There are so many fun things to do in Eureka Springs, AR: see The Great Passion Play; visit Thorncrown Chapel; tour the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Historic Railway; go bass and walleye fishing in Beaver Lake; go fishing in the White River, filled with rainbows and browns ready to catch and release or fry up for breakfast. The best part?  You can get to Eureka Springs round-trip on one tank from Tulsa, OK; Springfield, MO; Little Rock, AR; or Fayetteville, AR.  Eureka Springs is just a couple of hours away from these cities, but you’ll feel like you are light years away from the stresses of the urban world.

For its original Victorian buildings and 52 miles of hand-cut stone walls, the entire Historic Downtown of Eureka Springs is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations.”  Not long ago, USA Today did a front-page article on B&Bs in America and found Eureka Springs had 125, more than any other city in America, seconded only by San Francisco with 119.  With more than 4,000 weddings performed annually, Eureka Springs has just been designated the “Wedding Capital of the South.”

Ceremonies can be performed here at an inn, in a cave, a garden, on horseback, in a canoe, or a horse drawn carriage.  It’s the perfect place for a stress-free elopement at one of the many B&Bs.  Cliff Cottage Inn, the only B&B in the heart of Historic Downtown, has been offering couples an all-inclusive elopement package for 20 years.  “Many are all still happily married,” says the innkeeper who enjoys welcoming the couples back year after year to celebrate anniversaries.

Bigger weddings and interested tourists will be excited about the famous Thorncrown Chapel. This 48-foot glass chapel nestled in the woods with 425 windows and more than 8,000 sq. ft. of glass was recently named #4 on AIA’s list of top ten buildings of the 20th century!

American Style Magazine has named Eureka Springs as a “Top Twenty-Five Arts Destination.” The natural beauty of the Ozarks and the peaceful ambiance of this little mountain village make Eureka Springs a perfect place for artists of all types. In the early 1930s, Louis and Elsie Freund began an arts movement in Eureka Springs.  Years later, locals and visitors alike can enjoy the arts at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, which offers workshops and classes year-round.

Eureka Springs has the nation’s second-largest municipal park surrounding Lake Leatherwood, a spring-fed waterway situated on 1,600 acres.  The park features master trails, paddle boats, fishing derbies for kids, the annual XTERRA Off-road Triathlon, and the Fat Tire Festival. Eureka Springs also offers horseback riding, bicycle races, water-skiing, wilderness hikes, motorcycle tours, garden tours, golf, cruises on Beaver Lake, and guided tours through Cosmic Cavern, one of the prettiest caverns in the Ozarks.

Annual festivals include car festivals, music festivals like Opera In The Ozarks, Mardi Gras, Chocolate Lovers Festival, Antiques Festival, Kite Festival, May Festival of the Arts, and the Native American Pow-Wow!

Eureka Springs is home to “America’s Most Haunted Hotel.” Take a historical tour through the town’s cemetery, where locals dressed in period costumes act out the roles of some of the town’s more colorful past residents.

Foodies will find some of Arkansas’ best restaurants.  There are more than 75 bistros, coffeehouses and restaurants offering everything from fine French or Italian cuisine to New York-style pizza or fried catfish!  Innkeeper Sandra of Cliff Cottage says “I learned to cook in France on an 18th-century wood-burning stove and I’m real fussy where I eat.  There are more than a dozen fine restaurants here that I wouldn’t hesitate to patronize and to recommend to my guests, and they are all within a few minutes’ walk from the inn.”

Wherever your days take you, a great place to spend the night is the Cliff Cottage Inn.  Enjoy a glass of white wine and an in-room aromatherapy massage. Cliff Cottage Inn has been pampering guests for two decades now under the same innkeeper. It features three historic homes in a row with two spacious and very private Jacuzzi suites in each, all meticulously restored by the current innkeeper and filled with exquisite furnishings, antiques, and art that she has collected from her world travels. Cliff Cottage is Sears’ very first kit home built in the 1880s for Eureka Springs very first mayor. The inn also has two historic stand-alone cottages and is the only inn with an elf that delivers a full-gourmet breakfast on a silver tray right to your suite. There’s always a complimentary bottle of Champagne or white wine chilled and waiting in your fridge.

So, if you want to get away from it all without spending a fortune on multiple tanks of gas or pricey airline tickets, check out Eureka Springs, AR.  Plan for a getaway that will refresh, recharge and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit and won’t leave you out of gas

This peek into the fabulous getaway options of Northern Arkansas was contributed by Sandra CH Smith, innkeeper at Cliff Cottage B&B Inn who spent 7 years sailing her 35-foot sailboat alone in the Pacific before discovering this landlubber paradise.  For more One Tank vacations and gas savings specials anywhere in North America, check out our specials page.

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