10.30.2017

Eureka Springs Travel Guide

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One of my favorite places in the world is Eureka Springs, Arkansas. For those of you who are unfamiliar with northwest Arkansas, you’re probably thinking “ew, why?” But Arkansas, and Eureka Springs in particular, is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Eureka Springs is a bit of a tradition for my family. We started going to the 1886 Crescent Hotel for Thanksgiving back when I was 9 and have come back off and on for years. When Worsham and I started thinking about where to spend our first anniversary, Eureka Springs was an easy pick! We’re in the beginning stages of buying our first house so we wanted to go somewhere close (it’s under 3 hours from my mom’s house in Tulsa), affordable, and beautiful. Here are my Eureka faves:

Where to Stay

The coolest part of Eureka, in my opinion, is the Crescent Hotel. It’s a mountaintop hotel and spa with a crazy history. It was built back in the late 1800s as a swanky, invitation-only resort and was one of the most popular destinations of the time. The Crescent also saw its days as “Crescent College” – a girls-only school – during parts of the year. The weirdest part of the Crescent’s past, however, was when Norman Baker (a deluded psychopath “doctor”) bought the building around the Great Depression to open his cancer-curing hospital. He cured no one and many people died under his care, if you can call it that. Given the deaths that occurred during the building’s construction, one of the school girl’s apparent suicides, and all of the people who died in the hospital, the hotel is haunted AF. It’s one of the most haunted hotels in America, in fact. My husband would tell you otherwise, but I’ve had so many weird encounters there over the past 18 years that I have no doubt in my mind that some of the Crescent’s inhabitants never left. It’s a great place to stay if you’re into ghosts or just want to step back in time. The hotel has been preserved very well and looks almost exactly as it did back in 1886. Also, they have a resident cat – Jasper – who I love to see every time we visit. He’ll let guests pet him and even took a walk with me and Worsham one night. It was the cutest thing that’s ever happened.

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If you go, I recommend staying in the annex, which is also one of the most haunted parts of the hotel. It’s where they took all the near-death people to hang out until they died so no one would hear them screaming in pain and realize Dr. Baker was a total fraud. It’s also right above the morgue. Yes, there’s still the original morgue down the basement.

Anyway, I’ve stayed in the annex twice now (once during Thanksgiving a few years ago and this past time with Worsham). It’s definitely the nicest area I’ve ever stayed in at the Crescent. It’s spacious yet cozy and his a GIANT jetted bath tub in the middle of the room. That bathtub alone is worth the extra money! Worsham said it’s the first one he’s been able to fit in since he was a kid (he’s 6’3). The bed is super comfy as well.

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Where to Eat

I’ll admit – the food is not usually the reason you go to Eureka. Most of the restaurants I’ve been to there are just meh (excluding the Crescent’s Crystal Dining Room). However, we found a few gems during our weekend getaway! We spent our anniversary dinner at Ermilio’s, which is an Italian family-owned restaurant in an old Victorian house. It fills up super quick, so be sure to get there early! The pasta was really good and so was the dessert. We got tiramisu and cheesecake to go so we could have it with our champagne later.

We also tried out the Sky Bar on the fourth floor of the Crescent. They have all kinds of pizza (we got buffalo chicken pizza and a marg) and the view is amazing. If you sit out on the balcony, you can basically see all of Eureka and the Christ of the Ozarks in the distance. The restaurant at the Basin Hotel (also haunted) has really good dessert! The brownie fudge sundae and huckleberry pie were amazing. It overlooks downtown Eureka Springs and is a fun place to stop after a long day of shopping.

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What to Do

If you’re a Eureka first-timer, you have to do the ghost tour at the Crescent! They share so many interesting facts about the hotel’s history, ghosts’ history, and encounters people have had while staying there. An episode of Ghost Hunters was even filmed there. They end the tour down in the morgue where you have the opportunity to be shut in the refrigerator where they kept the bodies. It’s spooky and so much fun to do around this time of year! They have downtown ghost tours as well because – let’s be real – basically the entire town is haunted.

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One of the other great things about Eureka is all of the cute shops downtown. You can spend hours just roaming around the quaint downtown area perusing the shops. A couple of my favorites are Romancing the Stone (tons of new-age stuff like crystals, incense, unique jewelry, etc.) and Nelson’s (they have literally everything – games, hats, jewelry, clothes, shoes, pocket knives, random trinkets, etc.).

We didn’t have time to do this, but Eureka Springs also has zip lining! It would be one of the most beautiful places to zip line through during the fall. We’ll definitely have to do this next time we come.

Bottom line: Ghosts. Cats. Ghost Cats. 1800s glam. Giant bathtubs. Tiramisu. Fall leaves. If you want something fun, unique, and affordable, Eureka Springs is a magical pick!

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