The Osage people native to the area were probably the first to enjoy the refreshing spring water that once bubbled up out of the ground in the northwestern part of what would become Arkansas and where the city of Eureka Springs would be founded. Today visitors to Eureka Springs find their healing waters at the area’s numerous spa and wellness facilities but the curious can still see a couple of places right in town where the natural springs once flowed. That’s not to say that Eureka Springs isn’t still percolating when it comes to fun though, and the city is about to kick up its heels at the Ozark Mountain Music Festival.
The Ozark Mountain Music Festival is kind of unique in the sense that it takes place in the Basin Park Hotel, located in downtown Eureka Springs. Since the festival is a three-day affair, January 24-26, fans have the opportunity to purchase a special lodging-and-music package, meaning that after they groove to bands like Honky Suicide, Wink, 3 Penny Acre and Eureka Springs’ own Hogscalders they can just walk to their room without the concerns of driving home, and then roll out of bed the following days for more music with Pearl Brick, Tyrannosaurus Chicken, SX Rex, the Ben Miller Band, National Park Radio and Handmade Moments. There’ll also be a midnight jam on Saturday, January 25. Three-day passes for just the festival are also available; all the info is at the Ozark Mountain Music Festival Facebook page.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
You’ll be hanging out with some cool cats when you attend the music festival, but how about hanging out with the real thing? Head out to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, just on the edge of town, to see Turbo, Big Nasty, Mr. Sweetie, Sissy, Chopper and Makita and all the other tigers, lions, cougars and assorted big cats waiting to meet you. There’s a grizzly bear too; Bam Bam may seem like a pic-a-nic basket sort of fellow when he’s playing with his trainer, but take a look at those claws! Those wishing to extend their visit to Turpentine Creek can book rooms at the on-property Safari Lodge, at one of two bed and breakfast rooms or in the “tree house.” Camping facilities are also available. For more info on the animals, lodging and special events, visit the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge website.
Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour
They have a saying at the Crescent Hotel: “Some guests checked out…but never left!” The tour here will inform you about all of the hotel’s ghostly inhabitants: The stonemason who fell to his death while building the hotel in 1885, Theodora the cancer patient, the white-suited (with a lavender shirt!) Norman Baker, a mystery person dressed in a white nightgown that shows up at the foot of the bed in the hotel’s luxury suites and even ghostly feline Morris the cat. No wonder the place calls itself “America’s most haunted hotel.” Find more details, if you dare, on the Crescent Hotel website.
The downtown area of Eureka Springs is packed with examples of Victorian architecture but just on the edge of town you can see something completely different at the Thorncrown Chapel, winner of the American Institute of Architecture’s Design of the Year Award for 1981. Come to see the building, for church services, or just to enjoy the chapel’s idyllic woodland setting. For directions visit the Thorncrown Chapel website.
These are just a few of the fun attractions and activities that await in Eureka Springs; for a big list of other things to do click over to the Eureka Springs website.