14 Fun Things to Do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a charming and historic town known for its Victorian architecture, eclectic shops, and natural beauty. Here are some fun things to do in Eureka Springs.

My family has been visiting Eureka Springs, AR, since I was little. I have been visiting since before I could remember, and it’s always had a special place in my heart. So much so that I got married there in 2022 and was absolutely ecstatic to share it with friends and family. Now I get to share fun things to do in Eureka Springs with all of you!

Table of Contents

Things to Know About Eureka Springs Before Your Visit

Fun Things to Know About Eureka Springs:
  1.  The town is named after the numerous natural springs found in the area. The water from these springs is believed by many to have healing properties.
  2. Downtown Historic Eureka Springs is very hilly. Bring great walking shoes and plenty of water during summer.
  3. Eureka Springs is known for being LGBTQ+ friendly, and the town hosts LGBTQ+ events and festivals, contributing to its inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.
  4. Eureka Springs hosts various eccentric events throughout the year, such as the annual UFO Conference, the Eureka Springs Zombie Crawl, and the May Festival of the Arts. Check for events before your visit!
  5. The surrounding Ozark Mountains provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and exploring nature trails.
  6. Eureka Springs has a thriving arts community. The town is home to numerous art galleries, studios, and events celebrating various forms of artistic expression.
  7. For your trip, I’d recommend staying in Downtown Eureka Springs or Beaver Lake. Options are at the end of this post.
  8. Parking downtown can be difficult if there are events and during the evening. There is a free trolly that goes from the visitors center and up to the Crescent Hotel if you choose to stay there.
  9. The closest airport is Fayetteville Northwest Arkansas (XNA) (32.71 mi). Other nearby airports are Branson (BKG) (31.3 mi), Harrison Boone County (HRO) (33.84 mi), and Springfield Springfield-Branson (SGF) (61.34 mi). It’s recommended that you fly in and rent a car to get to Eureka Springs. While Uber is available in the area, drivers can be sparse, and getting around is best with a car.
  10. Eureka Springs is full of quirky and fun little oddities. One example is “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch” which has been spotted around Eureka Springs numerous times over the years.

Fun Things to Do in Eureka Springs

1. Explore Downtown

The streets of Eureka Springs are known for their winding and steep nature. The town is built on hills and features a unique, switchback design. The historic downtown is really charming and worth an afternoon of exploring.

 

Wander through the picturesque streets of downtown Eureka Springs, filled with unique shops, art galleries, and cafes. Don’t miss the Basin Spring Park, a historic gathering place in the heart of town.

2. Thorncrown Chapel

 

Visit the Thorncrown Chapel, an architectural marvel nestled in the Ozark woods. This glass chapel is renowned for its stunning design and serene setting. It was built by the architect E. Fay Jones who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright for years.

The chapel is located on Highway 62 West just outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. There is no admission fee, but donations are accepted. Every tour group will receive a presentation telling the story of the chapel. There is ample parking for buses and RVs. So, while in the Ozarks, stop by what many have called one of the most beautiful and inspiring chapels in the world. It will be a visit you will not soon forget.

 

Thorncrown Chapel is open the following hours:

March through December 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (On weekends and some weekdays the chapel occasionally closes at as early as 12:30 PM for special events. Please call ahead to make sure the chapel will be open if you plan to visit late in the day.)

 
 
 

They are closed January and February except for weddings and other special events.

Sunday services are held at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM, April through October. November through the third week in December we have one Sunday service at 11:00 AM. Services last approximately one hour and include inspiring music and biblically-based preaching.

 

3. Take a Ghost Tour

Due to its historic and reportedly haunted locations, Eureka Springs offers ghost tours that take visitors to various spooky sites while sharing tales of the town’s paranormal history.

 

There are two different tours you can take. One happens at the Basin Park Hotel and the other at the Crescent Hotel. I’ve personally done the tour at the Cresent and it is probably the creepiest ghost tour I’ve ever been on! It is really good and well worth it on your visit!

 
 

Tales and legends of downtown Eureka Springs, the 1905 Basin Park Hotel and the “original residents who never left.” Tours nightly April-Nov. at 8 p.m. Tours nightly, March-November. Weekends in Feb and Dec. Tickets available in hotel lobby. Much is understood when one learns the history of this seven-story “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” hotel and the town.

 

Featured on Ghosthunters, Ghost Adventures, My Ghost Story and in Smithsonian magazine.— Learn the tales of the “most haunted hotel in America”, telling the stories of resident spirits in the places where they happened, and ending in the dreadful Norman Baker’s notorious morgue, during this walking tour…-

 

Take a guided tram tour to explore the town’s historic district and learn about its rich history. This is a great option for those who don’t want to walk up and down all the hills or to try to drive and sightsee at the same time.

 

The tours often cover key landmarks, including Victorian homes and unique architecture. You will see literally 100’s of historic homes and buildings on the tour. As well as beautiful scenery.

 

Enjoy a refreshing stop at one of the historic springs that made Eureka Springs the famous health spa that it was in the 1800’s.

 
 

5. Spend a Day at Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake is situated in the Ozark Mountains, near Eureka Springs. It is one of the largest lakes in Arkansas, with a surface area of over 28,000 acres. It has approximately 483 miles of shoreline.

 

Beaver Lake is a popular destination for outdoor recreation. Visitors can enjoy activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, camping, hiking, and wildlife watching. There are numerous parks and campgrounds along the shoreline.

 

Several marinas around the lake offer boat rentals, supplies, and amenities for boaters. These marinas provide convenient access to the lake for those who don’t own their own watercraft.

 

Fishing is one of the most popular activities here. The lake is known for its diverse fish population, including striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, and more. Fishing enthusiasts often visit Beaver Lake for both recreational and competitive fishing.

 

The surrounding area features hiking trails that provide stunning views of the lake and the Ozark Mountains. The Beaver Lake area is known for its natural beauty and is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts.

 

Dam Site Park offers recreational facilities, picnic areas, and a visitor center. It’s a popular spot for family outings and enjoying the scenic surroundings.

 

You could also consider staying at Beaver Lake when visiting Eureka Springs if you want a beautiful view and to be in nature. It’s about a 20-25 minute drive from downtown.

 
 

6. Christ of the Ozarks and the Great Passion Play

The Christ of the Ozarks is situated atop Magnetic Mountain, overlooking the town of Eureka Springs. The statue is part of the grounds of The Great Passion Play, a live outdoor performance depicting the last days of Jesus Christ.

 

The statue was built in 1966 and stands at a height of approximately 65.5 feet (20 meters) and is intended to symbolize the peaceful, spiritual atmosphere of the Ozarks. The statue’s outstretched arms evoke a sense of welcoming and serenity.

 

The Great Passion Play is a live outdoor theatrical performance that depicts the last days of Jesus Christ, from his entry into Jerusalem to his crucifixion and resurrection. The production takes place in a natural amphitheater and includes a tour of the Holy Land.

 

Before the play, visitors to the site can explore the grounds, which include the Christ of the Ozarks statue, gardens, and other amenities. There are also gift shops and dining options available.

 

They also do seasonal performances here like Christmas concerts and more. Here is their schedule for more details on upcoming performances and tickets.

 

Perched high above the Victorian Village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, a palatial structure and landmark hotel. Originally constructed as a luxury resort, it has served various purposes over the years, including being a women’s college and a hospital. Today, it is a hotel and spa that is unique and beautiful.

 

You don’t have to stay here to enjoy a visit to this hotel. I’d highly recommend going for a spa treatment, drink, or dinner.

 

In addition to the spa, the hotel has a rooftop bar and a restaurant with a view over the Ozarks. Enjoy an Italian Dinner with big tables and shareable entrees at The Crystal Dining Room or take part in a delicious pick-me-up Breakfast inside the Crystal Ballroom. Enjoy Sky Bar Gourmet Pizzeria and one of the best views of Eureka Springs.

 

This famous hotel offers nightly Ghost Tours. It also has several beautiful trails from their hotel overlooking the mountains. Well worth an afternoon!

 

8. Spend an Afternoon at Lake Leatherwood

Lake Leatherwood is situated just a few miles northwest of Eureka Springs. Non-motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks are available for rent at Lake Leatherwood. The serene environment makes it a great place for a peaceful paddle.

 

The park’s natural setting, with wooded hillsides and the picturesque lake, provides a tranquil and scenic escape. We loved having a picnic here with friends and family on our wedding weekend. It’s a great place to spend your time while in Eureka Springs.

 

Photo by Derek Livingston on Unsplash

9. Hike in the Ozark Mountains

The Ozark Mountains are full of beautiful trails you can take to enjoy the mountains. Below are a few of my favorite trails.

 

About an hour from Eureka Springs is Whitaker Point Trail in the little town of Deer, Arkansas. Often referred to as Hawksbill Crag, this is a 2.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The “Crag”, a rock formation that juts out from the bluff’s face, received its name because it resembles a hawk’s beak. It overlooks Whitaker Creek and a huge valley stretching out into the distance.

 

Kettle Falls Trail is a 2.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Huntsville, Arkansas that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.

Dogwood Canyon is a great place to enjoy seeing some of the natural features and history that the Ozarks have to offer. Its a family destination offering hiking, biking, wildlife tours, horseback riding, and trout fishing amongst towering bluffs, waterfalls, creek beds, handcrafted bridges, and wildlife.

 

The park includes a fully-functioning mill, restaurant, conservation center, bike rentals, a treehouse built by Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters, and a horse stable facility. The last time I was here, I saw a bald eagle on a hike!

 

Dogwood Canyon is in Missouri about 40 minutes from downtown Eureka Springs and requires an entrance fee.

 

Take a scenic train ride on the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway. The vintage train offers beautiful views of the Ozark countryside.

 

They also offer a dinner train where you can spend about two hours traveling four-and-a-half miles while dining. Choose your meal and take in the mountain views on an old-fashioned 1940s style train ride!

12. Float, Canoe, or Kayak on the White River

If you like adventure, this is for you! Rent a kayak or canoe and float along the crystal-clear waters of the White River. Fish as you float along or pull your kayak/canoe on the edge of the river to take a dip and relax in the clear water. This is one of my fondest memories as a kid and still love going here to this day.

 

While you kayak, you’ll see the unique flint rock cliffs and take in the mountain views. Generally, paddling is pretty easy as the water flows at a nice pace on the river.

 

I’d recommend a rental through Wanderoo who offers rentals that include a roundtrip shuttle to/from the river so you don’t have to worry about a thing!

 
 

13. Go on an Adventure with OMZ (zipline, e-biking, gem mining)

 

Ziplining

Experience the Ozark Mountains from a bird’s eye view on this family-friendly adventure. Offering up to 8 different ziplines totaling over one mile long, you can overcome fears, appreciate nature, and have fun on your guided tour!

 

e-Biking

Hit EMZ’s on-site trails of the Ozarks on electric-assist mountain bikes! Pedal like a normal bike and get an extra boost as you go up and down the hilly terrain. Their designated trail runs through the beautiful mountain scenery allowing you to explore the different wildlife and rock structures!

 

Gem Mining

Discover a fun time at an authentic gem mining station! Children as young as 2 can experience this old-fashioned panning for gold activity. Take home the gems, emeralds, and fossils that you uncover. Happy mining!

 

14. Onyx Cave

Explore the fascinating Onyx Cave, known for its unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Guided tours take you through the cave, providing insights into its geological history.

 

Onyx Cave was found in 1971 during the construction of a parking lot for this larger attraction and opened as a show cave for the public in 1973.

 

They currently offer a 30-35 minute tour with roughly 60 steps down into the cave that are negotiated about 30 at a time. It’s a beautiful cave and just about 10 minutes outside town making it easily accessible when visiting.

Here are a few of the best places to stay in Eureka Springs from downtown to historic places and the best views on Beaver Lake.

 

Historic and Upscale

Crescent Hotel: Looking over Eureka Springs, this mountaintop spa resort is a proud member of the exclusive Historic Hotels of America. Fun resort activities make it fun for all generations. Located on 15 acres of manicured gardens and wooded hiking trails, the hotel features an elegant formal lobby and outdoor swimming pool & hot tub in a garden setting. They have one of the largest spas in the region, New Moon Spa & Salon.

 

Downtown

Basin Park Hotel: Located in the heart of downtown, when choosing to stay here guests can walk to the nightspots, bistros, shopping, and galleries. Stay in and enjoy the Balcony Bar and Restaurant with its views of Spring Street or people-watch in Basin Spring Park just outside your front door. The Basin Park Hotel hosts daily Resort activities, Jack Rabbett’s Whisky Bar, JR’s Game Room, a 24-hour front desk, bellman, and shuttle service.

For relaxation, on the Second Floor guests find Spa1905, a day spa & spa boutique offering spa services, a Sun Deck, and Hot Tub. For more fun, The Paranormal Investigation provides both adventure and a ghost tour from the roof to the bootlegger’s cave.

New Orleans Hotel: Where timeless elegance joins southern hospitality. Walking distance to all of the shopping, art galleries, fine dining, local brews, and other exciting attractions in downtown Eureka Springs. All rooms have balcony access and great views of the downtown streets and shops. Take a stroll through the majestic springs on Spring Street or relax on the balcony.

 

Beaver Lake

Lake Front Cabin for Couples: 7.3 miles from Eureka Springs Historic District, Beaver Lakefront Cabins has accommodations with a garden, free private parking, water sports facilities and a private beach area. Each room at the 4-star resort has mountain views, and guests can enjoy access to a sun terrace and to a hot tub. The resort provides lake views and a grill. Activities such as hiking, fishing, canoeing can be enjoyed in the surrounding areas, and guests can relax along the beachfront.

 

Sugar Ridge Resort (Great for Groups): Eureka Springs Historic District is 12 miles from Sugar Ridge Resort. Located in Eureka Springs in the Arkansas region, Sugar Ridge Resort provides accommodations with free WiFi and free private parking, as well as access to a hot tub. They offer a cabin that hosts up to 14 people as well as smaller suites and rooms all of which have lake views.

 

On a Budget

Wanderoo Lodge: The Wanderoo Lodge is a great option for anyone on a budget who wants to take advantage of the outdoors on their trip. They offer activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and floating right from the hotel. Each room there is different with its own unique, curious, and quirky style. No two rooms are exactly the same. You’ll often find live entertainment at the Gravel Bar onsite too.

 

Quality Inn: The Quality Inn Eureka Springs South is conveniently located at the intersection of State Highway 23 and US Highway 62 just outside historic Eureka Springs. Guests can also enjoy the Victorian-style lounge area, picnic area and on-site massage therapist (by appointment). The hotel also features a beautifully landscaped rock garden and secluded paths.

 

There you have some of the best things to do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas on your trip! What else would you do on a trip to Eureka Springs? Leave your thoughts below

Explore the charm and beauty of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Discover the best things to see and do in this historic town.
Explore the charm and beauty of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Discover the best things to see and do in this historic town.

 

Explore the charm and beauty of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Discover the best things to see and do in this historic town.
Explore the charm and beauty of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Discover the best things to see and do in this historic town.
Meghan

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