Nestled within the Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas, Eureka Springs is a small Victorian town filled with treasures. The town’s crown jewel is its downtown district, which is home to both the perfect places to stay in Eureka Springs and the best shopping in Eureka Springs. There are over fifty unique boutiques and art galleries, as more than 400 working artists live in Eureka Springs.
The downtown district is also where you’ll find the best places to eat in Eureka Springs. With an abundance of historical and natural attractions, there are plenty of things to do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in winter and summer. Keep reading to discover them all.
1. Eureka Springs Downtown
Eureka Springs Downtown is, in fact, the town’s number one attraction. Filled with character thanks to its eclectic mix of historic buildings, head to the downtown district to find the best places to stay and eat in Eureka Springs. Some of the top things to do in Eureka Springs Downtown include shopping at its independent boutiques; having a drink at one of the 21 bars; visiting the plethora of art galleries; and doing either a historical walking or tram tour.
2. Lake Leatherwood
One of the best things to do in Eureka Springs in summer is dive into Lake Leatherwood. It’s an 85-acre spring-fed lake within Lake Leatherwood City Park. It was created by Leatherwood Dam, which is one of America’s largest hand-cut limestone dams. With over three miles of shoreline, popular activities on the lake include fishing, boating, swimming, and kayaking. Visitors will be pleased to know that kayaks, rowboats and paddleboats are available to hire at the lake as well.
3. Christ of the Ozarks
One of Eureka Springs’ must-visit attractions is Christ of the Ozarks. Located on top of Magnetic Mountain, Christ of the Ozarks is a 65-ft high sculpture of Jesus. It was erected in 1966 and designed by Emmet Sullivan, who was one of Mount Rushmore’s sculptors. Christ of the Ozarks is made of 24 layers of white mortar on a steel frame, which is literally welded into Magnetic Mountain, so he won’t be moving anytime soon!
4. Lake Leatherwood City Park
Constructed in the 1940s, Lake Leatherwood City Park is a 1600-acre municipal park. Besides enjoying Lake Leatherwood itself, there are over 25 miles of hiking and biking trails within Lake Leatherwood City Park, which suit all ability levels. You can also go wildlife and bird watching, as the park is home to approximately 120 bird species. If you want to stay longer, there’s both camping and cabins available at Lake Leatherwood City Park as well.
5. Crescent Hotel Ghost
Built in 1886, Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs is said to be one of America’s most haunted hotels. Over the years, many guests have reported ghost sightings and paranormal activity. A medium has also said the hotel shows signs of being a portal to the ‘other side’. Today, you can either stay in the hotel (if you dare) or do a Crescent Ghost Tour. This is definitely one of the spookiest things to do in Eureka Springs.
6. Ozark Mountain Ziplines
See a different side to Eureka Springs with Ozark Mountain Ziplines. Their two-hour zipline canopy tour takes you on a trip through the Ozark Mountains via 10 cables and one swinging bridge. You soar up to 300 feet in the air and the longest cable is 2000 feet. Anyone over the age of three can enjoy this zipline canopy tour. This is another one of the best things to do in Eureka Springs in summer, as it’s closed in winter.
7. Thorncrown Chapel
Built in 1980 by E. Fay Jones, Thorncrown Chapel is said to be one of the world’s most beautiful and inspiring churches. Surrounded by woodlands, it’s nearly made entirely from local natural materials. The church’s unique design features soaring ceilings, angular beams and 425 separate windows (that’s over 6000 sq feet of glass). Thorncrown Chapel is a designated National Historic Site and has won numerous architectural awards. It’s free to visit this exquisite church in Eureka Springs.
8. Basin Spring Park
One of the best things to do in Eureka Springs Downtown is to visit Basin Spring Park. It’s home to a legendary spring that’s been used by Native Americans and early pioneer settlers for centuries. The spring is said to have magical healing powers. The township of Eureka Springs was built around Basic Spring Park, so it’s truly the heart of the town. Today, Basic Spring Park hosts monthly events, and live music is regularly performed in its historic bandshell.
9. Eureka Springs Historical Museum
Located in the historic 1889 Calif Building in Eureka Springs Downtown, Eureka Springs Historical Museum is a must-visit attraction. Its exhibitions on the town’s history and art will both entertain and educate the entire family. The museum is filled with photographs, artifacts, home furnishings and more. Don’t leave without visiting the museum gift shop either. Here you can purchase the perfect Eureka Springs souvenir, like a book or a piece of local handmade jewelry.
10. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is home to over 100 abused or neglected animals. Although they specialize in big cats like lions and tigers, there are also leopards, cougars, and black and grizzly bears. Accredited as an ethical animal tourism destination, there are daily educational tours at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. It also hosts fun annual events, include a Howl-O-Ween Spooktacular in October. A visit to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is one of the most family-friendly things to do in Eureka Springs.
11. Beaver Lake
Beaver Lake is a man-made reservoir in the Ozark Mountains that has a whopping 487 miles of natural shoreline. At 70 miles long, it’s surrounded by limestone cliffs, forest and natural caves. The US Army Corps of Engineers created an abundance of recreation facilities around the lake, including modern campsites, 12 developed parks, picnic sites, swimming beaches, and hiking trails. Because it’s such a popular tourist destination in summer, there are also many vacation rentals around Beaver Lake.
12. St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church
St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church was built by Richard Kerens, in memory of his parents. It was dedicated in 1909 and was inspired by St. Sophia’s Church in Istanbul, Turkey. St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church underwent extensive renovation in the 1950s, which included building a stone rectory and adding marble statues from Italy to the garden. The stone church and its unattached Bell Tower are both Eureka Springs landmarks, which have been listed on the National Historic Register.
13. Blue Spring Heritage Center
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Eureka Springs is Blue Spring Heritage Center. A privately owned garden, it has 33 acres well-maintained native garden. There’s also its namesake Blue Spring, which is the largest spring in Northwest Arkansas. Blue Spring Heritage Center is also home to a historic bluff shelter that’s been a sacred place to Native Americans for centuries. With its blend of history and nature, this is another one of the top family-friendly things to do in Eureka Springs.
14. Quigley’s Castle
Quigley’s Castle is known as Ozark’s Strangest Dwelling. Intrigued? It’s the dream home of Elise Quigley and today her grandchildren open it up for the public to admire. The home features 28 huge windows; internal flower borders with plants that are now over 65 years old; and a butterfly wall. Outside, it took Mrs Quigley three years to cover the walls with fossils, crystals, arrowheads and stones collected from creek beds. Quigley’s Castle is a curious place you must visit on a trip to Eureka Springs.