18 Best Things to Do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

A popular resort town nestled in the heart of the Ozark mountains in Arkansas, Eureka Spring has been drawing holidaymakers, adventure seekers and culture aficionados in for almost two centuries.

With an eclectic mix of historical architecture, natural landscapes and quirky attractions, there’s plenty to see, do and experience in Eureka Springs.

Image: Street View, Eureka Springs. Clinton Steeds. [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

If you thought this city only offered hot springs for bathing, let this list of the 19 best things to do in Eureka Springs surprise you and provide inspiration for your next trip down south.

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1. Explore Downtown Eureka Springs

Image: Classic Eureka Shot. Clinton Steeds. [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

The main street of downtown Eureka Springs is aptly named, Main Street.

The expansive avenue is home to a number of local boutiques, art galleries and culinary destinations and makes for a perfect day of wandering around the heart of the city.

Whether you are looking for a local cafe or are keen to indulge in some souvenir shopping, there is plenty to keep you entertained and occupied on Main Street and the nearby Spring Street.

For those interested in the history of Eureka Springs, you can even join a walking tour that will point out some of the key attractions and points of interest.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the street art and the carriage rides that are often spotted down the leafy road.

2. Explore Lake Leatherwood City Park

For a city park, there is plenty to see and explore at Lake Leatherwood.

With over 1,600 acres of trails, lakes and cool springs, there’s an activity for every type of traveler.

Some of the most popular things to do in Lake Leatherwood City Park include exploring the historic rock formations, walking along the stone walls and bridges and spotting over a hundred species of birds, from bald eagles to wild turkeys.

Take advantage of being in the Ozarks and visit Lake Leatherwood City Park for a refreshing few hours whilst being in easy proximity to the main city center.

3. Soar through the Ozark Mountain Zipline

Photo credit: Ozark Mountain Ziplines at Eureka Springs

If your idea of an exciting day out involves getting a birds eye view of your holiday locale, check out the Ozark Mountain Ziplines canopy tour in the Ozark Mountains.

The zipline will whiz you along 2,000 feet of cables at a height of 300 feet in the air.

From up here, you’ll be able to spot the breathtaking mountain scenery that makes Eureka Springs, Arkansas such a popular place to visit.

Keep your eyes wide open and you’ll also spot the limestone cliffs, hardwood trees and the swinging bridge.

This activity isn’t for the faint hearted, but if you’re game, there’s plenty to reward the eagle-eyed.

4. Visit the Eureka Springs Historical Museum

Credit: Eureka Springs Historical Museum

Once you’ve spent some time relaxing in the natural springs, one of the most interesting things to do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is to learn about the history of the springs and their important role in the cultural development of the city.

The museum is located in a preserved Victorian-era three story home and displays many artifacts and photographs, offering visitors an insight into the history of the area.

Take yourself on a self-guided tour and spend a few hours supporting the not-for-profit enterprise.

5. Visit Thorncrown Chapel

ThornCrown Chapel
Image: Thorncrown Chapel. Clinton Steeds. [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

Considered amongst one of the most beautiful chapels in North America, if not the world, is the striking Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The chapel was built in the 1980s by a renowned architect E. Fay Jones and has been the recipient of numerous architectural design awards.

The chapel is over 48 feet high and is built with over 400 windows. If that is not impressive enough, the structure itself is built on top of 100 tons of native and colorful stone.

There are many places of religious significance in Eureka Springs, but the Thorncrown Chapel is one of the best things to see in the city.

6. Attend a show at the Eureka Springs City Auditorium

Originally built in 1928, the Eureka Springs City Auditorium is a much loved local favorite entertainment venue.

Entertainments of all forms have performed in this spacious and historical venue, from country musicians such as Tracy Lawrence, comedians such as the Smothers Brothers and even the University of Arkansas Student Chamber Music Tour.

Check the events schedule to see what’s coming up to coincide with your visit, and enjoy a seat in one of Eureka Springs, Arkansas’ top attractions.

7. Explore Onyx Cave

Photo credit: Onyx Cave Park

One of the most fun things to do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is visit the oldest show cave in the state.

There are several activities on offer in the cave, making this a fun activity for a family day out.

From going on a self-guided tour using the provided headphones or panning for semi-precious gems in the outdoor area, there’s plenty to keep you occupied for the afternoon.

8. Visit Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Photo credit: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

If you’re in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, one of the top things to do is visit the exotic cats, lions, tigers, bears and other wildlife that call Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge home.

Wander through the grounds of the sanctuary and you’ll learn more about the mission of this non-profit organization to rescue and provide lifetime care for abandoned and abused big cats.

For those who want an even more intimate experience, you can even spend the night in one of the cabins or camping spots at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

9. Dine at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant

Photo credit: Bavarian Inn Restaurant

Loved by both locals and visitors, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant is one of the best award winning restaurants in the north west of Arkansas.

Offering its own take on traditional Czech and German delicacies, such as the Goulash Esterhazie and the Sauerkraut Soup, there’s plenty of authentic Bavarian specialties to try.

Top tip, don’t leave without trying the Apple Strudel, a delicious warm flaky pie made with layers of pastry and sweet stewed apples – it’s one of the most popular dishes in the house.

10. Experience the Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway Dinner Train

A fabulous way to both see the sights of Eureka Springs whilst feasting on delicious local cuisine is to climb aboard the Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway Dinner Train.

This two hour adventure won’t transport you too far, covering approximately four and a half miles.

However the real star of the show is the (reasonably priced) dinner service that you’ll enjoy as you travel in style.

For under $50, you’ll be seated in a comfortable booth with your travelling party and treated to a three course menu (with vegetarian and other dietary requirements catered for).

Ofcourse you can also add on wine or champagne for an extra fee.

For a more budget friendly option, you can take the train at lunchtime, or simply skip the meal altogether and simply feast on the views.

11. Tour the 1886 Crescent Hotel

Crescent Hotel
Image: Crescent Hotel – Eureka Springs, AR. Marcus O Best. [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

One of the spookiest things to do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is to take a ghost tour at the infamous 1886 Crescent Hotel.

Believed to be America’s most haunted hotel, the establishment offers nightly ghost tours for both guests and visitors.

Join a tour and your guide will enthrall you with ghost stories whilst showing you around some of the most active areas, including the morgue where many ghost sightings have been reported.

12. Watch the Great Passion Play

The Great Passion Play is arguably one of the top things to see in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Performed in an outdoor amphitheater, the picturesque setting of this spectacular show deserves credit all on its own.

However the play itself is an incredible depiction of the story of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Performed by over 150 talented artists and featuring live animals, this show is one you should definitely try to book into if you’re visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

13. Visit the Blue Springs Heritage Center

Once considered to be a sacred space for Native American tribes, the Blue Springs Heritage Center has now become one of the most culturally significant places to visit in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The center includes a large natural spring set amongst beautifully landscaped gardens. Peppered amongst the grounds are historical artifacts that showcase the history of the city.

Be sure to stop by the old mill and bluff shelter, with the latter being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

14. Visit Basin Spring

Basin Spring Park
Image: Basin Spring Park. Phil Baker. [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

Famed for once attracting settlers and Indigenous communities into the area, the Basin Spring is considered to be one of the most important sites in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The spring itself is located in a central park, which can be easily accessed from downtown Eureka Springs.

Being at the center of the town, both historically and geographically, this famous spot is often the site of community events and holiday festivals.

If you’re planning to do a walking tour of Eureka Springs, chances are the tour will depart from this central location too.

15. Take the Tram Tour

Photo credit: Joe Gunnels Tour

Voted the number 1 activity to do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the Eureka Springs Tram Tour.

The 90 minute tour is run by local experts who are passionate and knowledgeable about the history of the city, and can point out some of the key attractions you may not be able to cover on foot.

The tram itself may not look like the ones you may have seen elsewhere, but climb on because this tour is often considered to be one of the most fun activities to do in Eureka Springs.

16. See the Christ of the Ozarks

Christ of the Ozarks
Image: Christ of the Ozarks. jaystout. [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

One of the things you must do when visiting Eureka Springs is see the Christ of the Ozarks.

Standing on top of Magnetic Mountain, this 20 meter high sculpture of Jesus was erected in 1966.

While the style of the carving is minimalist, without too many carvings or intricate detail, it’s a nonetheless impressive sculpture that rises high in the Ozark mountains.

The sculpture has also been featured in movies and documentaries, and attracts crowds of all religious and non-religious backgrounds.

17. Visit St Elizabeth’s Catholic Church

Being the only church to have featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, makes this one of the top things to see in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, if only to find out what makes it so unique.

Enter this beautiful and historic church through the bell tower to see the sculptures and paintings inside.

Once you’ve explored the interiors, be sure to take a visit around the gardens and fountains that form the grounds of the church.

It’s also free to visit, although donations are always welcome, so this can be a great way to learn more about the religious history of Eureka Springs, Arkansas in a budget friendly way.

18. Cruise aboard the Belle of the Ozarks

For a fun family or group friendly activity to see the best of the Ozarks, a cruise on the Belle of the Ozarks is hard to beat.

Sailing along the clear waters of Beaver Lake, sit back and enjoy the insightful commentary of the captain as you enjoy the majestic sights and sounds of the Ozark lakes.

The cruise itself will take you on a 12 mile round trip, covering some of the key attractions that you may otherwise miss on land.

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