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Eureka Springs is a melting pot (sometimes boiling over) of ideas, arts, relaxation and rejuvenation reflecting the most varied of American eclectic. Don't believe us? Try to name another city that hosts a Southern Baptist Seniors Convention and an International UFO Symposium on the same weekend. Or another city of 2,000 that hosts as many parades, festivals and music events. Here's a guide to some of the essential places to visit in Eureka Springs. There are also galleries and shops along Spring Street, The Auditorium musical venue, a billion honeymoon cottages for rent and Hatchet Hall (teetotaler Carrie Nation's home); we're saving them for a future guide. For more suggestions and a calendar of happenings, visit eurekasprings.org.
Eureka Springs Historical Museum. Just as you enter downtown Eureka Springs on Hwy. 23 north, the first building on the left at the bottom of Planer Hill is the newly renovated Eureka Springs Historical Museum, which houses artifacts and archives that document the city's history. Here you'll see everything from paintings by Elsie Bates Freund and Louis Freund, two of Arkansas's most famed artists who lived and taught in Eureka Springs, to a Wells Fargo Strong Chest with a broken lock found in the White River. The entrance fee is $5 for adults; children and students up to grade 12 are free. 95 S. Main St. 479-253-9417. eurekaspringshistoricalmuseum.org. 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.
The Stonehouse. A cozy wine bar with rustic stone walls and a beautifully constructed wooden bar, The Stonehouse is where locals go to unwind with wine and cheese and tapas. Here you'll find not only an impressive wine list, but one of Eureka's best beer selections. 89 S. Main St. 479-363-6411. eurekastonehouse.com. CC accepted. Beer and wine. 1 p.m.-10 p.m. Wed.-Sat.
Caribe Restaurant & Cantina. Owner K.J. Zumwalt closely guards his secret recipes for sauces and salsas at this unique Caribbean restaurant. It's safe to say it's the only place in town where you can get jalapeno pie and a Mexican soda. 309 W. Van Buren. 479-253-8102. CC accepted. Full bar. Open for lunch and dinner Thu.-Sun.; hours vary.
Cottage Inn Restaurant. Owner and chef Linda Hager learned her craft working in small restaurants in Spain, Italy and Greece. That experience shines through at this excellent Mediterranean bistro, where the impressive wine list reflects not just the provenance of the cuisine but Hager's curatorial care: Each year during the winter months, she travels to wineries in Spain, Argentina, and Napa Valley vineyards to find great wines for her restaurant. Look out for special Sunday night wine dinners. 450 West Van Buren. 479-253-5282. www.cottageinneurekaspgs.com. CC accepted. Full bar. 5-9 p.m. Thu.-Sun.
Lake Leatherwood City Park. If you're looking for a full range of outdoor experiences, Lake Leatherwood City Park offers just about everything — fishing, primitive camping, RV hook-ups, cabins, canoe, kayak and small boat rentals and miles of mountain bike and hiking trails. One of the largest city parks in the country, the 1,700-acre park is oriented around Lake Leatherwood, an 85-acre lake featuring one of the largest stacked cut limestone dams in the world. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails and only small boats (with no wake) are allowed on the lake. You can rent a boat at the bait and snack shop, or launch your own boat from the paved boat ramp. The lake is five miles west from downtown Eureka on Hwy. 62 West. Look for the signs about three miles west of town. 1303 County Road.
Black Bass Lake City Park. This 200-acre park surrounds a nine-acre lake that was originally created for fire protection and as drinking water reservoir (the stacked-limestone dam, built in 1894, still stands). Hikers and mountain bikers will love the trails that encircle the lake. The Bluff Trail, especially, offers good views of the lake and the valley. Look for signs for Black Bass Lake about 1.2 miles west of the Inn of the Ozarks on Hwy. 62 West. Note that the road to the park is a widened dirt road, though most should find it easily navigable.
Crescent Hotel and Spa. Any trip to Eureka Springs must include a stop at the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa. Located at one of the highest points in the city, this historic hotel is a great stop for a meal at the Crystal Dining Room or a drink at Dr. Baker's Bistro & Sky Bar on the fourth floor. Don't miss the observation deck on the fourth floor. It offers one of the best views of the city, day or night. Reservations recommended at the Crystal Dining Room. 75 Prospect Ave. 877-342-9766. www.crescent-hotel.com. Dining Room: 8-11 a.m. and 5-8:45 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Sat., 7 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-8:45 p.m. Sun. Bar: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-midnight Sat., 2 p.m.-11 p.m. Sun.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. A USDA-licensed shelter for exotic large cats rescued from various neglected or unwanted situations, Turpentine Creek houses more than 100 lions, tigers, and a bear or two on 450 acres, many in natural habitats. Don't miss feeding time late in the day. Located seven miles south of downtown Eureka Springs. With onsite lodging. 239 Turpentine Creek Lane. 479-253-5841. www.turpentinecreek.org. CC accepted. $15 for adults, $10 children 3-12, seniors and veterans. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily in summer months, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in winter months.
The Coffee Shop. The best place to get a morning cuppa, this drive-thru shop is nestled beneath the shade of whispering pines, in a tiny red coffee stand less than a tenth of a mile south from the junction of U.S. 62 and state Hwy. 23 south. Here you'll find "Almond Roca Mocha," a tall "Hammer Head" (with two shots of espresso), hot chocolate, chai and other specialty morning beverages. 130 Huntsville Road (Hwy. 23 South). 479-244-6383. CC accepted. 7 a.m.-noon Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-noon Sat., occasionally on Sun.