Nestled in the spectacular Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is an adorable Victorian-era town that’s just oozing history and charm. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed downtown, and you’ll find unique boutique shops, funky art galleries, and excellent eateries. Plus, you’ll love checking out all of the beautiful 19th-century homes!
While it’ll be tough to tear yourself away from the historic downtown, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy on the outskirts of Eureka Springs. You’ll find a range of shimmering lakes surrounding Eureka Springs, so if you’re craving a day of swimming, boating, and fishing, you’ll be spoiled for choice!
If you prefer to delve into Eureka Springs’ history, be sure to peruse the Eureka Springs Historical Museum, go on a ghost tour of the town’s eerie (and haunted) underground “Catacombs,” or embark on a ride on a 1940s locomotive.
Once you’re ready to unwind after a long day adventuring around Eureka Springs, you can go wine tasting at a local vineyard or do as the locals do and treat yourself to a massage in one of the many downtown spas. If you’re in need of a relaxing and fun getaway, you can’t go wrong with a trip to this truly unique Arkansas town!
With so many cool things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Eureka Springs for you. Stick to these fun and unique Eureka Springs bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this historic town!
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Eureka Springs
1. Sip Local Wine at a Boutique Winery
Going wine tasting might not be the first thing to pop into your mind when it comes to Eureka Springs activities. But the city is actually home to a few excellent little wine tasting spots!
Keels Creek is a boutique winery set right on the edge of town. Stop by their Spanish-style tasting room, and the staff will talk you through a free tasting of their boutique wines.
They pride themselves on producing “local wines from local grapes,” which means all grapes are either sourced from their eight-acre vineyard or from nearby Arkansas vineyards. The tasting room shares a space with Keels Creek Art Gallery, so you can peruse some excellent works by local artists as you sip.
If you want to make a day out of it, Railway Winery is a small, family-owned winery that produces a variety of wines, including some delicious fruit wines. Located on the historic M&NA railroad track, you can sip a glass of wine or do a tasting on their patio while taking in the views.
Or, if you prefer to stick to downtown Eureka Springs, you can sip and swirl an impressive selection of wines at The Stone House. Plus, this place serves up seriously good cheese and charcuterie platters to go with your vino.
2. Spend the Day on Beaver Lake
It’s no secret that Eureka Springs is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. And if you’re looking to get outside during your trip, Beaver Lake is the perfect place. Located just 20 minutes from the historic downtown, Beaver Lake boasts 28,000 acres of beautiful waters just begging to be explored.
Luckily, Beaver Lake is blissfully clean, which means it’s possible to just jump in the water and take a dip. Or, if you want to get out on the water, it’s possible to rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and catamarans at the lake.
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Eureka Springs, it’s also possible to go scuba diving in Beaver Lake. Strap on a tank, and you’ll have the chance to explore the underwater town of Monte Ne that was lost after the creation of the Beaver Lake Dam!
Whether you want to fish for bass and trout or stretch your legs on the 4.7-mile Beaver Lake Trail, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained at beautiful Beaver Lake.
3. Marvel at the Thorncrown Chapel
Architecture buffs will definitely want to add a visit to the spectacular Thorncrown Chapel to their Eureka Springs bucket list. Set in the woods just three miles from downtown, this wooden chapel is widely hailed as “one of the finest religious spaces of modern times” and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
The award-winning chapel was designed by E. Fay Jones, an acclaimed architect who apprenticed for Frank Lloyd Wright. The building stands 48 feet tall and boasts 425 windows and roughly 6,000 square feet of glass. With its open-air aesthetic and expansive skylight, the building was designed to blend in with the natural setting, which is why you’ll find locally sourced materials like Southern pine and native stone incorporated throughout.
Although it looks like a work of art (and it is!), the chapel is open to the public from March to December. In January and February, the chapel is closed to the public. Although, it is possible to reserve the chapel for weddings and other private events during these months!
4. Explore Onyx Cave
Located six miles from downtown Eureka Springs, Onyx Cave is yet another one of the most unique Eureka Springs attractions. The cave was discovered in 1891. It remains the oldest show cave in Arkansas and has been attracting tourists since way back in 1893.
It takes about 30 minutes to explore the cave, and because the pathway is flat, this is an activity the whole family can enjoy. Head to the cave entrance, and you’ll be given a headset so that you can embark on a self-guided audio tour. Along the way, you’ll learn all about the cave’s mysterious chambers and rock formations – including the spectacular Witches Fireplace and Friendly Dragon chambers.
Once you’re done exploring, be sure to pay a visit to the on-site gift shop, where you can peruse the gems, jewelry, and funky trinkets.
5. Visit the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Located just nine miles from the heart of downtown Eureka Springs, the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a must for any animal lover. One thing that makes this place stand out from a regular zoo is that it’s a sanctuary for big cats that have been abandoned and abused.
While Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge focuses on tigers, you’ll find all sorts of incredible animals roaming the grounds – from ligers, lions, and leopards to cougars, bobcats, and bears!
Wander around, and you’ll find that the sanctuary is home to over 100 large animals. Time your visit right, and you’ll also be able to check out an animal feeding or two or tag along on a truly fascinating behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about the refuge’s resident animals.
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Eureka Springs, you can even stay the night in an adults-only safari lodge or a family-friendly treehouse!
6. Step Back in Time at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum
If this is your first time in town, the Eureka Springs Historical Museum is an absolute must-visit. Housed in a beautiful 1889 Victorian building, it’s well worth taking at least a few minutes to marvel at this architectural gem from the outside before heading in.
Explore the two-story building, and you’ll find a range of informative permanent and temporary exhibits meant to preserve the history and heritage of Eureka Springs and its residents. One of the coolest exhibits details the city’s healing springs and the evolution of Eureka Springs as a health resort town.
But you’ll also find exhibits like the “Ozark Folk Festival,” “Early Medicines and Machines,” “Architecture,” “Art Gallery and Carry A. Nation Mural,” and so much more.
From photographs, art, and furniture to travel memorabilia, musical instruments, and textiles, you’ll also have the chance to peruse over 10,000 artifacts. In the end, you’ll walk away with a ton of knowledge perfect for having a deeper understanding of this one-of-a-kind town.
7. Take a Hike in Lake Leatherwood City Park
Situated in the Ozark Mountains, just 10 minutes from downtown Eureka Springs, Lake Leatherwood City Park is one of the coolest Eureka Springs attractions if you want to spend a day enjoying the great outdoors.
The star attraction of Lake Leatherwood City Park is, of course, the 85-acre Lake Leatherwood. This spring-fed body of water is perfect if you’re craving a lake day. You can rent a kayak or canoe and paddle around or rent a boat and try fishing for bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish. If you don’t have your own gear, you can rent everything from kayaks and paddleboards to fishing poles and bait from the Bait Shop.
Or, if you prefer to stick to land, Lake Leatherwood City Park is home to a whopping 25 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. If you can’t decide on one activity, you can even rent a cabin and stay for a few nights in order to take full advantage of everything Lake Leatherwood City Park has to offer!
8. Go Fine Dining in a Wine ‘Cave’
Grotto Wood-Fired Grill and Wine Cave is definitely one of the must-do things in Eureka Springs. Step inside this truly unique eatery, and you’ll quickly see why.
Located right downtown, the restaurant is housed in a historic building that was built on solid rock and features a continuously running spring! The massive boulders, dim lighting, and running water make it feel like you’re dining in a cave, but this is actually a very upscale restaurant.
This place is perfect for romantic dinners and special celebrations. Plus, the menu features carefully curated, seasonally-inspired dishes like 12-Hour Smoked Brisket Sliders and Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts to start, Wood-Fired Cedar Plank Salmon and Filet Mignon as mains, and Chocolate Ganache Bomb and Salted Caramel Cake for dessert. Plus, the wine list is absolutely fantastic.
9. Shop, Wine & Dine in Downtown Eureka Springs
It’s unlikely that you’ll visit Eureka Springs without spending time in its historic downtown. This place is so special the entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places!
As one of the top things to do in Eureka Springs, the quaint downtown is lined with Victorian-era buildings and is home to excellent eateries and cute boutiques. Plus, with so many resident artists in town, you’ll also find dozens of galleries sprinkled around Main Street and Spring Street.
If you’re interested in learning more about the city’s history, it’s well worth taking some time to visit the Historical Eureka Springs Museum. If you want even more history, it’s also possible to take a narrated walking tour or tram tour through downtown.
Once you’re done shopping and touring the town, you can refuel at one of downtown’s many restaurants. Mud Street Cafe is a local favorite for breakfast and brunch, or if you prefer pizza with a view, you can’t go wrong with SkyBar Gourmet Pizza.
10. Go Hunting for Ghosts in Downtown’s Underground ‘Catacombs’
With so much history, it’s no surprise that Eureka Springs is a hotbed for paranormal activity. If you love ghost hunting, then venturing on a ghost tour is easily one of the most unique things to do in Eureka Springs.
Haunted Eureka Springs offers some of the most popular ghost tours in town. Their Walking Ghost Tour is perfect for anyone who doesn’t mind navigating a few steep hills. This tour takes you to downtown’s most haunted spots, including the city’s famous underground tunnels (“the Catacombs”) and the eerie Dr. Ellis Building.
If you don’t want to walk a ton, the 90-minute Shuttle Van Ghost Tour will whisk you to three haunted buildings and end with a ghost hunt in the Catacombs. But those who really want to test their limits should book the Catacomb Ghost Tour.
This tour takes you deep underground, where you’ll learn about modern and Victorian ghost hunting tools and techniques. You’ll then get to use the tools to hunt for ghosts on your own!
11. Tap into Local Craft Breweries
If you need a break from all that Eureka Springs sightseeing, stop off at one of the city’s taprooms. Set 10 minutes from downtown, Eureka Springs Brewery is easily the most popular spot for a craft beer.
The revamped taproom features a brewing room, a full-service bar, and a chilled-out outdoor area. You’ll find all sorts of lawn games and a nine-hole disk golf course, so you can play while you sip! Plus, there’s usually a food truck on-site if you’re feeling peckish. They typically have five unique brews on tap (think English-style Old Chap and Raspberry Chocolate Porter.).
Gotahold Brewery is another popular place to sample local beers, ciders, and sours. It’s also a great spot to hang out and play lawn games or chat around a fire pit. Brewed by an award-winning brewer, be sure to try the Fine Fettle Cherry Farmhouse Ale, Mexican Buddha Brown Ale, Obnoxious Triple IPA, Hey Stranger Wheat Beer, and more!
12. Discover Eureka Springs’ Artsy Side
Eureka Springs might be best known for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town. But did you know that this city has a thriving arts scene? USA Today even rated Eureka Springs as No. 5 on its “Best Small Town Arts Scene” list!
Roughly 300 of the city’s 2,000 residents are working artists, which means galleries, public art installations, and pop-up art events are in abundance. If you’re looking for fun Eureka Springs activities, it’s well worth delving into this city’s artsy side.
You’ll find over a dozen art galleries lining the streets of downtown. Plus, you can visit the Art Colony of Eureka Springs, which is basically a collection of artist’s studios and storefronts where you can chat with local artists and maybe even buy a new piece for your collection.
If that’s not enough, you’ll find plenty of public art around town, including the Rainbow Stairs and the Humpty Dumpty on a Wall. And if you time your visit right, the Eureka Springs 2nd Saturday event is one of the coolest things to do in Eureka Springs. During these events, participating galleries open their doors from 6-9 pm and host shows, talks, and more.
13. Embark on a Historic Train Ride
If you’re searching for the ultimate in Eureka Springs sightseeing, take a ride on the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway. You’ll have the chance to travel on an authentic 1940s diesel locomotive!
You can choose from three different tours: the Excursion Train, Lunch Train, and Dinner Train. Opt for the one-hour Excursion Train ride, and you’ll learn all about how locomotives work from the conductor as you chug along the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad and take in the beautiful views.
For something extra-special, book the Dinner Train, and you’ll get to get all dressed up and dine in the 1920s-style Eurekan Dining Car. During the 2.5-hour journey, you’ll enjoy mains like The Conductor Prime Rib, The City of New Orleans Trout Almondine, and Vegetarian Primavera Pasta. Plus, you’ll have the option of enjoying wine and champagne if you want!
14. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Eureka Springs has attracted visitors with its healing cold springs since the 1800s. Fast-forward to today, and it’s no surprise this wellness town is brimming with fantastic spas. So if you need a break from all that Eureka Springs sightseeing, why not have a relaxing spa day?
Housed in the historic and iconic Crescent Hotel, New Moon Day Spa is easily one of the best in town. Make a day of it and treat yourself to a Rosemary Body Treatment, a Chakra Balancing Massage, and a New Moon Signature Facial.
Palace Bath House Spa is set in the 1905 Basin Park Hotel and is another popular pick for pampering. Opt for “The Works” package, and you’ll get a Swedish massage, a relaxing mineral bath, a eucalyptus steam treatment, a clay mask, and a steam!
If you’re looking for a couple’s massage, look no further than Spa 1905. This place specializes in duet massages. Plus, if you really want to go big, you can stay in one of the hotel’s Spa Rooms, which gives you exclusive after-hours access to Spa 1905’s hot tub and spa deck.
15. Snap a Selfie with the Christ of the Ozarks
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Eureka Springs, pay a visit to the Christ of the Ozarks. You’ll find this seemingly random attraction just 10 minutes from the historic downtown.
The 67-foot-tall statue was built in 1966 and is now one of the most iconic Eureka Springs attractions. People come here from all over the world just to glimpse this seven-story sculpture of Jesus Christ.
This towering statue has a foundation of 340 tons of concrete and weighs over 500 tons. It also has a 15-foot-long face and 7-foot-long hands!
There are always tons of events being held here, too. If you happen to be visiting between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, be sure to check out the spectacular drive-through light display!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Eureka Springs. What’s your favorite thing to do in Eureka Springs?
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