Eureka Springs is located 40 minutes from Bentonville. This small town has been an Ozark mountain resort town since the 1800’s. The surrounding area is really gorgeous. It is worth spending a few hours wandering the streets of the downtown district which is on the National Register of Historic Places with one of the largest collections of Victorian architecture in the central US. It has been listed at #8 in the Top 25 Small Cities for Art by American Style Magazine. I had a wonderful time exploring the area with a local friend before heading to Bentonville.
There are many shops and galleries selling mainly local crafts like jewelry, ceramics and glass. Not true fine art, but art appealing to the mix of tourists, seniors, bikers and aging hippies that appear to hang out there. I recommend trying Local Flavor which has great lunch menu items. The outdoor patio is the place to sit.
After lunch drive up to the 1886 Crescent Hotel to see the old lobby and views from the top floor. It is supposed to be haunted!! There are several other hotels and bed & breakfasts in town, but I would recommend staying in Bentonville and making Eureka Springs a day trip.
Bubba’s BBQ is recommended as one of the best barbecue places in the US. It is at 166 W Van Buren in Eureka Springs. The Filling Station Restaurant is a casual diner at 2055 E. Van Buren. How can you avoid a spot that has as their slogan “Many Have Eaten Few Have Died”! They are open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch. The desserts are supposed to be excellent.
The Fay Jones Chapels are well-worth the trip. Just outside of Eureka Springs is Thorncrown Chapel at 12968 Hwy. 62 W. This is not to be missed!!! It is a magnificent wooden chapel, surrounded by trees, that was named one of the top buildings of the 20th Century by the AIA. Opened in 1980 it was designed by famous Arkansas architect Fay Jones who was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. It is constructed of a large vaulted ceiling with 425 windows with over 6,000 sq. ft. of glass. The views of the surrounding trees are stunning. This is a big wedding destination, so going during the week might be a good idea to make sure it is open for visitors.
On the way back to Bentonville, drive west from Eureka Springs to Bella Vista to visit Fay Jones’s other chapel, the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel. It was designed as a place of meditation with 15 main curved arches. Within those arches are three to four Gothic arches. The 4,460 sq. ft. of glass provide wonderful views of the surrounding trees. The combination of wood, stone, steel and glass with bronze and brown hues make it blend perfectly into its surroundings.
Music lovers will enjoy the Opera in the Ozarks. Located seven miles west of Eureka Springs, this is a annual training program for singers interested in pursuing a career in opera along with a month of performances. I will definitely visit it when I am back in the area.