Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eureka Springs in Winter - A Wonderland

Travelers visit Eureka Springs in the spring for festivals and warming weather.  They come in the summer to experience nearby lakes and a plethora of shopping. They come in the fall to experience autumn’s brightest colors. But travelers who come to Eureka Springs in winter can have the town all to themselves. See what this Ozarks town has to offer.

Some 2000 residents call
Eureka Springs home, and a large portion of that number are involved in the hospitality industry.  Wintertime tends to be the quiet time around town, especially once Christmas cheer has passed.  Traveling to the northwest Arkansas village in January and February is a win-win for both the folks that work there and for bargain-
seeking wanderers who want a cozy but wonderful weekend away from home.

There are many attractions that aren’t open during the colder months, and the trolleys aren’t in operation, but there are still many, many things to do and lots of things you should know about.

I love finding accommodations with a fireplace… there’s nothing quite like curling up in a blanket in front of a roaring fire with a good book or a cuddling companion.  Eureka Springs has a lot of places to stay with fireplaces, soaking and spa tubs and big fluffy beds.  It’s also full of eclectic places to lay
your head at night.  Want to stay in a treehouse?  In an old gas station?  In a haunted hotel? Within a Frank Lloyd Wright-style home? In a hobbit cave? Hidden away from the rest of the world? Any time of year, you’ll find amazing accommodations
throughout the city, but during the winter months, you have a better chance of finding an available date for these lodging options on the dates you’re wanting.  Look for winter specials.

Eureka Springs in the winter is a good place to go shopping for art and antiques.  Without the
crowds of more reasonable weather, you can stroll Spring Street and take in all the fantastic handmade treasures in the stores in peace.  I love places like Gourmet Eureka which offers all sorts of local products.

January and February are also great for exploring the city and its surrounds.  Dozens of springs are quietly marked alongside city streets, and they run unless it’s way below freezing.  For hikers, there are paths that ring the city.  Get lost briefly on the streets, which crisscross town in a patternless fashion where no two intersections are alike – or drive a
short distance north to Beaver to see the famed Beaver Bridge, a yellow wooden suspension bridge!  Take those tours that are always packed in the summer – such as the Downtown Underground adventure on Saturdays or feeding time at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

It’s also a good time to visit the 1889 Calf House and learn more about the city at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. Visit Casper and Jasper, the cats at the 1886 Crescent Hotel (they’ll probably be lounging in front of the fire). And check out St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, which Ripley’s Believe It Or Not featured for the fact that you enter through the bell tower!

You can also check out the most chilled out festival in the state, the Ozark Mountain Music Festival, coming up for four days in January.  And in February, experience one of Arkansas’s sweetest food festivals with the annual Eureka Springs Chocolate Lovers Festival.

During the winter months, when Eureka Springs is quiet, local wildlife feel more at ease.
It’s not uncommon to spot a hawk swooping on wind currents overhead or deer grazing in yards. It’s also a nice time to congregate with the locals. While many restaurants shut down for the winter months, other longstanding watering holes and gathering places such as Sparky’s Roadhouse and Ultra Lounge stay open year-round.  If you’re more inclined to make your own dinner, Hart’s Grocery Store is still there for just about everything you need, and you can pick up local produce, meats and baked goods at Eureka Market.  And if you’d rather stay in and stay warm, restaurants such as Mei Li Cuisine and Chelsea’s Corner can bring dinner to you.

The best part of winter in Eureka Springs?  There’s no rush, no hurry, which suits a town without a single traffic light just fine.  For more information or to find a sweet winter deal, check out the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce website or Eureka Springs Online.

Related stories:
North Penthouse at 1886 Crescent Hotel
Cats at the Crescent
Sparky's Roadhouse
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Beaver Bridge

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