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Visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Is It Worth It?
I was hesitant to visit this place. It just didn't seem that interesting. But here is what I discovered along the way ...
This is the same question I asked myself several weeks ago as we planned our travels between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since we've never been to Eureka Springs we didn't know what to expect. People told us we should go there but I didn't know why. So we took a chance and here's what we discovered.
Our Trip to Eureka Springs
Driving into Eureka Springs from Highway 23 included a lot of winding roads through the hills but it was extremely beautiful and peaceful. There wasn't much traffic -- allowing us to fully enjoy the incredible views as we headed north. I can only imagine the colors of the leaves had we made the drive in early fall.
When we arrived in town that evening there wasn't much going on. The tourist season had just wrapped up and Covid 19 seemed to dwindle the activities and numbers of people even more. Many hotels, restaurants, breweries, campgrounds and other entertainment places were shut down for the season.
Eureka Springs felt desolate that night but the next couple of days would present some wonderful experiences.
Downtown Eureka Springs is unique.
Nestled in the Ozark Hills of northwestern Arkansas, Eureka Springs gives off a historic and different vibe. Maybe it's due to the old Victorian style buildings or the eclectic range of shops downtown, but you will sense something different or unique. And it is!
Most of the people we met were extremely friendly and welcoming. The waterfalls throughout the city are captivating and the landscape relaxing. The architecture of the old buildings and stone walls are intriguing to study. Despite the town being small, you can find quite a bit to do.
While visiting Eureka Springs we discovered some REALLY COOL places that we'd recommend checking out.
Rockin' Pig Saloon
Hands down the best BBQ we've had in a long time! The Rockin' Pig Saloon is a biker bar but you don't have to wear leather chaps to enjoy it. It's a groovy place filled with kick ass classic rock nostalgia and music.
We chose the fried pickles and pulled pork plate with coleslaw, both tasted amazing and it was plenty of food for two people! They offered pickled onions like my mother and uncle made and that made my day. The local Oktoberfest beer was the perfect way to wash it down, especially at $3 per pint.
Finally the bartenders were super cool to chat with.
Tee Rex Toys
In full disclosure, and without any shame, I totally geeked out in this place! Walking into Tee Rex Toys I was not fully prepared for the priceless treasures and joy to be found in this place. I though I'd died and gone to heaven.
My first discovery was a shelf filled with classic Star Wars toys and memorabilia. All the figures I have and all the figures I want, plus dozens of other goodies I could've filled my truck with. They had originals of G.I. Joe, Thundercats, Masters of the Universe, and a whole lot more. Tee Rex also sells comic books, graphic novels, photos, t-shirts, art, and games.
If you love vintage collectibles like this, you just might shed a tear or two like I did.
Pivot Rock Park
As always, Donetta and I love to go hiking and our friends all recommended checking out Pivot Rock and Natural Bridge. The trail is short and you don't need any special gear; all you need is the love of being in the woods.
There are many inspiring rock formations to be seen and it's such a peaceful walk. Halfway through the hike you'll come across piles of rocks people have made, some which are pretty elaborate. We also loved the little store which offered beautiful artwork made by local artists.
Pivot Rock is well worth the visit and an awesome way to support the local economy.
Christ of the Ozarks
Apparently The Great Passion Play and Christ of the Ozarks statue is one of the biggest tourism destinations in the region. While the play was closed for the season, we did get to drive the grounds and see the Christmas lights.
The museum includes tons of touristy Christian gifts, but what was neat about this place was the large selection of very old bibles, manuscripts, and historical artifacts dating back to biblical days. The grounds itself was beautiful to drive but the statue was a bit disappointing -- even at 67 feet tall.
I admit this is more of Donetta's cup of tea so she'd probably say it was incredible.
Was it worth it?
While we anticipated staying in the town for a week, we did get bored after a few days and decided to move on. This has nothing to do with the town -- it's a wonderful place. It's just that so many places where shut down due to Covid 19 or the tourist season being over.
It was worth visiting Eureka Springs and we'll go back again some day when everything is open and the weather is warmer.