Meander down to the Ozarks and find respite in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a casual arts community filled with writers, artists and culinarians. This month marks the 67th annual Original Ozark Folk Festival, the longest continuously running folk festival in the U.S. If you’re from St. Louis, you might discover a long-lost cousin, too – former Arkansas Governor Powell Clayton used his connections with wealthy St. Louisians to develop Eureka Springs back in 1882. Up or down are the only real directions you’ll need; the hills and curving switchback streets haven’t a single stoplight. No wonder Eureka Springs is still known as a place of healing.
The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
This hotel is the stuff of legends. A history that includes everything from dignitaries to ghosts makes The Crescent the grand dame of the Ozarks, a proud member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations in 2001. Its 19th-century character has been lovingly restored, and guests are given old-fashioned resort-style hospitality. On-site amenities include restaurants, spa services, ghost tours and outdoor activities. It is also a popular wedding venue.
75 Prospect Ave., Eureka Springs, 800.342.9766, crescent-hotel.com
Beaver Lake Cottages
Breathtaking mountain views surround Beaver Lake Cottages, which overlook the shores of Beaver Lake. Both cabins and suites are available, each with king-size beds, Jacuzzis, fireplaces and satellite television – though in the Ozarks, the best recreational activities are certainly found outdoors. Bird watchers, hikers, paddlers and nature enthusiasts will find fascination just outside their doorstep, whatever the season.
2865 Mundell Road, Eureka Springs, 888.701.8439, beaverlakecottages.com
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
It’s not for everyone, but if you’re adventurous enough to spend the night on a safari, this is as close as you may ever get. The wildlife refuge is a nonprofit rescue and lifetime sanctuary for abandoned, abused and neglected lions, tigers, cougars and bears, and safari-style lodging is available on the compound. Rustic by nature, the lodges are small but well appointed – and usually include big cats roaring in the night at no additional charge. Tent and RV camping is also available.
239 Turpentine Creek Lane, Eureka Springs, 479.253.5841, turpentinecreek.org
DeVito’s of Eureka Springs
The DeVito family has been farming trout in the Ozarks since 1956, which serves as the backbone of its award-winning recipes. Italian influenced, the sauces and breads are made daily by hand, and this 27-year tradition has even landed the restaurant in the pages of The New York Times, Southern Living and Bon Appétit. DeVito’s dinner and lunch services make it easy to catch while exploring Downtown Eureka Springs, with street-side dining ideal for people-watching, as well as several scenic dining room options. If you only have time to grab a quick drink, be sure to ask about the martinis.
5 Center St., Eureka Springs, 479.253.6807, eureka-springs-usa.com/devito
Cottage Inn Restaurant
Chef-owner Linda Hager likes to cook, entertain, drink wine and travel, and Cottage Inn Restaurant is the melding of her passions. A country setting with a Mediterranean-influenced menu, Cottage Inn fuses the cuisines of Greece, Spain, France and Italy. An offering from the international wine cellar is perhaps the best meal companion, other than your own dinner date. Hager uncovers food and wine treasures in her travels, which are often showcased in the restaurant’s monthly wine dinners.
450 W. Van Buren, Eureka Springs, 479.253.5282, cottageinneurekaspgs.com
A trip to Eureka Springs isn’t complete without breakfast or lunch at The Oasis. Inside, the restaurant looks like a throwback to the 1970s, with vintage posters covering the walls. What comes out of the tiny two-person kitchen is a marvel of inventive Ark-Mex cuisine full of flavor and fresh, seasonal ingredients. Suspended between two buildings on the wooden stairs near the New Orleans Hotel & Spa, The Oasis is hard to find but well worth the hunt.
53 Spring St., Eureka Springs, 479.253.0886
The Grand Taverne at the Grand Central Hotel & Spa
Chef Dave Gilderson’s menu features familiar fare – steak, pork chops and rack of lamb – but with more flair. Gilderson is a stickler for spices, preaching the gospel of salt and pepper, and, due to his French training, is keen to prepare fresh sauces that tempt you to lick your plate. Proof is in the lobster butter served with scallops and potato risotto. Locals like Jerry Yester (of The Lovin’ Spoonful fame) often drop in to entertain.
37 N. Main St., Eureka Springs, 800.344.6050, grandcentralresort.com
Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking
The time-honored and home-style recipes prepared in Ermilio’s kitchen have been handed down from generation to generation and still win awards as the best in the state. Dinner is full of pleasant surprises, including fresh roasted garlic served with homemade bread and sauces, pesto and hearty pastas made from scratch. Plan for a comfortable wait in the upstairs lounge, and be sure to leave room for the restaurant’s selection of housemade desserts.
26 White St., Eureka Springs, 479.253.8806, ermilios.com
LOCAL FAVES: Three Must-visit Gems
Taste your way through healthy, refreshing flavors at Fresh Harvest, which offers a large selection of premium olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars. The tasting room includes more than 60 oil and vinegar flavors to inspire new recipe ideas, as employees share suggestions and knowledge along your journey through one of the largest, freshest selections on tap in the U.S.
512 Village Circle, Eureka Springs, 479.253.6247, freshharvest.co
Ozark Mountain Taproom
New in the local food-and-drink scene is Ozark Mountain Taproom, a craft beer bar featuring brews made in Arkansas, where fans can also follow the ale trail in The Natural State. The Taproom is a small, laid-back stop to tap into the wonders of fermentation. Beers rotate with the seasons, and the brewmasters are quite knowledgeable. Bring your growler or purchase one on-site to take suds home.
140 E. Van Buren, Eureka Springs, 479.244.6922
Keel’s Creek Winery
What happens when a chemist and an artist retire to Eureka Springs? In the case of Keels Creek Winery and Art Gallery, they make artisan wine. A boutique winery focused on eight varietals grown in its vineyards just south of town, Keels Creek is a place to relax and enjoy the wonders of fermentation. There are nine reds wines and 11 white wines to try and, of course, purchase to take home.
3185 E. Van Buren, Eureka Springs, 479.253.9463, keelscreek.com