I recently spent a few days in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which was my first time to the state—I have to say, it’s a pretty fantastic little town. Eureka Springs reminds me a bit of Jerome, Arizona, with its narrow and windy streets; the way the homes and businesses are built into the hillside…and, its artsy and eclectic nature. Eureka Springs is much larger and more refined than Jerome, but nonetheless, I recognized some similarities.
While visiting Eureka Springs I discovered the most charming and hospitable bed and breakfast located right in the heart of downtown, Cliff Cottage Inn. Cliff Cottage Inn is actually a cluster of bungalows located on a hillside overlooking downtown. There are eight accommodation levels to choose from—and, interestingly, each is themed and named for a well-known author. I stayed in the Robert Louis Stevenson suite, which features masculine tones, bold colors and fine turn-of-the-century furnishings. This cottage has its own private porch in which I’d sit each morning, watching the town of Eureka Springs wake as I sipped my coffee and enjoyed breakfast. In the evenings I’d partake in a glass of wine and watch the contrasting morning activity take place below. During my stay I had an opportunity to look at some of the other accommodations, I was impressed by how well decorated and themed each of the suites is. The Sarah Bernhardt room for example had the most extraordinary patio right next to the cliff face, which included a romantic and private outdoor shower. Speaking of romantic, each suite has its own Jacuzzi air-jet tub for two, as well as other amenities to make your stay enjoyable.
Upon my arrival, I sat down with innkeepers Sandra and Carl, both of whom seemed interested in learning more about what I do. The tables soon turned as I began to learn about the fascinating lives the two have lived. I kept asking questions, and they kept telling me the most intriguing stories. It felt a bit like the movie, “Big Fish.” If you’ve seen the film, you’ll get my reference. Sandra and Carl are some of the most captivating people I’d ever met: both are amazing story tellers to boot. We really hit it off and I thoroughly enjoyed my time getting to know them, as I’m sure other guests do.
I mentioned that I enjoyed my breakfast on my own private porch. That’s because each morning breakfast is delivered straight to your cottage by a friendly elf. Let me tell you, Sandra is a gourmet cook and her creations are a work of art. How does lemon-orange soufflé, pork medallion with nature grazed chutney, French fennel potatoes and a Eureka Springs bug cake (pastry) sound? Oh, and it’s served on a beautiful formal silver platter, which makes you feel a bit like an aristocrat.
During your stay at Cliff Cottage Inn you’ll receive a complimentary bottle of wine and a basket of sweets. The attention to detail is remarkable…the way the towels and accouterments are arranged, to the bedding and all the accents. For those who have trepidations about staying in a B&B because they fear a lack of privacy, this is the place for you. Each cottage has plenty of privacy…and, like I said, your breakfast is delivered right to your door at around 9:10am. Apparently after years of research, Sandra learned that 9:10 was the most wildly desired time to have breakfast.
After you’ve enjoyed your breakfast, an oasis of activities awaits you. Eureka Springs has so many wonderful things to do; for starters you may want to walk around town to get the lay of the land…I recommend starting with the historic loop. Make sure you wear your walking shoes because you will easily burn off your delicious breakfast calories with all the hills and terraced streets you’ll encounter.
Some of the activities I experienced while in town included:
- Zipline Tours in the Ozarks – If you’ve never zip lined before, it’s a blast and accessible to folks of all ages. This adventure is a tree-based canopy tour where you’ll fly through the air high off the ground in the treetops.
- Christ of the Ozarks – This monumental statue of Jesus Christ stands over sixty feet tall and was sculpted by Emmet Sullivan, one of the assistants on Mount Rushmore. The sculpture is visible from many points around Eureka Springs and is the third-tallest sculpture of Jesus in the world.
- Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway – Step back in time and enjoy the many old rail cars and engines. The trains are vintage from 1890s and the locomotive pulling the cars is from the 1940s. Rides runs are every 1 1/2 hours.
- Crescent Hotel Ghost Tours – Not all that scary, but the history on the hotel is quite fascinating.
- Turpentine Creek – This is a wildlife refuge with over 130 exotic cats and other wildlife on display.
For great dining options, check out:
- Local Flavor Cafe – This quaint and eclectic establishment will have you coming back for more. One night I had the Pan Seared Tilapia served with roasted red pepper cream sauce, black beans and rice. Good prices, great atmosphere. Lunch/Dinner.
- Mud Street Cafe – Open for breakfast and lunch, this is a place where you’ll find a lot of locals.
- Thai House Restaurant – Located up the hill and just out of downtown, this authentic Thai restaurant is a perfect choice for great food at affordable prices.
- Grand Central Hotel (Grand Taverne) – For exquisite up-scale fine dining, give this historic hotel a try. I tried the pan seared sea scallops with lobster sauce and the grilled filet of beef with Béarnaise sauce and au gratin dauphinois potatos. They also have live music several nights a week.
If you are planning a trip to Eureka Springs and want to be in the heart of it all, check out the Cliff Cottage Inn. If you’ve ever stayed at the Cliff Cottage Inn, leave a comment below and let my readers and me know of your experience.