Downtown & Underground in Eureka Springs

 

Notice anything unusual about this street?

 

No? Looks pretty normal, right? Let’s look a little closer…

 

Oh, no big deal, just a secret underground tunnel!

Most of downtown Eureka Springs was originally about 10 feet lower, but due to unusual circumstances (it’s a long story), they eventually had to build new streets above the old. As a result, a series of tunnels created by the old roads and limestone walls ran underneath the town, making it easy for all kinds of shady stuff to go down, from prohibition-era liquor runs to private access to the brothels and bath houses that were popular back in the day. Eventually, most of these tunnels were closed off or filled in, but some are still accessible, and the best way to see them, and learn some of the town’s totally fascinating history, is the Downtown -N- Underground Tour.

The tour meets in Basin Park, right next to the Basin Park Hotel.

 

 

The forecast was looking pretty dark for my tour time, so as we were waiting for it to begin I asked about what happens if it rains. The tour does continue in the rain, with the guide doing their best to keep you under cover when possible,  but you may want to bring an umbrella just in case. Lightning, on the other hand, does cancel the tour. It did rain on and off during my tour, but the main impact that had was making some of the walkways and stairways a little scary to navigate. Be sure to wear good shoes even in great weather! (And not just on the tour – while visiting Eureka Springs in general. The whole town is hills and stairs.)

Speaking of stairs, this is one Eureka Springs attraction that’s not really accessible for those with mobility disabilities. There’s a lot of walking (close to 2 miles, going by the activity app on my phone), mostly on uneven terrain, and a whole lot of stairs. Staircases are so abundant in this hilly town that the original 19th century mapmakers assumed they were small roads and gave them names and addresses!

 

Just kidding… mostly.

That said, the tour moves at a pretty leisurely pace, with lots of stopping to listen to stories. If you can comfortably walk around for about an hour and handle stairs (mostly down, thankfully!), you’ll be fine. If you don’t think you’re up to that but still want to hear the stories of the town’s history, you can get in touch with the tour operator and they can arrange a private tour that meets your needs.

The storytelling is engaging enough to keep older kids entertained, and the more sordid topics (see aforementioned brothels and bath houses) are handled in more of a “wink-wink” way than anything explicit,  so I’d call it family friendly. You know your kids best, but I’d lean towards suggesting it for at least 8-ish or older, just due to the walking and the need to be fairly quiet to listen to stories without interrupting. There is plenty of time to chat as you walk between stops, though.

 

 

But back to the tour! After waiting at the kiosk pictured above for all of the tour participants to show up (I think we had around 12 people), the tour begins by climbing up those stairs you see in the background to learn about the origins of the town at the site responsible for them. Yup, it involves the springs! I loved learning that way before white settlers caused the town’s population to explode (by like 20,000 people in a few years, which was a LOT in the 1800s!) by spreading word of the “healing waters”, the Osage living nearby allowed other passing tribes, even their enemies, to use the springs because they felt they belonged to everyone.

One of the first things our guide said on this tour was that “unique places attract unique people”, and that stayed in my mind throughout my stay in town, because it’s so true. The Downtown -N- Underground tour covers most of historic downtown Eureka Springs, and includes stories of the failed bank robbery in 1922, the radical anti-alcohol exploits of Carrie Nation, and the fires that wiped out large portions of the town multiple times. (They eventually figured out to stop building everything with wood.)

One cool stop on the tour was the Auditorium, where we got to stand on a stage where legends from BB King to Willie Nelson to the auditorium’s very first act in 1929, John Phillip Sousa and his band have performed. Can you imagine seeing any of those acts in a theater that only holds about 1,000 people?

Eureka Springs auditorium

 

Most of the tour takes place above ground, but there are a few opportunities to check out the underground tunnels, and even step inside a couple. I tried to take a photo of the tunnel we popped into beneath the historic Grand Central Hotel, but something about the moist subterranean setting wasn’t iPhone camera friendly! (That, or the tunnel is totally haunted, as pretty much everything in Eureka Springs is rumored to be, and this is an awesome ghost photo. Take your pick. 😉)

 

We were able to walk through another portion of tunnel in a former bath house where a grate opening up to the street resulted in a much better photo!

I’m a huge fan of learning the history of a place before you visit it. I always make the analogy of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. If you’ve never read the books, it’s just a cool-looking, whimsical land full of interesting things to look at. If you do know the stories, every location and prop means something to you. Learning the story of a real place is the same. I noticed so many things that I would have otherwise overlooked thanks to what I learned on the tour.

I’d suggest making the Downtown -N- Underground Tour one of your first stops when visiting Eureka Springs. You’ll get the lay of the land and learn tons of interesting history that will enrich the rest of your trip.

You can learn more about the Downtown -N- Underground tour on their website, check them out on Facebook, and read the tour reviews on TripAdvisor.

At the time of writing this (6/2017), adult tickets are $13.50, and there’s a buy one, get one free deal going on. (Score!) Kids under 12 are free, so this is a seriously economical to have a fun family afternoon and learn a lot along the way!

Thanks so much to the Eureka Springs City Advertising & Promotions Commission for assisting me with a complimentary tour so that I could share my experience with my readers!

 

Other posts you may enjoy: Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour, Cabin Fever Resort in Eureka Springs

Friday Favs – I Don’t Have A Witty Title For This One

 

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m about to head to the library to focus on writing, since I have a ton to finish up for a deadline today! Here’s what I’ve loved this week:

 

1. I had a visitor! (Actually 2, but only one can be seen here:)

 

 

2. I’ve done the daily LA Times crossword on mensa.com for ages now, but I recently started playing the jigsaw puzzle thing in their game room, and it’s my new way to de-stress.

You can select how many pieces you want (it ranges from 40-something to 104) and there’s a handy button that hides everything except the edge pieces to save your sanity towards the beginning.

 

3. I’m still working on posts about my recent visits to the crazy, quirky small town of Eureka Springs, and the more I write about it the more I can’t wait to go back. If you haven’t already seen them, I’d love for you to check out my posts about the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour and Cabin Fever Resort!

 

4. My beloved Rachel is on the cover of Rolling Stone! What a rock star! 

 

5. More of a confession than a fav, but I can’t think of another #5 –

I am rocking the shirt that Sweet Earth Foods sent me as part of a gift pack last year because I tweet about my love for them so damn much. (Those Curry Tiger burritos, though! Nom.) Is this because I felt like spreading the word about their awesome organic food for lazy people? Nope. It’s because I haven’t done laundry in a million years and it was the only non-wintery top I could find. Also, it is now covered in black cat fur because I cuddled Bear before leaving the house. I am winning at adulting.

I’m planning a trip to Dallas early next month, so I’d love your suggestions on what to see, eat, do, and where to stay!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’m really hoping to finish up as much work as possible today & tomorrow so I can actually relax with some books and the new season of OITNB on Sunday!

Friday blog linkup

Show Us Your Books – June Edition

 

I can’t believe it’s already time for June book reviews! I know it’s a cliche, but this year really does feel like it’s flying by. The background of this month’s graphic is a pic I took at Lake Leatherwood in Eureka Springs last week, btw. I stopped by briefly and it was so pretty that I’m dying to go back! If only the temps would drop from 90-ish so I could go hike without passing out!

But back to books! I didn’t finish many this month. I’ll catch up on that elusive Netgalley backlog one day!

 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Goodreads * Amazon

I requested this from my local library after multiple bloggers raved about it a month or two ago. I seem to be in the minority in that I didn’t totally love it, just kinda liked it. I feel like the end ruined it for me, mostly because when it comes to thrillers I want to have an “OMG, that makes so much sense, I totally should have figured that out!” moment when the twist is revealed, not a “Well… that’s out of left field” moment.

 

The Currency of Love by Jill Dodd

Goodreads * Amazon

Even though it touches on some heavy topics, this falls into my “fun read” category. The author shares her story of falling into a modeling career in the early 80s, and the journey she took from naive girl form an abusive household to living a life filled with excess. As you’d probably expect from a memoir by a non-writer, the writing style isn’t amazing, but it’s really not bad, either.

It’s interesting to “see” the extravagant culture of that era through her eyes at the time. There’s a naivety that I just don’t think you’d see from a 20 year old girl today, from wondering if she should become a coworker’s girlfriend after he rapes her to seeing the gaudy Trump-like displays of wealth we’d consider tacky and gross today (think Las Vegas hideaways decorated with elephant tusks, buying fox fur coats, etc.) from a perspective of actually finding them impressive.

I was born in the early 80s, so it was fascinating to compare the modeling photos included throughout the book with what ads look like today. Photos that were the height of chic and magazine cover-worth at the time are now something we’d delete immediately or run through half a dozen edits and filters before posting. That sounds like I’m dissing her appearance, which is totally not what I mean here. More that it’s an interesting look at how beauty standards change with time. I’m sure if you look back at current magazine covers in 30 years, you’d think “THAT was fashion? Kardashians were considered attractive? WEIRD.”

Overall, a fun book to get lost in for a few hours as long as the abuse stuff isn’t triggering for you. I know I talked more about the negative aspects of the author’s experience here, but there’s also lots of travel, living in Paris, etc that make the tone much lighter.

(I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my review.)

 

Head over to Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out what dozens of other bloggers have been reading this month! (Not my fault if your to-read list grows by a million titles, though!)

Cabin Fever Resort – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Between my love of travel and my hospitality industry background, I’m a total hotel nerd. Choosing an interesting place to stay is one of my favorite parts of any trip. When I was planning my visit to the Chihuly exhibition at Crystal Bridges, I decided that it would be way more fun to spend the night after the event in Eureka Springs so that I could turn the trip into a mini getaway and fit in a little sightseeing.  While searching through the accommodations available in the area, I found the perfect fit for this trip: Cabin Fever Resort.

cabins with jacuzzis eureka springs arkansas

 

Cabin Fever Resort is located just half a mile off of Hwy 62 near two of my favorite local outdoor attractions, Blue Spring Heritage Center and Lake Leatherwood City Park. It’s about five miles to historic downtown Eureka Springs, so you can enjoy a stunning wooded setting while knowing that countless local attractions, quirky shops, and restaurants are just minutes away.

Eureka Springs is a popular destination for weddings, and the resort offers a really cute reception space for groups of up to about 50, and can accommodate larger gatherings outdoors.

Cabin Fever Resort offers luxury cabins with Jacuzzi tubs and spacious porches where you can take in the beautiful natural surroundings. There are three one-bedroom cabins and two two-bedroom cabins, which have full-size kitchens.

The two bedroom cabin I stayed in was lovely. Between the fireplace, jetted tub, and massage chair in front of the 60″ TV, this is definitely not “roughing it”. There are so many thoughtful touches throughout the cabin, from charming decor that gives the space a homey feel to a full supply of dishes, utensils, and cookware (including the ever-important corkscrew!).

cabin fever kitchen cookware

How cute are those? Cabin Fever Resort is a popular spot for family reunions, and I can definitely see preparing for a pot luck in the well-equipped cabin kitchen!

 

Cabin Fever Resort Eureka Springs cabins with kitchens

 

 

You’re totally surrounded by nature here, from the incredible wooded views you can take in from the balcony, to the natural wood walls and ceilings, to the stone around the fireplace. There’s also this guy, who I lovingly named Hank:

 

 

The massage chair I mentioned? My best explanation of the chair is that it’s inhabited by tiny elves with degrees in massage therapy. If I had one of these, I would never leave my house.

 

I loved that there were DVDs and books in the cabin! (Plus playing cards and Scategories). I curled up with a book of poetry in the massage chair in front of the fireplace. Is that the coziest sentence ever written? Possibly!

Behold my foxy pajama pants.

 

Instead of a guest book, there are rocks with notes from previous guests above the fireplace. Such a cool, unique idea!

 

 

Slipping into the Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom is the perfect way to relax after a long day of walking Eureka’s crazy hills and stairs. Between the tub and the massage chair, my muscles were pretty happy!

 

The bedrooms are pretty simple in design, but cozy and comfortable. I slept in the one on the main floor.

 

 

The stairs leading up to the second bedroom and half bath are pretty steep, so if you’re traveling with kids or anyone with mobility challenges, the first floor bedroom is probably a better fit for them. It’s a cute woodsy retreat, and I love the privacy that comes with not being right next to the other bedroom.

 

One of my favorite parts of the cabin was the spacious back deck. It was furnished with a barbecue grill and a patio table and chairs, and looked out over the surrounding hills.

 

two bedroom cabin eureka springs

 

How great is that view?

 

 

With only five cabins on the property, the resort stays pretty quiet. The cabins are set pretty far apart, so you don’t have to worry about noise from neighbors. Here’s the cabin that was closest to mine, as seen from my back porch:

 

There’s also a front porch with a porch swing and a smaller BBQ grill.

 

This became my official cat cuddling spot.

Here’s the thing – when you’re a #catlady, you make cat friends everywhere you go. I randomly woke up at like 5:45 am after my night in the cabin, so I decided to take a walk around the resort. I walked up to the main check-in building and was greeted by two cats! We played a solid game of “chase the stick” and I gave some high quality chin scratches, then headed back towards my cabin.

So did they.

For some reason the video of the cats visiting that I uploaded is refusing to embed in the post, but you can click to watch until I figure out a way to make it work. Kitty Video!

 

I spent quite a while hanging out with the grey kitty, who even accompanied me on the rest of my walk. She was an excellent tour guide!

 

 

log cabin rentals eureka springs

 

I had such a relaxing stay, and I’d definitely recommend Cabin Fever Resort to anyone looking for a peaceful setting, home-like amenities, or a cozy, romantic setting for a weekend away. The cabin I stayed in rents for $249/night, and if you reserve 6 nights, you get the 7th free! The one bedroom cabins currently have a rate of $169/nt. You can also add on special requests, like in-cabin massages, a romance package with roses and champagne, or a special cake waiting for you upon arrival.

Learn more about Cabin Fever Resort on their website or Facebook page, and check out their reviews on TripAdvisor.

Thanks so much to Cabin Fever Resort for hosting me for a night in exchange for sharing my honest opinions with you guys! No other compensation was received for this post, unless you count kitty cuddles.

Friday Favorites June

Happy Friday, Friends! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had time to do a Friday Favs post. It’s funny how something that takes you guys 5 minutes to read can take ages to put together!

Here’s what I’m loving this week!

1. My kitty Jasper is usually pretty brave about noise (he grew up hearing the Epcot fireworks every night) but recent storms have worried him a little, and he’s taken to hiding under the covers.

I like to refer to these as “Jasper is a Fancy Lady”.

2. This ice cream:

I never buy ice cream, but I randomly spotted this a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t resist. IT’S AMAZING.

 

3. I’ve taken 2 quick overnight trips to Eureka Springs, Arkanas in the past couple of weeks, and had all kinds of adventures. (I’ve already posted about meeting the ghosts of the 1886 Crescent Hotel there!) As I was leaving to head home last week, I stopped by the “city park” on a whim. Like the rest of the town, it’s not quite what you’d expect. Instead of some swings and benches and whatever else comes to mind when you think city park, you get over 20 miles of hiking trails, and scenery that looks like this:

Whaaat? I was short on time when I stopped so I only got to hang out for about half an hour, but now I can’t wait to go back. If the forecast wasn’t calling for almost 90 degree temps this weekend, it would be impossible to resist. SOON, though!

4. My current bullet journal is just a few pages away from being full, so I’m getting ready to set up a new one. Came across this post of 15 Bullet Journal Ideas, and picked up some great inspiration!

 

5. I’m part of chewy.com’s influenster program, which means the cats get to try out and “review” new food and treats every month. This month, they received Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe cat food, and it’s been getting rave reviews!

I just wanted a pic of the food, not your adorable pink tongue, you nerd.

I love that it comes in larger (6.5 oz) cans so I don’t have to open a billion just to feed everyone, and that the meat comes from sustainably run farms with free range, grass fed animals. The cats like that it’s yummy food and they get to eat it. (They’re not very tough critics.)

Be sure to check out yesterday’s post about the gorgeous Chihuly exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum if you missed it! The Friday Favs graphic at the top of the post is made from a pic of one of the beautiful blown glass pieces there.

Happy weekending!

Friday blog linkup