After my recent stay at Oak Crest Cottages in Eureka Springs, I couldn’t wait to share this place with you all! I’m pretty sure that I found the absolute cutest cottage in Eureka Springs, but I might have to try a few more just to be sure!
From treehouses to rock cottages to really reasonably priced studio suites, there’s something for everyone. Looking for a romantic Eureka Springs cottage with a fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub? They have three.
I stayed in the Mountain Chalet, a cozy studio-style cabin. When I show you how cute this cottage is, you might assume it was expensive, but it was seriously only about $40 more than staying at one of the budget chain hotels. (You can check current prices and availability here!) …
New Moon Spa is located on the garden level of the 1886 Crescent Hotel, perched atop a hill in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Eureka Springs has become one of my favorite places for a day trip; it’s about an hour away from where I live but it feels like such a different place. The Crescent Hotel has such a long and crazy history (check out my post about their ghost tour!) that it’s fascinating to wander around, just thinking about how long it’s all been there and how much those walls have seen. On one of my most recent trips, I got to check out the hotel’s spa. Eureka Springs is almost entirely steep hills, so given that I’d walked several miles on my historic downtown tour the day before, my body was SO ready for a little TLC!
I was really surprised by how large and modern New Moon Spa is. Given the historic vibe of the rest of the hotel, I wasn’t expecting the bright, spacious lobby that I stepped into. However, historic details are there if you know where to look! Take a close look at the floor in the salon in this pic:
This space was once a bowling alley, back when the Crescent as a school for girls around the turn of the 20th century!
When the Crescent was renovated, they preserved two of the original bowling lanes. Later, during further restoration, they found a couple of the bowling pins from around 1901 inside the walls!
The salon boasts pretty incredible views. Here’s the view from the pedicure chairs:
The Crescent Hotel is a popular destination for Eureka Springs weddings, and the spa features a room perfect for the bridal party to relax in while getting ready for the ceremony.
In the spa lobby, you can shop a whole array of bath and beauty products. It’s like a mini Sephora in there! They sent me home with some of their awesome signature spa products:
Grapefruit is my go-to hand soap scent, so I was excited about the citrusy scent of these!
After my tour of the spa and salon, it was time for my massage! Lockers are available if you’d like a place to stash your stuff while you’re off relaxing.
I was offered a beverage and given a quick info form to fill out, which included a diagram where I could circle any areas on my body that needed attention and X out any places I wanted to avoid having worked on.
Fluffy robes and slippers await!
The spa offers an array of massage styles, but don’t feel restricted to what’s listed on the menu. They’re happy to customize something that you’l love. I requested something blending the two listed below, since I couldn’t really choose.
I wish I could get massages on a weekly basis. I never realize how crazy tense my body is until someone starts hitting all the knots. I was pretty zoned out for most of this massage, but I do remember the massage therapist hitting a spot near the back of my head that almost made me jump. I asked her to go back and spend a little time on that area, and I’m pretty sure that doing so saved me from an impending tension headache that otherwise probably would have ruined my day in the near future. How does an hour go by so slowly at work, but so quickly when you’re getting a massage?
The spa’s hot tub and infrared sauna are included with any treatment, so even though I had a full day ahead I couldn’t resist slipping into my swimsuit to enjoy just a little more relaxation out in the garden hot tub. I wanted to make it to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge before a predicted rainstorm hit later that afternoon, so I skipped the sauna this time. Honestly, if I hadn’t had another place to be that day, they probably would have had to drag me out of the hot tub. Such a perfect way to follow up a massage!
(Apparently this is what my dopey “I just had an hour massage and now I’m chilling in a hot tub” face looks like.)
I couldn’t resist making “ghostly mist” jokes about the steam rising from the hot tub, given the Crescent’s lore!
It’s crazy to just be hanging out in the hot tub, just relaxing, and then glance up and see a building that’s been there since 1886.
One of the spa receptionists even offered to bring me a beverage to enjoy while relaxing. Sipping cold water definitely made it more enjoyable, even though that’s such a simple thing. (I believe they also have coffee and tea, but I was craving water!)
Eureka Springs became famous in the late 1800’s after its “healing waters” were discovered. Chilling in a hot tub in a garden after a long massage probably wasn’t quite what those early settlers hand in mind, but I was definitely into it!
Check out New Moon Spa’s website for their full menu of spa and salon services, and be sure to check out their specials if you’re planning to stay at the Crescent Hotel – they offer some great perks for hotel guests who book spa services! You can also find them on Facebook. I’d definitely love to return here in the future – there are entire menus of body treatments and facials that I haven’t explored yet!
Thanks to New Moon Spa and the Eureka Springs City Advertising & Promotion Commission for treating me to such a relaxing morning in exchange for sharing my experience!
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs – A Sanctuary for Lions and Tigers and Bears! (Oh My!)
You guys know I’m 100% a cat lady, so when I was offered the opportunity to visit a big cat sanctuary, I was all over it! Bring me all the kitties, please!
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs is different from most attractions in that they wish they didn’t have to exist. This animal sanctuary takes in big cats whose owners pass away or realize they’re not equipped to care for them, or from other exhibits that close down. Unlike the animals in some attractions, these cats aren’t being taken away from their natural habitats or being bred for exhibition, they’re being rescued from unsafe situations and being given a forever home.
Every animal’s story is different, and their enclosures are equipped with signs that fill you in on their background.
Although Turpentine Creek focuses on big cats, to quote one of the tour guides, “We’ve recently branched out into bears.” (No idea why, but that phrase tickled me.)
They’re working on new enclosures for the black bears that will have trees in the center that they can climb so that they can get their climbing fix without being able to get over the fences. The grizzly bear already has a pretty fancy place to live, complete with his own pool and waterfall to cool off in, since grizzlies are not built for warmer temperatures!
Um, can I live here?
Thinkin’ about Bear Stuff
Speaking of the enclosures, I want to mention up front that I didn’t manage to capture how nicely designed they were in my photos. (Let’s be honest, I was mostly thinking, “Ooooh, kitty!”) Each area is well thought out with plenty of space to roam around, and features that mimic what they’d play with or relax on in a natural habitat. Due to how much it costs to build a new enclosure, they do sometimes wind up needing to do a switch-out process where, to use an apartment metaphor example, two male tigers get the big fancy penthouse-style space today, then tomorrow they go into a smaller studio-style area and the two females get the big space. Given that just before my visit they’d taken in 30+ animals from an animal attraction in Colorado that had been shut down, it seemed like a pretty solid way to accommodate the new arrivals until resources are available to give everyone their own fancy place. They avoid mixing animals that didn’t grow up together to avoid scary hierarchy fights, so they won’t just add a new cat to a pair that already lives together.
I took a Google Maps screenshot that hopefully provides a better idea of how much space the big cats get to run around in. There are a few cars at the top of the pic for scale, and you can see the grey fence outlines throughout.
(I come from a Disney World background, where we build entire African-style savannas as animal environments, so my standards are pretty high. These guys obviously aren’t working with Disney’s budget, but they do a great job of providing happy, comfortable homes for the animals they rescue.)
Also, I did my best to minimize the fencing in photos, but it’s worth noting that there are two pretty serious fences between guests and animals. It creates a nice “in-betweeen” zone that ensures nobody can throw something into their environment, or anything else along the “well, that was really dumb” line of guest behaviors.
As a cat lady, this place is totally up my alley. (alley cat?) For instance, I finally got to learn…
Every time I watch big cats, (especially tigers) I’m struck by how similar their behavior is to my little guys. These two young tigers giving each other baths is 100% like what happens at my house on the daily:
Let’s backtrack a little bit to give you a better idea of how a visit to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Sanctuary goes!
The sanctuary is a short drive outside of historic downtown Eureka Springs, about 15 minutes. There’s plenty of parking (big difference from downtown!). Tickets are regularly $25 for adults, $20 for teens, $15 for kids, seniors and veterans and under 3 is free, but you can sometimes find discounts on sites like Groupon.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge tickets include a guided tour that lasts around 45 minutes, plus the freedom to wander around part of the sanctuary (see below) as much as you’d like. They offer a trolley tour for an extra $5 if you’d prefer not to walk, but the trolley option is complimentary for guests with mobility disabilities. There is a lot of stopping to listen to the guide speak on the walking tour, so as long as you’re comfortable walking about half a mile very slowly, you’re likely to be ok. (I always try to include info that will help people determine if they can handle the physical aspects of an attraction, but if you have specific questions, feel free to ask!)
This map is from Turpentine Creek’s site, which has a page where you can check out their brochures and maps! It’s a great resource if you’re considering visiting.
After purchasing your tickets, you’re given a time and place to meet for the guided tour. Until then, you’re free to wander the area marked with a black line above. I think I had around 20 minutes before my tour time, which felt like plenty of time to explore that area. It’s worth noting that the exhibits you see along the red line on the map are only accessible while on the tour. (I’m guessing this is for safety reasons? It would probably take a lot of resources to monitor guests and ensure safety if you were free to explore the whole sanctuary on your own. It’s big!)
I spent a lot of my pre-tour time watching this guy take a bath. 😍
I didn’t get a very good pic of this kitty, but I loved him because he’s basically a slightly larger version of my Bear.
A better pic from the Turpentine Creek website:
And my own Bear, whose vet has said that he looks just like a panther he used to treat.
Very fierce, much terrifying.
My tour guide patiently put up with all of my crazy cat lady questions (“Hey, do tigers get hairballs?”), and gave us a ton of info about the animals. I think the tigers were my favorite because like the wild creatures they are, when we would divert our attention from them to listen to the tour guide talk, they’d take our distraction as the opportunity to stalk us.
Kitty invites you to (be) dinner.
One of the white tigers spent several minutes sloooowly creeping up on us, which was super fun to watch. It started way up the hill and gradually made its way down. Our tour guide did what’s lovingly known as a “butt dance” – apparently tigers look for animals that are distracted by eating or drinking water, aka a head down position, to sneak up on. That went a little like this:
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge offers an option where you can stay in lodges, bungalows, or tents at the sanctuary. The lodges are styled to look like a safari lodge you’d stay in while visiting Africa, which I dig since I’m a sucker for pretty much any kind of theme suite. What’s really cool about these rooms, though, is that you’re able to hear the cats roaring at night! Definitely on my list of places I’d like to stay on a future Eureka Springs visit.
I’d definitely recommend adding Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge to your trip plans if you’ll be visiting Eureka Springs or Northwest Arkansas in general! You can learn more about them on their website, or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I mean, be honest… your life needs more cat videos in it.
I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have about planning a trip or anything else about my visit that I didn’t cover!
I received complimentary admission to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in exchange for sharing my experience. No other compensation was received, and everything above is my honest opinion.
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. Yup, there’s a whole other Eureka Springs underground, so as you’re strolling along the sidewalks downtown, you’re walking on top of history! 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. As far as I know, this is currently the only Eureka Springs underground tour!
Some links on this page are affiliate links, which provide me with a small commission at no additional cost to you. Using these links is a great way to support this site and make it possible for me to offer you more first-hand feedback on hotels and attractions!
The Downtown n Underground Tour 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 taking a little more attention 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 they should 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?
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, but also when I’m updating it in 2022!), adult tickets are $13.50. Kids under 12 are free, so this is a seriously economical to have a fun family afternoon and learn a lot along the way! Groups are limited in size so it’s a great idea to reserve your Downtown n Underground tickets in advance!
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.
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!).
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!
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.
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!
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.
While updating this page in 2022, I discovered that Cabin Fever doesn’t seem to have a website or a Facebook anymore, but there are still recent reviews on TripAdvisor so booking may not currently be available.
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.