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Fantastic Caverns

Fantastic Caverns

 

A fun fact that most people don’t know: Missouri is FULL of caves. Over 6,000 of them, to be more specific. Only 16 offer tours, and one of those, Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, Missouri, offers a ride-through tour on a tram.

Fantastic Caverns is America’s only ride-through cave. This is a BIG deal – there are only a handful of ride-through caves in the entire world! I love exploring caves but most require visitors to be in pretty good shape physically, since you’re likely to be stooping down to fit through low passages, climbing stairs and inclines, and generally on your feet for around an hour. The pathways are sometimes narrow, low, and inclined in order to preserve as much of the natural environment as possible, but this makes them inaccessible to a lot of people – those with mobility disabilities, elderly visitors, small children who can’t walk through on their own, etc. So while I totally understand why not every cave can offer a more accessible tour, it’s awesome that there’s at least one cave that pretty much anyone can visit comfortably!

As you guys might have noticed, I always try to include as much info as possible to help travelers with disabilities or other special circumstances plan their trips, since I know that can be hard to find. If you have any questions that I don’t cover, feel free to reach out in the comments or email! (And yes, the trams have ramps so they’re wheelchair accessible! You may want to check with them if you have a chair that’s especially wide or tall, though.) I just learned while browsing their Facebook that the tour is even dog-friendly, so this is also a perfect choice for anyone with a service dog or even just a well-behaved furry traveling companion!

As you might remember from my summer posts, this spring and summer have been SO HOT, so I started looking around for local attractions that doubled as a great place to cool off. The Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau was kind enough to send me a press pass that allowed me to visit Fantastic Caverns so I could report back to you guys with some honest feedback and tips for visiting.

 

 

Getting To Fantastic Caverns:

Ignore what Siri is telling you to do. She doesn’t know your life. Follow the signs instead. (Basically, if GPS tries to send you on a weird loop to the west of town, ignore that and either take Kansas Expressway up past the fairgrounds or use I-44 exit 77. ALL of the Fantastic Caverns signs say exit 77, so of course my phone yelled at me when I didn’t take exit 75 like it wanted me to.) Just be prepared for the fact that you’re going to feel like you’re heading out into the middle of nowhere and driving a few miles down farm roads. Caves don’t really keep visitor convenience in mind when they’re forming.聽馃槀

 

馃幎聽I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes…聽馃幎

 

Fantastic Caverns Tours:

The cave is open almost every day of the year (closed Thanksgiving and December 24th & 25th) from 8 a.m. until around dusk (so 4 p.m. in the winter and 8 p.m. in the summer) and tours go out about every 20-30 minutes, so you can arrive whenever you’d like and you probably won’t have much of a wait before your tour departs. I had about 15 minutes, which gave me time to use the restroom, browse the gift shop, and check out some of the educational material in the waiting area. (They have some really cool books that you can flip through!) There’s also a vending machine with bottled soda, tea, lemonade, and water available at really reasonable prices (as in $1 – $1.50). In fact, all of the gift shop prices seemed really reasonable. They had baseball caps for $5, and lots of cool gemstones for around $1-2 each.

 

These agate pieces were $1.50. They also had turquoise and rose quartz (among others) for 99 cents.

 

When tour time rolls around, everyone boards a tram that holds around 30 people. Here’s a peek at what those look like:

 

The tour guide is also your driver, so sitting towards the front can make it easier to hear, but the cave acoustics are pretty good so I don’t think sitting towards the back will affect the ability to hear what’s being said much, if at all. I sat at the front of the large part of the tram, and I did notice a bit of a fuel smell up there. (The trams are powered by clean-burning propane in an attempt to preserve the cave as much as possible.)

The tour travels a path carved out by an ancient river and makes a loop that goes about half a mile into the cave and then back out in a sort of horseshoe shape. The lower part of the cave system, which is much larger and contains creatures like cave crayfish and tri-colored bats, is not visited during the tour.

 

A Bit of Fantastic Caverns History:

Although the cave was discovered in 1862 by a farmer and his dog, it wasn’t explored until 1867 when twelve women answered an ad seeking people to investigate the cave. Can we pause and acknowledge how badass those women were? Can you imagine going into a big dark cave with only candlelight and NO idea what you might find in there? The women wrote their names on the cave walls, and those were eventually traced over to preserve them. You’ll see them on the tour!

 

The caverns served as a speakeasy during prohibition, and in the 50s it became a popular concert hall due to the awesome acoustics. The room pictured below is known as the Auditorium, and was the site of countless concerts.

 

 

The jeep-driven tours began in 1961, and have been going strong ever since. I visited once on a school trip in the late 80s or early 90s, but didn’t remember much from that visit , so I was excited to see what was waiting below ground.

 

The Tour!

The cave tour takes approximately one hour and is a fantastic introduction to caves. I thought they did a great job of teaching about caves – how different formations grow, the history, etc – without overwhelming visitors with too much info.

One amusing note:聽 You’re welcome to take as many photos as you like, and the guide mentioned that flash photos are allowed. I tried that in one spot, but I should’ve known better! If you’ve ever tried to take a flash photo in a super humid place, you already know what happened.

Majestic, isn’t it?聽馃槀

Here’s almost the same photo without the flash:

 

The lighting in the cave is designed to illuminate the cool formations (In 2017 they replaced their incandescent bulbs with LEDs for environmental reasons), so you’re likely to get pretty good photos without the flash, especially when the tram is stopped, which is often. However, the mix of dark cave and lighted formations probably isn’t going to result in phenomenal photos if you’re using your phone or a basic point-and-shoot camera. The pics in this post were taken with my dinosaur of an iPhone 5s. I didn’t get any amazing shots, but overall the quality was pretty decent given that I was photographing things that were usually 20+ feet away in weird light. Also on that note, if you don’t know, caves are wet. Don’t bring in a camera that you’re not ok with an occasional large drop of water falling on.

Take a look at those formations above and then consider this: they grow at an average rate of one cubic inch per 100 years. And those guys above? They’re pretty big. For scale:

Tour guide near formations for scale.聽

There is one formation that they know the exact age of! Back in 1941, this concrete cylinder was added to the cave. (We were told why, but I’ve completely forgotten.) Since it reaches through the roof of the cave and allows water in, formations started to grow around it. Sorry for the bad photo, but again, caves aren’t awesome lighting for pics! But the little formations that reach out from the pole are now 3/4 inch long. After 77 years. Just something to keep in mind when looking at the huge ones in other photos!

 

 

Here’s one more to give you the scope of how old some of these cave formations are:

 

The smaller stalactites seem unremarkable until you think about how it took them almost a millennia to get THAT big. It was also fascinating to learn that we were 90-120 feet below ground! It never felt like we were descending much, but the entrance to the cave is set into a hill, so you’re a good 30-ish feet? (I’m estimating) underground from the beginning.

 

Although you’re WAY underground, the cave is high and wide enough in most places that I doubt anyone would experience claustrophobia. You do go under a few low ceilings where taller people need to watch their heads, but there are no tight, enclosed spaces on the tour. (Passages can often be cramped on walk-through tours, so again, this is a great option for those worried about doing a cave tour for that reason.)

 

 

While we’re talking about possible worries, there is one brief part where the tour guide turns off the lights so that you can experience total darkness. There’s so much ambient light now that the only places you can truly experience total darkness with ZERO light is deep within a cave or way down in the ocean. The darkness is maybe 10-15 seconds? There were some small children in our group and they seemed to handle it well (The guide had them count down 3…2…1… to the lights going out, which I think helps), but if you’re traveling with kids you know them best – if they’re hardcore afraid of the dark, just keep this in mind. There are also brief demonstrations of what exploring by candlelight would have looked like, but otherwise the tour has plenty of lighting.

(I’m trying co cover all of the bases for anxious adventurers, but if I’ve left anything out feel free to ask!)

 

 

It’s about 60 degrees inside Fantastic Caverns year-round, so keep that in mind when planning your visit! It’s a perfect way to cool off a bit on a super hot summer day. I wore jeans and a 3/4-sleeve top and was perfectly comfortable. I almost brought a jacket since I worried I’d be cold, but it never felt chilly in there – just pleasantly cool.聽 (Maybe the lack of wind helps?)

This was one of my favorite spots. It’s called the Breakdown Room, because the ceiling has fallen in several times. It looks pretty sound now- look at that super sturdy column holding things up on the left!聽馃槀

 

 

Souvenir photos of your tour group are taken inside the cave, and are available at the end of the tour for $12. (I believe they were 5×7’s in a cardboard folder-style frame.) Afterwards, you’re free to wander the visitor’s center, and there’s even a 1/2 mile trail down to a spring that I really wish I’d had time to check out! (There was a huge storm rolling in around the time my tour ended, so I was hoping to make the hour drive home before it hit. I totally failed at that!)

 

 

As you’re leaving, there are again signs to point you back towards I-44 and Kansas Expressway, which I appreciated since you really are kind of in the middle of nowhere. There’s also a really nice park called Ritter Springs Park just down the road. I stopped for a few minutes and found that there’s some great playground equipment and what looked like a gorgeous trail that I sadly didn’t have time to explore due to the aforementioned impending storm.

A little extra info: Tickets are聽$24 for adults, $17 for children, and kids under 5 are free. This is a little higher than most other local caves I’m familiar with (Talking Rocks in Branson West is $19 for adults, Onyx Cave in Arkansas is $8, and Cosmic Cavern in Arkansas is $16), but the perk of getting to ride through is worth the extra cost, if you ask me, especially if it means your whole travel group gets to do something together vs. some family members or friends having to sit it out.

Fantastic Caverns is just a few minutes from Dickerson Park Zoo, which I wrote about a little over a year ago (that post is here!) so if you’re visiting Springfield, the two would be a perfect combination for a day of educational fun!

Check out the Fantastic Caverns Website for more history and updated info on hours, visit their Facebook page for lots of great info and videos, and of course, Instagram for pretty pictures.

Feel free to ask me any questions that I missed answering down in the comments I’m planning to write about some other caves in the Ozarks soon, so if there’s anything you’d like to know, just ask!

An Evening Aboard the Showboat Branson Belle

An Evening Aboard the Showboat Branson Belle

 

I live right on Table Rock Lake (as you probably know since I’m always Instagramming lake sunsets) but it’s been ages since I’ve seen it from the perspective of being out on the water instead of standing on the shore.

Showboat Branson Belle entrance

Thanks to Silver Dollar City Attractions for inviting me to check out the Showboat Branson Belle! I received a complimentary dinner cruise in exchange for sharing my experience with you guys.

 

I’m a fan of dinner shows when you’re visiting a city like Branson for two big reasons:

1) It eliminates the hassle of picking out a place to eat, figuring out how much time you need to get there, eat, and get to your show on time, and dealing with the traffic on your way from one to the other. Nobody wants to cut an awesome meal short because you’re running late for your evening entertainment plans, and nobody wants to miss the beginning of a show because your waiter was slow bringing the check. Having both in one place saves so much stress!

2) Dinner and the show are both included in your ticket price, which can be a big money saver if your’re traveling as a family or group. The average live show in Branson currently runs around $30-40 per adult, so the Showboat’s prices are really reasonable for both dinner and entertainment! (The prices below were from my cruise towards the end of 2017 and the Showboat website lists the same prices for summer 2018, but they may be slightly different if you’re visiting after that.)

Showboat Branson Belle ticket prices adults children priority

 

Getting There:

The Showboat Branson Belle is located a little bit outside of the main tourist area of Branson, right on one of my favorite walking trails. (The one that runs from the Dewey Short Visitor’s Center to State Park Marina literally cuts right through the Showboat’s parking lot. I’d recommend allowing at least half an hour for a scenic lakeside walk before or after your cruise if the weather allows!) It’s also just a few minutes away from Chateau on the Lake, one of the most luxurious hotels in the area. If you’re staying in a hotel along the 76 Strip, it’s about a 15-25 minute drive when there’s no traffic.

 

 

I was on the 4 o’clock dinner cruise, for which boarding begins at 3 p.m. Arriving early not only means times to check out the cute shops and lake views near the dock, but means you can be towards the front of the line to board the boat, which means a bit of extra time to look around and snap some selfies with the lake in the background. (A souvenir photo is taken when you board, but nobody ever brought mine to the table so I sadly can’t offer feedback on the pricing or quality.) Seating is assigned on your ticket, so there’s not a big hurry, but the boat does depart on time, so don’t be late!

Boarding takes awhile (I think I was in line around 20 minutes), but the water in Table Rock Lake is usually really clear, so a lot of the people around me in line were entertained by watching the fish as we waited. There were some MASSIVE ones visible just below us, and I finally figured out why – there’s a little machine selling fish food there! Those guys are pretty smart to hang out beneath a regular food source instead of venturing out into the rest of the lake where they might get caught!

 

The FOOD!

Shortly after boarding, dinner is served!

 

Everyone is served the same meal (see note about vegetarian and vegan options on the Showboat Branson Belle below), which consisted of the following for my cruise:

  • Salad
  • Dinner Roll
  • Pot Roast
  • Honey Citrus Chicken
  • Sugar Snap Peas with Carrots
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I’m not much of a meat eater but I tried a little of each dish so I could report back, and both the beef and chicken were moist and tender. (Confession: I took them home to my cats.)聽 I can’t eat salad, so I basically just ate the mashed potatoes and dessert. If I return, I’d definitely order the vegetarian option.

 

Dessert is a frozen lemon berry pie, which was quite good even though I’m not usually a fan of lemon.

If you purchase the upgraded Chef’s Menu tickets, you get to choose from a selection of entrees including steak, trout, and pork chops and have four desserts to choose from, so this may be the way to go if you have picky eaters in your group.

 

Vegan and Vegetarian Options on Showboat Branson Belle: Alternate dinner options are available for those looking for聽vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free meals.

The vegetarian meal is a lasagna cheese roll with marinara sauce and vegetables, and the vegan option is a baked potato with Tuscan vegetables. Yes, sorry vegans, I know being offered a veggie plate gets old, but given that they have to prepare everything on the ship, I get why they don’t offer something a little more interesting.

(I forgot to get details on the gluten free meal and what the vegan dessert is! Sorry!)

Be sure to let your server know if you want one of the alternative meals as soon as they greet you and offer drinks – things move pretty quickly and that’s really the only time to get a request in. I’d been considering requesting the vegetarian dinner, but felt like I missed my chance and didn’t want to inconvenience my super-busy server.

 

 

The showboat’s house band plays instrumental music during the dinner service, which was a little different from the style of dinner show I’m used to where you eat while the main show is happening. (I worked at Dixie Stampede, now called Dolly Parton’s Stampede, when I was in my late teens/early 20s, and the cues for various courses to be served are pretty much built into the show there.)

 

The Entertainment:

I grew up in Branson at a time when being a local meant free admission to pretty much any show, so I’ve seen a whole lotta Branson shows in my day!

The show aboard the Showboat changes on a pretty regular basis, which is fantastic if you visit Branson often, since there’s always going to be something new to see. In addition to the standard dinner cruises, there are Pirate and Princess cruises for kids, Southern Gospel Cruises to correspond with the dates of the Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City, and a whole new show for the Christmas season.

For my cruise, the show rotated between a few different acts: A singer named Cassandre who started off with Carol King songs, a five piece male group called The Showmen who did a medley of Billy Joel songs, comedy magician Christopher James who also served as Emcee, and Rhythm, a dance group with super fancy footwork. Towoards the end there was a huge medley of songs from movie soundtracks and Broadway shows that involved every performer and countless costume changes. So much fun! (Sorry my show photos aren’t spectacular – Being about a dozen rows back in a dark theater makes it hard to capture crisp images.)

 

The Showmen

 

Rhythm

 

It was clear that whoever put the show together understood how to appeal to a wide range of people. It’s hard to go wrong with famous movie songs, for example, and a good magic act appeals to any age group. I give this show a thumbs-up if you’re looking for something that will entertain everyone in your travel party.

Seating for dinner and the show is divided into three levels, but the boat is small enough that you’re going to have a good view from pretty much any seat. I was down on the floor level, but I went up to the top during intermission to see how it looked from there:

 

 

Stunning Lake Views:

One of the highlights of the cruise is intermission, when the show takes approximately a half hour break and you can take the opportunity to wander around the boat and take in the scenery. The boat moves very slowly, so you don’t travel all that far during the cruise, but this area of Table Rock Lake is so picturesque that there’s not really a need to go very far.

Showboat Branson Belle deck

View from the deck of the Showboat Branson Belle dinner cruise

 

 

I cruised in October, so by the time we returned to the dock it was almost sunset. It looks like there’s an 8 p.m. cruise in the summertime, so that would probably work out where you caught the sunset during intermission. That would be stunning!

Sunset from the Showboat Branson Belle

 

What to Wear to Showboat Branson Belle:聽Like most shows in Branson, MO, the dress code here is pretty casual. Some guests dress up a little (think casual dresses or nice pants and a button-down shirt for men), but there are plenty of people in jeans, too. A souvenir photo is taken of your group right after boarding, so you may want to keep that in mind when planning your outfits. The most important thing to plan for is the portion of the cruise that you’ll be walking around out on deck taking in the stunning lake views. You may want to bring along a light jacket, especially for evening cruises, since even in the warmer months the lake breezes combined with the moving boat can make things a bit chilly.

 

The Showboat Branson Belle is currently in the middle of their 2018 season! You can learn about all of the different types of dinner cruises they have on offer this year on their website.

Love the beautiful lakes that surround the Branson area? Check out my stay at Bar M Resort, which offers charming cabins right on Table Rock Lake that are ideal for a family reunion or fishing trip!

Everything’s Bigger in Texas! Visiting the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX

Everything’s Bigger in Texas! Visiting the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX

The聽Gaylord Texan was kind enough to treat me to a complimentary night’s stay in exchange for sharing my experience with you guys. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

 

I visited Dallas back in July for a friend’s wedding and as usual, I had to seek out the most interesting places to stay in the area! If you’ve been reading for a while you know I tend towards small, quirky hotels, but in this case I went BIG. That photo above? That’s taken INSIDE the hotel. Most of the rooms are situated around a giant atrium that not only towers above you but also stretches on and on and… you get the idea. You can stroll through more than four acres of landscaped gardens without worrying about the Texas summer heat, pop into stores to pick up unique souvenirs, or dine at one of the nine restaurants and bars without ever stepping outside of the hotel.

 

Image via Marriott because my exterior shots look mediocre in comparison.

 

You could seriously spend an entire afternoon just wandering around the atrium, checking out the cool artwork and architecture.

 

 

I believe the exhibits rotate, but during my visit there was Texas-themed art on display all over the resort, most by Texas artists. It’s a perfect space for art since you can fit oversized pieces that would be out of place elsewhere:

 

 

 

If being surrounded by so much cool art inspires you to create some of your own, you can sign up for a group painting class and make your own masterpiece:

 

 

Despite the absolutely massive size of the atrium, it’s pretty easy to navigate, especially with helpful signs to point you in the right direction.

Gaylord TX Atrium

 

The layout of my room was pretty traditional – two queen-size beds, a work desk, and entertainment center. (The TV has Hulu and Netflix, but you need to have your own account to use them.) There were a few notably cool design touches – I absolutely loved the detail on the side of this custom-designed desk:

detailed leather desk at gaylord texan resort

gaylord texan room work desk

 

Now that I almost always work while I’m traveling (ah, the joys of freelance writing!), I’ve come to really appreciate a good work desk, especially one like this with a bunch of built-in outlets.

 

 

The double vanity area is separate from the bathroom and includes four outlets, a really cool lighted mirror, and a convenient stool to sit on.

Gilchrist & Soames bath products at Gaylord Texan

I’m always happy when hotels have Gilchrist & Soames products! These smell so good and were crafted in partnership with the on-site Relache spa.

The balcony was the coolest part of the room:

 

It’s a little hard to hear me over the atrium fountain. You can only see about 1/3 of the entire length of the atrium here!

 

The hotel also has a large fitness center with a nice variety of equipment:

 

In addition to the full-service restaurants, they have some fantastic grab and go options!

 

AND two on-site Starbucks locations. Clearly they understand my needs.

 

 

There’s an indoor pool and an outdoor pool…

 

But there’s also an entire water park that’s only open to guests of the resort! Since I only stayed one night and most of that was taken up by the wedding, I ran out of time to go check it out. The ten-acre Paradise Springs Water Park features a lazy river, water slides, a huge lagoon-style pool, a toddler pool, a zip line, and more. Knowing how expensive regular water parks can be, booking a room at the Gaylord Texan could be a really budget-friendly choice if you’re traveling with kids who want an afternoon to splash around and enjoy the sun!

 

Parking is one of the few areas where I feel like the resort could really improve. Valet parking is available for $31 per night, and self parking is $22 plus tax for an overnight stay. (Just parking for an hour or two starts at $19.) Hotel guests do have in and out privileges from the parking garage, which is nice since I had a moment of despair when I realized that I needed to leave the resort to go to my friend’s wedding about four hours after checking in, which would have otherwise meant spending upwards of $40 for parking. Having a covered garage that keeps the Texas heat off your car is definitely a nice perk, but it seems out of character for such a nice resort to tack on a pretty hefty charge when it’s not located in a downtown area where space to park is at a premium and guests are likely already spending quite a bit of extra money at the on-site restaurants and shops. (Most hotels in downtown Dallas seem to have similar parking charges, but the Gaylord Texan is almost half an hour out of town and on its own fairly expansive plot of land.) The garage is about a two or three minute walk from the lobby which isn’t bad at all, but not exactly the most fun you can have while carrying 3 bags on a 93 degree day. Just be sure to mentally add an extra $20+ per night to the room rate when making your vacation plans if you’re driving or renting a car and need to stick to a vacation budget!

 

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at the Gaylord Texan and wished I’d had an extra day to enjoy all that the resort has to offer. The Grapevine area is fun and historic and offers tons of things to do, and this is the perfect place to stay if you’re planning a day of wandering the cute boutique shops and historic sites nearby. Traffic in the Dallas area is absolutely nuts, so having so many dining and recreation options right at the hotel is a huge plus. I’d especially recommend this hotel if you’re just passing through the area and want to soak up a lot of Texas feeling/atmosphere in just one night.

 

You can find the Gaylord Texan on聽Instagram and Facebook, and learn more on their website!

Thanks again to the hotel for making my stay so great, and allowing me the opportunity to share my experience with my readers!

 

Celebrating Fall at the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival at Silver Dollar City

Celebrating Fall at the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival at Silver Dollar City

I grew up in Branson, MO, so long days of water rides at Silver Dollar City were a fixture of my childhood summers. This was long before cell phones were a thing (except those giant Zach Morris phones that were bigger than your head), so it was a huge deal when my best friend and I were finally old enough to go off by ourselves for several hours at a time and then meet up with mom when it was time to go. The ultimate tween version of freedom!

It’s been several years since I’ve been to the 1800s themed park, so I was thrilled to be invited to visit and check out the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival, just one of many festivals and events offered at the park each year.

National Crafts & Cowboy Festival at Silver Dollar

Thanks to US Family Guide and Silver Dollar City for providing complimentary admission in exchange for sharing my experience with you guys!

My original plan was to arrive a little before the park opened at 10 a.m., but then Mother Nature was like, “Those are nice fall plans you have there. It would be a shame if anything… happened to them.”

Note the lovely temperatures the rest of the week. Boo-urns. Sadly that 67 degrees at 3 pm turned out to be an overly optimistic forecast. It never got above about 56.聽 Felt more like the Christmas festival than fall!

 

One Big Tip for Visiting Silver Dollar City:聽Arrive Early. To get the most out of your visit, plan on arriving

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Relaxing at New Moon Spa at the 1886 Crescent Hotel

Relaxing at New Moon Spa at the 1886 Crescent Hotel

New Moon Spa Crescent Hotel Eureka Springs

 

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.聽However, historic details are there if you know where to look! Take a close look at the floor in the salon in this pic:

1886 Crescent Hotel Salon

 

This space was once a bowling alley, back when the Crescent as a school for girls around the turn of the 20th century!

 

Crescent Hotel 1900 bowling team

 

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!

 

bowling pin from 18th century crescent hotel eureka

 

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.

1886 Crescent Hotel Eureka Springs spa key

 

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聽 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.聽 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!