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 – 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 is different from most attractions in that they wish they didn’t have to exist. The animal sanctuary, which is located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, 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 some animal attractions, these guys 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 they can climb in the center so 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, since they’re 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 guys a better idea of how a visit to Turpentine Creek 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 $20 for adults, $15 for teens, $10 for kids, seniors and veterans and under 3 is free, but you can sometimes find discounts on sites like Groupon.
Admission includes 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.
(Fun fact – One of the bears at Turpentine Creek is named Huggy, which has resulted in me calling Bear “Huggy Bear” way more often than he’s probably comfortable with. 😂)
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 wildlings they are, as we would divert our attention from them to listen to the tour guide talk, they’t 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 they 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 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 and such throughout the 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 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 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. 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?
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!
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.
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.
Last week, I took a quick trip down to the quirky town of Eureka Springs in Northwest Arkansas. While I was there, I got to check out one of the most popular attractions, the Crescent Hotel. Known as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel”, there are a LOT of stories surrounding this place, and one of the best ways to hear them is to take the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour, which I got to experience thanks to the local visitor’s bureau, who set me up with a ticket. (Thanks!)
The Crescent Hotel in 1886, via Wikipedia. I need to go back and get a similar shot so you can compare the current appearance. It’s basically identical!
My only other visit to the Crescent Hotel was back around 2000 when I was freshly out of high school. We met my sister and her family there for breakfast, and then wandered the hotel a bit to explore. My nieces were around 3 and 6 at the time, so I’m not sure how much they understood about the whole “haunted hotel” concept. What I do know is that after we walked around on one of the upper floors, the younger one started throwing a fit, wanting to go back up there. It’s literally just a hotel hallway, so we couldn’t figure out why, and she finally said that she liked all of the people up there.
We had been the only ones up there. 😮
Helllooo? Anyone there?
When we were almost back to our cars, I turned around to snap a photo of the hotel exterior, and my camera shut off. Nope, it wasn’t the battery or anything normal – it just completely died, never worked again.
So, that was my history with the hotel before now. Paranormal or just weird happenings? Who knows.
For a little extra background before we dive into the tour, there are different types of “hauntings” – one that I totally believe in and others that I’m not super sure about. The one I completely believe is known as a residual haunting. Think of a cassette tape (if you’re old enough to remember those. If not, get off my lawn, you crazy kids!). While I don’t totally understand the science behind them, I think we all get the basic idea – you make some kind of sound, and whatever weird material the tape is made of happens to be able to capture it and play it back when it is triggered to (aka when you press “play”). Residual hauntings work the same way. Something about the building or the atmosphere or maybe a whole combination of things is able to “record” sounds or images, just like the tape does. Then, those sounds or images are played back, sometimes decades or centuries later, causing people to hear footsteps in an empty hallway, children’s voices in an old school, or see a figure running down a staircase. The sound or image always plays out in the same way, often at the same time of day.
This one totally makes sense to me, because it seems scientifically explicable. Just like when you play back a tape, what you’re seeing or hearing doesn’t interact with you, it’s just repeating back. Although I have no idea how it works, some kind of natural, unintended recording happening seems possible.
The other kinds, involving spirits who move things and can be felt touching you and all that? Jury is still out. But I think the most fun way to approach this kind of tour is with an open mind! The guests on the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour range from complete skeptics to people who come equipped with ghost hunting equipment, and everything in between those two extremes. And even if you’re not so sure about the ghost part, learning about the history of the hotel is fascinating, too. It’s had quite a past!
Maybe the stone used to construct old buildings like the Crescent contains some of the same properties that let cassette and video tapes record things? Who knows!
There are multiple tours per night, and the earliest tour of the evening is generally the most kid-friendly. That’s the time slot that I toured in, but I only know of one difference going by reviews I’ve read. (We’ll get to that towards the end!) They recommend ages 8 and up for the tour, but there was a little girl on mine who was 6 who was super curious about everything. I think the best rule of thumb here is that you know your kids best. If the Haunted Mansion is their favorite Disney attraction, you’re probably fine. If they’re going to want to run around the hallways all willy-nilly while the tour guide is telling stories, it’s probably not for them.
The tour meets up on the fourth floor and works its way down the building, stopping along the way for stories about the hotel’s ghosts and history. One nice part about starting at the top is that you’re always walking *down* staircases, not up! (Although the hotel is old, it does have an elevator – it was the first building in Arkansas with an elevator! – so the tour is accessible for those in wheelchairs or with other mobility disabilities, but they do ask that you let them know when reserving your tickets so they can prepare accordingly.)
The heart of the Crescent Ghost Tour is its stories. The hotel dates back to 1886, and over the years it has been the site of quite a few deaths. Each ghost’s story is told in the location where it happened, from the balcony a young woman jumped off of after learning she was pregnant back when the hotel doubled as a girls’ school, to the room now located where a 17 year old Irish boy working construction suffered a fatal fall when the hotel was being built. (Apparently he’s still very much a 17 year old boy, so to speak, and enjoys moving the blankets and shower curtains of female guests.)
Room 218 is known as Michael’s Room
Due to this being a working hotel, the stories are often told outside the door of hotel rooms because they can’t just barge in on the guests staying in them. If a room happens to be vacant that night, though, you may get the chance to go inside. I wouldn’t plan on this, since the hotel stays pretty busy (The room of Michael, the boy mentioned above, reportedly sometimes has a 2 year wait for reservations!), but consider it an awesome perk if it happens!
There’s one ghost who likes to tidy people’s rooms up, but if she decides she doesn’t like them, they’ll return to the room and find their suitcases packed and waiting by the door!
Being the #catlady that I am, my obvious question was if anyone ever sees the ghost of the hotel’s former resident cat, Morris. (He has a memorial photo in the lobby and a fancy grave out in the garden. And yes, I made sure to meet the current hotel cat while I was there! You can see him here!) Turns out that yup, kitty ghost sightings are a thing! Man, maybe I can talk some cable TV network into giving me a reality show where I travel around as a kitty ghost hunter?? That would be an amazing way to get to answer the “So, what do you do?” question. Actually, I might start answering “kitty ghost hunter” anyway. Explaining the whole blogging and social media thing gets old. (And LOL, you guys, I Googled Morris and found that he has a page on Find A Grave! I also found this page that lists most of the former Crescent cats.)
But uh, back to the tour before I give up travel blogging to start a ghost cat blog… (But seriously, call me, History Channel. Or TLC. Or whatevs.)
After stops on the “creepy” 3rd floor (back to that in a minute), outside several rooms, the staircase, and lobby, it’s time to head down to the morgue and autopsy room.
What, your favorite hotel doesn’t have a morgue? Lame.
The vast majority of the deaths that occurred at the Crescent were not accidents. Around 1937, the hotel became a “cancer hospital”. The quotation marks there are because the “doctor” running the hospital was a total fraud who never actually cured anyone. He was charismatic and famous, thanks to having his own radio station, and because of that he was able to convince tons of people who were running out of hope to spend all of the money they had to come receive his “cure”. (Than goodness we no longer live in a time where countless people will follow a horrible, unqualified person just because he’s famous and claims to have the answers they’re seeking! Oh, wait.)
You can read the full story of Dr. Baker in this great article on the Crescent’s website or hear about it on this episode of the “Stuff you Missed in History Class” podcast, but I’ll keep things short for the sake of this post. Everyone who came seeking treatment received horribly painful injections several times a day, suffered a lot, and died. Remember my earlier mention of the “creepy” third floor? There’s an area up there where quite a few guests have felt ill, and even fainted. That’s the area that was soundproofed as a place to stick patients who were moaning and crying in pain, so they wouldn’t be seen and heard by potential customers touring the hospital. (Um, it’s also now where the honeymoon suites are.)
It seems that the ol’ doc was getting pretty delusional by the time he was eventually arrested for fraud in 1940, and he was keeping organs of the deceased in jars so he could show people how totally cancer-free they were! (Because logic!) And so as the tour draws to a close, you get to visit the former morgue, autopsy room, and “body parts room” where the jars of pieces were kept. (Fun fact – apparently when Dr. Baker died, four whole people attended his funeral. In comparison, 50 people attended Morris the hotel cat’s funeral. Cats: They’re better than most people!)
As I mentioned earlier, this seems to be the main difference between the kid-friendly 7 pm tour and other reviews I’ve read. Other guests mention the lights being turned off to experience the room in darkness, and a rather long video of the hotel’s appearance on Ghost Hunters. On my tour, the guide asked if anyone wanted to go into the former cooler where bodies were kept with the lights off and door shut to try to capture ghost photos, but everyone else stayed out in the (dimly) lit autopsy room. We got a shortened version of the Ghost Hunters video, which I think was around a minute.
One moment that struck me as hilarious while we were down here – While the tour guide was telling the story of the morgue, a little boy around 2 started babbling to himself the way kids that age tend to do. Since it was pretty distracting, the guide suggested to his dad that he might want to step outside, but since it was kind of icky out there (There was a pretty strong grease smell coming from the kitchen at the time), they might be more comfortable in the autopsy room. Ahh, the Crescent, where the autopsy room is the LESS icky/uncomfortable option! 😂
I’m a total whimp when it comes to spooky stuff, but I didn’t find this portion of the tour bad at all. There’s quite a bit of freedom to explore after the video, so if you want to go in the dark body parts room on your own to try to have a spooky experience you can, or you can stick to areas where you feel more comfortable. (I did NOT hang out in the room from the above video very long! Although the creepy old wheelchair in there freaked me out more than the locker from the video.) If you’re really not feeling the vibe down there, I’m sure the guide wouldn’t be offended if you wanted to head out early, since it’s the last stop on the tour anyway. If it IS totally your scene, take note – the ghost tour is the ONLY way to get access to the morgue and autopsy areas. While you can wander around most of the hotel any time, these areas are off limits to the general public, so if you want to explore them, the Ghost Tour is the only way in.
One other funny note – I didn’t pay much attention to the hallway we exited the morgue through at the time, but then I found myself there the next morning when I returned to the Crescent for my massage at their New Moon Spa. Only in a town as quirky as Eureka Springs do you find a spa right next to the morgue! (The spa is amaaaaaazing, though, so don’t let the unusual location scare you away from it! You’ll find a link to my post about it in the previous sentence.)
I would definitely recommend the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour to Eureka Springs visitors who want to learn more about the town’s history, especially those staying at the hotel! It’s also an obvious must-do if you’re into the paranormal or mysterious. I do think that the tour experience will vary a lot depending on which guide you get. Each tour guide puts their own spin on it, has their own experiences to share, and (obviously) their own personality. My guide, “Aunt Reba”, was a fantastic storyteller and never crossed over into being cheesy or trying to force a spooky feel.
You can learn more about the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour on their website and Facebook page, where they share photos and videos sent in by people who have been on the tour. You can also find tons of reviews on TripAdvisor. The tour lasts around 75 minutes, and the current price is $22.50 for adults and $8 for kids.
Have you ever had a ghostly experience? 👻 Do you think the Crescent’s ghost stories are real? Share your stories and opinions the comments!