October 29, 2018
The hosts at the Dam Visitor Center recommended we visit Eureka Springs to check out the town and one of their favorite restaurants. We finished Pea Ridge Battlefield early and headed over to Eureka Springs. It was another seriously twisty-turny but also STEEP drive down into Eureka Springs. The historic area has narrow streets with private parking lots and not much space so we hit the Visitor Center and Trolley Transit Station to get our bearings. We decided it would be best to just pay their parking fee and the trolley fee and do the all day ride thing.
NOTE: If you park at the Transit Station and buy Trolley Tickets, you only pay $2.00 for all day parking instead of the $5.00 posted there and in several lots around town. The Trolley was $6.00 per person. You can get on and off at any of the many stops and ride any of the trolley routes. They have a paper map and you can link into their live tracking so you know where the trolleys are at any given time. They hit each stop every 20-30 minutes or so depending on traffic and how many people want on or off.
We rode the red line into town and walked around. It reminded us a bit of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. They are both built on the side of a hill so you are constantly walking up and down steep hills and climbing staircases between streets. Eureka Springs is DEFINITELY not “accessible” for all. We finally hopped the Trolley and just watched the town go by out the window. If we had been there all day, we would have ridden every Trolley line then decided where we wanted to stop and tour. The basic Trolleys operate like buses. There is no interpretive tour. You get on, you ride, you get off. They have Trolley Tours for a fee but the schedule didn’t work out for us so we skipped it.
The town itself is pretty cool. They have a LOT of springs so you’ll be walking along (seems it is always uphill) on a street and there will be a stone outcropping with a spring and historic sign, then another house. I found it interesting that they didn’t blast into the rocks to build. The houses are built on the ridges and rocks and other rocks were used to fill in the low spots. Many perched on ledges are reached by steps. There are a lot of Victorian “Cottages” with all the gingerbread trim and bright colors. Many can be rented and they seem to do a good business with them. There were plenty of places to eat, drink and shop. They had artist studios, crystal shops, healing shops, an essential oil shop, outfitters, T-shirt shops, kite shop, souvenir shops, leather shops, hippie shops and more. It was very eclectic. We talked with a local couple that said it used to be mostly an artist colony type area but it is slowly sliding toward tourist junk and new age shops. We forgot to check out the glass chapel in the woods so if we are ever in the area, we’ll have to take the purple line up to that.
We had to be back on the Trolley by 5:30 to make sure they didn’t shut down before we got a ride back to our car so we ate as soon as the restaurant rolled over to the dinner menu. The recommended restaurant was “Local Flavor” and was conveniently located right across the street from the downtown Trolley Depot. The food was very good as was the service and we were seated on a little outdoor balcony so we could watch the evening crowd as they came in for a night out on the town.
Shopping isn’t our thing but we enjoyed checking out the town, riding the Trolley and our excellent dinner.