Just before Christmas in 2019, my husband surprised me with a weekend getaway to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I had been before on a girls’ trip years ago and he’d been even longer ago than me, but we hadn’t yet visited together. I’d been swamped with Christmas art commissions, so it was a great opportunity for quality time and a romantic getaway in Eureka Springs. We had an amazing trip, so I wanted to share the details for anyone planning a weekend getaway in northern Arkansas, because we would highly recommend it!
Our unique Eureka Springs vacation rental
I am normally the trip planner, but since this was a birthday present for me, my husband handled the reservations. He researched several different vacation rentals in Eureka Springs and shared some of his favorites with me to help him decide. We landed on the obvious choice – a converted caboose, tiny-house style, with an outdoor hot tub in the woods. The Livingston Junction Cabooses consist of three converted cabooses and a standard cabin on a large hillside wooded lot – we couldn’t see the other cabooses from ours so there was plenty of privacy to enjoy the outdoor hot tub and wooded scenery. We stopped by the local liquor store to grab some local brews to enjoy as we soaked in the hot tub after our hike on Saturday afternoon.
The inside of the caboose was tiny and cozy, but had a coffee maker, microwave and fridge so we were able to reheat our restaurant leftovers for late night snacks, and relax with coffee in the morning. The shower may have been the tiniest I’ve ever been in, but it got the job done. We loved the kitschy western decor, in particular the toilet roll holder, which I did not save a photo of but it’s special! We loved the caboose – it was just a couple miles out of town, but a perfectly relaxing and romantic getaway in Eureka Springs. The only drawback was the long narrow driveway; we managed it in my small SUV, but larger less nimble vehicles might have to back all the way out, which would not be easy in the dark.
Things to Do in Eureka Springs
We love the outdoors and hiking, so our main goal was to explore some of the beautiful scenery northern Arkansas offers. We researched hiking trails near Eureka Springs on my AllTrails.com app and chose Tea Kettle Falls Trail to explore Saturday morning. It was a reasonably short drive through the beautiful countryside and down a long, steep pea gravel approach to the trailhead. One warning on this part – we were in my FWD 2012 Chevy Equinox. When we were leaving, we had a lot of trouble getting traction and momentum up the steep pea gravel drive. We got stuck at one point and had to reverse all the way back down and back way up and put the pedal to the metal to get enough momentum to barely make it back up the driveway. So 4WD vehicle would be best to avoid getting stuck at the trailhead!
The trail followed a creek that was fairly low due to the time of year, and there were neat blufflike outcroppings, moss and icicles along the way.
It was not a difficult hike, but an enjoyable woodsy walk until the creek bed opened up to the large rock formations where the falls should’ve been. It was too dry that time of year for even a trickle, but the eroded layers of rocks were fascinating and beautiful nonetheless.
The temperature was mild that day so we chose to walk the gravel bars along the creek for most of the way back in our waterproof boots ( I love my Oboz waterproof boots – that’s an affiliate link on which I could make a commission), which provided new scenery for most of the return.
On our way back into town from hiking, we decided to do some wine tasting at Keels Creek Winery, which also happened to have an art gallery. We tasted all they had to offer and purchased a sweet red wine and some red wine vinegar to take home. Then we browsed the art gallery which was several rooms filled with works from a dozen or so local Eureka Springs artists. I fell in love with the psychedelic drunken frog paintings by Dee Landerman and bought a print called “Hoppy Hour” for our home. A year later and I haven’t yet displayed it but it’s going on the big eclectic gallery wall I have planned very soon!
After wine & art viewing, we went into downtown Eureka Springs to shop. Since we were visiting in December, the town was quiet and we had no problem finding parking anywhere. This can be an issue during busier times of year. We visited several little shops and boutiques – there are so many to find unique gifts and art for anyone! With shopping done, we headed back to the caboose for some hot tub beers and a nap before dinner.
Saturday night after dinner, we were hoping to find a bar with some live music to enjoy some nightlife/drinks. The town was pretty quiet, but we followed our ears to the sound of a bluesy woman’s voice and guitar-playing to an indoor/outdoor balcony bar. I don’t remember the name of the place and looking on Yelp, don’t see anything that rings a bell. It’s possible especially after a year during the pandemic, it’s no longer around. But it was small, divey, with a diverse crowd that was all about having fun. The bartender was serving AND taking shots, and the bluesy biker chick singing and playing guitar opened up the mic for karaoke, often assisting with her booming vocals. Though we watched from our bar stools, we had a blast watching the odd mix of people partying in that tiny, off the wall place.
Eureka Springs Restaurants
We did not have trouble finding amazing places to eat for our Eureka Springs weekend getaway. Below is a list of the restaurants in Eureka Springs that we ate at and our experience. None of it was bad!
- Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave – We arrived in town Friday night and enjoyed a romantic, cozy, dimly lit dinner at this lovely little spot. We had a little trouble finding it, but once inside it felt like a private club. It lived up to its name as it was part grotto and had a cave-feel. The menu had unique items, so we went several small plates: baked brie mushroom soup (amazing!), naked wings (just okay but we are picky wing eaters since Ronnie makes the best), bone marrow & garlic bread (I thought I liked this but it weirded me out), and one of the richest mac n’ cheese dishes I’ve ever had. We had leftovers of that which I definitely reheated for a late night snack!
- Mud Street Annex – This breakfast restaurant in Eureka Springs was so good, we ate there both Saturday and Sunday mornings! Another cozy little spot, it had cool art on the walls and there was a glass opening on the floor where you could see the spring flowing way down in the ground below, which added a cool vibe. I looked up the menu to recall what we had and nothing rang a bell until I saw someone’s menu photo of specials on Yelp from “about a year ago” which would coincide with when we were there, and I think we had all three things over the course of our two visits there: Huevos Rancheros, The Triple Bypass (pancake topped with sausage and cheese, smothered in gravy , with an egg, 2 pieces of bacon and home fries), and the “Croak” Madame Sandwich (ham, cheese and raspberry jam between two pancakes and a sunny side up egg). I think I may have had an omelet and their spicy grits from the main menu but anyway, they knocked every breakfast out of the park.
- Local Flavor Cafe – A friend recommended we stop in here, and it was such a surprisingly gorgeous December Saturday afternoon we were able to sit outside on the deck overlooking town. They are known for their sangria so I had the peach variety which was incredible, and Ronnie had a beer. We split a crab cake appetizer and then I had a fried goat cheese salad and he had a burger. Everything was delicious for our post-hike lunch!
- Red’s Pizzeria – I think the service was incredibly slow on a busy night. We placed our pizza order and then never saw a server again till the pizza came. I had been wanting to order a beer but never got the chance. Either way, we weren’t in a hurry, just hungry, and the pizza was good – I think we got a pretty standard meat lovers option and some sort of chicken alfredo type. We had plenty leftover that got reheated in the microwave that night at our caboose along with the mac n’ cheese from the Grotto the night before.
All in all, we had a nearly perfect romantic weekend getaway in Eureka Springs. I know the little mountain town has plenty more to offer, so we’d love to come back and mix things up a bit. We even looked at real estate websites on our drive back to see if there were any decent pieces of land to setup our own vacation rental property as a getaway and investment. It’s a lovely area with lots of outdoor recreation opportunities as well as small town, unique artsy culture.