GRANDPARENTS’ GIFT OF A SHARED VACAY…
When grandparents want to share a destination vacation with their grandkids, they look for several things: not too far away, affordable, offers memorable experiences that the kids will really enjoy, and something the grandparents can handle physically. Such a place that checks all of those boxes is Eureka Springs, a wonderful little village in the Arkansas Ozarks.
Eureka Springs is less than a day’s drive from such cities as Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Springfield (MO), St. Louis, Little Rock and all the area around those cities listed. There are good highways in route, even though some of the highways closer to the destination are typical of routes leading into a mountain village: somewhat curvy but oh, so picturesque.
Accommodations are plentiful for a town of 2,000 residents. Eureka Springs boasts nearly 2,500 rooms varying in prices from most affordable to adequately affordable. Most offer adjoining rooms so both grandparents and grandchildren can have their space. All hotels and motels are close to everything you will want to be close to from restaurants and attractions to green, wide-open Ozark spaces. This “closeness” makes everything easily accessible via walking, trolleys, shuttles and/or driving.
The restaurants of Eureka Springs are plentiful. Your troupe, no matter their varying tastes and dining preferences, will find places to be well fed -at affordable prices- offering everything from a down-home breakfast, to multi-selection lunches, to nice sit-down evening meals with varied cuisines. And don’t bring your fancy clothes for meals. The entire community has casual attire as its dress code.
So, what is there to do? A great place to start is Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a 459-acre wildlife refuge for abused, abandoned and neglected big cats. Although working hard to end the exotic animal trade globally, Turpentine Creek has built a sanctuary to give shelter and take care of these big cats, as well as other species, that have been rescued from across the country from pitiful environments. Proper diets and medical care plus natural settings and a whole lot of love gives these beautiful animals a safe, enjoyable place to live out their lives. Visitors can enjoy an hour-long riding guided tour in an open-air tram plus a chance to wander around the self-guided discovery area.
A chance to relax and do a little easy-fishing with the grandkids, can be accomplished on the banks of Beaver Lake and Lake Leatherwood. Beaver Lake is a huge, Corps of Engineers’ lake with plenty of shoreline while Lake Leatherwood is an 85-acre spring-fed lake in the center of a 1,610 acre city park. Plenty of nature for casual hiking, picnics, and outdoor fun.
If you want to see the whole town in less than a day, buy a day-pass for the Eureka Spring’s Trolley System. Historic-looking, comfortable trolleys will take passengers out to the Christ of the Ozarks statue on the grounds of The Great Passion Play to the east; the award-winning architectural marvel, Thorncrown Chapel, to the west; circle around both the Upper and Lower Historic Loops traveling past such must-sees as the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa and Intrigue Theatre located in the Gavioli Chapel; and all with stops along the way The convenient trolley depot, located in center of downtown, will be your comfortable spot to change trolley cars for the different color-coded routes.
And speaking of downtown, Downtown Eureka Springs is a playground in itself. Dozens of totally unique shops, places to pick up a sweet treat or something more filling to eat, and benches to watch the grandkids enjoy downtown, city parks and natural hillsides that caress downtown. And no need to worry, Eureka Springs is a safe place for youngsters to explore. You might think about hopping off the trolley near the top of downtown and winding your way downhill… a much easier stroll for us “old folk”.
No grandparent/grandchildren vacation to Eureka Springs would be complete with a long discovery tour of the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa. The kids will know it better as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel”. This magnificent structure with its 15-acres of sculpted and natural grounds is on the National Register of Historic Places and offers ample free parking. Some of this acreage has been transformed into the Frisco Sporting Club (FSC), the ideal spot where grandkids can play as those might have played more than a century ago. Grandparents can leisurely watch their grands at the Red Ryder BB Gun Shooting Range or while hatchet throwing. (Could be a great opportunity for an adult-child challenge.) FSC, open evenings Thursday through Sunday, also offers cornhole; horseshoes; giant-sized chess, checkers, and Jenga; plus, shuffleboard and bocce ball. If we adults choose not to participate, there is plenty of casual seating to watch and cheer. The hotel has two restaurants: one for breakfast and dinner, and one for noontime and evening pizza will fill your gang’s stomachs. A nightly ghost tour will fill their imaginations. Both guaranteed to satisfy.
Grandparents gather up the grandkids for a vacay to Eureka Springs, Arkansas... a whole host of lifetime memories await!