Things to do in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Visit the Crescent Hotel
This hotel has some of the richest history that you will encounter in this region of the United States. The Crescent Hotel opened its doors on May 20, 1886 and was America's most luxurious resort at the time. It was huge, had comfortable rooms with brand new amenities, and amazing unbeatable service. It's hard to imagine, but it cost $249,000 to build at that time. This success was short-lived and fell quickly and was shut down. In 1908, it was opened again as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women but was shut down in 1924. Shortly after, it was opened again as a junior college in 1930, closed after four years, and then opened again as a hotel for summer use.
The real, dark history begins after 1937. This is the year that Norman Baker buys the hotel and turns it into a hospital and health resort. Baker was a millionaire and thought that he had the cure to many ailments even though he had zero medical training. His 'career' began in Iowa where he scammed his way into wealth, 'curing' people along the way. He branded himself as a doctor who figured out the cure for cancer and this attracted many people to this Arkansas hospital. He told people one of the secrets was the area's natural spring water (which is how the city got its start in the first place - both places were founded on the water) and they believed that he would help them. Of course, he didn't. Many people died in this hotel due to the lack of real treatment and some of those people still wander the halls to this day. After Baker's arrest, the building was shut down once again and saw a few new owners. The hotel saw a hint of luck when the current owner(s) bought the hotel for 1.3 million. It saw a six-year renovation and in 2016, it was put on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is a hotel and spa that welcomes people from around the country!
You will find several fun ghost tours in Eureka Springs! There are so many locations around the area that are thought to be haunted; you are probably visiting one and don't even realize it. One of the best ghost tours has to be the Crescent Hotel's tour. With it, you will learn about the history of the beautiful hotel and the residents who still hang around. The guide takes you through the halls to see the most haunted rooms and even to the morgue to learn about its past. Similarly, the Basin Park Hotel also offers a 75-minute ghost tour of the property. You will visit and investigate the ballroom, the cave, and other hot spots in the historic district!
If those do not seem interesting, you can always take a Haunted Eureka Springs tour. Choose from a downtown walking ghost tour, a 90-minute shuttle van ghost tour, or a catacomb ghost hunt! The walking tour takes you on a stroll through the historic downtown area to hear the most chilling stories of the area while seeing the locations in person. The van tour takes you into three different haunted buildings around town that you wouldn't get to see otherwise. Lastly, the catacomb ghost hunt takes you to Eureka Springs' underground catacombs. You will learn about their use during the Victorian era and use real equipment to try to catch a few ghosts yourself.
Ghost tours are a great way for the history of a city to come alive.
Since 1968, The Great Passion Play has amazed nearly 8 million visitors from across the world! You can witness the story of Jesus Christ as he experiences life, performs many miracles, and spreads the word of God. A great experience for the entire family, this heartwarming play is one you must see! At the location, you can also visit the Bible Museum, the Sacred Arts Gallery, the Creation History Museum, the Christ of the Ozarks statue, and the Holy Land. At the Holy Land, you can take a tour and explore the culture, history, and people of the ancient Middle East in the time in which Jesus was raised. Visit replicas of biblical scenes including the room where the Last Supper took place, and a full-sized replica of the Tabernacle. Encounter characters roaming around and hear true dialogue from the times of Moses to Christ just as if you were currently living in Biblical times. You can pet the animals in the petting zoo, walk down the trail to the various landmarks, and interact with the exhibits.
If you want to see the best of the city, but don't know where to start, this Eureka Spring Tram Tour is perfect. The tour takes you past hundreds of Victorian homes with breathtaking architectural design, through the historic downtown Eureka Springs, and past some of the most beautiful natural landscapes that you can find in Arkansas! The tour is approximately 90 minutes and will teach you about legends, ghost stories, and share some of their own experiences growing up in the area. You will also be able to get out and explore at two places during the tour. The tram stops at both the Crescent Hotel and Grotto Spring.