Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This summer, more and more families are traveling to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and discovering an “exploravacation.”  This historic village hidden away in the Ozark Mountains in the northwest corner of the state is proving to be the ideal spot where kids can safely discover -oftentimes on their own- a downtown filled with historic adventure and natural wonders and an uptown featuring “America’s Most Haunted Hotel”The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa.

“It wasn’t until we started talking to the kids themselves,” explained Jack Moyer, hotel general manager, “that we discovered that parents feel comfortable allowing their kids to go off alone in exploring our historic downtown district assuming they do things like traveling in pairs, have their cell phones on, et cetera.  The kids, during informal focus groups, described being wowed at the crazy stone staircases, unique history, interesting designed buildings, and the feel that you were on this fun scavenger hunt with a new discovery at every turn.

“I enjoyed the kids’ analogy that being downtown was like hanging at the mall just a lot more interesting.”

Eureka Springs, it is said, is nothing if not interesting.  Formally a Wild West Town, thrilling tales can be learned by participating in such activities as the Eureka Springs Downtown Network’s Underground Tour, the Haunted Eureka Ghost Tours of the 1905 Basin Park Hotel, or simply by wandering along unguided and stepping off a main street’s sidewalk and standing in awe as it suddenly turns into a historic hike down a rustic trail past footings of buildings dating back to late 1800s.

Such strolls can also afford such wonders as…
         a specific storefront where a closer investigation can reveal bullet holes remaining from the shootout following one of America’s first attempted bank robberies using the “motor car” as a getaway vehicle,
         a Civil War Cave that was used as a hospital for injured soldiers for both the North and the South and later was converted into a very popular saloon,
         urban, spring-fed creeks that run quietly and secretly under stores, the courthouse and the auditorium,
         numerous historic springs that “healed” thousands who flocked to their pools in the late 1800s,
         dozens of brass historic plaques with stories and photos, and
         unknown surprises at every turn.

“Still, ‘The Great Exploration’ is at the Crescent Hotel,” Moyer noted.  “Our kids insisted on including the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour.  With wide-eyed, breathe-held enthusiasm, they walked the same hallways where apparitions have been seen and their images often captured by digital shutterbugs.  The thrill comes with an assurance that no one is in danger yet the excitement is real, especially when the lights go out in ‘the morgue’.  After each experience, exploration continues undauntedly.”

Two focus group participants, Keely Baldridge and Nina Greene stated, “Kids would always prefer to stay at someplace cool like the Crescent or Basin Park hotels as opposed to just a motel because at a historic hotel everywhere you turn there is something interesting.”

Being specific Nina stated, “After the ghost tour at the Crescent, my mom let my sister and I explore the hotel even further because she knew I was going to be okay.  She would not have allowed that at a motel.  The whole hotel thing was totally awesome.”

Moyer expounded on his research stating that there are very few vacation destinations where parents will allow their children to “explore” like they will allow them to do so here in Eureka Springs.

“Maybe that’s why we have become such a popular destination,” Moyer concluded.  “You do the math: you add our downtown and our history to our adjacent lakes, rivers and pristine forestlands and it totals up to an enjoyable -and affordable- vacation.  It’s what we like to call an ‘exploravacation’ where lifetime memories are created.”

Eureka Springs, one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations as selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, sits adjacent to both Beaver Lake and Table Rock Lake, and within minutes of the well-known fishing and floating streams of the White River, Kings River and Buffalo National River, the latter being part of the National Park system.  The Ozark Mountains and The Ozark National Forest provide the surrounding natural greenspace.

The two historic hotels, the 1905 Basin Park and the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, offer family packages that are perfect for those looking to enjoy an “exploravacation”. Those packages include weekday discounts, fun attractions and, of course, ghost tour tickets.

For more information on Eureka Springs and family lodging and entertainment packages, one may go to <>.

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