Eureka Springs, Arkansas is just a hop, skip, and a jump from my hometown of Fayetteville. So, I’ve been there a lot.
On a sunny spring-like day the scenery and the curves make for a great drive with the top down, or a wind-in-your-face ride on a motorcycle.
My first stop is always the same: the Pied Piper/ Cathouse lounge for a bloody mary (with Uncle Tito, always with The Uncle).
Fortunately, they are dog-friendly, so this trip was beginning no differently than any other.
There is lots to do and see in Eureka, but Main Street is where we started. The Pied Piper and Cathouse lounge are on the right as you come into town and you can’t miss it. If it’s a pretty day, there will likely be several bikes parked out front and on a spring weekend, the place will be packed. On this particular Thursday afternoon, it was a bit cold and not so busy. We grabbed a high top in the Cathouse lounge.
The building that houses my favorite Eureka bar was originally a boarding house. It’s rumored that it was a bit more than that, and a path from the upper hill behind the house leads to the back door.
I spoke with Fatima, the current owner, and though the wait staff does occasionally dance on the bar, there seems to be no concrete evidence that the place was once a working brothel, only stories. The upstairs still has overnight lodging but they do not allow dogs in those rooms.
Dogs are allowed on both patios and indoors at the Cathouse lounge.
If I’m eating at the Piper, I usually have the Reuben. For the purposes of this article, I decided to branch out and try the Break Slow Burger- a chorizo patty topped with bacon, swiss, and a fried egg. Though good, it was more than I could eat and more spicy than my stomach needed it to be. I ate half and then gave Henri the bacon and egg from the half I didn’t finish. You should also try the Scotch Eggs; hard-boiled eggs wrapped in chorizo, rolled in corn bread, and served with homemade Guinness Mustard.
After lunch, we took a stroll up Main Street. Eureka is an eclectic, artsy village with its Victorian-style architecture reflected in many of the restaurants, bars, and shops. The streets wind their way through a town with no stoplights and no two streets intersect at a 90-degree angle. Some of the roads are so steep and narrow that you’ll occasionally see mirrors strategically placed in order to help drivers see oncoming traffic.
They should put mirrors on the aisles at Wal-Mart.
The city of Eureka is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, but this time of year it’s quiet. The off-season is January-March and many of the local shops are closed or only keep weekend hours.
On this particular January day, it’s sunny and in the mid-forties. There will probably be a foot of snow in March, but God love Arkansas! Henri and I made our way up the street and popped into several of the open shops. At each shop, I stepped inside and asked if it was okay for Henri to accompany me. Not one, not even ‘The Fine Art of Romance’ (Fine Art, Luxury Intimate Apparel, Romantic Gifts), denied him access and most of the people greeted him with delight. We perused art galleries with blown glass, crystal shops, and clothing stores. There’s even an old time photo studio that will allow your dog for an extra $5.00 in addition to your sitting fee.
We SO should have done that!
Although we stayed at the Crescent, their sister hotel, The Basin Park, is on Spring Street, and also dog-friendly. I wouldn’t recommend the Basin if you have a dog Henri-size or larger because there isn’t really any green space for potty duties. You have to walk a few yards to Basin Park where the only place to go is in the landscaping around the bottom of the trees. The Basin Balcony Restaurant and Bar is, like the hotel, dog-friendly, but the dog must be small enough to fit in your lap or able to stay under the table and out of the narrow aisle. Since it wasn’t busy, and the Crescent kitchen was closed, they made an exception for us.
When it’s cold the balcony is enclosed and heated. Technically, it’s still considered a patio, so dogs are allowed and it’s one of the few options available this time of year. Another option would be to head to the Lucky 7 billiard room on the 7th floor and order your food sent up; it’s dog-friendly with no size restrictions.
I wasn’t very hungry but I knew if I didn’t eat before our 8:00 ghost tour at the Crescent, I would be starving later. So, I had a simple Caesar salad and glass of wine on the balcony; the waitress brought Henri a bowl of water. She also fixed me a to-go box of cheese slices and crackers (not actually on the menu) to take back to my room for a late night snack. After dinner, we went upstairs to check out the Lucky 7.
If the Basin Park Ballroom and the Lucky 7 Bar aren’t haunted, I don’t know what is!
The bar wasn’t crowded or loud, which lends itself to an eerie silence that surrounds you when you step off the elevator. I asked the bartender about it. He recounted his story of the racking triangle flying off the wall and landing between the two pool tables…over 6 feet away.
FYI. Eureka isn’t known for earthquakes.
After finishing my drink, the front desk at the Basin called for our shuttle back to the Crescent. If you’re staying at the Crescent you can either utilize their shuttle service, or drive your own car and take advantage of Basin parking for free. I’m not sure where Basin parking is though because there isn’t a parking lot near there. So, I’m guessing it’s just best to take the dog-friendly shuttle.
After our ghost tour, and a long sleepless night staring at Henri and watching for any indication that he saw or heard something I did not, I was happy to see the start of a sunny day. We walked down to the lobby where I grabbed some coffee, then out to the east lawn for Henri to potty. Sitting in the sun with a light sweater, it was just warm enough to enjoy the porch and the view. While I finished my coffee, Henri played peek-a-boo with one of the Crescents living residents, Caspur, the cat. When Caspur finally took his leave, I decided we should, too. Checkout was at 10:00 and the chiming of the church bells reminded me that there was more exploring to do.
Just below the Crescent is St. Elizabeth Catholic Church. It is listed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the only church you enter through the bell tower. We walked over there before leaving.
Through the bell tower, and down the stairs is a path leading to the entrance. The path is lined with white ‘Stations of the Cross’ statues, and the backdrop of the Crescent made for one of the best photos I’ve ever taken. At the end of the path is a small St. Francis garden. I don’t know if they ‘allow’ dogs, but since there was no one to ask or stop us, we did go inside.
The stone church is small and quiet. The muted greens and blues of the alter mural reflect serenely into the tiny chapel where Henri and I stood in silence. There is a crystal chandelier in the narthex that doesn’t quite seem to match the age or simplicity of the surroundings but it hangs beautifully, shimmering above the fire of the prayer candles.
St. Elizabeth is an active congregation with mass times on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Our next stop was in keeping with our morning theme.
About 15 minutes from the Crescent Hotel stands the 67 ft. tall Christ of the Ozarks statue. Weighing over 2million pounds, ‘Big Jesus,’ as I like to call it, has overlooked Eureka Springs since 1967 and can be seen from miles away. Most Arkansas residents are familiar with the statue and the Great Passion Play that is performed outdoors, on the same property, during warmer months.
There was only one other family there so we were easily able to trade photo ops with them, and then, be on our way.
It was sunny, pushing noon, and almost 50 degrees. That seemed like decent patio weather to me, and I wanted to grab a bite to eat before heading home.
Local Flavor is right across from the Piper and sports two outdoor patios, one of which is dog-friendly. The patio can only be accessed through the restaurant, so they installed a doggie gate for canine guests. I just crawled through behind Henri.
The lunch menu is broad and original, featuring a black bean and pepper jack topped burger, a Chicken Walnut Pesto sandwich, a variety of salads, and house specialties such as Jamaican Jerk Prime Rib served open-face with chipotle mayo on sourdough. They even have a vegetarian selection with seven different options. Notice I didn’t name anything specifically? That’s because I don’t know what you people eat.
I chose the Cold Smoked Salmon with capers, onions, cream cheese, and grilled bread from the Starters menu, and it was the perfect light lunch for one.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a great dog-friendly village, perfect for a weekend get-away with your best furry friend. Almost every shop, and every restaurant with a patio will welcome both you and your canine without size restrictions. If you go in the off-season (January- March) your options will be a bit more limited, but the pay-off is peace and quiet, in addition to a bit more catering from your service industry professionals. Checkout Eureka for yourself, and give this quaint little Ozark gem a try.
To read about our stay at the 1886 Crescent Hotel, and our experience on the the ghost tour see the story ‘Theodora’s Room.’