Wanderlust – NW Arkansas
I’ve got wanderlust so bad! Always wanting to travel but never making it happen, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to see more, do more and go more places. So far I’m pretty darn proud of myself having been on not one but two trips in 2015 (go me!) My first trip was to Brownsville, TX – not exactly a mecca for the tourist but I had a wonderful time!
Little by little, I’m sating my wanderlust that’s been brewing inside of me for just about as long as I can remember. So when a trip with my very cute art lover/artist was planned for a special exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, it seemed a great opportunity to turn a quick little trip into a full blown vacation.
Though the trip to Bentonville was just a few hours I still had a really nice time. The museum was such a nice place and the admission minus special exhibits is free thanks to Walmart. The architecture was a dream and the setting tucked way back in a beautifully treed and green area that was so peaceful.
The art to be seen was amazing as well. I got to see my second Alberto Giacometti sculpture, an artist quickly becoming one of my favorites.
Within a special exhibit I was able to hover my nose right over portrait of the lovely Frida Kahlo, my favorite artist!
I also got to see my very first ever Jackson Pollock in real life! The entire trip through the museum I spent snapping pics of some of my favorites and ones I knew my art loving 8 year old nephew would like and texting the images and artists to my sister to show him.
Having family in Arkansas I have visited the state on several occasions, but all when I was a kid. I remember loving Eureka Springs. When I asked Rob it turned out that it was just a short drive from Bentonville. We both agreed it seemed a great idea to stay for a while!
While the weather wasn’t exactly the greatest with cold, rainy and foggy conditions Eureka Springs was an amazing little place and such fun!
For two wonderful nights we got to stay in the cutest little treehouse at Oak Crest Cottages! The center support of this house is an actual tree that comes up through the inside covered by lovely, twinkling fairy lights! The inside was comfortable and had just about everything you would need, a kitchenette, comfy bed and living area. There was also a lovely porch off of the back that never got used because it was always too cold or too wet!
Would you believe I lugged my big ol’ DSLR all the way to Arkansas to forget a memory card? The vast majority of my pictures came from my cell phone so the quality is lacking BUT I did learn valuable lessons. DON’T forget your memory card because buying one in a tourist town is EXPENSIVE.
Across the street from the haunted Crescent Hotel stands the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church.
The walkway inside is lined with lots of very pretty and detailed sculptures.
The reason I most like visiting churches and cathedrals is to see the stained glass. The amount of artistry and skill needed to produce such beautiful results just amazes me.
One of the best things about the area was that a lot of the restaurants were very gluten free friendly. Out of the many times eaten out I only got sick a single time. If you’re Celiac you know that is a pretty good ratio when you’re eating every meal out for 4 days straight! Our favorite place for breakfast was Mud Street Cafe a quaint and quirky little restaurant below ground in downtown. Basically everything on the menu, with the exception of biscuits and pancakes and whatnot could be made gluten free. The staff knew about GF food and it was nice being able to order and eat so confidently!
The second day breakfast was had a second time at the cafe but this time it was all sweets! The naked cheesecake with berries was amazing and gluten free. As any Celiac will tell you, getting dessert at a restaurant is a real treat. Getting dessert for breakfast was even more amazing!
Though I didn’t snap any pics my favorite place for dinner was Farm to Table Fresh. The food was amazing and I got to order pasta! Again there was a really informed staff about gluten free dining and the whole experience was great. In fact I wished that we had eaten there earlier than the night before leaving!
Just outside of Eureka Springs is a huge and really neat big cat/wildlife sanctuary called Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Actually there are lions and tigers and bears (oh, my!) along with a lot of mountain lions and smaller big cats. There are even ligers (a lion and tiger crossbreed that gets very large, you may remember from Napoleon Dynamite!). As it turns out ligers are quite sad as they tend to grow so big that they don’t live very long and have health issues but there is money to be made from breeders selling them to private individuals. Poor things, the lucky ones will find themselves someplace as nice as Turpentine Creek.
The admission fee was just around $20 a person if I remember correctly which seemed high at first. After taking the walking tour through the complex with our intern guide (from up north whose name started with a J but I cannot remember it) was extensive and very informative. Plus seeing and hearing all the good Turpentine Creek does for animals made it well worth it. On a side note I should add that this seemed to be the only time during the trip there was no precipitation of any kind!
Though it was a bit of a drive, a trip to Cosmic Cavern in Berryville, AR was one of the neatest things we had done the whole trip. Our guide (again I cannot remember her name – I am so bad with names!) was amazing, informative and funny. Even the group we went through the tour with was fun. Inside the temperature remains around 70 degrees and you see some amazing underground lakes and formations. Sometimes you’ll need to go up or down steep areas, duck down low to go under things so the tour isn’t for anyone who has a hard time getting around.
Again the ticket price seemed a bit high but the quality of tour was well worth it. Just over an hour things were explained well and questions were answered with great detail and knowledge. The site also offers wild tours that require hardhats and specialty rigs and whatnot and look like a lot of fun for somebody who isn’t claustrophobic. Which I am. But I lived. Visit the Cosmic Cavern website to get money saving coupons for your visit.
The trip to this quaint little town was such a treat. With so many fun and interesting things to do nearby and tons and tons of amazing food there is something for everyone. Plus the shopping downtown is so lovely with so many unique stores and interesting streets to walk through where Rob and I saw this fun taffy pulling machine. On a side note, I do not care for saltwater taffy. At all.
All in all, my trip to Eureka Springs was one of the best I’ve had in as long as I can remember even without the cooperation of the weather! As with all things I personally rate, my best to offer is “I’d definitely go back!”