Eurkea Springs: Limited Size, Unlimited Opportunities For Visitors (Tourism | Winner Under 5,000)

Eurkea Springs: Limited Size, Unlimited Opportunities For Visitors (Tourism | Winner Under 5,000)

From the arts to outdoor events, the city of Eureka Springs offers something for almost every visitor.

The city of just under 2,200 sees about 800,000 travelers annually. Its efforts to attract visitors earned Eureka Springs an Arkansas Business City of Distinction award for Tourism Development in 2012.

The city uses money generated from its 3 percent tax on hotel, motel and restaurant receipts to promote the city, said Mike Bishop, president and CEO of the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, the tax is expected to generate $1.2 million, up about 15 percent from 2011, he said.

Tourism is the city’s biggest industry, Bishop said.

“In a constant effort to reinvent ourselves, keep our offerings fresh and improve our appeal to potential visitors, Eureka Springs has strengthened itself with some exciting new developments. And the results are paying off,” Bishop said.

The newest must-see attraction in the city is the Queen Anne Mansion House Museum.

“It had fallen into disrepair,” Bishop said. “The couple that bought it totally restored it. It is now a signature landmark.”

The $5 million restoration project of the house built in 1891 took about five years to complete. The Queen Anne opened in 2010 and tours feature more than 12,000 SF of architecture, original woodwork and stained glass.

“While the restoration has preserved the atmosphere of turn-of-the-century living, the state-of-the-art updates throughout the property provide the comfort, beauty and functionality expected by today’s travelers,” the museum’s website said. “This includes installation of high-end kitchens, luxurious bathrooms in each suite, and in the Kelley House, a private spa for owners and their guests.”

More than 15,000 visitors have toured the house since it opened.

Eureka Springs also promotes its outdoor activities. The Annual Fat Tire Festival attracts hundreds of bikers to the city in the summer. Bishop said motorcycling “continues to grow due to our great rides, scenic views and ‘fun spirit’ found in our historic downtown.”

In August, the second annual Eurekan Multi-sports Event was held. The three-day event features a triathlon one day, bike rides and races another day and footraces the last day.

The event was a hit in 2012, Bishop said and drew about 600 participants from close to 15 states. The first year about 400 participated. The third annual Eurekan is scheduled again for August next year.

For the hikers and fishermen, Bishop said the city promotes its network of trails. And the city is surrounded by three lakes and two rivers. The crown jewel is Lake Leatherwood Park, a 1,600-acre municipal park surrounded by an 85-acre lake. It hosts several activities, and its cabins and camping are open from March through November.

The city also props up its artist community for events.

Eureka Springs recently held its second CICA International Summer Music Festival, “bringing world-class artists and hundreds of aspiring young talent to the city for a three-week extravaganza,” Bishop said. It featured a variety of events including the Antonio Stradivari International Violin Makers Competition and Conference.

The city also has partnered with officials at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.

After visitors have toured Crystal Bridges they are encouraged to “come 40 miles east and see where American art is made,” Bishop said. Eureka Springs has more than 250 working artists.

“As most everyone knows, Eureka Springs has been known for it thriving arts community for decades,” Bishop said.

The chamber, and the city’s Advertising & Promotion Commission and the Arts Council recently teamed up to produce the Eureka Springs Art Guide.

“We’ve been very blessed here,” Bishop said. “A lot of communities struggle to have a particular attraction or something to promote, and we just have so much.”