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Traveling to Eureka Springs, Arkansas

by Gaycation Magazine
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It is hard to believe there is this very special and unique village in the Midwest where people go to on weekends to get away from their day-to-day lives and HAVE FUN! Actually people go there all week long! It has been called the “Switzerland of America”, “Key West of the Midwest”, “The stopping point between San Francisco and Ptown”. It has also been called dozens of other names and they would all be perfect for this little village with a population of about 2,100 people. There are no Gay bars and you really will not see too many Gay flags. They do not need that as most of the shops, bars and restaurants are owned by Gays and Lesbians. Everybody is there to have a fun time. It was the first city in Arkansas to officially endorse same-sex marriage and the first and only city in the state with a Domestic Partnership Registry. Eureka Springs is also the number one vacation destination in the entire Midwest for Out and Proud LGBT travelers. The antithesis of the redneck stereotype, their micro-Mecca has been a beyond-gay-friendly getaway for decades– long before OUT was in. In Eureka Springs, one Gay Pride weekend will not do. So, Spring, Summer and Fall they also celebrate a trifecta of Diversity Weekends that attract thousands of Gay and Lesbian gaycationers. A microcosm of San Francisco, they boast a disproportionately large Gay population, dozens of Gay-owned and Gay-friendly B&Bs, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, art galleries, shops, turn-of-the-century Victorian homes and vintage trolleys plying steep and narrow village streets.

As we have been telling our readers for the past 15 years, traveling is all about “PEOPLE” and trust us on this, you will meet all types of people in Eureka Springs and you will come away with a new outlook on life. Life is to be lived to the fullest and most of the residents in Eureka Springs do just that. We are all born and we all die and it is what you do in between that counts. If you have never been to Eureka Springs, we HIGHLY recommend you go! It is a lovely little village that draws all kinds of tourists from coast to coast and even from Europe! 95% of everybody in Eureka Springs marches to their own beat. No two people in the town are the same. They dress different, act different, talk different and that is a great thing. You will not find much in the shops made in China. Most of the shops sell LOCALLY handmade items including jewelry, pottery, yard decorations, art work, etc.

The restaurants and bars are packed with people and everybody has a GREAT time. It is as though the Village People are in town and everybody is having a fabulous time. It is NOT a place to bring children. This is adult-town for adults to kick back and enjoy themselves, AND THEY DO! We met people who go there just about every other month! There are dozens of small B&B’s in this little village of 2,100 residents and most are GAY OWNED !

There are many restaurants in town, and one of our favorites was THE NEW DELHI CAFE. Bill is the owner; and what can we say about him? He is fun, funny, FABULOUS and more! Words cannot describe his personality. He has the cafe plus several outdoor decks on the patio which is always packed with people having FUN! The food and the drinks are wonderful. It is ALWAYS busy there from breakfast through closing, which is late at night. And if you are real lucky you will get ‘Grandma’ to be your server. Her real name is Penny but everyone calls her “Grandma”. She is a real jewel, but then most of his staff is great and different; and different is a good thing. The New Delhi Cafe and Patio Bar is THE place to see and be seen! The largest bar in town, the Eureka Live Underground which is a blast. We are not going to give addresses of the different places in town as they are all within walking distance of each other. Merely drive downtown, park your auto and walk or walk from your B&B. For a FABULOUS Mexican experience, BE SURE and dine at CASA COLINA MEXICAN GRILL AND CANTINA. The ambiance, the service, the food presentation, the perfectly cooked food makes for a perfect dining experience! Owners, Dani and Joe are terrific as well as the staff who were there the day we dined: Steve, Nick and Taylor were superb! This is what dining should be all about, a perfect blend of everything. You can dine inside or out on the patio. We really would rate this as one of the finest Mexican restaurants in the entire Midwest. Other wonderful restaurants are DeVITO’S. It was voted the best Italian Restaurant in the entire State of Arkansas and has been in business over 26 years.

LOCAL FLAVOR CAFE is a MUST DINE AT restaurant in town. You can either dine inside or on their patio overlooking the street. It is a great place to people watch and their food on a scale of one to ten is a solid TEN!

CAFE AMORE is another Italian restaurant that serves wonderful home cooked Italian.

Shopping downtown is a real treat. You will not find shops filled with things made in China. Instead you will find actual handmade and handcrafted creations, many of which are made by the artisans in the area. The shops are filled with artwork, jewelry, garden statues and items related to your outdoors, lots of pottery, etc. Plus a few shops with very unusual clothing. One of our very favorite clothing shops was THE FINE ART OF ROMANCE. It is a large shop filled with Fine Art, luxury intimate attire, books and romantic gifts. It is a FUN shop. The MOUNTAIN ECLECTIC is an historic Gadd Springs home and shop and one of Eureka’s more eclectic shops and a must see for many who find it hard to believe there is a flowing spring inside, garden accessories and hundreds of other items that are very unique and different. They have a fenced side yard that is filled with beautiful flowers and shrubs. The owners Paul Aulgur and Jack Bratt are terrific guys. They are located at 104 North Main Street just a couple of blocks North of downtown. They have plenty of free parking. Do NOT miss this shop!

Other very interesting shops that we visited were EUREKA’S NUT HO– USE full of some of the finest and tastiest nuts you ever had.

FUSION SQUARED, Owners and partners are John Jarrett and John Rinehart. John Jarrett was instrumental in helping round up underwriters for our visit. He’s also acting president of the new Eureka Springs Gay Business Guild. John Rinehart is a fabulous glass artist and jewelry maker.

QUICKSILVER GALLERY is co-owned by Lamont Richie, one of a very few gay elected officials in Arkansas. He’s a Carroll County Quorum Court Judge (in plain English, that’s the equivalent of a “county commissioner”). He wrote the marriage-equality resolution passed by the city council in November 2012– making Eureka Springs the first city in the state to officially endorse marriage equality.

OUT ON MAIN GALLERY is located on a staircase between Spring St. and Main Street directly across from Basin Spring Park. Partners Pat Lujan and Lee Kroll are amazing potters and show the work of other artists in their gallery. Some of the most interesting pottery involved using horse hair accents. For nightly entertainment you have a wide choice of special bars and lounges.

A ‘MUST SEE” show when you are in Eureka Springs is at the Intrigue Theater. “The ILLUSIONIST and THE MEDIUM starring the incredible talents of Illusionist, Sean-Paul and his wife Juliana Fay. Together they amazed and stunned the audience with their unbelievable talents. The entire audience was in AWE of what they did. The Theater is located in an historic old stone church that closed several years ago and that setting only adds to the mystic of the wonderful experience. We have seen Illusionists from coast to coast and Sean and his wife Juliana are the best of the best and truly remarkable. Do not miss this show!

For daytime entertainment there are all types of possibilities of things to do. There are lots of places to fish, hike, or just see the sights and sounds of the village. We loved TURPENTINE CREEK WILDLIFE REFUGE. It is located just 10 minutes East of town and is the largest big cat refuge in the world. It is open to the public 7 days a week. They have all types of wild animals so be sure to take your camera. BLUE SPRING HERITAGE CENTER is located about 10 minutes west of downtown. It is a natural wonder, pouring 38 million gallons of cool, clear water each day into a trout feed lagoon. You walk over the entire area on a very landscaped trail. Take a picnic and enjoy hours there. It is hard to get closer to nature than visiting there.

If you arrive in Eureka Springs by bus, train, walking or anyway other than by auto, be sure and check out ABUNDANT TRANSPORTATION, 479.553.8294. They are a full service Taxi company and have great rates. They are the only Gay Owned & Operated taxi service in the Northwest Arkansas Area. They offer clean late model cars at a great rate! They also offer service to Rogers/Bentonville as well as the many area Airports. Go to Eureka Springs to enjoy life, to enjoy yourself and to enjoy others. Eureka Springs truly is a hidden gem in the Midwest. Eureka Springs is all about being yourself and enjoying everybody there. Their friendliness will really rub off on you and you will return home a better person. Meet new people and TALK to everyone.

For a weekend or a week, find out for yourself how easy it is to be Out In Eureka Springs! They have one of the finest gay organizations in the entire country, so be SURE and check out their website for a complete listing of what is happening and the different entertainment they have in store for you. They also have a listing of merchants who WANT your business. It is too bad that larger cities do not have as great of an organization as they do.

We want to thank Michael Walsh and OUT IN EUREKA for a wonderful..NO. FABULOUS time in their hidden gem. P.S. Did we mention how FRIENDLY of a town this is?

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at [email protected] and visit their website at www.gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com

The New Delhi Cafe and Patio Bar
www.newdelhieureka.com

Eureka Live Underground
www.eurekaliveunderground.com

CASA COLINA MEXICAN GRILL AND CATINA
www.pepetacos.com

DeVITO’S
www.eureka-springs-usa.com/devito

LOCAL FLAVOR CAFE
www.localflavorcafe.net

CAFE AMORE
www.cafeamorearkansas.com

THE FINE ART OF ROMANCE
www.fineartofromance.com

FUSION SQUARED
www.eurekafusion.com

QUICKSILVER GALLERY
www.quicksilvergallery.com

OUT ON MAIN GALLERY
www.outonmain.com

Intrigue Theater
www.intriguetheater.com

TURPENTINE CREEK WILDLIFE REFUGE
www.turpentinecreek.org

BLUE SPRING HERITAGE CENTER
www.bluespringheritage.com

Out in Eureka Springs
www.outineureka.com

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