I often refer to the charming town of Eureka Springs as a ‘storybook town.’ It’s as if you opened the pages of a fairytale or children’s book, and there’s Eureka carved out of the rolling green hillsides with Victorian homes neatly seated along limestone bluffs. Lakes and rivers abound, natural springs present an air of healing; it’s a place where the word ‘magic’ is never lost.
But Eureka Springs can also be viewed as a haunted storybook with creepy dark mansions and ghosts in the walls. It’s known to attract those interested in the spooky and unusual. With a reputation for paranormal activity, the town is no stranger to the claims of people who’ve had spiritual and otherworldly experiences.
They may not all be haunted, but they will definitely taunt your imagination, and while they’re all worth more than their admission price, a few are even free.
The haunting of the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel has really helped put Eureka Springs on the map. The hotel’s been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” and has made its claim to fame by being named America’s Most Haunted Hotel. Why this place is so very haunted is what you’ll learn about on one of the hotel's nightly ghost tours which run just over $30 per person and last about 75 minutes. You’ll also get a chance to see the morgue - yes the hotel has a morgue - no longer in use, but definitely active.
I’ve spent many afternoons and a few overnights at the Crescent Hotel and I have yet to experience any paranormal activity, although I have heard many first hand stories and seen my fair share of validating photos. I am a believer.
My husband and I have lived here for almost ten years, and our favorite way to take in the Crescent is to grab a cocktail at the fourth floor Sky Bar and then roam the halls looking for ghosts and admiring the editorial history gracing the walls. This is the free way to experience the Crescent Hotel, but keep in mind, you won’t get access to the haunted morgue this way.
Of course, escape rooms aren’t known for being haunted, but they do tend to feature dark and inquisitive themes. Eureka Spring’s Escape Room 13, located on North Main Street downtown, houses two unique experiences - the Speakeasy Adventure and the Bank Heist Adventure, both flaunting vintage style that simply screams Eureka!
Each room hosts up to eight people for a 60 minute mystery solving experience that runs just over $30 per person. The reviews are consistently good - the escape room is definitely more fun than spooky, and it’s certainly worth your precious time and savvy brain power.
The Melonlight Ballroom is a 120 year old building, but it’s not its age and history that create the hauntings, it’s the stories told on the stage that will give you the chills. The Melonlight owners are known for producing unique, original and immersive theatrical experiences. The husband and wife team, Emily and Raymond, release a brand new show every one to two years.
The most current production is called I Haunt You. Guests are seated in the round where the performers will fright and entertain only inches from their seats. You can count on beautiful costumes, gorgeous lighting, immersive soundscapes, and frightening, comical and thought provoking stories. You can also count on those stories featuring at least one ghost, and you’ll definitely see some magnificent ballroom dancing sprinkled throughout.
The show is a two hour seated experience with an intermission and a meet and greet photo op at the end. Guests are welcome to BYOB and encouraged to snag the front row VIP lounge seats as those tickets go the fastest. Tickets run $47-$65 per person and guests describe the experience as “a Eureka Springs must see!”
The Intrigue Theater features another charming husband and wife team making magic on the stage. Really though, this couple is doing magic. Sean Paul is known as the Illusionist, his delightful sense of humor and well practiced sleight of hand is sure to amuse and entertain. His beautiful wife Juliana, known as the Ghost Talker, harbors a much spookier skill.
My husband and I have seen their show many times and we’re always amused, actively looking for the hidden answers. “Wait, how did he…?” and “No way, she didn’t just…” We’ve never found the secret we’re looking for, as of course, we’re not meant to. The two put on a lovely show and sometimes feature a surprise special guest and an enchanting Tarot card reader. Tickets run $30-$45 for this 90 minute intriguing show.
This experience is much more off-beaten-path than the first few as you certainly won’t find it on Trip Advisor. Respectfully visiting cemeteries is a strange pastime that my husband and I have come to enjoy in our own travels. Of course most people visit the cemetery to greet a particular loved one and gaze upon their resting place.
But visiting a cemetery where you don’t know a loved one, particularly an old cemetery with large growth trees and acres of aging tombstones like the Eureka Springs Cemetery, proves to be a very different experience. Laced with less sadness and more curiosity, the mind can wonder as the feet wander through winding paths. Stop to gaze upon an interesting name and imagine who that soul may’ve been. Feel a tingle on your spine and ponder if you just imagined it or if maybe, you’re not alone in the graveyard. I recommend taking this walk at dusk in the cool and spooky month of October, and be sure to forget your flashlight.
This is another strange pastime my husband and I enjoy, and it can truly be done anywhere, but is much more engaging in certain locations. Eureka Springs sits in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, and it’s easy to ditch your GPS and just turn down the next intriguing country road. Go ahead, get a little lost on purpose.
We do this near sunset as the leaves begin to fall in autumn. There’s one important element required to really reign in the spook factor…the soundtrack. Play a spooky mix like Peder Helland's Scary Halloween Mix or this Dark Academia Playlist, both available on YouTube. You won’t be jamming out to your favorite rock song, but you will feel like you just became the lead character in a horror movie that begins with a couple getting intentionally lost in the Ozark Mountains. Let your imagination wander and invite the forest to evoke its own spooky energy.
Well, to the visitors of our haunted storybook town, I hope you enjoy the beauty and fright of this magical little place. My husband and I would be honored to entertain (and spook) you at the Melonlight Ballroom during one of our shows like I Haunt You or Silence in the Jungle which will debut this fall (2022). But if our souls don’t cross your paths on your journey to Eureka, I invite you to definitely be on the lookout for souls crossing paths.
Safe travels, wayward wanderer.