Gardens, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

A Morning in Eureka Springs

Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel


On our second and last full day in the area, we wanted to see as much of Eureka Springs itself as we could. During the planning stage, I thought that our first stop would be Blue Spring Heritage Center, but Zoie and Rita, our B&B innkeepers, both seemed reluctant to endorse that choice.  They said the weather during the past seasons had not been good to the site.  I still want to go someday, but I didn’t make it on this trip.

Innkeeper Review Beats Out Trip Advisor

A resource I used for this trip, that I haven’t used in the past, was Trip Advisor.  I heard it mentioned several times on my cruise and have been having a blast writing reviews for it ever since.  As I traveled this time, I saw stickers up in many windows bragging about their affiliation with the site and several folks asked me to be sure and rate them on the site.  I found it a real asset in choosing attractions, but a reliable local, like your innkeeper is also a good source of information.

Thorncrown Chapel

Zoie, Trip Advisor and my past experience all agreed on Thorncrown Chapel.  It’s a non-denomination chapel with very unusual architecture in a gorgeous setting.  It’s just a short drive out of the town on 62 and it’s even on a trolley route

On this trip, we got a bonus.  We went in, sat down and prayed quietly for awhile.  The the volunteer who’d handed us a brochure stood at the front of the chapel and sang God Bless America.  We were there on Memorial Day, so I can’t imagine a better way to start the day.

I think everyone should visit Thorncrown, religious or not.  There really is something for everyone.  It’s free, it’s close by and it doesn’t take very long.  When you walk to the parking lot, your spirit will be refreshed.


The garden at Quigley's Castle
The garden at Quigley’s Castle

Quigley Castle

Quigley Castle was our next stop. I’d initially been interested in this one, but had been worried by the Trip Advisor comments.  Reviewers said it wasn’t worth the money and that it was run down.  They must have gone to another Quigley’s Castle.  I’m glad Zoie encouraged us to go.

One of the interesting collections inside the house - Carnival Glass.
One of the interesting collections inside the house – Carnival Glass.

I think part of the problem is the name.  After a little reading, I quickly gathered that castle was used in the “a man’s home is his castle” sense, but Zoie was careful to point out that it wasn’t really a castle, so some people must find that confusing.  As to the price, I thought $6 dollars was reasonable.  It’s in line with a downtown parking space or a one way trolley ride.  Certainly the opportunity to see the unique home and lovely gardens was worth a few dollars.  I’ve paid more and gotten a lot less.

Quigley's "Castle"
Quigley’s “Castle”

As to run down, I have no idea what they were talking about.  The house is not new, but it’s not run down.  The gardens are not stiffly groomed, but that’s part of the charm.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and thought the time spent there was well worth the price.

Her interior garden from the second floor.
Her interior garden from the second floor.

Here’s what I loved about the place.  To begin with, the woman who lived there must have been a hoot.  Her husband kept promising to build her a new house.  When years went by without him making good on the promise, she and her kids tore down the old house and started the new one while he was out in the fields one day.

The building material was of great interest, also.  She collected rocks – lots of them.  Today we’d probably accuse her of being OCD and medicate her, but she put her obsession to good use.   She used mortar to turn the rocks into bricks, then used the bricks to build the house.    But once the house was done, she didn’t quit collecting rocks or building.  The gardens of the home are full of her creations made from her beloved river rocks.

A poor man's Chihuly.
A poor man’s Chihuly.

The interior of the house is just as unique as the exterior.  She was so interested in gardening, she didn’t want to take a break just because winter came to the Ozarks, so she included a garden in the house.  One three sides of the interior, the floor does not go all the way to the outer wall.  That space is reserved for her garden and some of the plants in it grow all the way to the second floor.

Rocks and plants weren’t the only things that interested Mrs. Quigley, inside the home you will find many interesting collections, like carnival glass, milk glass and shells.  But Mrs. Quigley wasn’t the only collector in the family.  Mr. Quigley collected his bottles,which you can see in the many bottle trees incorporated in the garden.  I called them a poor mans Chihuly.

Mrs. Quigley's granddaughter
Mrs. Quigley’s granddaughter

Perhaps the most charming thing about Quigley’s castle is that it isn’t run by some big corporation.  It’s run by Mrs. Quigley’s granddaughter.  From her you get the first hand skinny on what live was like at Quigley’s CAstle.  With all the amazing things we saw and did on this trip.  I confess, this attraction was one of my favorites.

With a little time to kill before the 1:30 Trolley Tour, we had a chance to see the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.  We really enjoyed it.  The history of the town is laid bare with photos and artifacts.  There’s also lots to read, so we were there for a long time, but if you’re not a reader, then you could zip through pretty quickly.  It costs five dollars to get in, but I thought it was worth it.

Come back next week and find out about our Trolley Ride and see some beautiful Victorians.

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