Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a royal blue spot in a ruby red state with an abundance of natural beauty and a large, welcoming LGBTQ+ Community.
If you want to know what make’s Eureka Springs, Arkansas such a special place to visit, ask a local—and that’s just what we did. Join us as we explore this beautiful and exciting destination with three LGBTQ individuals who live, work, play, and create here. Eureka Springs is filled with many wonderful things just waiting to be experienced and enjoyed. From unique local business to art galleries, museums, theatre, scenic tours, farm to fork restaurants, and spectacular adventures in nature, this is one of America’s true hidden gems.
Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
I was born and raised near Mena at the foot of Rich Mountain, Arkansas’s second highest peak. I can’t complain about the beauty of where I grew up, but as for ‘culture’ (okay moving on…) I knew I always had too many questions about the world out there. Once I graduated, college opened my eyes to the world substantially. I finally had the epiphany that I was and had always been gay. Fancy that! I was raised very sheltered but looking back I would not have it any other way. I learned that you work hard for what you get. I just had to learn how to balance the Bible and my sexual truth. I have always been adventurous and wanted to travel, so when I met my amazing Canadian husband Chef Garnet in Las Vegas in 2012, our life began. Soon after, we moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and opened Nibbles Eatery. (Named from his original Nibbles Café in his hometown of Mattawa, Ontario.) We love it and take two 3-week trips every year. Work Hard, play Hard!
How long have you been living Eureka Springs?
I have been living in Eureka Springs for nearly eight years now. It has been so nice, finding a place we are honored to call home.
If you moved from somewhere else, what influenced your decision to move here?
Peace, love, kindness, history, and nature are a good start. When I met my husband, I told him, “You are going to love Eureka Springs!” Coincidentally enough, he already had fellow Canadian friends living here! Once we visited, we never stopped coming back. My husband said, “Eureka Springs is the closest vibe to Canada anywhere he had ever been in the U.S.” I think we can take that as a huge complement!
What are some of the most popular dishes on the menu at Nibbles Eatery?
I mean, where do I start? With Chef Garnet’s skill set and our menu that we designed to only have the best (fresh from scratch and made to order) dishes on it, I will just have to go with the best sellers. The Caesar Salad made with Chef Garnet’s (now internationally famous) homemade Caesar Dressing, homemade Quiche, the Cuban, the Chicken Bacon Melt Panini, his delicious homemade Chicken Salad, Judy’s Hummingbird Salad, (named after and inspired by one of the Canadian friends who drew us to Eureka Springs), his phenomenal Eggs Benedict (especially the Applewood Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict he does on Saturdays—my personal favorite), and definitely don’t miss his soup of the day, always made from scratch! USA TODAY also honored us with the title of the Best Coffee Shop in Arkansas.
When you have a night off, where do you like to go for dinner and drinks?
Ermilio’s is our favorite for Italian. For those romantic special occasions, we love to make a reservation at Le Stick Nouveau. For a casual evening out with friends, we enjoy the patio and vast wine selection at The Stone House. Of course, Chef Garnet likes to cook and have dinner parties at home as well. But on nights we want to have dinner at home, and he isn’t in the mood to cook, we get amazing gourmet pizza delivered from Café Amore. Afterwards, Missy’s White Rabbit Lounge is a must stop. They always have a remarkably diverse crowd. It is an eclectic lounge specializing in old school cocktails like Old Fashions, Sidecars, and Martinis (I love them dirty). They hold an LGBTQ meet and greet on diversity weekends. Diversity Weekends are the best and we have three per year. Chelsea’s Corner Bar (for the ladies on diversity weekend) is a dive bar with great live music year-round. There’s also Eureka Live for the boys, and great drag shows are performed all year round. Check out www.outineureka.com for Diversity weekend events and information.
What cultural attractions or events are a must see for visitors to Eureka Springs?
The history of Eureka Springs is what truly makes our town a must see. Visit the Eureka Springs Historical Museum (https://eurekaspringshistoricalmuseum.org) and soak up some of our rich history. Our entire town is a cultural attraction in itself. The downtown area is rich in fine art galleries, especially Upper Spring Street (Where Nibbles Eatery is located). To name a few of the fine art galleries in our neighborhood: Zarks Fine Design Gallery, Curated by La Vie Company, Fusion Squared, Quicksilver Gallery, Magee’s Jewelry, Satori Arts. These places all have handcrafted creations by local artists. Some other Cultural Attractions include: Thorncrown Chapel, Blue Spring Heritage Center, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Christ of the Ozarks Statue, Eureka Springs Railway Co., and the Historic Eureka Springs Auditorium. Cultural Events: May Festival of the Arts. I especially cherish the White Street Walk. Diversity Weekends and the whole month of October, to put it broadly, are some of the best. The fall is a huge time in Eureka Springs, with the especially spectacular autumn foliage in the Ozark Mountains and all the events on and leading up to Halloween. It is safe to say that Halloween is our biggest holiday of the year. We Eurekans just love any excuse to dress up and we have many balls to celebrate. Also, kids come from all around to trick or treat on the Upper Historic Loop. (we have, on average, 1500 kids at our door)
A friend is coming to Eureka Springs for the first time… Please describe the perfect weekend.
I could think of 100 different ways to describe a perfect weekend in Eureka Springs. I’ll go with number 46. It’s the one where you stay right downtown. So, let’s get after it shall we? You would arrive early on Friday afternoon, check into your downtown lodging, so many to choose from, but I would go with the New Orleans Hotel or The Palace Hotel & Bath House. Try to get settled into your room quick because, there is so much to do and so little time! Actually, scratch that, it’s time to relax and unwind. Let’s get you booked for a nice long massage at the Suchness Spa and maybe a nice healing spring water bath at the above-mentioned Bath House. Now that you are in ‘Eureka Mode’ let’s go for dinner at Ermilios and then a drink (or three) at Missy’s White Rabbit Lounge. It’s your first night in town so let’s not go too crazy just yet. Saturday Morning you should go for breakfast/brunch at Nibbles Eatery now that you have had your clean and delicious fuel, let the downtown shopping begin. You want to spend at least half of the day checking out all our amazing and unique shops. After you drop your shopping bags off at the room, let’s get out and explore those beautiful springs all around you. Afterwards, grab your car and stop by the Crescent for the view, and then head out to Thorncrown Chapel. Then, how about a nice dinner at Le Stick Nouveau, and since you are now dressed classy and know you are looking good, let’s do some bar hopping, Chelsea’s, Brews, Rowdy Beaver, Missy’s White Rabbit Lounge, Eureka Live. Amazing live music and all within walking distance of where you are staying. Don’t forget to hydrate before bed because Sunday is Hiking Day. Do not check out on Sunday Morning, do that Monday morning so you can sleep in a bit. Have breakfast at Mud Street Café then take a drive down to Ponca, Arkansas for some hiking in the Boxley Valley Historic District or head out to Lake Leatherwood. Either way, you can still make time for a drive out to the dam at Beaver Lake. Now head back up to Eureka for your last night on the town. You should have your bearings now and know the place or places you like, and with all the new friends you’ve already made in Eureka, you are sure to run into a familiar face or two! See you next trip or possibly even next weekend!
What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
I would like to start by mentioning that Arkansas is the “Natural State” and Eureka Springs has two of the clearest lakes, Beaver and Table Rock Lake. The area also has the famous Buffalo River, The White River, and The Kings River. Kayaking anyone? To discover the countless springs that originally put Eureka on the Map, pick up a fun guide when you get to town. The centerfold has a perfect map including the springs, in town, that are open to the public. Lake Leatherwood City Park is our city park and it has 1610 acres, which includes an 85-acre spring fed lake with plenty of hiking trails as well as mountain biking trails. If you like a smaller more intimate version, then Black Bass Lake is the place for you. Blue Springs Heritage Center has beautiful gardens and a spring that gushes 38 millions gallons of cold, clear water into a trout filled lagoon. Boxley Valley Historic District located about an hour drive south of Eureka Springs, has some of the best hiking trails in Arkansas. Lost Valley Trailhead to the Goat Trail is akin to the experience of living in an actual eagles nest. Whitakers Point Trail is nice as well. Make sure you time your hike of choice to get you done just before dark. This way you can do some elk watching in the Valley. Make sure to visit Crescent Hotel. The view from the top has a perfect bird’s eye view of downtown Eureka Springs, as well as the Christ of the Ozarks Statue.
What is your favorite time of year in Eureka Springs and why?
Mine would be the fall, as previously mentioned. Though summer is the busiest time of the year, the fall season attracts a more cultured traveler. These Eureka Springs enthusiasts typically book this time of year at least one year in advance or at check out time. Plus, Diversity Weekend is right after Halloween weekend. I’m so glad they finally separated the two, way too much fun to pack into one weekend.
What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
This one is actually quite easy. Bring them home some local handcrafted artwork.
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Eureka Springs without…
Talking to a real estate agent.