Excursion: Dive into Heber Springs
Heber Springs, Ark., has it all: a picturesque lake, rushing river and excellent dining, shopping and entertainment. It is the perfect sleepy town for a weekend escape with the family.
photography by Janet Warlick and courtesy of arkansas.com
Heber Springs is one of Arkansas’ most recognized water recreation and outdoor exploration hot spots. There is plenty to do on and along Greers Ferry Lake including water skiing, sailing, scuba diving and cruising in a party barge. Greers Ferry is 40,000 acres of clear water and the perfect setting for summertime outdoor fun.
Fishermen flock to the waters of the Little Red River for some of the best fishing in the region. The Little Red is a popular spot to catch rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout; and it is home to a former world-record brown trout at 40 pounds and 4 ounces.
Get even more water fun, sailing at Eden Isle Marina on Greers Ferry. The marina has all you need to make your day on the lake complete including rentals of boats, skis and wakeboards as well as slip rental, gas pumps and more.
The height of Heber Springs boating mania reaches its peak each year in July with the annual World Championship Cardboard Boat Races, which is as much fun as it sounds. The festival — July 28 at Sandy Beach — is sponsored by the Heber Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and features, along with the races, a treasure dig, watermelon eating contest, tug of war, demolition derby, food vendors and more. The concept for the Cardboard Boat Races was born in Heber Springs in 1987 as a way to grow tourism in the area. The idea is to design and build a person-powered, corrugated cardboard boat capable of completing four heats around a 200-yard semicircle course. The races have grown over the years garnering national media attention, and drawing ample competitors to vie for the highly-coveted “Pride of the Fleet” award.
Whether you come to Heber Springs for the festivals, water sports, fishing or endless outdoor opportunities, there is much to discover in the arena of shopping, dining and entertainment when you need a break from the heat.
For the best steak in town, try Mack’s Fish House on Wilburn Road. This restaurant is known for their best-selling items: the catfish baskets and any of the Omaha Steaks including filet mignon, T-bone, New York strip, flat iron or rib eye. We sampled a two-piece catfish platter that was some of the best we’ve tried — crispy, well seasoned and fresh — and a medium-cooked T-bone steak. The portions were delicious and more than enough for the two of us to share, however we still couldn’t resist the dessert case. The turtle cheesecake was perfectly rich and sweet, and the Ding Dong cake (standing nearly 6 inches tall) was unforgettable. All desserts are made in-house.
For a dose of caffeine to amp up your day, try Jitterbug Coffeehouse on Main Street in downtown. This Heber Springs staple has been around for 11 years, serving locals a delicious menu of specialty coffees; lunch items including chicken salad and Paninis; hand-dipped ice cream, ranging from mint chocolate chip to mocha almond fudge; smoothies; pastries; and more.
Just a few doors down on Main Street, find Dancing Cranes boutique. This groovy shop carries a plethora of ‘60s-inspired clothing, jewelry and gifts from tie-dyed dresses and shirts to sarongs, incense, tapestries, purses and more. Improve your mind, body and soul with yoga classes offered in the yoga studio in the back of the shop four times a week.
Fill your home or office with some of the most unique art in the region, all found in the Ellen Hobgood Gallery, also downtown. Owner Ellen Hobgood is a well-known artist and art teacher. She teaches classes in her shop where she sells her artwork along with that of many other painters, sculptors, photographers and jewelry makers.
For top-quality cheese, meat, beans, grains and other dried snacks and ingredients, visit Ozark Country Market. This one-stop shop specializes in Amish-produced items from handmade baskets to Amish wedding bread. Also find 42 varieties of cheeses, gift baskets, gluten-free and sugar-free options, local raw honey, Arkansas-made goat’s milk soap, bulk food and more than 80 spices. In the spring and summer months, find the outdoor area filled with more than 2,000 hanging baskets and vegetable plants for sale.
If you are traveling to Heber Springs this summer, luxury acommodations are a must.
The Red Apple Inn and Resort offers guests beautiful rooms with amenities, such as a fireplace, balcony and whirlpool tub. There is plenty to do onsite at the Red Apple. Spend your day playing golf or tennis, swimming, fishing or at the fitness center, then get your evening started with a delicious meal at the Red Apple Dining Room with a view overlooking the beautiful Heber Springs area.
For more information on places to stay, eat, shop and explore in Heber Springs, log onto the Heber Springs Area Chamber of Commerce website, heber-springs.com.