Planning a girlfriends’ getaway this autumn? We have a few suggestions for those who love “rough it” and for those who like to glam it up.
Photography courtesy of the venues
[dropcap]There[/dropcap] may be no better way to enjoy fall in Arkansas than with a weekend cabin getaway. No one wants to be inside in the fall; the leaves are changing color, the air is slightly cooler — if not quite crisp — and wildlife haven’t yet retired to their winter hideaways. Cabins hit that sweet spot between a wide-open tent and a closed-off hotel room, providing protection from the elements — and indoor plumbing — without erecting a huge barrier between yourself and all that nature has to offer. Often, the only hard part about going on a cabin getaway is choosing where to go, so we’ve rounded up a few promising possibilities.
The Crescent Cottages and Lookout Cottages in Eureka Springs are sister properties of the famed Crescent Hotel, and together they make up the Crescent Park community. The cottages provide a private getaway experience in the heart of this unique Ozark Mountains town. The organic architecture makes the most of Eureka’s naturally dramatic landscape, and local art graces cottage walls. Fall weekend rates start around $370 per night; weeknight stays will get you a cheaper rate, in addition to discounts at the New Moon Spa and the Crescent Hotel’s 1886 Steakhouse restaurant. For more information, log on to crescentpark-arkansas.com.
The cabins at the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca may look rustic from the outside, but inside you’ll find all the amenities of an upscale hotel. Some cabins have hot tubs and private WiFi. There’s no TV reception, but cabins are furnished with DVD players, and the center’s store keeps a library of DVDs for guests to use. Throw in porch swings and mountaintop views, and it’s the perfect place to encounter nature without leaving the modern world completely behind. Spring is prime floating season on the Buffalo National River, especially in the shallower upper part of the river near Ponca, but there’s plenty to do the rest of the year: zip-line tours; hiking; splashing in the river; fishing; trail rides; spotting the elk herd that calls the area home; and massages at the Riverstone Spa. The center’s 19 cabins include a range of sizes and amenities, and rent from $129 to upwards of $375 per night. For more information, log on to buffaloriver.com.
Fall is definitely the time to check out the 900-acre Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa on Lake Ouachita, about 24 miles west of Hot Springs. Rates for the resort’s spacious lakeside cabins drop to about half their summertime weekend levels, and it’s still warm enough to enjoy getting out on, or in, the water. Prices range from $199 to $445 per night, depending on the size and location of the cabin. The resort’s Turtle Cove Spa makes it a great place for a girls’ getaway weekend. Activities center on the lake, and you can rent powerboats, canoes and kayaks, and party barges, or bring your own vessel. For more information, log on to mountainharborresort.com.
If you’re looking to get away from it all, but not too far away, the Lookout Point Lakeside Inn on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs is an ideal place for you. The inn is located just off Central Avenue, so you’re only steps away from the water yet just a short drive from great restaurants and nightlife. All rooms have views of the lake, and many have private decks and fireplaces. Rates start at $169 per night. For photographs and information, log on to lookoutpointinn.com.
Riverside Resort & Canoe Rentals in Berryville is a budget-conscious destination that doesn’t skimp on outdoor fun. Located on the Kings River just 5 miles outside Eureka Springs, this resort makes a great base for enjoying all kinds of water-based activities, among them: canoeing, splashing in the swimming hole, and fishing for smallmouth bass. Rates for cabins range from $59 to $125 nightly. You’ll find more information by logging on to riversideresortandcanoes.com.
Bull Mountain Resort in Bull Shoals is another budget-friendly option, with nightly rates under $100. There’s a pool for cooling off in the summer, horseshoes and a volleyball net. There’s even a spot for an evening campfire. It’s a stone’s throw away from both Bull Shoals Lake and the White River, and only about a mile from the Bull Shoals-White River State Park. For more information, log on to bullmountain-resort.com.
Blue Heron Campground & Resort near Flippin is a fishing and birding paradise on the White River. It’s primarily an RV campsite, but it also has two cabins for rent. If you’re after the camping experience with air conditioning and a roof over your head, the Camper Cabin is a good choice at only $40 per night. For the more amenity-minded, there’s the Riverfront Cabin just steps from the White River. This cabin sleeps up to four people and includes a fully equipped kitchen, private bathroom, linens, a TV, WiFi and more for $100 to $125 per night. If you get your fill of fishing and bird-watching, you can check out Blanchard Springs Caverns; go on a horseback ride; play a round of golf; or go bird-watching. Great blue heron, kingfisher and bald eagles are often sighted in the area, so bring your binoculars. You can find a species list on the Blue Heron Campground website: blueheroncampground.com.
Themes of archery and harmony with nature prevail at the secluded Longbow Resort in Prim. Built in 1992 by the son of renowned archer Ben Pearson on land his father bought in the 1960s, Longbow features four cabins designed to complement and harmonize with their natural surroundings. One cabin, for instance, overlooks a private waterfall. This resort is a true getaway: There’s no WiFi, and two of the cabins are located so deep in a canyon that there’s no cellphone service either. If you want to unplug while you unwind, this is the place. There’s plenty to see once you shut down your screens: bald eagles and other birds, raccoons, beavers, deer and wild turkey. You can also fish in the resort’s pond and explore its miles of private trails. The resort’s location 5 miles north of Greers Ferry Lake puts it within an easy drive of Mountain View, golfing and Blanchard Springs Caverns. Rates are $205 to $275 for weekend nights and slightly less during the week. For more information, log on to longbowresorts.com.
The three “chalets” at 101 North Resort in Gamaliel have the look and feel of big, gorgeous treehouses. There’s a deck off any door you open, and tree limbs reach toward every window. Rates range from $159 to $199 per night. For more information, log on to 101-northresort.com.
If you’re looking for a unique, action-packed place to take your family, Horseshoe Canyon Dude Ranch near Jasper fits the bill. Stay in one of their rustic cabins, and spend the day riding horses; rock climbing; zip-lining; swimming; and canoeing, among other outdoor pursuits. There’s even a special program for little ones who aren’t quite ready for trail rides. Fall rates are $203 per adult per night, $151 for children 8 to 16; and $107 for children 3 to 7. It’s possible to book a cabin without including activities for a lower rate, but with so much fun to be had, it’s hard to imagine why you would. Log on to horseshoecanyonduderanch.com for more information.
The Aloft, a boutique hotel in Rogers, promises “bold, urban cool in an unexpected place.” You could argue with that “unexpected” part, but there’s no question the Aloft’s sleek, modern design is a great complement to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in nearby Bentonville. Rates start at around $169 per night. Log on to aloftrogersbentonville.com for more information about its amenities, including live music on Tuesdays in the W XYZ Bar and a splash pool.
Area attractions include Beaver Lake, for great fishing; the Museum of Native American History, where you’ll find artifacts that date back more than 14,000 years; dining on the Bentonville Town Square; shopping at locally owned shops, national chains and more. The Walton Arts Center offers a variety of cultural events. This month, they’re presenting ‘Amadeus,’ as well as concerts featuring Kid Rock and Bryan Adams. For more information, log on to waltonartscenter.org.
This month’s exhibitions at Crystal Bridges are “Warhol’s Nature” and “Jamie Wyeth.” While there, visit the museum’s restaurant Eleven for lunch, brunch, dinner or its culture hour. For more information, log on to crystalbridges.org.
There’s an abundance of cultural, artistic and outdoors activities available in downtown Little Rock, and the Rosemont Inn and Rosehaven Cottages give travelers the opportunity to enjoy all the neighborhood has to offer without staying in a traditional hotel. The inn and cottages are located in the Governor’s Mansion Historic District, an oasis amid all the new-construction and hustle and bustle of downtown. At the Rosemont Inn, you can stay in a guest room or a cottage, and enjoy a fresh, farm-to-table breakfast each morning. The Rosehaven Cottages offer breakfast as an optional extra. Weekend rates start at $145 per night. For more information, log on to rosemontoflittlerock.com.
And for the ultimate in refined urban lodging, the Capital Hotel in the heart of downtown Little Rock can’t be beat. You don’t have to walk farther than the historic, soaring lobby to find top-notch dining and sophisticated cocktails, and the excitement of the River Market District is right outside the front door. You can simply book a room, or add extras like a midnight feast basket, flowers, wine, and a monogrammed pillowcase. Basic rates start at $190 per night; log on to capitalhotel.com to make a reservation.
While luxuriating at the historic hotel, make the short walk to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum to enjoy the current exhibit “Dinosaurs Around the World”; make the short drive to the Arkansas Arts Center for “The 57th Annual Delta Exhibition” as well as the “Inspired by Nature” exhibit; take in a production of “Macbeth” at The Rep; shop and/or dine in the River Market; or visit one of the district’s restaurants to enjoy live music.