We just finished up a fantastic weekend, celebrating Mother’s Day with friends while camping at the KOA in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The KOA was fantastic, Eureka Springs was celebrating their month-long festival of the arts, and our trip to Lake Leatherwood was sunny and beautiful.
Eureka Spring and the Festival of the Arts
I’ve been to Eureka Springs more times than I can count. As a child, I remember going with my family and looking at the tiny miniature toys with my siblings. I remember going when my dad would play in music festivals, and I can remember going to tea houses and looking at porcelain dolls with my grandmother. Our friends we traveled with hadn’t been before, so we were happy to show them around town.
It seems like there is always some kind of festival going on in Eureka Springs, and for the entire month of May, the city is celebrating the Festival of the Arts. It seems like this could really be said to go on all year, with the number of galleries, artistic homes, and artistic people in the community.
During this year’s festival, there were beautiful glass and metal mobiles hanging in downtown Basin Park, and the kids had the opportunity to create their own mini mobiles at an art station set up in the park.
Posted on the event calendar were additional gallery openings and art sales, but with four kids in total in the group, we opted to stick to the street and outdoor art displays, and the kids loved showing off their own artistic creations.
KOA Eureka Springs
This was our first time staying at the KOA in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and we would definitely consider returning in a future trip. We camped with friends who do not own a camper, and this campground has cabins and campsites interspersed, so we were able to get a campsite directly across from their cabin. This made everything so much easier, with the kids running back and forth between our two spaces, and a direct line of site between the two.
The campground had an incredible playground with different features, swings, and playhouses for a variety of ages. The kids would have been content staying there all day and calling that the weekend. The campground also had nice shower houses, a fenced dog area, which we always appreciate. The pool looked fantastic, but it’s not quite swimming season yet.
Our campsite was electric / water, had a large picnic table, fire pit, and these great wooden planter / benches that helped form a barrier between our campsite and the next. This was especially helpful in keeping the kids contained in a clear area.
Everyone working this weekend was beyond friendly, and to support KOA’s Care Camps, there were activities going on throughout the weekend. We were gone for much of the activity time. I put my name into some of the silent auction items, but didn’t win any.
We chose this weekend because of the KOA Care Camps fundraising weekend. At most of the KOAs, if you camp Friday at the regular rate, Saturday is only $10 and the proceeds go to support KOA summer camps for children diagnosed with cancer. Additional fundraisers and activities throughout the weekend benefited this cause.
Josh and I both have a bad habit of wanting to do it all. If we visit somewhere, we want to see and do everything we can in a short amount of time. We start early, keep a high energy level, and our kids are used to our fast pace of travel.
When you travel with other people, there will always be a give and take, and flexibility is key. We traveled with friends this weekend, and they had never visited Eureka Springs before. My first inclination was to do and see everything and come up with some heavily packed days of activities and travel.
In thinking through how that would actually play out, I relinquished and decided on an itinerary that would be more a taste of the area, rather than full-throttle into doing any and everything I think we might enjoy in the region.
We spent a lot of time at the campground because it was so nice and well laid out for our families. Saturday, we rode the trolley on the 30 minute historical loop, so the parents could see the neat older homes and the kids could enjoy the trolley ride.
We hopped off at the top of the hill (stop 83) and walked and shopped through the stores back down toward the trolley station where we parked. Very few stores are stroller / toddler friendly, and I wasn’t really looking to buy, so I mainly enjoyed window shopping and people watching from the sidewalks.
We returned to the campground for lunch and nap time for the littles, and then had an afternoon hike at Lake Leatherwood. This city park is beautiful and will get its own blog post another day.
Once or twice a year we will have the full scale traditional campfire, hot dogs, smores, and sit around the campfire for hours and hours on end. This was the perfect night for that.
Sunday morning we had a relaxed Mother’s Day brunch made by the dads, and headed home. My biggest take away was how much more relaxed I felt coming home. I think if we wouldn’t have been with friends, we would have added another hike or a paddle around the lake, and not given our children nearly as much time at the playground and campsite.
I still love our fast paced and high energy weekends we sometimes have, but this was good reminder of how our pace affects how we feel coming home, and wrapping up the school year on a more relaxed note was just what we needed.