A road trip from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is fun. This route is definitely worth exploring, from historical sites and charming small towns to restaurants that are sure to please any palate. We took this road trip last fall, and it was an excellent experience.
In this article, we’ll share some of the most beautiful and interesting stops along the way. So if you’re planning a road trip in this area, be sure to add these spots to your itinerary!
Various towns and businesses hosted our visits. All opinions are my own.
1. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Eureka Springs is a quaint town in Arkansas known for its Victorian architecture and natural springs. The city is home to several unique attractions, including the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway and the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. In addition, the town offers a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as various outdoor activities.
The area is also home to some of the state’s best hiking and biking trails. If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, Eureka Springs is the perfect destination.
The Victorian architecture of Eureka Springs is like something out of a fairytale. It is home to numerous historic buildings, including the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, where we stayed when we visited Eureka Springs.
The Crescent is thought to be haunted. It has been featured on numerous shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. While we were there, we enjoyed a haunted tour through the hotel and basement. That was quite the experience, especially since we were there the week of Halloween. It was informative and educational, so I recommend you indulge in a ghost tour to learn more about the hotel’s history.
The town became famous because of its springs. The natural springs are said to have healing properties. Although they are cold springs, they are thought to be therapeutic, and the water is heated for use in the spas located throughout the town. We enjoyed spa services at the New Moon Spa in the Crescent Hotel.
My suggestion is to start your visit with a ride on the tram or the historic trolley for a tour of the area. You will get the lay of the land and an idea of places you want to visit while you are in town.
Take a walk around the historic downtown district and visit the quaint shops, springs, art galleries, and eateries. Be sure to visit the Nut House and the soap shops.
Visit the Christ of the Ozarks statue and learn about its history if time permits. It is worth the short drive and provides a beautiful view of the city. The Great Passion Play is offered nearby from spring through fall.
Visit one of the most photographed buildings in America, the Thorncrown Chapel. It is a sight to behold.
Take a scenic hour-long drive through the Ozark Mountains on Route 62 as you leave Eureka Springs. The road is full of curves, but the scenery is beautiful, so go slow and enjoy the view as you travel to Bentonville, Arkansas.
2. Bentonville, Arkansas
Bentonville was a wonderful surprise on our road trip. I wanted to see the Walmart Museum and had no idea what a fascinating and vibrant town it would be in. Bentonville is delightful with something for just about everyone. It is larger than I imagined but has that small-town charm that makes you feel comfortable and safe.
Check out the city’s thriving art scene. No visit to Bentonville would be complete without stopping at the world-famous Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I could have spent an entire day here.
Bentonville is a perfect destination with many outdoor activities available. It’s home to some beautiful parks and trails if you love the outdoors. Mountain biking is huge in the area, and Bentonville was designated as the Mountain Biking Capital of the World. There is even art along the bicycling trails.
Plan an hour or so to visit the Walmart Museum. It is fascinating to learn about the life of Sam Walton and the history of Walmart, the largest retailer in the world. The museum is free.
Bentonville boasts a vibrant food scene, with several excellent restaurants and cafés. Be sure to make reservations at The Preacher’s Son restaurant housed in a restored church.
The city also has a lively nightlife, with plenty of bars and clubs to keep visitors entertained. If you have dinner at The Preacher’s Son, you can visit the Undercroft Bar in the basement to enjoy some nightlife activities.
I recommend staying a few days in Bentonville. When we visited, we stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton. It was a lovely hotel with substantial open areas, outdoor fire pits, and it was quiet and spotless.
Bentonville has something to offer everyone, whether you’re looking for culture, cuisine, or simply a stunning natural setting.
From Bentonville, we headed west on Route 72 to Gravette, Arkansas, into Oklahoma, and then Route 82 to Vinita. It is about an hour and a half drive.
3. Vinita, Oklahoma
The second oldest city in Oklahoma, Vinita, is known as “America’s Crossroads” due to US highways 60, 66, and 69 crisscrossing the town. Because of the Route 66 connection, there are a lot of interesting sites in town.
We stopped in Vinita for gas during our trip and didn’t have time to explore much. But it is on our list to return. The things I want to see on the next visit include Clanton’s Cafe (the longest continually family-owned restaurant along the whole of Route 66) and the McDonald’s bridge-restaurant, which at one time was the largest in the world.
From Vinita, take Route 66 to Route 60 for the hour drive to Bartlesville.
4. Bartlesville, Oklahoma
The Philbrook Museum of Art is known for its impressive American and European art collection.
Bartlesville is home to the Price Tower, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed skyscraper, now a museum and hotel. When we visited, we toured the building, and it was certainly unique. Made of copper and concrete, the inside rooms were shaped like triangles, or at an odd angle with lots of glass. At the time of its completion, the Price Tower was the tallest building in Bartlesville.
An excellent place for outdoor activities, Bartlesville has several parks and hiking trails located throughout the city.
The highlight of our time in Bartlesville was visiting the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve. It is home to bison, elk, deer, and other animals. As we drove through the preserve to the museum, a bison came strolling down the road to meet us.
Once inside the museum, we were amazed at how huge it was and its contents. It houses an extensive and outstanding western art collection. The paintings were colorful and stunning. We enjoyed exploring Frank Phillips’ private collections, including a race-winning monoplane and the most extensive collection of Colt rifles in the world. It was just an incredible place, and I’m sure I missed some things.
The drive from Bartlesville to Pawhuska on Route 60 is a short half-hour drive.
5. Pawhuska, Oklahoma
Another small Oklahoma town, Pawhuska, is the home of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, which is the largest protected area of tallgrass prairie in the world. The preserve is a great place to see native grasses and wildlife, and it’s also a perfect spot for hiking, picnicking, bicycling, and bird watching.
Pawhuska is also home to the Osage Nation Museum, which tells the story of the Osage people and their culture. The museum features exhibits of traditional Osage life, art, and history, and it’s a great place to learn about the Native American experience.
Finally, Pawhuska is home to the famous Pioneer Woman Mercantile, the reason I wanted to visit Pawhuska. I followed Ree Drummond several years back when she purchased the Osage Mercantile Company building and was creating the Merc. It was an old building and needed a lot of work, and I was so impressed by her vision; I just wanted to see the finished product. The Merc is now a restaurant, bakery, and store. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Mercantile, visited the bakery upstairs for some delectable desserts, and did some shopping for unique souvenirs in the Pioneer Woman store.
Because of her success and visitors coming to town, other businesses have opened, expanded, or increased visibility. The Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum was a fun place to visit in Pawhuska. You can try your hand at roping a steer or riding a bison on their animated animals. It was an entertaining history of the town and its people.
We visited some of the quaint shops along the main street and decided this was a town we wanted to return to.
Pro Tip: For some added adventure, drive 18 miles out of town to the Pioneer Woman’s Lodge on the Ranch. She does the filming of her Food Network show there, and it includes a test kitchen, prop room, office, prep space, and four bedrooms. Twelve of those 18 miles are on a dirt road!
If you’re looking for a fantastic road trip to take, consider starting in Eureka Springs and making your way to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. You won’t be disappointed with the charming shops, delicious food, and beautiful scenery along the way, and you may even stumble upon a few hidden gems that we haven’t mentioned here. So what are you waiting for? Pack up the car and hit the open road from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to Pawhuska, Oklahoma!