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Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Named one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Eureka Springs first drew interest because of its natural springs with purported healing powers. It was settled in the late 1800s as a spa destination, and today its entire downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places. While baths and spa treatments are still available, the city is now nationally renowned for its art and well-preserved Victorian-era architecture. It's actually a charming Victorian hillside village with historic homes, winding roads, and antiques and crafts shops. For information, contact the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, 137 W. Van Buren (tel. 866/566-9387; www.eurekasprings.org).

Getting There -- Eureka Springs is a scenic drive across the Missouri border to Arkansas. From Branson, take U.S. 65 south 30 miles to Bear Creek Springs, then U.S. 62 west 37 miles to Route 23.

What to See & Do -- Eureka Springs' biggest attraction is the Great Passion Play, U.S. 62 East (tel. 866/882-7529 or 479/253-9200; www.greatpassionplay.com), a religious extravaganza about the life of Jesus that takes place May to October in an outdoor theater with a cast of 250 people and live animals. Also offered are the New Holy Land Tour, a 2 1/2-hour tour past 38 reproductions of structures referred to in the Bible, and the Museum of Earth History, which presents earth's history (and dinosaurs) from a biblical view.

Other attractions worth seeking out are the Abundant Memories Heritage Village, 2 1/2 miles north of Branson at 2434 Hwy. 23 N. (tel. 479/253-6764; www.abundantmemories.com), with 25 village buildings packed with artifacts of yesteryear; and the Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway, 299 N. Main St. (tel. 479/253-9623; www.esnarailway.com), a restored 1906 steam passenger train that takes a scenic route through the Ozark Hills.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.