The Thorncrown Chapel is a quiet and beautiful little church in Eureka Springs, Arkansas that was built by the architect E. Fay Jones in 1980. The chapel is nestled in the Ozark woods and seeing it appear out of the wilderness after a short walk is certainly a sight to behold. The church itself is around 50ft. tall and the walls are made primarily of glass. This helps bring the beauty and majesty of the surrounding countryside into the church creating a verdant and airy space.
The ceiling is composed of interlacing rafters which create geometric patterns that shine in the natural light. The effect is stunning. The Thorwncrown chapel is truly one of the most beautiful churches in the United States and one of the most unique I've seen anywhere. The church is generally open to the public (in fact, it's included on many tours through Arkansas) and you can visit from around 10am to 4pm during most of the year. The hours are a bit shorter in winter and the church is closed to visits in January or February.
Or, if you'd like, you can attend a service on Sunday mornings and soak in the church as it was meant to be experienced. If you're not religious or don't have the time, a normal visit is just as nice. There's a guide who gives you a brief overview of the history of the church and then you can sit back and admire the gorgeous architecture and nature as a church musician plays a hymn. It's unforgettable!
The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is an amazing animal refuge near Eureka Springs, Arkansas a perfect stop to introduce the kids to some of Mother Nature's more impressive specimens. The park focuses on big cats and houses tigers, lions, and even bears! They even have a Liger, which is a rare lion-tiger hybrid that I'd only seen in pictures on the internet. Very cool!
Once you enter the park, you'll be amazed at how close you can get to the animals, way closer than in your typical zoo. If you can, try to visit at feeding time (typically 4 or 5 in the afternoon but it's always best to call ahead and ask before your visit). At feeding time, the animal keeps give the big cats their daily feed which brings the massive creatures only feet away from where you're standing!
Also in contrast with most zoos, you feel good after visiting Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. These aim of this park is the protection and care of the animals and you can tell that the volunteers and keepers really care about their work. All proceeds go to making sure the animals are kept clean, healthy, and well-fed. The admission to the park is $20 for adults and a bit less for younger folks depending on their age. It's truly a worthwhile experience to spend the afternoon checking out these amazing animals.