Unique and Unusual Hotels in Arkansas

The Crescent Hotel's lobby.
••• Courtesy of the Crescent Hotel

If you want a really unique vacation, it needs to start with your hotel. These Arkansas hotels, lodges, and cabins offer something unique that a Hilton or Motel 6 won't. Choose one of these unique and unusual hotels and give your family a memorable vacation this year.

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    Treehouses

    Who wouldn't want to stay atop an Ozark forest? A treehouse may sound like roughing it, but Arkansas offers some unique, luxury treehouses. These cottage hotels are complete with rope bridges and beautiful views. There are quite a few treehouse operations in Arkansas, but the ones in Eureka Springs are great: The Grand Treehouse Resort, Treehouse Cottages, and Oakcrest Cottages and Treehouses.

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    Perhaps you'd like to stay a little bit closer to the ground. In Parthenon (in northwest Arkansas, near Jasper), you can stay in a cave. The lodge has natural living cave walls and ceilings. Unlike some "cave" hotels, this is a real, living cave. Many hotels claiming to be in caves are man-made. The accommodations aren't meant for cavemen. The lodge boasts modern luxury with satellite TV, a modern kitchen, five bedrooms including a honeymoon suite and a rec room.

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    Longbow Resorts, in Prim (between Mountain View and Heber Springs), offers three different cabins. That's not unusual. What is unusual is how the cabins are built. They are all built to take full advantage of their natural surroundings. They allow you to become a part of nature. My favorite is the Bushmaster cabin, which is built on a boulder over a stream. Longbow cabin is built into a boulder facing a waterfall, and it's also quite neat.

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    Turpentine Creek is a big cat sanctuary in Eureka Springs that gives shelter to abused and abandoned big cats (and some other animals). They have nice, safari lodges for adults and a fun treehouse for families. Some rooms have views of the cats, but you can hear them in any of the lodges.

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    If you're visiting Murphreesburo for the diamond mine, you might consider staying in a teepee. Diamond John's has four teepees along the Little Missouri River. The teepees accommodate up to four people and actually have queen-sized beds. Diamond John's also has cabins, but you can stay in a cabin any day. How often are you going to get to stay in a teepee? 

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    Dude Ranches

    Some of the dude ranches in Arkansas just let you stay and are more like a bed and breakfast, and others involve you more in the day to day workings of the Ranch. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, is one of my favorites. They offer lots of fun activities and excursions for the whole family and is very family-centric. Stone Creek Ranch in Mountain Home has horses and offers lessons and cattle drives. BarJ Ranch in El Dorado offers horseback riding, too.

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    The Crescent is a beautiful, historic hotel that was built in 1886. Historic hotels are not all that unusual until you hear about the Crescent's strange visitors. The hotel has an odd history with lots of deaths surrounding it, and some say ghosts haunt the halls to tell their tales. Room 218 is the most haunted of all.

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    Livingston Junction Caboose Lodges are actual train cabooses that have been converted to small but cute rooms. Each caboose has its own private driveway, an outdoor hot tub and deck, a grill and hammock. These are also located in Eureka Springs.

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    Inn at the Mill is exactly what it sounds like: an inn in a mill. It's located in Johnson, AR (in northwest Arkansas between Springdale and Fayetteville) The inn is in the 1835 Johnson Mill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has 8 specialty suites in the mill and a nice restaurant.

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    Stonewind is located in Chester (near Fort Smith), with views of the Boston Mountains and the Ozark National Forest. The yurts are large circular rooms, dressed in modern conveniences. The property is in the middle of nature and has meditation trails and stone gardens.

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    These bungalows in Eureka Springs are designed to be cute couples getaway cottages. They are located in a renovated vintage, 1930s Art Deco Style service station.

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    Houseboats

    With so much water around, we have many houseboat rental companies. One of my favorite lakes is Bull Shoals and you can rent a houseboat at the Bull Shoals Lake Dock. Degray is another great lake, and Anchors Away offers houseboat rentals on Lake Degray. Almost Home books houseboats on Lake Ouachita, another popular lake.

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    Historic Schoolhouse Lodges

    Arkansas offers two opportunities to stay at a historic schoolhouse. The first is the 1926 Cottonwood Schoolhouse in Omaha (in north Arkansas, near Branson, MO) which has two rooms and a kitchen. The second is the Schoolhouse Lodge in Bayou Meto (near Stuttgart). The Schoolhouse lodge has six bedrooms with private bathrooms, a full kitchen, great room, boot room and spacious deck.

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    Tanyard Springs

    Tanyard Springs is on top of Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton. It's a collection of 13 handcrafted cabins, each with a unique style and theme. Don't expect technology, Tanyard Springs was created with no telephones or televisions so you can enjoy the peace of the mountain.

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    Heifer Ranch has the ability to host a learning ranch retreat, but it won't be like a vacation. They cater to business groups and will give your team a unique experience learning about the ranch through some hands-on activities and lessons. More about Heifer's mission.