A Long Weekend in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Updated: Jun 13, 2019
Hot Springs Arkansas has a pretty colorful history. Once a haven for mobsters and illegal gambling, the town is based around the thermal springs that pour out of the hills. Surrounded by lush forests and lakes, there is plenty of both indoor and outdoor activities for everyone.
The most notable portion of town is the Bathhouse Row where you'll find all of the old bathhouses from the early 1900's. The bathhouses run the thermal spring water in from the hills and were once a popular place for people to go to soak in the waters to rid themselves of any ailments. Along the bathhouse row, you'll also find Hot Springs' main tourist area so there are plenty of shops and restaurants around to enjoy.
Be sure to check out the bathhouses themselves and visit the National Park store. Also be sure to check out the Superior Bathhouse Brewery located in the old Superior Bathhouse. The beer selection is excellent and they'll have a beer for all tastes.
Right behind bathhouse row is the Hot Springs National Park. The park is only about 9 square miles making it one of the smallest national parks in the country. The park consists of several hiking trails winding around Hot Springs Mountain along with the Hot Springs Mountain Tower which provides great views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains.
Hot Springs is surrounded by the Ouachita Mountains which offers several state parks within a short driving distance. Lake Catherine State Park is a quick 12 mile drive southeast of Hot Springs and sits on the shore of the Ouachita River. It consists of hiking trails throughout the forest along with camping and picnic spots. The most notable hiking trail will lead you to the Falls Creek waterfall. You can take the longer hike through the forest or there is a smaller route from the campground for those not able to hike the distance.
Further down the Ouachita River is the Garvan Woodland Gardens. This is a beautifully landscaped botanical garden full of plants and flowers along well manicured walking paths. We visited in the early spring so the gardens were full of tulips of all types and colors.