Hot Springs National Park was the nation's first federally protected reservation, having been created by Congress in 1832. Originally named Hot Springs Reservation, it was made a national park and renamed in 1921. It was originally created to protect the region's 47 natural flowing thermal springs. Today the park protects eight historic bathhouses, and is the nation's smallest national park by area. The park visitor center is housed in the former luxurious Fordyce Bathhouse, and the entire "Bathhouse Row" area is a National Historic Landmark District that contains the grandest collection of bathhouses of its kind in North America.
- Hot Springs Memorial Field
- Little Rock National Airport (with shuttle service and rental cars.)
- From Interstate 30 take the Hot Springs US 70 West exit south of Benton, the Hot Springs US 270 West exit at Malvern, or the Hot Springs Ark. 7 North exit near Arkadelphia.
- If traveling south on Ark. 7, come through downtown Hot Springs where the visitor center is located.
- If traveling south on US 71 from Fort Smith, or north on US 71 from Texarkana, take the US 270 East exit and take 270B through town.
- Coming from Oklahoma on US 70 go all the way into Hot Springs. When you get into the city you will see signs for the National Park.
- The Visitor Center is located downtown on Highway 7 North or Central Avenue.
- Greyhound Bus Lines, 1001 Central Ave, Suite D, Hot Springs, +1-800-231-2222.
- Amtrak's Texas Eagle route serves Little Rock, Arkansas, with shuttle services to Hot Springs.
The public transport system isn't recommended. It's best to have a car or a friend in the city who doesn't mind driving you around. If you are downtown, it is possible to walk to many sites.
Hot Springs National ParkEdit
For 200 years, the natural hot springs surrounding present-day Hot Springs National Park have been used to treat illnesses and to relax. Today, Hot Springs National Park surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Visitors from around the world flocked to Hot Springs National Park’s historic Bathhouse Row in the 1800s and early 1900s to bathe in the thermal waters, thought to have healing powers; rich and poor alike bathed in its healing waters and relaxed in its bathhouses. With the advent of modern medicine, many bathhouses were closed, but the buildings were preserved and many are open for tours. Today hot and cool mineral water flows from the local springs and many people stop on Bathhouse Row and at the Happy Hollow Spring to fill water jugs at the public fountains. There are no park entrance fees charged.
- 1 Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center, 369 Central Ave (between Reserve and Fountain Streets), ☏ . Daily 9AM-5PM. The visitor center in the former Fordyce Bathhouse is also a 24-room museum offering self-guided tours. Considered the most elegant bathhouse when completed in 1915, it exhibits beautiful mosaic tile floors, marble, stained glass windows and ceilings, a gymnasium, and routine bathing equipment. The 15-minute orientation movie, Valley of Vapors, offers a brief history of the area. Taking the Baths is a 9-minute video showing the traditional bathing routine in the Hot Springs bathhouses. Rest rooms and water fountains are located in the basement. Other rooms shown include the music room, massage rooms and a bowling alley.
- 2 Bathhouse Row (Central Avenue). Includes the Fordyce Bathhouse and seven other bathhouses all built in the early 20th century. The Row is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Aside from the Fordyce which serves as the park visitor center, the Buckstaff is the only other operating bathhouse; it is still in use as a spa. The other bathhouses are vacant but awaiting new uses.
- 3 The Grand Promenade. A landscaped walkway behind Bathhouse Row which offers a glimpse of the springs and historic landscape features. Entrances are from behind the Visitor Center and from Fountain Street.
- 4 Garvan Woodland Gardens, 550 Arkridge Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . Garvan Woodland Gardens. Learn more about its natural flora and fauna.
- 5 Mid America Science Museum, 500 Mid America Blvd, ☏ , toll-free: . Labor Day to Memorial Day Tu-Su, 10AM-5PM; Memorial Day to Labor Day 9:30AM-6PM daily. A great family attraction and the largest hands-on science center in Arkansas. Take the “Underground Arkansas” tour of a gigantic indoor cave filled with chambers, bridges, tunnels and slides, or experience the light, motion and sound of the “Virtual Reality Simulator.” Mid America Museum is the perfect setting for school field trips, birthday parties, summer science camps and more.
- 1 Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, 1701 E. Grand Ave, ☏ . An amusement park with water and thrill rides such as roller coasters perched high above the Ouachita Mountains, outdoor concerts and more.
- 2 Oaklawn Park, 2705 Central Ave, toll-free: . From January through April, Oaklawn Park is the place to be in Arkansas. Watch and wager on live top-quality thoroughbred racing, enjoy delicious food served up at restaurants and stands and participate in contests and promotions. Oaklawn also offers simulcast racing action and electronic gaming year-round. In recent years, Arkansas Derby winners have also won one or more of the Triple Crown races in Kentucky, Maryland or New York. During the live racing season, children may enter Oaklawn accompanied by a parent or guardian; children attending during the simulcast season must be at least 48 inches tall to be admitted.
- Scenic mountain drives. The drives on West Mountain, Hot Springs, and North Mountains have overlooks to the surrounding areas. An observation tower on top of Hot Springs Mountain is operated by a concessionaire and offers a panoramic view of the Zig Zag range of the Ouachita Mountains.
Hot Springs is home to several festivals throughout the year.
- Arkansas Shorts Film Festival. in January of each year.
- Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. in the fall.
- Hot Springs Music Festival, ☏ . The, brings together mentor musicians with pre-professional musicians during the first two weeks of June to perform chamber and orchestral music. Venues are located at various sites in the historic downtown district.
- Hot Water Hills Music & Arts Festival. usually held in October.
- Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival (at Low Key Arts). every year in March.
Hot Springs has many restaurants inside Victorian buildings in the Historic Downtown District, featuring food and friendly service. Historic downtown is not the only popular eating spot in town. Dine by the lake, on a riverboat, near the horse track or mall, on a main thoroughfare, on a mountain lane. Hot Springs restaurants offer a wide variety of excellent dining choices and cuisines - from cafes to gourmet cabarets.
- 1 Belle Arti Italian Ristorante, 719 Central Ave, ☏ . Fantastic Italian cuisine. Great pasta, salads, steaks, desserts, wine and coffee. They even have live piano music which added to the already wonderful atmosphere. $12-30.
- 2 JavaPrimo Coffee House, Cafe & More, 4429 Central Ave, Suite A (near the Hot Springs Mall), ☏ . 6:30AM-10PM M-Th, 6:30AM-11PM Friday, 7:30AM-11PM Saturday. JavaPrimo is a locally owned coffee shop and cafe featuring fresh roasted coffee. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, JavaPrimo offers a selection of paninis, wraps, sandwiches, salads, soups, cakes, pies, pastries and coffee. Gift ideas include coffee beans, teas, collegiate football gifts and greeting cards. $4.25 to $10.
- 3 Mimi's Coffee, 2360 Malvern Ave, ☏ . M-Th 6AM-5PM F 6AM-7:30PM Sa 8AM-12PM. Suite A., Serves breakfast and lunch. Coffee by the drink or bulk, tea, soups, salads and sandwiches. The sweet rolls are very good. Friendly service in a bright cheery atmosphere. Wide screen T.V., Internet access and free Wi-Fi. Prices for breakfast range from $.99-$5.75. Prices for lunch range from $3.99-$6.99. Coffee $.95-$4:00.
- 4 Rolando's Nuevo Latino Restaurante, 210 Central Ave, ☏ . Great Latin cuisine restaurant with an outdoor seating area. $8-15.
- 1 1890 Williams House Bed and Breakfast (Hot Springs Arkansas B & B), 420 Quapaw Ave, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3:30PM to 6PM, check-out: 11AM. Rooms:$149 - $169, Suites: $199 - $229.
- 2 The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, 239 Central Ave, toll-free: . A historic downtown hotel.
- 3 The Austin Hotel and Convention Center, 305 Malvern Ave, toll-free: . The Austin Hotel & Convention Center is located in the heart of downtown Hot Springs with 200 guestrooms and a beautiful view of the Ouachita Mountains. Amenities include spa, indoor/outdoor pool, lounge and restaurant on site.
- 4 Best Western Winners Circle Inn, 2520 Central Ave, ☏ , fax: .
- 5 Country Inn & Suites, 4307 Central Ave, ☏ .
- 6 Embassy Suites Hot Springs Hotel & Spa, 400 Convention Blvd, ☏ . Has a reasonably priced in-house spa.
- 7 Hilltop Manor Bed and Breakfast, 2009 Park Ave, ☏ .
- 8 Holiday Inn Express, 206 Mehta Ct, ☏ .
- 9 Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, 104 Lookout Circle, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ Info@LookoutPointLakesideInn.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Bed and breakfast on Lake Hamilton. Each room has a view of the lake and many have a private balcony. Exceptionally groomed gardens, packages & add-ons are available. Rooms $145-199, suites $275-360, cottages $280-500.
- Mountain Thyme Bed & Breakfast Inn, 10860 Scenic Byway 7 North, Jessieville, AR 71949, toll-free: .
- 10 The Park Hotel, 211 Fountain St (in downtown Hot Springs on first right past Bath House Row), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Exemplifies the architectural brilliance of the 1920s and 1930s. Completed in 1929 and opened to the public in 1930, a mélange of Spanish Revival influences. Throughout its long and varied history, original architectural elements have been beautifully preserved, immediately evident upon entrance into the spectacular tiled lobby.
- 11 Quality Inn, 4319 Central Ave., ☏ .
- 12 Sunbay Resort, 4810 Central Ave, toll-free: .
Campgrounds with more amenities can be found in commercial, State Park, Corps of Engineers, and Forest Service campgrounds in the surrounding area.
- 13 Gulpha Gorge. National park campground with sites available on a first come, first served basis, no reservations. Campsites have a picnic table, pedestal grill, and water nearby. While there are no showers, there are modern restrooms. Water is available at several stations throughout the campground most of the year and at the dump station. Quiet hours are 10PM-6AM. Pets are allowed if leashed. Primitive sites (no hookups) cost $10 per night, $5 per night with a Golden Age or Golden Access pass. $24 for a site with full hookups, $12 with a Golden Age or Golden Access pass..
Caution is advised when handling the thermal spring waters, as their temperatures may reach 143 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, persons with heart or respiratory conditions as should have written consent from a physician before bathing. The average temperature for the hot spring water emerging is 143°F or 62°C.