Things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas. 19 Family friendly things to do in and around Hot Springs National Park. Family day trip, plus tips on where to park.
Hot Springs Arkansas is a popular tourist destination year round. With historic buildings dating back to the early 1900’s, natural springs and water that was once believed to have medicinal properties, along with gangsters such as Al Capone, this historic town is full of energy.
The town of Hot Springs is surround by Hot Springs National Park that was founded in 1921. But even before that, this spa town was thriving.
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Today you’ll find many families exploring the area. With hiking, restaurants, boutiques and historic landmarks, there is something to do and see for everyone.
Hot Springs Arkansas
THINGS TO DO
Hot Springs Mountain Tower
As you’re coming into town, you can see Hot Springs Mountain Tower soaring over 200 feet above the tree line. To get to this tower you’ll drive through the town of Hot Springs and up a gorgeous switchback road all the way to the top.
At the top of the mountain is a gift shop and tower elevator that’ll bring you up 216 feet onto the observation deck. There is a fee per person to use the elevator or you can enjoy the view from a lookout point just before reaching the tower.
Also at the top of the mountain are a few picnic tables, restrooms and several hiking trails. -View hiking trail map
Back at the bottom of this one way road you’ll find a small parking area and water fountain where locals and visitors alike enjoy filling up a few bottles of water with the famous hot springs water.
For more information about the water visit Hot Springs National Park-Drinking the water.
Fordyce Bathhouse Visitors Center
Fordyce Bathhouse Visitors Center is a beautiful historic building that first opened in 1915. Just outside of the visitors center are several welcoming rocking chairs you can rest and watch the busy street in front of you.
Inside are marble floors and three floors just waiting for you to explore.
View a historic video or take a journey back in time through each floor. From bathtubs and stalls with beautiful stain glass windows, to the top floor complete with parlor and gym.
The Grand Promenade is located just behind bathhouse row. This stunning walkway is a half mile long and made entirely from bricks. You can get to this walkway several different ways, to include taking the stairs just behind the visitors center.
With its lush greenery contrasting against the red bricks, this half mile stroll is a must see.
Hot Water Cascade – Arlington Lawn
Located along bathhouse row, on the Arlington Lawn, are two large hot spring pools. This spring waterfall trickles from the rocks above and goes under the Grand Promenade walkway.
This water is incredibly hot, so take caution if you try and touch it.
Bathhouse Row consists of eight bathhouse buildings that were build between 1892 and 1923.
The Lamar Bathhouse now serves as a gift shop and offices, where as the Fordyce Bathhouse now serves as the visitors center. The Ozark Bathhouse is an art gallery (free admission) for local artists and you’ll even find a local brewery (that uses the spring water) in the Superior Bathhouse.
The Buckstaff Bathhouse offers a traditional bathing experience and spa treatments. And the Quapaw Bathhouse offers thermal pools, private baths and even a steam cave. Be sure to call ahead for these services for the most up to date Covid guidelines.
Also along Bathhouse Row is the Hale Bathhouse or Hotel Hale. Here you can spend the night in one of their historic rooms. These rooms each offer their own soaking bathtub and the water is from, you guessed it, the hot springs.
The Maurice Bathhouse opened January 1912 but later closed in 1974. At this time the building remains vacant.
The Arlington Hotel
The Arlington Hotel sits at the corner of Central Ave. and Fountain St. The hotel looks over Bathhouse Row at the boutiques, museums and restaurants lining the street. This hotel and its accommodations have brought in many famous guests to include presidents, baseball players and even Al Capone.
According to the Arlington Hotel’s website, Al Capone’s favorite room was room number 443 where he would have the entire floor for himself, his staff and bodyguards.
During the holiday season the entire Bathhouse Row has an impressive light display, but the Arlington takes it one step further with a giant gingerbread house. The Arlington’s Gingerbread house can be found in the lobby and, in 2021, was over 11 feet tall!
Things to do within walking distance
There are many boutiques, restaurants, antique stores and things to do in the downtown area. So be sure to put on your walking shoes, fill your water bottle and explore what downtown has to offer. These are just a few popular places to visit in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
- Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum
- The Gangster Museum of America
- Duck Tours
- Kilwins- Chocolate, fudge and ice cream
- Toy Chest – Family owned toy store
Where to park downtown- There are several different parking lots around the town that advertise for paid parking. But you can also park along the streets for metered parking. One popular street is Fountain St. on the way up to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.
You can also find free parking in the parking garage located at 204 Exchange St. Hot Springs, AR. This parking garage gets a bit busy and a little bit tight, so keep that in mind.
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Other things to do in the area
The town of Hot Springs is more than just the National Park. With a short drive away you’ll find some other fun things to check out.
- Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
- Hot Springs Fun Park- Zip line, go karts, laser tag and more
- T-Rex Fun Spot- Family entertainment
- Adventure Works- Outdoor canopy zip tour and aerial adventure
- Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
- Funtrackers Family Fun Park- Volcano Falls mini golf, bumper boats, go karts and arcade
- Magic Springs- Theme and water park
- Ron Coleman Mining – Crystal digging, zip line and more. (North of Hot Springs)
Mid-America Science Museum
Explore science and nature at the Mid-America Science Museum. Get up close and personal with a few dinosaurs along the Oaklawn Foundation Dinotrek path, featuring 13 dinosaurs, or explore the tree tops along the Bob Wheeler Skywalk exhibit.
Be sure to ask about their science shows, including the Telsa Coil and educational program.
Lake Ouachita State Park
Take a short drive to Lake Ouachita State Park. Just outside of Hot Springs, this state park offers hiking, swimming, camping and boat and kayak rentals.
Lake Catherine State Park
You can spend an entire day at Lake Catherine State Park. This state park boasts hiking, fishing, a marina, swimming and even guided horseback rides. Also in the park are 70 campsites, cabins and a yurt.
This popular park can get busy, so get there early.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
No Hot Springs to do list would be complete without a trip to Garvan Woodland Gardens.
This 210 acre botanical garden is breathtaking all year round. The spring tulips bring visitors from all over, and for good reason. The flowers stretch as far as you can see and in colors you didn’t know existed.
Anthony Chapel sits just outside of the gardens and is a work of art inside and out.
If you happen to stroll by when a wedding is not taking place, you may be able to walk in and experience this beautiful chapel for yourself. (Covid guidelines may prohibit entering the chapel. Call for update)
Take a walk down to the Children’s Adventure Garden and explore the three story Evens Tree House, along with a rock cave and waterfall.
Stop in the gift shop and purchase fish food to feed the Koi fish in the pond or head to the Chipmunk Cafe for lunch and let the kids watch the model trains go around the elaborate train track, complete with train conductor.
As you can see there are many things to do and see in and around Hot Springs, Arkansas. These are just a few of them. So bring some water, a picnic lunch and explore some nearby adventures for yourself.
Best Wishes ~ Sara
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