All the best things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas, plus where to stay during your visit to this unique and culturally rich small town.
Fall colors, healing waters, and a unique brewery on the grounds of a National Park… Needless to say I quickly fell in love with Hot Springs, Arkansas. All it took was one trip!
I recently was lucky enough to visit Hot Springs while being hosted by their traveler’s bureau. They took great care of us and set us up with quite an adventurous itinerary.
It’s a quick seven hour drive from Austin, making it an awesome place to get out of town for a weekend. We went in late October which provided us with so much stunning fall foliage.
The weather was perfect during this time as well. Heck, I’m already planning my next trip to Hot Springs. And after you read this list of things to do in the area, you’ll understand why! But first, let’s get into a bit of history about Hot Springs, because it is quite a good one…
About Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs is a small town in the southeastern part of Arkansas. Its natural beauty has been drawing travelers to the area for thousands of years. Home to Hot Springs National Park, this spot offers so much to its visitors.
Along with ancient thermal springs, mountain views, and abundant trails, this National Park also has quite the culturally rich history.
Hot Springs, Arkansas, is home to a national park unlike any other. But in addition to its springs and bathhouses, the area is well-known for its storied history of illegal gambling, hiding fugitives, and protecting underworld figures.
Most famously, this area was one of Al Capone’s favorite vacationing spots. Al Capone wasn’t the only gangster who loved traveling to Hot Springs. Bugsy Segel, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, just to name a few…
Interestingly enough, this small town was also visited by many Major League Ball players in the early 1900’s since they had their spring training in Hot Springs.
Where to Stay in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Happy Hollow Motel is a budget and dog-friendly hotel located right off the main downtown area. This is the hotel we stayed at during our recent visit, and it was just the cutest spot ever!
Many of the best things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas were within walking distance of our small and charming hotel. Not to mention the gorgeous scenery and the nearby Happy Hollow Spring that’s just right around the corner.
This hotel has its own historic past beginning back in the late 1800’s. Back then, it was known as McLeod’s Amusement park and served as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hot Springs.
In recent years, the hotel changed ownership and underwent a major restoration. It’s been upgraded to modern day comforts but still has that cool, “retro motor court” vibe.
Things to Do in Hot Springs, Arkansas
From the grand architecture of historic Bathhouse Row to the ancient thermal springs and mountain views, Hot Springs is a uniquely beautiful destination with so much to do. It makes for a quick and relaxing weekend trip.
So without further ado, here are the 10 best things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas!
1. Drink Local Craft Beer at Superior Bathhouse Brewery
Hot Springs is known for their incredible spring-fed bathhouses. What you may really not know is that there’s also a bathhouse brewery… not what you may be thinking, but still pretty cool! Superior Bathhouse Brewing Company is located on bathhouse row.
This Hot Springs brewery is a female-owned brewery sitting right in the middle of Hot Springs National Park. They are the first brewery located in a National Park, and remain the only one to utilize thermal spring water to make their brews.
Superior Bathhouse Brewery has plenty of delicious food and about 19 in-house brewed beers on tap. They also allow dogs inside! I highly recommend getting their Beer Bath, which is a flight that includes a taster of EVERY SINGLE beer on tap.
2. Grab Breakfast at Kollective Coffee & Tea
Kollective is a cozy coffee and tea house situated in downtown Hot Springs. They specialize in organic and local ingredients, to make breakfast, brunch, sandwiches, along with vegetarian eats.
3. Stroll Through the Awe-Inspiring Garvan Woodland Gardens
If you’re visiting Hot Springs, a visit to the Garvan Woodland Gardens is a must-do. Nestled into the gorgeous Ouachita Mountains, this spot is just a few minutes drive outside of the main downtown area of Hot Springs.
Garvan Woodland Gardens is the botanical garden of the University of Arkansas and includes numerous attractions that are both family and dog-friendly. Among the 210-acre garden are several breathtaking architectural structures such as the Anthony Chapel and the world-famous Bob and Sunny Evans Treehouse.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for childern, and tickets for dogs are $5 each. For more information visit the Garvan Gardens’s site here.
4. Plan for Lunch with Pizza at Grateful Head
All that adventuring sure will work up your appetite! Swing by Grateful Head’s pizzeria and beer garden in downtown Hot Springs for pizza, beers, and an amazingly-chill outdoor patio.
5. Visit the Bathhouses on Bathhouse Row
Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs is home to eight historic bathhouse buildings that were built between 1892 and 1923. They all have a gorgeous, European-vibe to them. Today the area is designated as a National Historic Landmark District.
For centuries, Native Americans, early European explorers, and travelers from around the globe have ventured to Bathhouse Row to bathe in the healing water from the nearby natural hot springs. It was even said that Bonnie and Clyde bathed in the waters to recover from injuries! For more information on each individual bathhouse and its history, visit this site.
6. Fill Up Your Water Bottle(s) From the Local Springs
Water from the springs in Hot Springs National Park has been protected by Congress since 1832. Meaning the water is intended to be used. Drinking the hot springs water is encouraged and you’ll find several water fountain stations around the town.
There are six thermal spring fountains and two cold spring fountains. (Click here for the full list.) The water from the hot springs comes out at 147 degrees F which kills most harmful bacteria. The water is also closely monitored to U.S. standards for safe drinking water. At all of them, you’ll find locals and tourists filling up jugs to take back home.
7. Grab Coffee at Red Light Roastery
Established in 2015, Red Light Roastery is an amazing Hot Springs coffee shop and roastery. It’s also Hot Springs’s first small batch coffee roaster. Located inside an old house, this is a cozy spot to curl up in a comfy chair, sip on some coffee, and get some work done. (Or just to fuel up before a day of trail hiking!)
8. Go Hiking Along the Northwood Trails
The Northwood system of trails includes 26 miles of mountain bike trails, hiking trails, lakes, as well as dozens of gorgeous views. Whatever level of exploring you like, Northwood has a trail for you!
9. Grab Dinner at 420 Eat Food Truck Court
420 Eats is an outdoor food truck court that has something delicious for everyone. Outdoor games, live music, covered pavilion seating, and on site restrooms makes for an incredible dining experience. This dog and family-friendly food truck park also features an on-site bar!
10. Drink Where Al Capone Use to Drink at The Ohio Club
Established in 1905, The Ohio Club is the oldest bar in Arkansas. This historic bar was a former gangster & baseball player hangout back in the day. The Ohio Club has been visited by almost every well known gangster of the 1900’s, most famously Al Capone. (Make sure to grab a picture with his statue located outside the main entrance!)
Today the bar is a swanky spot, with expert bartenders and even two exclusive beers brewed by neighboring Superior Bathhouse Brewery.
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