If you are looking for a place to relax and take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Hot Springs, Arkansas may be just the place for you. This small town in the Ouachita Mountains is famous for its natural hot springs, drawing people to the area for hundreds of years.
In addition to its natural hot springs, you’ll find many other attractions in this Arkansas town, along with excellent restaurants, museums, and a lively nightlife.
Ready to find out what makes Hot Springs unique? Here are 21 things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas that you don’t want to miss.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN HOT SPRINGS ARKANSAS
- Best Indoor Pool: Connected to the Summit Arena and Hot Springs Convention Center, this all-suite hotel offers easy access to top attractions and features spacious accommodations and an on-site full-service spa. Embassy Suites Hot Springs Hotel and Spa offers a free breakfast, an indoor pool, a spa, and a great location.
- Best Tried and True: Featuring an indoor pool and a fitness center, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Hot Springs is located 5.5 miles from Lake Hamilton.
- Best Lake Views: This Arkansas hotel features Lake Hamilton views, a restaurant and outdoor pool. Located 5 miles from Hot Springs National Park, DoubleTree by Hilton Hot Springs has a playground, a volleyball court, and is conveniently located near local attractions.
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK
There are many things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas, but one of the most unique is exploring the thermal springs at Hot Springs National Park. Historically, the area was once considered a sacred healing ground by many Native American tribes. Today, people from all over come to enjoy the therapeutic properties of the mineral-rich waters.
Hot Springs National Park is situated in the Ouachita Mountains chain, and includes 20 acres of thermal springs.
The park has a Visitors Center where you can learn about the area’s history and geology, and several hiking trails lead to some of the most beautiful spots in the park.
Bathhouse Row is an eight-block area in Hot Springs National Park that features ornate, historic bathhouses. In 1987, the district was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Visitors can take a stroll around the district or walk the Grand Promenade, a recreation trail that follows Central Avenue and goes past all of the bathhouses. There are also hiking trails, including a cold and hot springs trail.
FORDYCE BATHHOUSE MUSEUM
If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity in Hot Springs National Park, be sure to check out the Fordyce Bathhouse and Museum.
This fascinating attraction offers visitors a glimpse into the past with its exhibits on the thermal bathing history. Visitors can check out differences that appear as they did during the period.
There’s also a gift shop on-site where you can pick up souvenirs, and docents offer tours and movies that provide further insight into the bathhouse’s storied history.
HOT SPRINGS MOUNTAIN TOWER
Visitors flock to Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas for its natural thermal spring baths and hiking trails, but there’s more to do in the area than just soak in the healing waters. The Hot Springs Mountain Tower is a great place to view the city and the surrounding landscape.
The observation decks are open year-round, but they’re especially worth a visit in fall when the leaves are changing color. There’s also a picnic area on-site, so pack a lunch and enjoy the view.
The climb up to the tower is mildly treacherous, so wear appropriate clothing and shoes. And don’t forget your camera!
THE BUCKSTAFF BATHHOUSE
For visitors looking to unwind and re-energize in a historic setting, the Buckstaff Bathhouse is one of the eight bathhouses located on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park.
The natural hot springs and Springwater have been therapeutic since the early 1900s. Out of the eight bathhouses that opened in the 1900s, Buckstaff Bathhouse is among the two that are still open.
Enjoy a traditional bathing experience, facials, pedicures, manicures, and a relaxing massage.
THE QUAPAW BATHHOUSE
What’s better than soaking in thermal waters that are rich in minerals? You can enjoy this experience at the Quapaw Bathhouse.
This public pool features skylights and stained glass and is a popular spot among locals and visitors alike. If you’re looking for some privacy, you can book a private bath at the bathhouse.
There is even a blowout bar where you can get your hair washed and styled. If you’re looking for an enjoyable day spent relaxing in hot springs, the Quapaw Bathhouse is definitely worth checking out.
OZARK BATHHOUSE GALLERY
The Ozark Bathhouse Gallery is located in the historic bathhouse district of Hot Springs National Park. The building is among the few surviving examples of art deco architecture in the park.
The gallery features rotating displays of artwork by park artists. Additionally, there is a gift shop that sells souvenirs and local art.
SUPERIOR BATHHOUSE BREWERY
Not only do Hot Springs have natural hot springs that you can bathe in, but there are also plenty of fun things to do in the town. One place you don’t want to miss is the Superior Bathhouse Brewery.
This brewery is located in the heart of downtown Hot Springs and offers up some of the best craft beers in the state. What’s even better is that they use mineral water from the natural hot springs for brewing their beers, which gives them a unique flavor that can’t be found anywhere else.
The Superior Bathhouse Brewery also has a great menu full of delicious dishes perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. And if you’re looking for something sweet, they’ve got you covered too with some tasty desserts.
GANGSTER MUSEUM OF AMERICA
The Gangster Museum of America is a fascinating and unique place in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The museum is dedicated to gangsters and high rollers who visited or called Hot Springs home during the 1920s and 1930s.
Exhibits include galleries of photos, artwork, and artifacts related to these infamous figures, as well as the New York Connection. This section tells how Hot Springs became a popular getaway for East Coast mobsters.
If you want to learn more about Hot Springs’ criminal past, be sure to check out the Outlaw Gallery, which features exhibits on bootlegging and gambling.
GARVAN WOODLAND GARDENS
Need a place to escape from the city? Be sure to check out the Garvan Woodland Gardens, the botanical garden of the University of Arkansas.
The highlights of a visit here are the Treehouse and Anthony Chapel. The Treehouse is a 28-foot tall structure made entirely of wood with observation decks that offer stunning views of the gardens below.
Another must-see spot in the garden is Anthony Chapel. Maurice Jennings and famed architect E. Fay Jones designed this exquisite glass chapel. Without a doubt, it’s an absolute one of a kind and is available for weddings if you’d like to take your vows in a unique setting.
After you’ve finished exploring the gardens, check out the on-site restaurant for a bite to eat.
MID-AMERICA SCIENCE MUSEUM
The Mid America Science Museum is a brilliant concept where education becomes fun and science is celebrated, rather than feared.
Children of all ages will love this science museum, which has several permanent exhibits, including dinosaur skeletons, the Marvelous Motion Gallery, and the Light Bridge. Most shows offer interactive fun – visitors are encouraged to get hands-on and learn how everyday things work.
You can visit the Science is Magic show and see an incredible Conical Tesla Coil in action, among other wonders. The museum is also an ideal venue for children’s birthday parties.
LAKE CATHERINE STATE PARK
Lake Catherine State Park is a great place to explore the Diamond Lakes region of Arkansas. The park has a visitor center with exhibits about the area’s natural and cultural history.
There are four hiking trails, a playground, and a marina. Horseback riding is available on the park’s trails.
LAKE OUACHITA STATE PARK
Lake Ouachita State Park is a great place to relax and enjoy nature. The park is home to the largest lake in Arkansas, covering 40,000 acres.
Visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating on the lake. There are also several restaurants and marinas in the park and boat ramps. Hiking trails are also available for those who want to explore the park further.
ARKANSAS ALLIGATOR FARM
Get up close and personal with beautiful creatures at the Arkansas Old Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. This farm is the oldest alligator farm in the country, founded in 1902. It’s located just across from Whittington Park, and you can expect to see around 300 gators here!
The farm has been nationally famous since 1918, so you know it’s worth a visit.
OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST
If you love spending time outdoors, then Hot Springs, Arkansas, is the perfect place for you. With its proximity to Ouachita National Forest, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
The forest is home to nearly 192 miles of hiking trails, which wind through some of the most iconic natural wonders in the country.
You can explore lush forested tracts, rocky mountain peaks, pristine lakes and streams, and fertile valleys. There’s something for everyone in Ouachita National Forest, so be sure to put it on your list of things to do in Hot Springs.
HOT SPRINGS BASEBALL TRAIL
Major League Baseball may or may not come to mind when you think of Hot Springs, Arkansas. We had no idea there was MLB history in the south before our recent trip to Hot Springs.
You can explore the city on the Historic Baseball Trail, which takes you to the spots where players lived, trained, and enjoyed their time in this National Park.
In 1886, the Chicago White Stockings, today’s Cubs, went to Hot Springs in order to conduct what no other team had ever done before, Spring Training.
Big-name players and teams began to travel to Hot Springs to train by day and relax in the natural springs by night, like Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox. Nowadays, the Visitor Center has a map to help you navigate in and around town to the places where legends have stood and records have been broken.
MOUNTAIN VALLEY SPRING WATER VISITOR CENTER
Mountain Valley Spring Water, a renowned spring water brand from Hot Springs, has been bottled since 1871 from the same spring source.
In 1910, DeSoto Springs Company built the beautiful, elegant 1910 Classical Revival building that is now the Mountain Valley Spring Water Visitors’ Center. This building was meticulously renovated in 2004.
This building, which also serves as a museum, is an excellent place to study the history of the company so closely related to that of Hot Springs. The establishment is only 20 minutes from downtown if you wish to tour the bottling facility.
HOT SPRINGS NORTHWOODS TRAILS
If you’re looking for a thrilling outdoor adventure, check out Hot Springs Northwood Trails. This 26+ mile trail system is world-class and considered the best trail in Arkansas by bikers.
The trails are flow trails with plenty of obstacles and challenges to keep you entertained. There’s something for everyone here, from beginner riders to experts. Be sure to wear your helmet and gloves, and take plenty of water with you on your ride.
MAGIC SPRINGS THEME & WATER PARK
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park is a brand new attraction that has been specifically designed to cater to families with children.
The park’s main attraction is Splash Island, with a four-story water slide and a massive bucket that releases thousands of gallons of water every few seconds onto screaming children. A giant wave pool is also available, which holds nearly 400,000 gallons.
There are many fun activities in this park, which are monitored by employees to ensure everyone has a good time. There is a covered seating area for parents who prefer to stay dry and watch the game from the sidelines.
THE OHIO CLUB
The Ohio Club in Hot Springs is the oldest bar in Arkansas and has a rich history. It was a favorite spot of Al Capone and other notorious gangsters during prohibition.
Today, the Ohio Club is still popular with locals and visitors alike. It’s a great place to enjoy a drink and listen to live music.
MAXWELL BLADE THEATRE OF MAGIC
If you’re looking for some family friendly entertainment that will be sure to entertain everyone in your crew, then make plans to catch a show at the Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic in Hot Springs.
Enjoy two hours of magic, music, comedy and illusions during this awesome show that’s been going on for more than 25 seasons. The Maxwell Blade Show is fun for the whole family, and sure to leave you amazed.
DAY TRIP TO CRATER OF DIAMONDS STATE PARK
If you’re looking for a fun day trip to take while in Hot Springs, Arkansas, be sure to check out Crater of Diamonds State Park.
The park is open every day of the year and offers visitors the chance to search for diamonds and other gemstones on its 37-acre surface. You never know what you might find while exploring!
In addition to its diamond-hunting opportunities, Crater of Diamonds State Park also offers a variety of other activities. Visitors can enjoy hiking and nature walks, picnicking, fishing in the Little Missouri River, and more. There’s something for everyone at this popular state park.
HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS FAQ
Is Hot Springs, Arkansas worth visiting?
Without a doubt, Hot Springs, AR is worth a visit. You’ll find plenty of history, family-friendly things to do, and a great downtown area.
Can you soak in hot springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas?
Yes, you can absolutely soak in hot springs in Hot Springs! Visit Hot Springs National Park and take a dip at Buckstaff Baths.
When is the best time of year to visit Hot Springs, Arkansas?
Generally speaking, the spring is the best time to visit Hot Springs, AR. You’ll find moderate temperatures, perfect for exploring the city and all it has to offer in the springtime.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO ARKANSAS
- YOUR ARKANSAS VACATION
- EUREKA SPRINGS: 16 Best Things To Do In Eureka Springs, Arkansas
- LITTLE ROCK: 14 Amazing Things To Do In Little Rock, Arkansas
- BENTONVILLE: 14 Awesome Things To Do In Bentonville Arkansas
- FAYETTEVILLE: 13 Awesome & Fun Things To Do In Fayetteville AR
WHERE TO STAY IN HOT SPRINGS ARKANSAS
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