Hot Springs Arkansas Travel Guide

Location: South Central,
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About HOT SPRINGS ARKANSAS

In the South Central region of the US, you’ll find Arkansas – a state that many don’t often think to travel to, but one that many people say is a must visit. For most travelers, you’ll fly into Little Rock, Arkansas where you can spend time exploring, but if you’re looking something a little more, such as the supposed magic of healing water, you can take a scenic hour drive to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Traveling with my fellow Babes of the Babes That Wander, I took a trip to Hot Springs, AK to not only see the wonderful city, but also to experience the Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the World. Honestly, when planning to travel to Hot Springs, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into since I never thought it would be a state or city that I would travel to, but now I wish I had done it sooner.

Hot Springs, Arkansas is a place that houses a lot of unique experiences and maintains a very special history. From bath house row to vibrant downtown Hot Springs, AK, you wont’ find yourself trying to figure out something to do since there is so much to experience in the city and in the local surrounding area.

Arkansas is called the Natural State for a variety of reasons, but after learning about Hot Springs National Park and how the federal government deemed that the spring water being pulled up from below the surface is free for all to use, I soon learned why they call it that.

Coming back from this trip, I am very excited to share this travel guide that includes amazing places to stay, eat, and things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

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Where to Stay IN HOT SPRINGS AK

There is quite a collection of places to stay in Hot Springs. When we visited during the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, we were told that over 30,000 people had come to stay in Hot Springs and be a part of the celebration. When staying in Hot Springs, you have your choice of staying at hotel or motel, bed & breakfast, or even and Airbnb, it is pretty much up to where you feel comfortable staying.

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WOODLAWN COTTAGE

The Woodlawn Cottage is an Airbnb rental that is found only minutes from downtown Hot Springs Arkansas. With two bedrooms, it can house a single family with one master bedroom and another bedroom with two twin beds. When you are looking to wind down in the evening after enjoying your time exploring Hot Springs, the Woodlawn Cottage gives you the space to relax in the living area, cook in the kitchen, or play lawn games in the spacious backyard. During our downtime, we found ourselves sitting on the deck relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. This quaint Airbnb is so super cute and the owners of the cottage are always a text message away to help you with your needs.

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THE RESERVE AT HOT SPRINGS

If you’re looking for luxury with a mix of history, then you’ll want to stay at The Reserve at Hot Springs which is less than two minutes from downtown Hot Springs Arkansas. The property holds multiple houses where each room has its own unique aesthetic that brings you back in time while also wishing that it was your home. While staying at this historic home, you’ll not only sleep comfortably in these romantic and immaculate rooms, but you’ll also be able to enjoy a variety of amenities including a gourmet complimentary breakfast that is made fresh each morning by the on-property chef. For downtime, take advantage of staying in your room and enjoying the marble tile bathrooms with rain showers and soaking tubs and the in-suite fireplaces, or even go out to the main house and sit on the porch or in the lawn and look across the street to watch the horse racing without having to get in your car and drive over to Oaklawn.

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Where to Eat IN HOT SPRINGS ARKANSAS

When traveling to Hot Springs, Arkansas, there are many places to eat and enjoy some of the local flavors of the area. From gourmet dishes to BBQ, you’ll find food that is fit for everyone’s palette no matter where you are. And with everything located less than 10 minutes from each other, you can be staying anywhere in the area and be able to easily reach all the places that you’re looking to dine.

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the waters rooftop bar

The Waters Rooftop Bar

Open Daily at 5pm

If you’re looking for dinner with a view while in downtown Hot Springs, AR, then you’ll want to head over to The Waters Rooftop Bar. Without needing to stay at the Waters Hotel itself, you can venture up to the top of the building and enjoy dinner on the vast rooftop patio that includes high-top tables, regular tables, and couch seating. Off the menu, choose from a variety of savory foods to share or have for yourself, and don’t forget to enjoy some of the delicious specialty cocktails that they have on the menu. You’ll find yourself sitting around enjoying the atmosphere long after you’ve finished your meal.
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the waters rooftop bar hot springs
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McClard’s

Serving BBQ since 1928

With it’s signature BBQ sauce and exception methods of smoking their meats, McClard’s BBQ is a must visit eatery that you have to try for yourself before you leave Hot Springs. You’ll have the hardest time trying to figure out what you want to eat, but I highly recommend their famous tamale spread which is a plate that you can share, but you might not want to. If you’re looking to try a bit of everything, I also recommend getting the beef and pork spread which includes a little bit of everything.
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Superior Bathhouse Brewery

First Brewery in the World to Brew with Thermal Water

While on Bathhouse Row in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas, make sure to stop by and grab some amazing food at Superior Bathhouse Brewery. Many of the locals say that it is one of the best places to grab food and drinks in the area, and they weren’t lying. While dining, make sure to order the Beer Bath which includes a sample of all 18 of their craft beers on one paddle. And no matter what you order off the menu, make sure that you get it with their specialty cheese that is made with their craft beer. As someone who is not always gung-ho for cheese, I will say that I drenched my steak sandwich in that cheese and dipped every fry into it.

What to Do IN HOT SPRINGS ARKANSAS

From downtown Hot Springs to the casino and surrounding areas, there is plenty to experience in Hot Springs, Arkansas and many of the experiences will surprise you and leave you wanting to come back and experience it again. Whether you’re visiting for a girl’s trip, on a romantic getaway, or taking a family vacation, Hot Springs as something to do for everyone.

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HORSE RACES AT OAKLAWN

Even if you aren’t staying at Oaklawn as a guest in their hotel, you’ll still want to stop by to eat, drink and play. Oaklawn is Hot Spring’s location for racing, enjoying the casino, and spending time at the restaurants and bars that you can find throughout the building. During our visit, we were able to enjoy the horse races that were absolutely thrilling and very enjoyable. Whether you want to enjoy the races from the seats, on the main lawn, or inside watching the monitors, you’ll want to make sure that you cast your bets on your favorite horses and watch the intensity of each race as it unfolds. We enjoyed watching the races from the inner field, but even more, we loved watching a few of the races from The First Turn – a bar in the casino that has a patio that overlooks the first turn of the course. Grab a cocktail and enjoy the view, but make sure to get there early because it is a very popular place to watch the races.

As it gets late and the races have ended, you’ll want to also head into one of the restaurants and enjoy some of the eats. The Bugler is a great restaurant to dine. The upscale restaurant has amazing cocktails named specifically in connection with the horse racing and has a variety of dishes where you’re enjoy every bite.

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GARVAN WOODLAND GARDENS

One place that is a must visit in Garvan Woodland Gardens – an immaculate botanical garden canopied by pines and filled with a variety of florals and unique architecture. Bring your family to walk through a self-guided tour around the gardens, or opt to get a golf-cart tour around the grounds to see some of the most popular places at Garvan. There are so many spots in Garvan that you must see including the Anthony Chapel that has natural architecture that you can spend hours marveling at. You’ll also want to head around the gardens to visit the tulip fields, the treehouse, the fairy gardens, and other unique spots that are exceptionally picturesque. When planning to visit Garvan Woodland Gardens, make sure that you leave at least a half a day or more to tour the grounds because you won’t want to rush and you’ll want to enjoy the serenity that you’ll feel as soon as you enter the gardens.

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Quapaw Bathhouse & Spa + Bathhouse Row

While in downtown Hot Springs Arkansas, you’ll need to visit bathhouse row to relax at Quapaw Bathhouse and Spa and also to tour some of the historical bathhouses such as Fordyce Bathhouse. At the Quapaw Bathhouse, you can soak in the public thermal pools that are filled with the thermal water of Hot Springs that have been enjoyed for thousands of years. With each pool being different temperatures, you will find yourself feeling exceptionally relaxed as the thermal waters relax tense muscle and work to detox your body. Quapaw also offers a variety of other services such as private baths with various “treatments” along with facials, massages, and more.

After you’ve enjoyed a dip in the thermal waters, head over to Fordyce to learn about the history of bathhouse row and how the bathhouses in Hot Springs were founded. It was so interesting to learn about how founders of the bathhouses built them after experiencing alleged healing from the waters, and then how the federal government came to regulate the use of the waters and still do to this day. It was also fascinating to learn about the treatments that these bathhouses provided with some even requiring to be prescribed by a doctor.

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Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium

Across the road from the infamous bathhouses in downtown Hot Springs AR, you’ll find Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium. At this soapery, you can shop a variety of products from bath bombs to scrubs to bath salts and lotions. Once entering, you’ll be encompassed by the pleasant aromas permeating the shop. With so many options of self-care items in the shop, you’ll find it hard not leave with something for you to take home an enjoy and even more items to take and gift your friends and loved ones.
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This post was done in collaboration with Visit Hot Springs. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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