Dreaming of a week bathing in healing hot mineral waters like a Roman emperor, but finding flights to Europe way out of your budget? Then point the jalopy to Arkansas, my friend. Just a few hours’ drive from Little Rock sits Hot Springs– the budget-friendly American answer to a luxury European spa getaway. Tucked high up in the Ouachita (pronounced “Wash-ih-taw”) Mountains, this OG relaxation retreat has so many histories that we’re ready to spill the beans now.
Way before the age of phones and social media, people somehow got word about the town’s steamy, therapeutic hot springs. They flocked here to get their chill on. We’re talking about everyone from Native American tribes and early settlers to Al Capone and his shady pals during the Prohibition era. This little mountain town has serious street cred when it comes to kicking back!
Nowadays, between hiking forest trails, getting your soak on at the historical bathhouses, and inhaling mouthwatering BBQ—Hot Springs continues helping people decompress from regular life. And y’all, it’s time to join in! Ditch the work emails and constant text pings for a few days. This Arkansas mountain town has an abundance of nature’s Jacuzzis and quirky attractions waiting to massage your stress away and restore some zen to your soul.
From cowboys to gangsters, humans have caught wind of Hot Springs’ healing vibes since way back. Grab your cowboy boots and hats, friends, ‘cause we’re about to dive into everything you need to know to plan an utterly relaxing vacay in this vintage-meets-adventure mountain getaway. Saddle up and let’s hit these relaxing hot spots!
About Hot Springs
In the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs, Arkansas, is known for its naturally heated springs. To the north of the city is Hot Springs National Park. In the town, you can relax and soak in the water, or visit historic Bathhouse Row, where eight 19th-century bathhouses can be seen. The Buckstaff Baths offers thermal baths, while the Fordyce Bathhouse has a lobby fountain and a museum.
For nature lovers, the area has numerous hiking trails that begin in downtown Hot Springs. The Sunset Trail and West Mountain Trail are accessible from downtown, and the Gulpha Gorge Trail is also within easy reach. You can also visit the Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center for details on hiking trails. Mountain biking is also a popular activity in the area.
Hot Springs is home to the world-famous Tiny Town, which is one of the most unique attractions in the area. It is the creation of Frank and Louise Moshinskie, and it took 50 years to complete. Moshinskie started building the town when he was just 13 years old. The town is completely made of household objects and trash. It’s a must-visit for kids!
Why Go to Hot Springs
Located in the Ouachita Mountains, 55 miles southwest of Little Rock, Hot Springs is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The city’s thermal springs have attracted travelers and visitors for thousands of years. Now, they are protected within Hot Springs National Park. Visitors can enjoy the warm waters, hike the trails, or simply soak in the pools.
The area’s natural thermal springs are known for their therapeutic effects. The city has two bathhouses that are open year-round, including the Buckstaff Bathhouse and Quapaw Bathhouse. Both bathhouses are open daily and feature thermal pools, massages, and beauty treatments. Hot Springs is also home to many historic buildings and shops. It has long been a popular tourist destination and has plenty of quirky roadside attractions.
One of the most unique attractions in Hot Springs is Tiny Town. This town was built by Frank and Louise Moshinskie and took over 50 years to complete. The couple started building the town when Frank was only thirteen years old. There are even motors that run the tiny houses.
Best Time to Go
If you’re planning a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas, you should visit the town between April and October. The hottest month in the city is July, while January has the coldest temperature. Summers are pleasant and less humid than other months. It’s a great time to go if you’re interested in seeing some of the area’s natural beauty.
In addition to the National Park, Hot Springs, AR is home to the historic Bathhouse Row, which is surrounded by gardens and features eight historic bathhouses. It’s a relaxing spot with hot springs that are known for their healing powers. Other popular attractions include water parks, casinos, and museums. You can also go hiking through Ouachita National Forest, which offers trails and a lush forest.
In the spring, temperatures range from the mid-sixties to the mid-70s. It’s a good time to visit because you can beat the warm weather crowds. However, the nights start getting a bit cooler in the fall, which is still a pleasant time to visit. There are about twenty percent chances of rain each day during this time.
How to Get Around
When you are planning a vacation to Hot Springs, you will want to know how to get around. The city is relatively small but boasts some great attractions. The city is surrounded by shady groves of trees and is home to the Hot Springs National Park. It is also the childhood home of Bill Clinton.
If you are coming from out of town, you will want to rent a car. There are several car rental agencies in town. You can also take the bus. It’s a cheap and convenient way to get around Hot Springs. However, be aware that buses run only during certain hours.
There are also several hiking trails in the area. The Horsethief Springs Trail is one such option. This 11-mile trail begins at Cedar Lake and takes hikers through many streams and forests. The trail then loops back, taking hikers down the northern face of Winding Stair Mountain. It takes about two hours to complete and offers some fantastic scenery.
Whether you are in the mood for a casual dinner for two or an evening of fine dining, you will love the choices available in Hot Springs. You can choose from traditional German dishes and American fare, or choose a place that serves a fine selection of beer and wine. There are a number of popular restaurants in Hot Springs, and each offers something a little different.
The best place to try hot springs catfish is at Mr. Whiskers, an all-American diner that specializes in catfish. The atmosphere is casual with a subtle nautical theme. The food is served in baskets, as in an old-fashioned American diner. The catfish here is legendary and is served as grilled, po’boy, or basket-style with fries, slaw, and hush puppies.
The Copper Penny Pub is located in historic downtown Hot Springs. The ambiance is relaxed, and you can enjoy live music while eating at this Irish pub. You can also watch live sports on eight TVs. You can also enjoy drink specials at the Copper Penny Pub, which also hosts a Sunday brunch every week.
Things to Do
If you love Star Wars movies, you’ll definitely want to check out the Galaxy Connection Museum in Hot Springs. This place is full of cool Star Wars art, including life-sized props, toys, and more. The museum is run by Jon Clowers, a collector who has spent years building his collection. While the museum might be busy during the summer months, you can expect fewer crowds during the winter months.
For something a little more active, check out the tree-top adventure park Adventure Works. You can take a zip line tour or take an aerial adventure course. Both activities are available as combos and can take about an hour or two. The canopy zip line course winds along a tributary creek and includes 10 zip lines. The experience takes about an hour and a half, and it’s perfect for families.
Another fun place to spend a day in Hot Springs is the Garvan Woodland Gardens. This 210-acre botanical park was donated to the University of Arkansas School of Architecture in 1985. The gardens are filled with beautiful plants and have lush forest trails and wooded shorelines. There are even a chapel and charming waterfalls that your kids will love.
Neighborhoods to Know
Hot Springs is home to a number of neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking to buy a home or rent one, there is a neighborhood to suit your needs. For example, the Hillcrest/Heights neighborhood is very walkable and is home to grocery stores, bars, and shops. It is also just outside of Little Rock and has a population of over 17,000 people. There is a nice community pool and park and a beautiful view of the hills in this neighborhood.
Historically, the Malvern Avenue neighborhood was the hub of black life in Hot Springs. However, the neighborhood has experienced drastic change, including the demolition of much of the original historic building fabric. It is sandwiched between the Convention Center and E. Grand Avenue/U.S. Highway 70, as well as a new thoroughfare through the eastern part of the original historic neighborhood. This area features a historic building fabric that is restrained, but still boasts influences from Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles. The neighborhood also features several bed-and-breakfasts in historic Victorian homes. It is close to several tourist attractions, including downtown Hot Springs and the Northwoods Trails System.
One of the most attractive aspects of Hot Springs real estate is the affordable prices. The city has a low property tax rate, and homes are priced at less than $140 per square foot. The city is also conveniently located between Little Rock and historic Hot Springs.
The weather in Hot Springs AR varies significantly throughout the year. The earliest sunrise and sunset times in Hot Springs are five minutes earlier in June and fifteen minutes later in November. The average rainfall is approximately 3 inches per month and the average snowfall is 2 inches per month.
The length of the day varies by about a half hour each month and is fourteen hours and twenty-seven minutes long during the winter and fourteen hours and thirty-one minutes long during the summer. Daylight saving time is observed during the spring and summer. Daylight saving time begins on March 13 and ends on November 6, 2022.
Throughout the year, the average hourly wind speed in Hot Springs is around four miles per hour. There are about 215 sunny days per year. The windiest month is March, while the calmest month is August.