Hot Springs Travel Guide

Imagine bubbling thermal waters just waiting to soothe your sore muscles. This is just one of the main attractions in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Here you can enjoy acres of hiking trails, fishing, horseback riding, and exploring historic attractions. And then, at the end of the day, you can soak your muscles in the heavenly thermal waters of Hot Springs National Park. If all that sounds like an ideal trip, let tempt you even further with its range of cozy rentals.

What to Do in Hot Springs

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The Original Attraction to Hot Springs

A good Hot Springs travel guide will start at the beginning. This destination was the first resort in America and the Hot Springs National Park was the first federally protected area in the country. What this means for people with no interest in history is that there’s a lot of great things here to protect. There’s also a certain charm that keeps visitors coming back year after year.

Hot Springs National Park is home to thermal waters that reach 143 degrees. Here there are 47 naturally flowing thermal springs located on the slope of Hot Springs Mountain. Visit the Fordyce Bathhouse to discover just how powerful and medicinal this thermal water can be. This opulently restored bathhouse is part of Bathhouse Row, which includes more than one option for soaking your bones. Another popular choice is Buckstaff Bathhouse. You might be surprised at how tempted you are to spend the entire day just relaxing in these bathhouses.

hot springs outdoors

Outdoor Adventure

Some travelers might feel like they need to earn a good soak in the hot springs. In this area of Arkansas, there are many ways to work up a sweat. Pack your hiking boots and get ready to hit the trails. A good Hot Springs travel guide will provide you with multiple options for trails, including Hot Springs Mountain trails, West Mountain trails, Sugarloaf Mountain trails, and more.

These hikes are known for the beauty that lies around each and every bend. Expect to discover mountain vistas and spectacular scenery during every hike in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Other outdoor activities include fishing, horseback riding, boating, kayaking, and mountain biking. Local tour guides can help to bring these activities to a whole new level.

Hot Springs for Adults

Families will love all the activities on offer in Hot Springs, Arkansas but this spot is also a great destination for couples. Where there are healing thermal waters there should be a spa, and Hot Springs is no exception. The tradition dates back to the time when Native Americans inhabited this area of the Ouachita Mountain Valley. Today, visitors can enjoy massages, facials, and a variety of body treatments or spa treatments.

Golf enthusiasts will be glad to know that they can bring their clubs along on a trip to Hot Springs. Courses here are not only challenging, but offer incredible views. Choose from a variety of options including the Belvedere Golf Club, the Degray Lake Resort State Park, the Diamondhead Golf and Country Club, or the Glenwood Country Club.

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What to See in Hot Springs

While any Hot Springs travel guide can talk about the thermal waters and bathhouses, not all of them detail how historically significant this area is for many different reasons. In 1832, Congress declared Hot Springs to be the first federally protected area in the country. The downtown historic district is full of fascinating buildings including The Majestic Hotel from 1902, the Douglas Building from 1891, and the Mountain Valley Water Building from 1910.

Hot Springs has also attracted more attention since it was recognized as the home of President Bill Clinton. When he was in second grade, Clinton moved to Hot Springs. Many history buffs arrive in Hot Springs to explore it as the hometown of one of America’s Presidents. The historic district is also known for its Victorian architecture.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Hot Springs

hot springs shopping

Sensational Shopping in Hot Springs

Any Hot Springs travel guide will mention the soothing qualities of the local thermal waters, but what about the soothing qualities of shopping? If you enjoy a little retail therapy, the stores of Hot Springs will deliver exactly what you crave. From antiques to boutiques, you will take the leap from window shopping to pulling out your credit card. From locally handmade gifts to paintings by acclaimed artists, you will find many temptations beyond clothing and jewelry. Some of the top shops in Hot Springs include Artists’ Workshop, Chez Julie’s Gifts, No Clothes accessory store, Carole’s Book Stop, and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.

Dining in Hot Springs

Whether you want an elegant table for two inside an old Victorian building or a memorable dinner on a riverboat, it is all possible in Hot Springs. From romantic meals with a view to casual eateries for families, this historic spot will satisfy any food craving.

For fine dining, some local choices include Windows on the Park or Odie’s House of Blues. The Porterhouse is the spot for steaks while Doe’s Famous Eat Place is popular for seafood. For a memorable night on the water, have your dinner aboard a riverboat. The Belle of Hot Springs Riverboat offers award-winning prime rib along with incredible sunset views.

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When to Visit Hot Springs

It is important for a Hot Springs travel guide to provide information on weather and when to visit. This area of Arkansas experiences four distinct seasons, although each of the seasons is mild. The rainiest months are in April and May, so if you plan on doing some hiking and other outdoor activities, you might want to avoid these two months.

The summer months when kids are out of school are popular, but July and August are also the hottest and most humid months, so each traveler will need to choose the season that offers the best weather for him or her. If you plan on booking vacation rentals during popular periods such as the summer months or over the Christmas holiday, be sure to book your rental as far in advance as possible.

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What to Bring to Hot Springs

What to pack will largely depend on the season you plan a vacation to Hot Springs. Most seasons will require layers of clothing, as different activities will expose you to different temperatures and conditions. To explore the great outdoors remember your hiking boots, a portable water bottle, and a compass or good map. If you have just purchased a new pair of hiking boots, leave these at home or break them in first.

Bathing suits are an essential if you want to enjoy the bathhouses and spas. Rubber-flip flops will also come in handy. If you’re bringing the kids along, make sure you pack some entertainment for them in the vacation rental. Their favorite games or DVDs might help to pass time in the evenings while you enjoy a relaxing glass of wine.

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Local Services in Hot Springs

As America’s first resort, Hot Springs is used to having visitors. This travel destination has learned a few things over the years about what visitors are looking for, and they have planned accordingly. That means that if this is your first time visiting Hot Springs, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

Basic needs will be easily met in Hot Springs. Whether you need an ATM or a convenience store, you won’t have to search very hard. Visitors can also expect a little southern hospitality as well. Locals are known for being helpful, whether they are pointing you in the direction of the best grocery store or revealing the name of their favorite boutique.

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What to Know About Hot Springs

When you visit Hot Springs, Arkansas you will learn that there is more to this town than just thermal waters and a historic downtown. Interesting historical facts are sure to surface, such as that Al Capone’s favorite hotel room is here or that this used to be the home of secret clubs run by infamous mobsters. With history dating from the Native Americans all the way to the present, Hot Springs is a fascinating place to visit for many reasons.

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Getting to Hot Springs

Most travelers to Hot Springs choose one of two routes. The first is to drive if you live within a reasonable distance of south-central Arkansas. The second is to fly into Little Rock, Arkansas which is located only 49 miles from Hot Springs. From the airport, it is possible to rent a car and drive for one hour to reach Hot Springs. Another option is to find a connecting flight via SeaPort directly into Hot Springs Regional Airport.

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Why Hot Springs Vacation Rentals?

After a few hours spent relaxing in the soothing thermal waters of Hot Springs, there is no better finish to the day then returning to a spacious vacation rental. You will settle in to your home-away-from-home in a way that stuffy hotels just don’t provide. If you’re planning a family trip, everyone will have their own space to relax, ensuring a smooth ride. For accommodations that are as soothing as the hot springs themselves, choose vacation rentals.

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