Hot Springs, AR Visitors Guide
Hot Springs is known for its natural flowing ground spring water that maintains a constant temperature of 147 ° F (64 °C). Bath House Row features public bath facilities that include the Buckstaff Bath House, which uses the springs to create relaxing and therapeutic mineral baths. From an elevation of 1,256 feet (382 m) above sea level, the Hot Springs Mountain Tower provides views of the Arkansas countryside. Various guided sightseeing opportunities are available through companies such as the Hot Springs Carriage Company, the Brady Mountain Riding Stables and the Belle of Hot Springs Riverboat. Visitors can enjoy family-oriented activities at the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, the National Park Aquarium, as well as the Magic Springs Theme Park and Crystal Falls Water Park.
Hot Springs National Park
Founded in 1832 to protect the natural hot springs flowing from Hot Springs Mountain, this national park is the oldest in the United States. Hot Springs National Park has been a popular destination for generations, attracting those in search of a spa getaway. Today, touring the visitor center and walking down Bathhouse Row and the Grande Promenade are popular attractions. Address: 369 Central Avenue Hot Springs AR USA 71907. 1 501 624-2701
Since Hot Springs National Park is surrounded by the city of Hot Springs, many popular attractions are found within minutes of the park gates. Garvan Woodland Botanical Gardens draws visitors to its 210-acre (85-ha) world-class botanical garden. Featuring a number of themed gardens with plants from around the world, the garden also boasts unique architectural structures, waterfalls, and streams.
Magic Springs Theme Park and Crystal Falls Water Park
Magic Springs Theme Park and Crystal Falls Water Park whets the adventurer’s appetite, as it features dozens of hair-raising rides and a 350,000-gallon wave pool. This theme park and water park is located within the scenic foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Thrill rides available within the park include a splash ride, an upside-down inversion roller coaster, and a runaway train. The water park includes a 350,000-gallon wave pool, a lazy river tube ride and a children’s splash area. Address: 1701East Grand Avenue Hot Springs AR USA 71901
National Park Aquarium
Featuring Arkansas’ largest year-round fish and reptile exhibit, the National Park Aquarium is home to tropical fish, saltwater fish, lizards, amphibians, rare frogs and other creatures, all presented in a near-natural habitat. The highlight of the aquarium is a 120 lb (54 kg) alligator snapping turtle named Ugly Turtle (U.T.). A gift shop is also located on the premises. Guided tours and a gift shop are also available. Address: 209 Central Avenue Hot Springs AR USA 71901
Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center – The Fordyce Bathhouse
Located in the former Fordyce Bathhouse, the Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center now houses a four-story museum. Visitors can learn about the history of bathhouse and view the many rooms of this former bathhouse, including the gymnasium, the changerooms, the bowling alley, the music room and more.
Address: 369 Central Avenue Hot Springs AR USA 71901
Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum
Visitors are amazed by the lifelike wax figures that are found within the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum. Depicting over 100 figures in seven different themed areas, this museum boasts displays on celebrities, royalty, religion, medieval times and more, making it a destination that entertains visitors of all ages. The museum is open year-round and also houses a souvenir shop. The Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum features more than 30 themed settings complete with life-like wax figures. Depicting royalty, celebrities, presidents and more, this museum entertains all ages. Address: 250 Central Ave. Hot Springs AR USA 71901
Many visitors enjoy spending a day at Oaklawn Park, which features live thoroughbred racing from February through April and simulcasts from around the nation from April through January. Oaklawn Park features live thoroughbred horse racing from February until April. Located near Hot Springs National Park, this racetrack also boasts simulcast showings of other national races every Wednesday through Sunday from mid-April through mid-January.
Address: 2705 Central Avenue Hot Springs AR USA 71902
Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo
Over 300 alligators from 6 inches to 10 feet long are available at the Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo, as well as deer, llamas, lambs, ostriches and pygmy goats. The on-site museum features the Mer-Man as seen in Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not. The farm and petting zoo is open seven days a week, year-round from 9:30am-5pm. Alligator food shows are available Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at noon from May 1-October 15. Address: 847 Whittington Avenue Hot Springs AR USA 71901
Hot Springs Music Festival
Every June, Hot Springs National Park comes alive during the Hot Springs Music Festival. Over 250 international musicians take the stage in a collaborative effort to perform over 20 concerts and 250 open rehearsals. Several types of music are highlighted during this two-week event, including chamber, orchestral and chamber opera. The festival takes place in a variety of venues, including historic buildings, churches, open-air spaces, art galleries and more.
Hot Springs Jazz Fest
The park is abuzz during the annual Hot Springs Jazz Fest, which occurs in September. This weekend event features performances by world-class jazz musicians on a number of stages. Art, poetry and ethnic foods are also a highlight of this exciting festival.
The Bath House Show
Featuring family-friendly entertainment every Tuesday and Saturday, (as well as at additional times during the summer season), the Bath House Show offers comedy and musical entertainment inspired by the last six decades. The show takes place in historic downtown Hot Springs National Park. Get there early as the 300-seat theater fills up fast.
Hot Springs National Park is conveniently located in south-central Arkansas, just an hour’s drive southwest of Little Rock. A number of large centers surround the park making it an easily accessible destination. Memphis, Tennessee, is a mere 192 mi (309 km) drive east of the park, while Tulsa, Oklahoma, is 244 mi (393 km) to the northwest. Visitors from Dallas, Texas, can easily embark on a weekend getaway to the park, as the drive is only 283 mi (455 km) to the northeast.
Some visitors arrive in Hot Springs by air. Direct flights leave from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Mesa Airlines, while others fly to the Little Rock National Airport and take the 49 mi (79 km) drive to the park. Seven airlines service Little Rock, making it a convenient place to fly into from around the United States.
Once in Hot Springs, transportation in and around the city is easy. Most of the attractions are a short walk or drive away. Horse-drawn carriages are available for tours of Bathhouse Row and a trolley ride is also a great way to see historic Hot Springs. Of course, as in any city, taxi and rental car services are also offered.
As the city of Hot Springs is located within and adjacent to the national park, accommodation options are extensive. Visitors can stay in a charming bed and breakfast properties, opt for luxurious hotel suites or enjoy nature from a local campground. One of the most popular spots is the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, a historic hotel that once was a popular retreat for the infamous American gangster, Al Capone. A myriad of chain hotels is also available, including many that are close to the park gates. Gulpha Gorge is the only campground located within the park, but there are several others located in and around the city of Hot Springs.