When you think of Hot Springs, Arkansas, the first thing that comes to mind are the thermal hot springs that it’s known for. For over a century, people flocked to Hot Springs for the healing waters. Hot Springs now offers restored bathhouses, two of which are in operation today as bathhouses, and free hot spring water that you can fill up to take home.
Hot Springs is part of the larger Diamond Lakes Region of Arkansas. While there’s so much to do within Hot Springs itself, if you want to explore the surrounding areas, get your Diamond Lakes Guide here.
So, what exactly is there to do in Hot Springs? There’s a lot more to do here than you might expect. Hopefully you have a few days to experience a variety of things from the National Park to fun adventures.
1. Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park is unlike any of the other National Parks you’ll visit. Instead of it being located in the middle of nature or the mountains, Hot Springs National Park is located right in the middle of Downtown Hot Springs! Because of this, there is no entrance fee. You are free to explore everything in Hot Springs National Park for free.
Hot Springs National Park is on one side of the street with Bathhouse Row, and downtown Hot Springs is on the other side of the street with shops, restaurants, galleries, and museums. It’s quite a unique National Park! Hot Springs National Park has over 40 hot springs, 20 miles of trails, and the historic Bathhouse Row with so much to explore.
2. Bathhouse Row
Bathhouse Row is a row of 8 bathhouses on Central Avenue, right across from downtown Hot Springs. You’ll walk down this street to visit the different bathhouses.
I’ve written an entire post to explain what the different bathhouses are since I was a bit confused when I went. I wrongly assumed they were all working spa bathhouses, but many of them have been converted for other purposes. Read about the bathhouses here.
3. Fordyce Bathhouse Museum
The first bathhouse you should visit is the Fordyce Bathhouse, which is where the National Park Visitor’s Center is located. It is also a free museum where you’ll learn more about the history of these bathhouses. It’s so interesting to see what a traditional spa looked like and the types of treatments they used. It definitely looks different from spas today!
Hours are 9-5pm every day.
4. Display Spring
Take a look at the Display Springs, located right behind the Maurice Bathhouse. You can touch a real hot spring here, but be careful because it is hotter than you expect! You see spring water coming out of the wall at such hot temperature that there is a bright green moss that grows there, which only lives in hot temperatures.
(behind Maurice Bathhouse)
369 Central Ave. (map)
Hot Springs, AR 71901
5. The Grand Promenade
The Grand Promenade is located just behind Bathhouse Row, and is a nice walking path connected to some hiking paths. To get to the Grand Promenade, enter behind the bathhouses on the north and south ends of Central Ave, or you can go down the path that is to the left of Fordyce Bathhouse. You’ll see some stairs that you can walk up to get to the Grand Promenade walkway.
Grand Promenade Entrances:
- North Entrance near Arlington Lawn (map)
- Entrance by Hot Spring Cascade (map)
- Entrance near Fordyce Bathhouse (map)
- South Entrance (map)
6. Hot Spring Cascade
Stop to see the Hot Spring Cascade, a mini hot springs waterfall located on the north end of Bathhouse Row. The Hot Spring Cascade is the largest spring in the park and is located at Arlington Lawn. You can see thermal waters coming out of the mountain at 143 degrees! Be careful. It’s hot!
It’s a great place to see the hot springs and relax after walking around Bathhouse Row and downtown.
To see more hot springs, you can go up the hill to get to The Grand Promenade and up the mountain to see more hot springs. There are a total of 47 hot springs at the park.
7. Collect Water from Thermal Water Jug Fountains
There are many places to collect spring water, but the one you’ll probably walk by is the one just south of Bathhouse Row, called Hill Wheatley Plaza Jug Fountain. It is a hot spring, meaning the temperature is hot! Bring a water container that can handle hot water to take some to go. There’s free parking right next to it.
Below is a list of the hot and cold fountains throughout the park.
- Hill Wheatley Plaza Jug Fountain (map) – can fill up jugs here
- Noble Fountain (map)
- Libby Thermal Jug Fountain (map) – can fill up jugs here
- Stevens Balustrade Shell Fountain (map)
- Reserve Street Jug Fountain (map) – can fill up jugs here
- Thermal Fountain between Hale & Maurice Bathhouses (map)
See the map below to see the locations for the fountains.
Red = Hot springs
Blue = Cold springs
8. Garvan Woodland Gardens
Aside from visiting Bathhouse Row, the main attraction in Hot Springs that I wanted to make sure I went to was Garvan Woodland Gardens. Why? Not only is it beautiful as a botanical garden where you can take a nice hike to explore, but there are two main beautiful architectural masterpieces there that you won’t want to miss.
Garvan Woodland Gardens is a 210-acre botanical garden with so many things to see. You can even buy koi food at the gift shop to feed koi at the koi pond. Maybe you’ll get lucky and see George the peacock!
Bob & Sunny Evans Tree House
Constructed in July 2018, the Bob & Sunny Evans Tree House was designed by architects at modus studios and opened by Garvan, a division of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. The Bob and Sunny Evans Tree House is located within the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden. It’s a beautiful place for children to be more engaged with nature.
The Anthony Chapel is a beautiful spot for weddings and events, and you can see why! The architecture is stunning to see nestled in between lots of trees. The chapel is closed if there is an event going on, which is what happened to us, but we were still able to take some photos.
- 10am – 6pm
- Adults 13 and up: $15.00
- Children 4-12: $5.00
- Children 0-3: Free
- Members: Free
- Dog: $5 (short non-retractable leashes only)
9. Hot Springs Trolley Tours
Take a historical downtown trolley tour of Hot Springs! Trolley rides are about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Tickets are offered first come, first served, and can be purchased at the Hot Springs Trolleys Gift Shop, located across the street from the Hot Springs Visitor Center.
Trolleys are air conditioned and heated and are also handicap accessible. The trolley can also be chartered for a private tour or event.
Tickets for trolley tours can be purchased at Hot Springs Trolleys Gift Shop, located across the street from the Hot Springs Visitor Center
- Mon: Closed
- Tues – Thurs:
Tuesday-Friday, and Sunday’s Gift Shop will open at 10:30a.m. with tour times 11:00a.m., 1:00p.m., and 3:00
Saturday Gift Shop will open at 9:30a.m. with tours starting at 10:00a.m. and running every hour until 4:00p.m.
Hot Springs Trolley Tour
706 Central Avenue
Hot Springs, AR 701901
10. Experience a Spa Bathhouse
There are two main bathhouses you can go to experience the spa bathhouse: Quapaw Baths & Spa and Buckstaff Bathhouse. These are the only two functional bathhouses in Bathhouse Row. Quapaw Baths provides a more modern spa experience, while you can go for the traditional spa experience at Buckstaff Bathhouse.
11. Hot Springs Mountain Tower
The Hot Springs Mountain Tower is one of those big lookout towers that you can spot from the city. It requires an uphill walk of 0.6 miles to get to the tower. It was too hot when we went for us to make this hike with our kids already melting from the heat, but next time, we’ll be sure to go.
Once you go up 216 feet to the observation deck, you’ll be greeted with a beautiful view of Hot Springs, Ouachita Mountains, and the Diamond Lakes area from up there.
- General (12 -54): $10
- Seniors 55+: $8
- Youth (5-11): $6
- 4 and under: Free
- Golden/Park Pass Holders: $8
- Military/Police/Firemen/First Responders: $8
- Group Rates available
- Nov – Jan: 9am – 5pm
- Feb: 9am – 6pm
- Mar – May 21: 9am – 7pm
- May 22 – Sept 6: 9am – 8pm
- Sept 7 – Oct: 9am – 6:30pm
* Tower closes 30 minutes prior to store closing*
There’s free parking if you want to drive up instead of taking the hike. There is also a gift shop on the ground level to browse through.
1920s Observation Gazebo
Be sure to stop by the 1920s Observation Gazebo if you go to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. It is very close by. You can get another great view of the surrounding area from here.
1920s Observation Gazebo (map)
There are also public restrooms nearby here if you need it.
12. Hot Springs Scenic Drives and Overlooks
Enjoy a scenic view at 6 different overlooks to take some nice photos and see some beautiful views of the area. There are scenic drive and overlooks at North Mountain, West Mountain, and Sugarloaf Mountain. You can find the different routes to drive here.
13. Superior Bathouse Brewery and Distillery
Want to try beer made from the hot spring water? You can do that at Superior Bathhouse Brewery! The have beer tastings where you can sample different kinds of beer.
If you’re not a beer drinker, there’s also wine, and if you’re not in the mood for any alcohol, you can eat food here too! They have an entire menu you can choose from.
- Mon: 11am-9pm
- Tues: CLOSED
- Wed: 11am-9pm
- Thurs: 11am-9pm
- Fri: 11am-10pm
- Sat: 11am-10pm
- Sun: 11am-9pm
14. Captain Jack’s Lake Cruises
If you want to get out on water, you can book a boat ride with Captain Jack of Captain Jack Lake Cruises. The ride is an hour and half, and you ride around Lake Hamilton, learn about some of the properties and about an island that you’ll drive by, and just enjoy your peaceful time on the water.
- Cruises: $45 + tax
- Sunset Cruise: $55 + tax
Time changes throughout year, depending on sunset times
- Sun – Thurs: $200/hr (2 hour min)
- Fri – Sat: $250/hr (3 hour min)
- 10 am
- 12 pm
- 2 pm
- 4 pm
Captain Jack’s Lake Cruises
4810 Central Ave
Hot Springs, Arkansas 71913
15. Mid-America Science Museum
Photos: Mid America Science Museum
The Mid-America Science Museum was recommended by lots of parents who’ve been to Hot Springs. We hope to make it here on our next trip to Hot Springs. It is located about 5 miles outside of Hot Springs, with many exhibits to keep you entertained with both indoor and outdoor activities.
There’s an outdoor dino trek where you can see dinosaur installations outside. You can see the exhibits here.
- Adults: $10 + tax
- Age 3-12: $8 + tax
- Age 2 and under: Free
- Age 65+: $8 + tax
- Teachers: $8 + tax
- Active/Retired Military: $8 + tax
- Shows: $3/person
- Tuesday – Saturday: 9am – 5pm
- Sunday: 1 – 5pm
- Monday: Closed
16. Magic Springs Theme & Water Park
The park is open daily during summer break – from late May through mid August. Hours are typically from 11am – 6pm during the week and 11am-7pm on weekends. In October, the park is only open on weekends from noon – 6pm. Check thei calendar here.
The admission price includes all the rides and attractions in both parks for the entire day. Prices range from $50-$60 for adults, and $40-$50 for kids. See the current prices here.
17. Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo
If you want to see an alligator, you can visit the Arkansas Alligator Farm. Not only will you see alligators that you can hold, there is a petting zoo where you can pet other animals such as goats, sheep, and even emu! You might even be able to feed alligators meat on a stick during feeding season, or feed parakeets.
- Adults – $9.00
- 12 & Under – $7.00
- 2 & Under – FREE
- Group rates available online
10am – 5pm
18. T-Rex Fun Spot
If you’re looking for something fun to do indoors if the weather is not cooperating with you, head over to T-Rex fun spot where you can do so many activities – everything from blacklight mini golf, high ropes, arcade, laser tag, go karts, gyroscope, and so much more. It’s also a great place to spend some time in between activities too. Kids love it.
- 1 Activity: $9
- 2 Activities: $17
- 3 Activities: $20
- 4 Activities: $28
- 5 Activities: $37
- 6 Activities: $40
- 7 Activities: $49
- 8 Activities: $57
- 9 Activites: $60
- … and so on
- Sun – Thurs: 10am – 10pm
- Fri – Sat: 10am – 11pm
19. Browse Shops in Downtown Hot Springs
There are so many shops to explore in downtown Hot Springs. Here are some of the places in downtown Hot Springs that you can check out:
- Bath House Row Winery (map) – Do a wine tasting of Arkansas wines.
- Hot Springs Hat Company (map) – If you need a new hat, this place has it all.
- BATHHOUSE Soapery (map) – Shop for some unique colorful soaps and bath and body products.
- evilo (map) – Browse a collection of oils, vinegars, spices, and sauces.
- Artists’ Workshop Gallery (map) – Great affordable original art made by local artists.
- Dryden Gallery (map) – Buy some unique hand made pottery here.
- Crystal Springs Mining Co (map) – Explore crystals, jewelry, and art here.
- Toy Chest (map) – If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll want to stop by this toy store.
- Historic District Antiques (map) – Shop for a variety of antiques, including jewelry.
- Bathhouse Row Antiques (map) – Shop for antiques and vintage furniture.
- Beef Jerky Outlet (map) – If you’re a beef jerky fan, there’s over 100 varieties to choose from here.
Grab some dessert at:
- Kilwins Hot Springs (map) – Ice cream, sorbet, chocolate, and sweet treats
- Chill and Go (map) – Rolled ice cream.
- Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shop (map) – A cupcake shop.
- Ginger’s Popcorn Shop (map) – A variety of different flavors of popcorn.
20. Mountain Valley Spring Water Museum
I have been a customer of Mountain Valley Spring Water for many years when we lived in New York. I noticed that many of the health professionals I went to in NYC had Mountain Valley Spring Water dispensers in their offices. You’ll notice it if you see it because the water comes in glass rather than plastic.
Intrigued, I looked it up when we moved into a house in the suburbs. It is known as being very clean and healthy because this spring water contains minerals that your body needs. So, rather than using our reverse osmosis water filter that we had installed, I started drinking Mountain Valley spring water. Once you taste it, other water will taste different! There’s a clear difference between pure spring water stored in glass and filtered tap. For those of you who have tried it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s so good.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Mountain Valley Spring Water originated from Hot Springs! I was sad to miss visiting the museum on our trip to Hot Springs, but as with Quapaw Baths, there will be a next time. Check out the self guided history tour on the 2nd floor and buy some water to take home!
9am – 5pm
Mountain Valley Spring Water Visitor Center & Museum
150 Central Ave. (map)
Hot Springs National Park,
21. Gangster Museum of America
Did you know that Hot Springs used to be a popular spot for gangsters to come hang out in the early 1900’s? Learn all about the history of gangsters and how notorious criminals came to in Hot Springs at this museum. There is an information tour of seven different galleries, and you can even play in antique casino.
- Adult: $15
- Children (8-12yrs): $6
- Seniors (60+): $14
- Children under 8 years old: Free
- *Free Admission for Museum Members
March – September:
- Sun – Thurs: 10am – 6pm
- Fri – Sat: 10am – 7pm
October – February:
- Sun – Thurs: 10am – 5pm
- Fri – Sat: 10am – 6pm
22. Adventureworks Ziplines
Looking for some fun adventure while in Hot Springs? Go on an aerial zipline adventure at Adventureworks!
Prices range from $35-$80 per adventure. A full list of prices can be found here.
- Mon-Sat: 10am – 4 pm
- Sun: 12pm – 4 pm
Please plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled zip tour.
23. Take a Food Tour
Want to take a food tour to explore the food of Hot Springs? You’re in luck because there’s a company called A Taste of Hot Springs that will take you on a walking food and history tour where you can sample food from at least 5 different places while learning about the history, culture, and architecture of Hot Springs.
Sip, Snack, and Step Tour:
- Adults: $59
- Children (Ages 5-12): $53
- Seniors (55+): $53
- Military: $53
Booze and Chews Tour:
- Ages 21+
- Food Only: $55
- Food + Drink: $70
- Tours run on Saturdays at 3pm
- Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours
*Must purchase tickets by 11am on Sat.
24. Take an Old Time Photo
At Tombstone Old Time Photos, you can dress up and take an old time photo as a souvenir keepsake from your trip to Hot Springs. I remember taking one of these when I was young. There are several scenes to choose from: Wild Wild West, Gangsters from the Roaring 20’s, the Cabin, Southern Belle, Hillbilly & the Bathtub scene. It’s a fun memorabilia to remember your trip!
Get a quote on the website or
call for rates.
- M – F: 10am – 5pm
- Sat: 10am – 6pm
- Sun: 10am – 3:30pm
25. Tiny Town
Tiny Town is a miniature train town that was created by a man and woman, Frank and Louise Moshinski, over 50 years. He started creating this tiny train when he was just 13 years old. It is now run by his sons and daughter-in-law. This tiny town was created mostly from scraps and household items. It’s amazing to see what one man’s creativity can create.
- Adults – $7
- Children – $5
- March – October:
Monday – Saturday
10 am – 3 p.m.
(Closed on Sunday)
- November – February:
Depending upon weather
26. Visit a Glass Art Studio
Visit a glass art studio at Riley Art Glass Studio. If you catch a live demo, you can watch talented artists work with glass while explaining the process. You can also purchase a unique piece of glass art created and signed by artists to take home!
Gallery – Tue – Sat: 9am – 4pm
Live Demo – Tue – Sat: 9am – 12pm
27. Belle of Hot Springs Riverboat
You can enjoy a nice dinner cruise boat ride or a sightseeing cruise on the Belle of Hot Springs. Rides are 2 hours, and a minimum of 3o guests are required. You can also rent out the entire boat for a private party. You can see more information on the sightseeing and dinner cruises, and the seasonal holiday cruises offered.
Dinner Cruise – Adult: $55 + tax
Dinner Cruise – Child: $35 + tax
Booze Cruise: $26 + tax
Lunch Cruise – Adult: $45 + tax
Lunch Cruise – Child: $30 + tax
Sightseeing Only – Adult: $35 + tax
Sightseeing Only – Child: $25 + tax
Special Event Cruises:
- Age 21 and up only: $26
(includes all-night access to a full cash/credit bar with snacks)
Dinner cruises: 6-8pm
Call for other times.
Belle of Hot Springs
5200 Central Avenue
Hot Springs, AR 71913
28. National Park Duck Tours
Want to go on a duck tour? Go on a 75 minute National Park Duck Tour where you’ll ride a World War II DUKW and learn about how Hot Springs became a spa city and about the Gangster Era. You’ll drive through bathhouse row and other historic sites along Lake Hamilton and around St. John’s Island.
- Adults – $25
- Children (ages 3-12) – $18
- Infants (ages 2 and under) – $8
- 9:30 am
- 11:00 am
- 12:30 pm
- 2:00 pm
- 4:00 pm
- 6:00 pm
- 7:30 pm
*Tours leave every 15 minutes when busy*
29. Hot Springs Carriage Company
Evening horse-drawn carriage rides through downtown departing from the Arlington Hotel. Reservations required. Call for prices.
- Regular hours: 5pm – 11pm
- Summer hours: 7:30pm – 12am
Due to extreme temperatures in the summer, hours change for the health of the horses.
Days of Operation:
- January – April: Fri / Sat – Starting at 5pm
- May – Memorial Day: Thurs / Fri / Sat – Starting at 5pm
- Memorial Day – Labor Day:
- Every night except when raining – Starting at 5pm
- When temperatures are 92+ degrees – Starting at 7:30pm
- Labor Day – October: Thurs / Fri / Sat – Starting at 5pm
- November – December: Fri / Sat – Starting at 5pm
- * Always operating on Valentine’s Day, weather permitting
30. Go Horseback Riding
Interested in taking a horse back ride in the woods? There are several places to go horseback riding fairly close to Hot Springs.
Arkansas Riding Stables
At Arkansas Riding Stables, the ride will take you through a trail that’s shaded in the woods, so if you want to stay out of the sun, this might be a great option for you. The horses are calm and great with kids too. It’s best to call before you go.
Rides here are $35.
Arkansas Riding Stables
Hot Springs National Park, AR 71913
Bar Fifty Guest Ranch
Bar Fifty Guest Ranch is a guest ranch that offers short and long horseback rides through scenic trails at foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Trails are wide and 90% shaded and rides are about an hour and 15 minutes long. Call to make an appointment.
- Trail rides are $40/person
- Riders must be 8 years of age or older to ride
Sun – Sat: 9am – 6pm
Bar Fifty Guest Ranch
18192 AR-84 (map)
Bismarck, AR 71929
U Ride Too!
U Ride Too! is a horseback riding place whose mission is to foster physical and mental development through the activity of horseback riding. U Ride Too! offers therapeutic riding services for those with physical, cognitive, mental and emotional disabilities.
Therapeutic Riding Charges:
- $45.00 per hour, Private
- $35.00 per hour, Semi-Private
- $18.00 per hour, Group, per person
30. Josephine Tussaud Wax & Gambling Museum
Josephine Tussauds Wax Museum is a wax museum created by the great grandaughter of Maddame Tussuad.
- $10 Adult
- $7 Children 3-12 years old
- $5 4D Virtual Reality
- Sun-Thurs: 9am – 6pm
- Fri-Sat: 9am – 9pm
31. Try an Escape Room
Ever wanted to try an escape room? You can do one at Escape Hot Springs or A Narrow Escape. Spend an hour or two to solve puzzles and plan your escape. This activity is great for families. Kids must be ages 6 and up. You’ll just be using your brain and feel the accomplishment of escaping the room!
Prices range from $20-$25 per person for different escape room adventures. There are 2-4 minimum number of people required depending on the case.
32. Galaxy Connection
Are you Star Wars fan? If so, this is the place for you to visit! The Galaxy Connection is a small museum of all things Star Wars and a gift shop. Take your Star Wars fan here.
- Monday – Saturday: 9am-3pm
- Sunday: 1-5pm
33. National Park Aquarium
National Park Aquarium is a small aquarium located in downtown Hot Springs, just north of Arlington Hotel. You can stop by to see fish, frongs, turtles, lizards, and more. There’s also a gift shop inside.
- Adults (13 to 59): $6.50 + tax
- Seniors (60 and older): $5.25 + tax
- Children (4 to 12): $4.75 + tax
- Children (3 and under): FREE
- Sun: 1pm – 7pm
- Mon / Tues / Thurs: 10am – 7pm
- Wed: Closed
- Fri / Sat: 10am – 8pm
34. Arkansas Walk of Fame
Before you leave Hot Springs, be sure to walk by the Arkansas Walk of Fame to see what famous people are from Arkansas! You might be surprised who you find.
If you’re traveling with your family, read about things to do in Hot Springs with kids.
For more information on Hot Springs and Diamond Lakes, visit diamondlakes.org.
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