Just yesterday we were strolling down Bathhouse Row, drinking draft made out of the natural local spring water, exploring the woodlands of Garvan Gardens, stepping back into time at the Gangster Museum and The Ohio Club, enjoying the best tacos of our lives at Taco Mama, overlooking the entire ozark mountainside, and shopping to our heart’s content in our little secret spa getaway nestled deep in the Ouachitas, Hot Springs Arkansas.
WHERE TO STAY
The Hotel Hot Springs
The Hotel Hot Springs is located right off Central Avenue, within walking distance of the historic downtown Hot Springs area and attached to the Hot Springs Convention Center. At this newly renovated hotel you will enjoy a modern, contemporary stay. Boasting a full-service restaurant, business center,and sundry shop, The Hotel Hot Springs is the perfect place to stay for business and leisure travelers alike. Not to mention, the views of Central Ave. from some of the rooms are incredible.
The rooms are completely renovated with a modern touch! Our suite offered sleek finishes, a spacious floor plan, and it was clear that they put extra effort into the bed design for an additional level of comfort. I tend to get hot in hotel rooms, so the fact that we could easily regulate the temperature to my liking with individual climate control ensured a great night’s sleep. I am an early morning coffee girl, so I was happy to start each morning with a fresh cup from the Keurig Coffee Maker provided in the room.
WHAT TO DO
Truly on top of the world at 1,256 feet above sea level! The tower elevator will transport you 216 feet to the observation decks where you’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs Mountain, downtown Hot Springs, and Diamond Lakes area. The Hot Springs Mountain Tower is a must have attraction for Hot Spring newcomers. We even purchased a little Hot Springs ornament for our tree in the gift shop! One of my favorite things is that a 2 hour hike from Central Ave. will put you at the base of mountain tower for those who like to take a trek through nature.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
These gardens, managed by The University of Arkansas are absolutely breathtaking! They are so different from the gardens I have visited in the past, as they take you on a magical wooded adventure into the serenity of nature while exposing the explorer to unique flora, beautiful birds, grandiose trees, relaxing brooks, and secret gardens.
Within the 210 acres of Garvan Woodland Gardens, there are several must have attractions for kids and adults alike. The fairy garden was pretty magical, and the giant tree house even more spectacular. We had fun making our way through the boulder maze and caverns for the kiddos and were absolutely taken away when we came upon Anthony Chapel which is almost completely made of glass. Pictures do not do it justice. It is a must have on the agenda for anyone wanting to wow the senses.
The Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs today consists of eight bathhouse spas that served their customers with the mineral hot spring baths and spa services. These bathhouses were constructed between the years of 1892 and 1923. This area, along with the Grand Promenade, was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1987.
The top middle image is the Buckstaff Bath, built in 1912, which is the only bathhouse on the row to operate continuously for over a century and they still complete their services just as they would in 1912. The top left bathhouse is the Quapaw Bathhouse. Built in 1922, it has tiled dome crowns with an American Indian motif. They have reopened as a modern spa with mineral public and private baths. The bottom image with Greg and I is the Ozark Bathhouse. This bathhouse was built in 1922 and has sculpted mythical creatures holding urns of water, encouraging passersby to sample the healing waters. These are just a few of our favorites but there are so many other beautiful bathhouses to peruse.
Take yourself back to the days of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s when mineral water, gambling, bootlegging, and other extreme pleasures brought visitors from all over the world to Hot Springs. The Gangster Museum of America is a historic and entertaining account of how some of the most notorious criminals in America co-existed within the quaint population of this little valley town in the mountains of central Arkansas.
Want some delicious mexican fare the old way in a fun, amazing atmosphere? Taco Mama is where it’s at! Diana and Shane saw there was a need for classic style Mexican food on the east side of town and with Diana’s culinary background and amazing gift for pairing ingredients that will blow your palette away, Taco Mama was born. All of the food at Taco Mama is hand prepared and made daily with the finest and freshest ingredients available. It was clear that Diana and her team pay careful attention to detail which sets Taco Mama from many other restaurants we have tried, not to mention that their fresh Skinny Margarita is the best I have ever tasted! This is a must have eat for spectacular food, fresh margaritas, and super fun photo ops!
Superior Bathhouse Brewery
In 2011, Rose Schweikhart set out to achieve her dream of brewing beer commercially using the city of Hot Springs famous 144 degree spring water. Rose formed a company and began the arduous two year negotiation to lease the historic Superior Bathhouse, located in the heart of Hot Springs National Park, from the federal government. Today, the Superior Bathhouse is home to the only brewery in a US National Park and the only brewery in the world to utilize thermal spring water in their beer. Rose and her brewing team crank out a constant stream of new beer from the original to the outlandish. If you are a beer guru like myself, these beers are definitely on the bucket list to try.
The Ohio Club
Since 1905, The Ohio Club is Arkansas oldest bar! It all started as a Bar and Casino and has continuously been a stop off place for many celebrities and well known names, or shall I say, mobsters. Al Capone, Bugsy Segel, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, just to name a few of the gangsters. It has also been visited by many Major League ball players, such as Babe Ruth since spring training was held in Hot Springs in the early 1900’s. Because of all the gambling that went on in Hot Springs, many headliner talents were brought to The Ohio Club. In 1915, Al Jolson performed here and in the mid 30’s Mae West and an entire host of blues and jazz performers continued to play though the 60’s. Live entertainment is still the mainstay at The Ohio Club with music 7 nights a week.
The Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium
Step inside this charm-filled apothecary bathhouse boutique for an adventure in indulgence! I had fun sampling the aromas and textures of their small batch, hand-blended bath and body products and learning all about what sets their brand apart. This business was started by a young stay at home mom and has grown into a multimillion dollar bath soap business! Talk about inspiration and the American dream! It is clear that the Bathhouse Soapery Hot Springs puts a lot of thought and creativity into their products, as well as their service. This is by far my favorite bath and bodyline with MILK being my favorite fragrance of theirs. Think sugar and cream scented! YUM!
All Things Arkansas
Featuring products from Arkansas, made in Arkansas, or relating to Arkansas, tourists and local consumers who love their state as much as owner Lisa does, All Things Arkansas is the perfect shop for bringing home unique mementos from your vacation. This shop carries art, pottery, handmade jewelry and so many other one of a kind items. This shop is also home to many locally mined quartz pieces and other crystals brought in from around the area. Lisa takes interest in the world of natural crystals as her family has a background in mining and therefore she has customers from around the world that come to shop her selection.
Lauray’s The Diamond Center
Lauray’s was established along historic bathhouse row in 1924. For ninety six years, Lauray’s has built a reputation on exquisite designs, quality, extraordinary service and one of the largest diamond selections in Arkansas. I just love the warm family owned service that Lauray’s delivers to each and every customer as they walk through the door. With Lauray’s, stunning is standard and relationships are extraordinary. I always find the most perfect piece of jewelry to bring home from Hot Springs after my visits to Lauray’s. The staff has truly always helped me to create the most memorable moments of my life.
We had an absolute blast in Hot Springs, Arkansas. This little historic town tucked in the valley of the Ouachita Mountains will forever be a special place for Greg and I. Every time we visit, we experience a new adventure or make a special memory.
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