Have you heard of Spa City USA? No? Also known as Hot Springs, Arkansas? Now we’re talking! This little city is home to the oldest federal reserve in the US known as the Hot Springs National Park. When most people think National Park, visions of hiking trails and towering lookouts might come to mind. While this National Park includes these fun excursions, it also encompasses the famous Bathhouse Rowe. Yep, along a tree lined street you will find 8 historic bathhouse buildings and gardens on one side and on the other – boutiques(oooh the bootiques), tourist shops, a gangster museum, fine art galleries, crystal and quartz shops, and restaurants. This famous town has hosted famous and infamous people from Al Capone to Bill Clinton!
Even the walk from the parking garage that leads directly to the Buckstaff Bathhouse is pretty and relaxing.
Spa City is not just all about the bathhouses but also a Southern vacation destination with its proximity to Lake Hamilton. During warmer months, tourists flock to the pristine water to enjoy boating and swimming. One of my favorite things about Lake Hamilton is that a boat can be driven to different restaurants for lunch or dinner. Yep, no car needed! There are tons of resorts right on the water and several restaurants. I think this is one reason there are so many people in Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana that have vacation homes or condos here.
Hot Springs is such a great place to visit! We go there about twice a month to visit my in-laws and each time, it feels like a mini-vacation. My in-laws live on Lake Catherine which is just about a 10 minute drive out of town. Lake Catherine is a much quieter lake with boating, skiiing, and with your best fish finder but just not as much traffic as Lake Hamilton. Near their community is Lake Catherine State Park and the beautiful Garvan Woodlands Gardens.
Oh, and I almost forgot, one of two gambling locations in Arkansas is at Oaklawn Park which hosts the Arkansas Derby whose winner goes on to race at the Kentucky Derby. In 2004 we watched Smarty Jones win the Arkansas Derby and then got to watch him win the Kentucky Derby as we were living in Louisville, Kentucky at the time. Horses are such beautiful animals and for the 10 years we lived in Louisville we spent lots of time at the track. My husband enjoyed betting; I enjoyed sketching the animals and the people(especially as the race headed down the last stretch! People can great cracra)
Let’s see, what else is there in Hot Springs? Quirky things like the Tiny Town tiny museum, the Alligator Farm, , and the Ducks tours. Oh, I can’t forget to mention the Wax Museum, Mid America Museum(which my kids and I love), and for roller coaster and water park enthusiasts there’s Magic Springs. I haven’t been there since I was a kid but my niece and nephew(19 and 15) LOVE to go.