Activities and Attractions in Hot Springs Arkansas
Historic Spa City of Hot Springs Arkansas, the boyhood home of President Bill Clinton, encompasses a National Park and features world-renowned Bathhouse Row and three lakes with every type of water sport available.
- Lake Ouachita
- Lake Hamilton
- Lake Catherine
- Scenic Mountain Drives
- Hiking Trails
- Oaklawn Racetrack…live thoroughbred racing
- Horseback Riding Stables
- Miniature Golf
- Magic Springs/theme & water park
- Nurture Day Spa
- Buckstaff Bathhouse
- Quapaw Bathhouse
- Fordyce Bath House Visitor Center
- Garvan Woodland Gardens
- Documentary Film Festival
- The Witness
- Mid-America Science Museum
- Outdoor Adventure Tours
- Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum
- National Park Duck Tours
- The Winery
- Belle of Hot Springs Riverboat
- Hot Springs Mountain Tower
Hot Springs National Park
It’s the water that has attracted thousands of people to Hot Springs. People have been using the hot springs here for more than 200 years, bathing in the mineral-rich water to treat illness and relieve stress.
The first bathhouses were crude structures of canvas and lumber, little more than tents perched over individual springs or reservoirs carved out of the rock. Later businessmen built wooden structures, but they frequently burned, collapsed because of shoddy construction, or rotted due to continued exposure to water and steam. Hot Springs Creek, which ran right through the middle of all this activity, drained its own watershed and collected the runoff of the springs. Generally it was an eyesore-dangerous at times of high water, and mere collections of stagnant pools at dry times. In 1884 the federal government put the creek into a channel, roofed over it over, and laid a road down above it. Much of it runs under Central Avenue and Bathhouse Row today. This allowed room for sidewalks and landscaping in front of the bathhouses, creating the Bathhouse Row you see today.
There is much to do in Hot Springs National Park. Tour the historic Fordyce Bathhouse, where the Park Visitor Center is now located. Cruise down the grand promenade of Bathhouse Row within National Historic Landmark District. Take a hike on over 26 miles of trails, pack a picnic, and take a bath, of course!
The Grand Promenade of Bathhouse Row is a peek into the past. One can imagine settlers discovering the springs and building up the historical grounds to accommodate the flocks of health-seekers looking for an elixir in the bubbly waters. It is a great place for a picnic lunch.
There are lots of other lunch spots in the park. Most of the picnic areas at Gulpha Gorge, Hot Springs and West Mountain have tables and grills.
Explore the restored Fordyce Bathhouse, which was the grandest bathhouse of its time. There are guided tours or explore the impressive building on your own. Move on to Buckstaff Baths, actively relieving stress and strain since 1912. Take a traditional bath the way folks have for over 50 years or have a more modern spa experience with co-ed pools at Quapaw Baths.
The park service offers a variety of guided tours, one of which is the Discover the Waters Tour. During this tour you will hear the amazing story of how rainwater becomes hot spring water. Please call ahead (501)620-6715.
Hot Springs Lakes
Arkansas boasts a number of lakes and waterways. Four of these lakes- Catherine, De Gray, Hamilton and Ouachita are near the Hot Springs area. They are perfect for water sports and all are within 20 miles.
DeGray Lake is situated in the Ouachita Mountains and the DeGray Lake Resort State Park includes more than 31.000 acres. DeGray is a water sports paradise, and fishing, swimming, sailing, diving and house boating abound. DeGray is well-known fir its large-mouth and hybrid bass. The park features picnic sites, hiking trails, 15 boat launches a golf course nearby and 14,000 acres are open for seasonal hunting.
Lake Catherine is a 2,180-acre state park in the Ouachita Mountains. The lake is well known for it’s fishing and is a popular spot with anglers. The park features waterfalls, hiking trails and picnic areas, a marina, boat launch and swimming area. The lake is nestled in the narrow valleys of the Ouachita Mountains, just minutes south of Hot Springs.
Lake Hamilton sits on the south and western edge of Hot Springs, and is one of the state’s most popular lakes for recreation… and residence! Most of the 7,200-acre shoreline is ringed with homes; condos, resorts, motels and restaurants, and popular activities on the lake include skiing, para-sailing, boating and fishing. There are many places to launch boats on the lake.
West of Hot Springs lies Lake Ouachita, a 40,100-acre lake that is well known for its beauty and clear water. The Ouachita National forest surrounds the lake and nearly 970 miles of the shoreline are wild and undeveloped. Its length (40 miles) makes it a favorite destination of sailors as well as recreational boaters and skiers, and its clarity attracts many divers. Other recreational opportunities include swimming, horseback riding, hiking, and fishing opportunities on the lake, which is nationally known for its large-mouth and hybrid striped bass. The lake’s more than 100 uninhabited islands are open and ideal for picnicking and day tripping. The area features 21 recreation areas with 150 picnic sites, 24 boat ramps and 13 swimming beaches.