by Brittney Lee

Many iconic things come to mind when you picture visiting Hot Springs including the horse races at Oaklawn and Bathhouse Row. But there's so much more to the Spa City! Consider this a sort of Hot Springs bucket list - you might not be able to do everything on the list in one trip, but it's a fun way explore the city over and over again. Where will you start? In no particular order, here are 51 fun things to do in Hot Springs.

  1. Take a mineral bath at the Buckstaff Bathhouse. During the busy season, you might want to get there early – they don’t take reservations.
  2. Hike to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. The Peak Trail begins above the Grand Promenade and takes you up to the tower in a short 0.6 mile hike.
  3. Walk through the tulips at Garvan Woodland Gardens. The flowers bloom in late February and early March. Check with the gardens for flower conditions.
  4. Watch a horse race at Oaklawn. Want to bet but don't know where to start? Pick up a Stable Boy tip sheet.
  5. Eat a Godfather Pizza at Rod's Pizza Cellar. It's their version of supreme with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, onions, green peppers, olives, sausage and provolone cheese - a local favorite.
  6. Plunge into the cold water at Blakely Dam. The cool, clear water of Lake Ouachita flows into Lake Hamilton under the dam - and the water stays cold year-round.
  7. Drive a train at Tiny Town. This unique attraction is handmade from recycled materials and features scenes from across America. Explore this man-made wonder and even drive the miniature trains yourself.
  8. Take a cruise on The Belle of Hot Springs. They offer sightseeing cruises, lunch cruises, a dinner and dance cruise, and an ice cream social cruise taking you across beautiful Lake Hamilton.
  9. Bottle mineral water downtown. Jug fountains are located on Reserve Street, at Hill Wheatley Plaza on Central Avenue, and on Bathhouse Row between the Hale and Maurice Bathhouses. Bring your own containers (old milk jugs work great!) and the water is free.
  10. Visit the Arkansas Alligator Farm. (open year round) Bring your camera, you’ll want to document you holding a baby alligator!
  11. Eat a cupcake at Fat Bottom Girl's Cupcakes. The salted caramel is their top seller!
  12. Take in a live show. The Five Star Theater and Maxwell Blade Theater of Magic both provide you with an unforgettable evening full of laughs and tricks.
  13. Have BBQ and tamales at McClard's. A favorite of many celebrities including President Bill Clinton, McClard's has been around since 1928 and features pit-smoked BBQ and tamale plates.
  14. Visit the Ohio Club. Arkansas' oldest bar, once a stop for Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, here you can eat, have a cocktail, and listen to live music seven days a week.
  15. Explore Gulpha Gorge. You can camp or hike around this lush wooded area of Hot Springs National Park. It's shaded and perfect for a hot summer day.
  16. Take home a piece of pottery. Both Dryden Pottery and Fox Pass Pottery make pieces locally.  Since 1956, the Dryden family has created striking glazes for their pottery pieces. The Fox Pass studio features both thrown and hand-carved pieces made of different clays and minerals.
  17. Have a craft beer brewed using the thermal water at Superior Bathhouse Brewery. You can try a flight of beers in sample sizes to find your favorite brew.bartender pouring beer at Superior Bathhouse Brewery
  18. Explore the Historic Baseball Trail. Follow along using the Hot Springs Baseball Trail site for a guided tour of Arkansas' role in baseball history.
  19. Stroll through the art galleries during Gallery Walk. The first Friday of every month, galleries downtown stay open until 9 p.m. and offer music, refreshments and on-site artists.
  20. Shop for rocks and crystals at Coleman's Rocks-R-Gems. Coleman Mining is headquartered just outside of Hot Springs in Jessieville, you can take home a piece of quartz from their store near Magic Springs on Grand Avenue.
  21. Eat breakfast at The Pancake Shop. Known for their giant pancakes and homemade sausage, get there early to avoid the crowd.
  22. Visit a waterfall at Lake Catherine State Park. The falls drop about 10 feet into a beautiful pool and can be found just 0.25 miles from the trailhead (hiking clockwise). Take the two-mile loop around to cross Little Canyon Creek.
  23. Watch the artisans at Riley Art Glass Studio. They do live demonstrations of glass blowing year-round but check for summer hours as they can't blow during high heat.  
  24. Enjoy a cocktail and live music on the deck at Rolando's. The vine-covered patio is like stepping into another world!
  25. Catch the Running of the Tubs. Either watch or join in as teams load up in authentic bathtubs and race. Wear your bathrobe and shower cap to join the fun!
  26. See the exhibits at Mid-America Science Museum. Arkansas' first Smithsonian Affiliate, there are over 100 hands-on exhibits to explore and the outdoor Skywalk that makes adults feel like kids too!
  27. Swing dance at the Arlington. Every Friday and Saturday there's live music and there's a crowd dancing in the lobby of the Arlington. Grab some popcorn and watch, or grab a partner and jump in! While you're there, walk the beautiful marble spiral staircase for a bird's eye view.Marble stairs at the Arlington
  28. Stay at the Wildwood 1884 Bed and Breakfast. This beautiful home features a cherry staircase, beautiful stained glass and a 3- to 4-course breakfast.
  29. Ride the Arkansas Twister at Magic Springs. This wooden coaster is an Arkansas classic featuring a 92-foot drop.
  30. Go antiquing. Several shops full of treasures are located both downtown and along Central Avenue.
  31. Explore the Gangster Museum of America. Learn how notorious criminals played a part in this little town in their seven galleries.
  32. Ride a duck! The National Park Duck Tours take you through town and out on the waters of Lake Hamilton all in one amphibious vehicle.
  33. Shop downtown along Central Avenue. Boutiques, children's shops, and gift shops line the main street through historic downtown.
  34. Explore Cedar Glades Park. With 432 acres, 15 miles of bike and hiking trails, disc golf, an R/C flying field, and camping area, there's something for everyone!
  35. Go fishing. Guided fishing tours are offered on all area lakes – or you might want to just grab a pole and enjoy one of the many public areas.
  36. See a show at the Pocket Community Theater. This local theater started in the old outlet mall and has grown to their current location with two theaters. They put on several shows each year.
  37. Shop at Lauray's the Diamond Center. Lauray's has been a staple in downtown Hot Springs since the 1920s and offers one of the largest diamond selections in the state.
  38. Take a carriage ride. The Hot Springs Carriage Company will take you on a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown.
  39. Hit the green at the Hot Springs Country Club. The Arlington Course and the Park Course have been renovated by Master's Champion Ben Crenshaw and offer Bentgrass greens for year-round play.
  40. Rent a houseboat. Rentals are available on Lake Ouachita, which was featured on Good Morning America as a top 10 destination for houseboat vacations!
  41. Learn about bottled water at the Mountain Valley Water Visitors Center. The museum features the history of both Mountain Valley and other brands through the years.Mountain Valley Water
  42. Have a spa day. There's a reason Hot Springs is called the Spa City - try one (or all!) of the over 25 different spas for a massage, facial or other relaxing treatment.
  43. Boat up for a meal on Lake Hamilton. Multiple restaurants offer boat parking in addition to lake views and tasty food.
  44. Trek to the top of West Mountain. Available by car or by hiking, there are magnificent views at the vista. For some romance, visit at night and see the city sparkle.
  45. Get hitched. Hot Springs is home to many beautiful wedding venues, and several feature stress-free packages where you just have to show up and say "I do!"
  46. Watch the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade. This annual event takes place on the World’s Shortest Street, Bridge Street.
  47. Shop at the Hot Springs Farmer's and Artisans Market. Located at the Transportation Depot at Broadway and Orange Streets, you'll find everything from local produce, preserves, baked goods, jewelry, live music and more!
  48. Stroll down the Arkansas Walk of Fame. Located next to the Visitor's Center on Central Avenue, you can learn about significant Arkansans including General Douglass MacArthur, Dr. James Dobson, and Helen Gurley Brown.
  49. Watch a fantastic fireworks display. Hot Springs lights up the sky on the lake at Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the 4th of July (weather permitting) on Highway 7 at Super Duty Docks and Lift. You can see the display from land or water.Fireworks on Lake Hamilton
  50. Take a drive down Scenic Highway 7. Head south from Hot Springs toward Arkadelphia through the Ouachita Mountains or north toward Russellville and the Ozark Mountains for a beautiful drive. Listed as one of the 10 most beautiful drives in the United States.
  51. Feel the hot water straight from the ground. Along Bathhouse row and at Arlington Park, open fountains allow you to feel the 143-degree water. It's heated by the gradient of the earth and compression and rises through a fault at the base of Hot Springs Mountain.

Surely you found a few things on the list you can’t wait to do– but you better get started making memories now! There's something for everyone and we can't wait to share our city with you.

Arkansas Women Blogger, Brittney Lee, is a native Arkansan with a love for bright lights and big city. She often escapes her 20-acre home south of Fort Smith to shop, eat, and catch a concert in the big city. She blogs about her life, her faith, her adventures, her dogs, and her country home at RazorbackBritt.com