by: Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Hot Springs has been a vacation staple in our family’s life for so many years that I sometimes forget that not everyone knows the ins and outs like we do. While Hot Springs is a great place for a weekend or week-long vacation, I personally love my day-outings just as much (more maybe even more!) So I thought I would take you along on a little tour of all my favorite “hidden gems” in Hot Springs, all of which you can visit on a single day excursion!

The Pancake Shop

We would begin the day by enjoying a hearty breakfast at none other than The Pancake Shop. While this is probably the most well-known gem on my list (and therefore not that “hidden”,) I couldn’t leave it off the list. My grandparents started this tradition when they ate here on their honeymoon in 1946, and they were the first ones to bring me to this iconic restaurant as a child. If possible, I always like to sit at the counter and have the true throw-back experience, complete with vintage diner dishes and while the name gives away their specialty, my personal favorite is the French toast.

Next we would cross Central Avenue, and walk off all our breakfast calories along the The Grand Promenade . This lovely little trail that runs behind the bathhouses is fully paved and well shaded, with lots of little resting areas. I just think it is one of the quaintest places in Hot Springs.

The entrance to the Grand Promenade

Afterward, it would be time to do a little shopping. After hopping in the car we would swing around the corner and visit Dryden Pottery. Dryden Pottery, a Hot Springs staple since 1956, is a wonderful place to pick up some authentic local pottery at great prices – whether you are looking for a locally made souvenir or a gift (I always like to send Dryden to out-of-state friends for wedding gifts.) 

Higdon Ferry Flea Market is one of my favorite thrifty shopping stops. Located underneath the Higdon Ferry Skating Rink, this flea market is a true hidden gem! Over the years I have found countless treasures buried in the wide assortment in their warehouse of booths. (FYI - My other favorite thrifty stops are the local Salvation Army store and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. If you love to thrift, make sure to check them out as well.)

After my car is loaded down with my vintage treasures, it is time to hit my next favorite shopping stop:  Culinary District. This new little gem of a place, is part restaurant supply shop, part gourmet grocer, part café, and all the parts just make my heart happy. I never fail to find wonderful kitchen tools, party supplies, or amazing foods to try when I am there.

Speaking of wonderful foods, by the time I am done with my shopping, it is usually time for some lunch, which means it is also time for a trip to The Old Country Store. One of the first “health” stores I ever visited, this local gem is not only a great place to snag a healthy and filling meal (think sandwiches, pizzas and smoothies made with wholesome, all natural ingredients,) it is also the perfect place to restock your pantry with local and organic staples, or your medicine cabinets with nature-based remedies.

After a lovely lunch, and  grabbing a loaf of homemade bread, and some fresh produce for dinner, I would make sure to stop at Weldon’s Meat Market and grab a couple of steaks to go. I think my family had Weldon’s Hams for Easter for close to 20 years, and stopping by is wonderfully nostalgic.

Central Avenue Hot Springs Arkansas

And finally, before heading home I would visit two more favorites– Bailey’s Dairy Treat on Park Avenue for a milkshake, then as I pointed my car home, I would duck into Coleman’s Rocks –n –Gems on Grand Avenue, (conveniently on the way out of town) and pick up the kids some shiny treasures of their own.

Every local (or semi-local like myself) has favorite off-the-beaten-path stops in Hot Springs. So, the next time you are in town, make sure and ask your waiter or gas attendant or desk clerk – how would you spend your perfect day in Hot Springs? I promise you will discover wonderful hidden gems you never expected.

Enjoy!

Jerusalem Jackson Greer, Longtime Hot Springs Fan