Walking the Promenade

Growing up in Hot Springs I was lucky enough to experience the beauty and magical feel of the city every day. When I was a little girl I would stay with my grandparents a lot during the summer while my mom worked and nearly every morning my Poppy and I had the same routine...we would get up, meet some of his friends for breakfast at McDonalds and then we would go for a walk.

We walked all over Hot Springs but my absolute favorite place was, and still is, the Grand Promenade in Hot Springs National Park.

The Grand Promenade Sign

The Grand Promenade runs parallel with Central Avenue behind Bathhouse Row and goes from Reserve Street to Fountain Street. We usually started our walk by the Reserve Street (south) entrance, parking in the metered lot by the City Visitor Information Center.

The Grand Promenade Entrance

I love this particular trail more than the others because of how authentic to the city it is. The walking path is a beautiful brick design and there are so many things to see and do along the way.

the brick path at the Grand Promenade

If the Promenade has an old-world feel to it, it's because it was started in the 1930s and was completed in 1957 and hasn't really changed much since. The trail is only about half a mile long one way but I love that there are benches all along the way so you can take a break and really absorb the scenery around you.

There are also fun things to do along the way like play checkers at the checkers tables! I always wanted to play but Poppy and I never remembered to bring our checkers. HA!

Checker table on the Promenade

Along the way there are several trails beginning and ending on the Promenade. I have always loved the look of the Tufa Terrace Trail. It looks dark and mysterious but really it just goes to the back of a bathhouse.  

The Terrace Trail in Hot Springs AR

The Tufa Terrace Trail begins above the Grand Promenade at Stevens Balustrade and is named for the large amounts of tufa/calcium carbonates deposited around it.

The Terrace Trail in Hot Springs AR

I also love all of the overlooks featured along the trail. These overlooks offer you a glimpse onto the back of bathhouse row and Central Avenue.

an overlook in Hot Springs National Park

There is also a side trail that leads directly from the Promenade to Hot Springs National Park.

park trail from the Grand Promenade

Have I mentioned how in love I am with the brick walking path?

Brick Path

And then before you know it the half-mile is up and the trail is coming to an end...so, so very sad. The "end" is actually the north entrance to the Promenade and is quite beautiful in itself.

The north entrance to the Grand Promenade

The walk along the Promenade may be over at this point but then you get to walk Bathhouse Row and see all the sights! I love turning the corner and seeing the Arlington Hotel. The Arlington has so much history but what I love to remember is going to see my Poppy play his guitar in the lobby and sitting at the bar drinking Shirley Temples all night. I couldn't have been more than eight or nine at the time and those were the best nights!

The Arlington Hotel

After the Arlington you come upon Hot Springs National Park Arlington Lawn and my favorite part has always been the hot spring pools. I always want to touch the water but you can literally see the steam coming off the water. It is such a great spot to stop and take a breather.
 Cascade spring down the side of Hot Springs Mountain

Right past the park is Bathhouse Row. Bathhouse Row is a collection of bathhouses, buildings and gardens; which were established in the late 1800s and were collectively designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The bathhouses that still stand today are third and fourth generation bathhouses which sit directly over the hot springs.

The Superior Bathhouse 
Of the bathhouses still in operation today, Superior Bathhouse operates as a brewery, Quapaw operates as a spa, Ozark is an Event Center and Art Gallery, Fordyce is the National Park Visitor Center, Lamar is a Bathhouse Row gift shop and Buckstaff is a fully operational bathhouse.

The Ozark Bathhouse 
Those bathhouses are so rich and full of history and I just wish I had been alive during the time when they were regularly used. I'm sure I had many questions about them for my Poppy!

The Buckstaff Bathhouse  
The Buckstaff is the most glamorous in my opinion. It was also the next to last stop on my morning walks with Poppy. Before we would hit the car and go we would always fill our jugs up with water! 

Getting water is probably one of my favorite memories. I remember my Neenee saving her milk jugs so Poppy and I could fill them from the Thermal Jug Water Fountains. It's free to do, you just bring your own jug and fill it from the designated water fountains and take it home. The water is straight from the hot springs so it is super hot but it the best water you have ever tasted once it's chilled off.

The jug filling station in Hot Springs National Park

I am so grateful for my memories of growing up in Spa City. I hope that anyone who gets the chance to visit this magical city will take advantage of the Grand Promenade and all of its beauty!

Arkansas Women Blogger Ricci Ellis is an Arkansas native and current central Arkansas resident. Her favorite titles include dog mom, sister, aunt, blogger, respiratory therapist, and student. You can catch up with her on her lifestyle blog, Imperfectly Ricci, or on any social media @riccialexis.