Hot Springs made national news in 2018 when Priceline CEO Brent Keller named the city the No. 1 emerging travel destination in the United States. Perhaps it’s the Spa City’s healing spring waters or rich history. Maybe it’s the trove of established year-round attractions for families or the festivals filling historic Bathhouse Row with music and fellowship. After all, Hot Springs isn’t called America’s First Resort for nothing.
Are you planning a trip this fall? Here are some can’t-miss attractions you’ll find only in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
A trip to Hot Springs is incomplete without stopping at Arkansas’ largest botanical garden, and fall is the ultimate time to go. Nestled in the picturesque Ouachita Mountains, Garvan Woodland Gardens is an example of The Natural State at its best. Spanning 210 acres and 4.5 miles of wooded shoreline, this botanical garden is teeming with dynamic architectural structures and majestic botanical landscapes.
Upon entering, you’ll likely be greeted by one of the gardens’ free-roaming peacocks. Grab a map and be sure to stop by the Anthony Chapel and the Bob and Sunny Evans Treehouse, located inside the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden. Most trails are ADA accessible, and pets are allowed for a fee. Seasonal dining is available onsite at the Chipmunk Cafe.
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 550 Arkridge Road.
Bathhouse Row & the Grand Promenade
Bathhouse Row is Hot Springs’ historic downtown area. A stroll down Bathhouse Row will take you past quaint retail shops, restaurants, hotels, and the bath houses for which Hot Springs is famous. In addition, attractions like The Gangster Museum of America, the Arkansas Alligator Farm, and the Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic are popular family-friendly activities in downtown Hot Springs.
The Grand Promenade is a half-mile red brick trail located directly behind and running parallel with Bathhouse Row. It offers views of downtown Hot Springs, the Arlington Lawn, and the hot springs cascade, perfect for a peaceful stroll.
420eats Food Truck Court
Located in Hot Springs’ Gateway District, this food truck court is a family and pet-friendly hot spot in the Spa City where entertainment and innovative deliciousness collide. Some of the court’s food trucks include Rock ’N’ Roll Hibachi, Flavatown Soul & Seafood, Belli’s (vegan food/juice bar), Grilled (burgers), and The Rolled Cow (ice cream). The court features live music and games on the weekend. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.
Located at 420 Malvern Avenue.
Fall is the perfect time to get outside in Hot Springs and pay a visit to one of the city’s annual festivals.
• Hot Springs Jazz Fest — Sept. 1-5, 2021, various venues in Hot Springs.
• Hot Springs Blue Fest — Sept. 3 and 4, 2021, at Hill Wheatley Plaza, 629 Central Ave.
• The Big Pickle, Pickleball Festival — Sept. 3-5, 2021, downtown Hot Springs.
• Thermal Springs Festival — Sept. 18, 2021, Arlington Lawn on Bathhouse Row.
• Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival — Oct. 1-2, 2021, Cedar Glades
Park, 461 Wildcat Rd.
Hot Springs Mountain Tower
You won’t want to miss a trip to Hot Springs Mountain Tower this time of year. The tower’s elevator transports visitors 216 feet up to the observation deck, where panoramic views of the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs Mountain, and the Diamond Lakes area await.
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 401 Hot Springs Mountain Drive.
Hiking in Hot Springs National Park
Hiking and walking trails have long been part of Hot Springs National Park and the preceding Hot Springs Reservation. Spanning over 5,500 acres, the national park is full of scenic trails for beginner and experienced hikers alike. Some of the most popular trails include the Sunset Trail, the Hot Springs Northwoods Trail System, the Water Works Trail, and the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail.
A tour and guided tasting at Crystal Ridge Distillery
Tour Crystal Ridge Distillery’s historic century-old building while a member of the Crystal Ridge team delves into the history and ingredients that go into the distillery’s moonshine. Each unique experience is an hour-long and offers an opportunity to learn and taste some of Hot Springs’ finest spirits.
Tastings are offered every 30 minutes. No reservation is required. Call 501-627-0722 for more information. All ages welcome.
Located at 455 Broadway Street.