Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs, AR

When you are planning a weekend getaway to Hot Springs, Arkansas, Mountain Thyme Bed & Breakfast Inn is a great home base for your visit. Hot Springs National Park is just 18 miles down Scenic Byway 7.

In case you are wondering, the Hot Springs downtown historic district is in the middle of Hot Springs National Park. The park is crisscrossed with 26 miles of trails including a hike up Hot Springs Mountain, if you are so inclined.

Yes, the springs are hot!

If you are expecting to see open bubbling springs and hot running creeks, you'll be a little disappointed. The 47 natural springs, which emit some 700,000 gallons of hot water daily, have long been capped to protect them. But there are some display springs where you can put your finger in to see if it is really hot. It is.

The water percolates from deep underground at 143 degrees! For comparison, most home hot water heaters are set to a maximum of 120 degrees.

There is also a fountain with spigots in the parking lot of the Visitors Center at the end of Bath House Row. You can fill your water bottle there with spring water purified by Mother Nature. Just let it cool before you take a big drink!

Shared by several American Indian tribes as a neutral ground, the Hot Springs have long been a magical place. Early settlers came to enjoy the hot springs and to seek cures for any number of maladies. A town quickly grew up around the springs.

First Federal Reserve

To protect this unique national resource, Congress created the first Federally protected area in the nation in 1832. Hot Springs Reservation, as it was first called, was renamed Hot Springs National Park in 1921. You can link to the the National Park Service to learn more about Hot Springs National Park.

During the early part of the 20th century, it boomed as a "spa" city with bathhouses and regal hotels hosting guests from all over the country. During the roaring 20s, gambling and speak easies were as easy to find as the hot spring baths. Again it was a neutral ground; this time it was for the competing gangs of Chicago, Detroit and New York. It is said Al Capone kept a specific room reserved at the Arlington Hotel.

Al Capone is gone now, but the historic Arlington Hotel still stands along with several of the old bath houses along Bath House Row. Seeing the old architecture, wandering though the park around the display springs, and touring the Fordyce Bathhouse, now a museum showing the history of the springs and "Spa City", are all worthwhile. You can still get a hot bath and a massage at the Buckstaff Bathhouse, carefully restored to its grandeur of yesteryear.

Arts and Festivals

There are, of course, a number of great shops and antique stores to tempt the shopping instinct in you. Hot Springs is developing a reputation as an arts center, with several great art galleries nestled in along Central Avenue in the historic district, and some renowned artists in residence. Several of the galleries join together to host "Art Walk" on the first Friday of every month when they remain open late. Many serve a taste of wine and have one of the artists present to talk about his or her work.

Hot Springs hosts a great Blues Festival in September and a much heralded Documentary Film Festival in October, as well as the World's Shortest St Patrick's Day Parade. And, of course, the city celebrates Oktoberfest and goes all out decorating for the Christmas season.

Hot Springs works hard to be a great destination year round. There is always something going on, so interesting events dot the calendar throughout the year. Link to the Hot Springs web site to see their "Calendar of Events" and to find more listings of things to do in and around the Hot Springs area.

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Hot Springs

Area Attractions

Horse Racing at historic Oaklawn Park. The season runs from late January to mid April.

The Mid-America Science Museum is a great "hands on" science museum associated with the Smithsonian Institute.

Belle of Hot Springs RiverboatThe Belle offers afternoon and dinner cruises on Lake Hamilton

The Gangster Museum of America documents some of the more infamous patrons of the Spa City.

Jim Coleman Crystal Mine This rock shop and crystal mine is located about 10 minutes from Mountain Thyme.

Magic Springs & Crystal Falls is a theme park and water park with an amphitheater and summer concerts. Their concerts include a wide variety of music which include contemporary artists and a few golden oldies. Their concert schedule can be found on their web site.