A Hot Springs Guide for History, Outdoor, and Art Enthusiasts

a magnolia tree in bloom. The Fordyce Bathhouse is in the backgroundThere is something for everyone to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas!  Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or art enthusiast, you can tailor your Hot Springs getaway to match your unique interests.

HISTORY:  History lovers come to Hot Springs because of its link to the past.  The thermal waters have been attracting visitors from Native Americans to early European explorers, and in 1832 Congress protected Hot Springs as a federal reserve.  The Fordyce Bathhouse serves as Hot Springs National Park’s visitors center, and contains a treasure trove of historical information.  Learn how the water is heated, how Hot Springs emerged as “America’s First Resort”, and its unique cultural and natural history. 

For a different “view” of Hot Springs’ history, visit the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, 1256 feet above sea level.  The open air observation deck provides 360° views overlooking 140 square miles of the surrounding area.  The lower observation deck contains exhibits that showcase the history of the park as well as the city.

Hot Springs became the first home to major league baseball’s spring training when the sign on the Historic Hot Springs Baseball TrailChicago White Stockings arrived in 1886.  Eventually, as many as 250 players, including legends such as Babe Ruth and Bill Dickey, trained in Hot Springs each spring.  Follow the Historic Baseball Trail through the city using a smartphone app, scanning QR codes, or by phone.

Between 1927 and 1967, the largest illegal gambling racket in the country was located in Hot Springs.  Tour The Gangster Museum of America to learn more about Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Owney Madden.  If you’re visiting on the weekend, be sure to plan a stop at the History of Hot Springs Gambling Museum to see refurbished slot machines and vintage gaming tables from some of the original private clubs. 

History buffs can find even more historical Hot Springs sites here

ARTS:  Hot Springs was named #4 of 100 Best Art Towns in America, and when you reserve a  B&B getaway in Hot Springs, AR, you’ll see why.  From public murals, to downtown art galleries, to film and music festivals, Hot Springs celebrates all art forms.

Gallery Walk is held the first Friday of every month, and downtown galleries stay open late to showcase new exhibits, and artists are often available as well.

Be sure to visit Riley Art Glass Studio early in the day to watch a live glass blowing demo!  Another popular studio is Dryden Pottery, where live pottery wheel demonstrations are available daily.   Art murals have been popping up on the sides of buildings for several wall mural depicting multiple african american's walking, some playing musical instruments or dancing, or holding handsyears now.  Some of our favorites are “Black Broadway” on Malvern Ave., “Playing Cards” also on Malvern Ave., “Freedom” on Market Street, and you can’t miss “Quapaw” directly across the street from Bathhouse Row on Central Ave.

Performing arts are well represented in Hot Springs as well.  Maxwell Blade has been thrilling audiences with his magic, comedy and illusions at his Theatre of Magic for over 20 years.  The Pocket Community Theatre hosts year-round live theatre productions.  The Vapors Live, which began as a theater-restaurant in 1959, hosting legends such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Liberace, is now a premier live entertainment venue. The longest running consecutive weekly poetry open mic series in the country is Wednesday Night Poetry.  Hosted at Kollective Coffee+Tea, they have NEVER missed a single week of poetry since February 1, 1989!

Arts and Festivals are two words that seem to go together, and Hot Springs hosts its share.  The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, held in October, is North America’s oldest all-documentary film festival.  Arts & the Park celebrates the arts in Hot Springs and Hot Springs National Park.   Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival is an international underground music festival that has hosted over 3,000 musicians from around the world.

Join us in June, when the Hot Springs Music Festival pairs world-class mentors with talented pre-professional apprentices to perform orchestral, chamber music, and choral repertoire in concerts and open rehearsals for music lovers from across the globe.  Hot Springs also hosts Bridge St. LIVE! in June.  Hosted on the “World’s Shortest Street in Everyday Use”, this block party style music series is held every Thursday night with free live music, food, vendors, and zany fun that can only be found in Hot Springs!

Even more information on the arts in Hot Springs can be found here

NATURE:  Nature lovers LOVE Hot Springs!  While visitors flock to Hot Springs National Park to “take the waters” in the historic bathhouses, they also enjoy 26 miles of hiking trails – some that lead to more remote areas of the park.

Garvan Woodland Gardens not only offers magnificent botanical landscapes, but also over 4 miles of shoreline on Lake Hamilton, unique architectural structures (Anthony Chapel and the Evans Tree House are guest favorites), and a canopy of shade-providing pines.  Don’t miss the Hixson Family Nature Preserve, which is a wonderful spot for bird watching within the gardens. 

The only diamond mine open to the public is located just 45 miles from Tiffany’s, at the Crater of Diamonds State Park.  A variety of rocks, minerals, and gemstones can be found (and kept) at this park.  More than 33,000 diamonds have been found since 1972, and if you find one during your stay at Tiffany’s, we’ll give you a free night! 

Diamonds aren’t the only gems to be found near Hot Springs. The quartz crystal formations in and around the Ouachita National Forest are recognized as the best in the world.  Numerous crystal mines can be found between Hot Springs, Jessieville, and Mt. Ida.  Most mines offer “dig your own” options, as well as crystals and gems that can be purchased.

A favorite outdoor spot of ours is Hickory Nut Mountain Vista.  The vista is accessed by a panoramic view of a lake with multiple islands, and a forest of trees in the foregroundgravel road off Highway 270 near Mount Ida.  The site is nothing more than a large parking area and a sandstone wall, but the panoramic views are unforgettable.  The surrounding valley flows down to Lake Ouachita nearly a thousand feet below.  On a clear day, it truly feels as if you can see forever!

You’ll also find plenty of outdoor opportunities at our country inn near Hot Springs, AR.  Tiffany’s has 62 acres of woodlands for you to explore, including 3 walking trails.  Our grounds are a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat, and guests enjoy bird watching throughout our property, or while sitting on our full length front porch.  Star gazing at our fire pit after a full day of exploring the area is also a favorite guest activity.

 

Read this for more nature tourism opportunities near us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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