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The 20 Best Things To Do in Hot Springs, AR For First-Timers

Lake Catherine State Park

Hot Springs is one of the most popular places to vacation for tourists visiting the state of Arkansas. It's known for its hot springs and its healing properties. If you're planning to be in the area and this is your first time there we have some pointers that can help you make the most out of your time there. The city is filled with southern charm, and there are so many fun and exciting things to do that we chose the top 20. We've included useful links to help you plan out your trip in advance for the best time ever in Hot Springs, AR.

Hot Springs National Park

20. Visit the Hot Springs National Park

The Hot Springs National Park is the most popular attraction in the city. It is an attraction that brings thousands of visitors to the area each year. What makes this national park so unique is that it is located in the center of the city of Hot Springs. It's a part of the downtown area which makes it a centrally located breath of fresh air that keeps you close to other activities and attractions. Although there isn't any designated parking for the national park, most people just park along the city streets to gain access, and there is plenty of parking available there. Here you'll find a row of bathhouses, gift shops, and more.

Visitors Center/Museum

19. Check out the Visitors Center/Museum

The Visitors Center Museum is located within the Hot Springs National Park. There is a museum located in the visitor's centers that gives you some great history on Hot Springs along with some interesting exhibits. The building is a lovely example of 1910 architecture in the classical revival style. This is a great place for families to find out more about the hot springs and there is something for everyone in the family here.

Bathhouse Row

18. Sightsee and shop at Bathhouse Row

Bathhouse Row consists of a section of the main stretch of the road that runs through the National Park. It's a wide sidewalk that goes past each of the buildings on Bathhouse Row. There are functional bathhouses here as well as some of the most beautifully landscaped grounds that surround the buildings. You'll find a variety of shops to pick up souvenirs of your trip and there are also plenty of restaurants to grab a bite to eat. The Bathhouse Row Emporium is one of the shops we highly recommend.

Hot Springs Mountain Tower

17. See the sights at Hot Springs Mountain Tower

Hot Springs Mountain Tower is visible when you first arrive in the city. It's located a little over a half-mile from the National Park Visitor Center and you can climb to the peak through the hiking trail that takes you directly to the tower. This is easily the best place to go if you want to take photos of the breathtaking landscape that surrounds the city. When you arrive you can also opt to go up in the tower, but be prepared to pay a fee if you want to do this. If hiking isn't your thing, there is also a road so you can drive up to the tower.

Grand Promenade

16. Take a walk down the Grand Promenade

The Grand Promenade is a walkway that is located above the street behind Bathhouse Row. We highly recommend taking the family on this safe and beautiful walkway. It's relaxing and the scenery on the path is gorgeous There are no cars allowed on the walkway so it's a perfect place to take the kids out for a nature walk.

Display Spring

15. See Display Spring

Display Spring features one of the hottest natural hot springs in the area. It's located around the back of the Visitor Center. What we love about Display Spring is that the water is remarkably hot, but if the heat makes you uncomfortable, there is a beautiful waterfall close by. It comes directly out of the mountain and the water that is coming out of the small waterfall is cool and refreshing.

Oaklawn Racing and Gaming Casino Resort

14. Check out Oaklawn Racing and Gaming Casino Resort

Oaklawn Racing and Gaming is an attraction that is more geared for the entertainment and enjoyment of adults. Here you will find casinos and horse racing. Oaklawn Racing and Gaming sponsor a lot of different events throughout the year, and you can check out the website in advance of your visit to learn more about what will be going on during the time of your visit to Hot Springs.

Ouachita Mountain

13. Tour Ouachita Mountain

The Ouachita Mountain range is a part of the Ouachita National Forest and there are plenty of fun activities to do in this area. The forest encompasses 1.8 million acres in the state of Arkansas, but while you're in Hot Springs, you can choose from fishing, boating, biking, or hiking at Ouachita Mountain. It's a popular getaway for cyclists, hikers, backpackers, and fishermen. To see the mountain in all of its glory, go up in the Hot Springs Mountain Tower for some breathtaking views.

Garvan Woodland Gardens

12. Visit Garvan Woodland Gardens

If you're into botanical gardens then you won't want to miss out on this popular tourist attraction in Hot Springs, AR. The Garvan Woodland Gardens is a part of the University of Arkansas and tours are available for a small admission fee. You'll see some of the most beautiful and remarkable exotic plants and flowers here. While you're in Garvan Woodland Gardens you can also visit the Anthony Chapel for free. It is a structure that features tons of windows. It's a popular place for weddings and other special events.

Arkansas Alligator Farm

11. Tour the Arkansas Alligator Farm

If you're into alligators then you're in luck. Hot Springs, Arkansas is home to the Arkansas Alligator Farm. This is a year-round attraction and you can even hold a baby alligator. There is also an area there that features a petting zoo with sheep, goats, emus, and more animals for the kids to get up close and personal with. Sometimes you're allowed to feed alligators with meat on the end of a stick. There is an admission fee for getting into the alligator farm so check in advance of your trip for operation hours and admission fees.

Gangster Museum of America

10. Visit the Gangster Museum of America

Across from the National Park is the Gangster Museum of America. This is another popular tourist attraction in Hot Springs that features exhibits from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Did you know that Hot Springs was popular with the gangsters of this era? Learn about the history at this fascinating museum that chronicles the history of the Hot Springs in the early to middle 1900s. There is also an antique casino on the premises and you can play there to get a feel for what it was like during the era of the early 1900s.

Superior Bathhouse Brewery

9. Relax at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery

The Superior Bathhouse Brewery is an establishment that draws a lot of visitors for several reasons. The beer that is brewed there is made from water that comes from the hot springs. The brewery is located in the National Park and it's a great place to try some interesting local brews. We hear that the food there is also excellent.

Magic Springs Water and Theme Park

8. Spend a day at the Magic Springs Water and Theme Park

The Magic Springs Water and Theme Park are one of the biggest attractions for families in the Hot Springs area. This venue is packed with a lot of fun and exciting things to do during the summer months. There are some great rides for adults that will thrill you beyond measure. Some rides are more family-friendly if you just want to have fun and pass on the scarier thrill rides. You'll find three body slides, a crystal lagoon, four tube slides, and a lot more.

Lake Catherine State Park

7. Visit Lake Catherine State Park

If you don't mind driving for a few miles, Lake Catherine is one of the biggest attractions in the area. This is a park that is dedicated to recreational activities for its visitors. When you arrive you'll find a visitor's center that is packed with useful information. There is a marina where you can purchase bait, fuel and other supplies, There are twenty cabins available if you want to take a few days for fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities. There are also picnic areas, campgrounds, playgrounds for the kids, and more. Guided tours and educational programs are also available through the park. You can also book a horseback riding tour.

Funtrackers Family Park

6. Spend time at the Funtrackers Family Park

If you have the kids along on your trip to Hot Springs you'll want to take them to the Funtrackers Family Park. There you'll find Wet & Wild bumper boats equipped with squirt guns, a pro-style drift go-kart track with go-kart rentals, and more. There are over 50 arcade games, along with the Volcano Falls Miniature Golf course with 18 holes, a big volcano that erupts 25 feet in the air with giant fireballs, a waterfall, and a snack bar.

Adventureworks Hot Springs

5. Go to Adventureworks Hot Springs

At Adventureworks Hot Springs you'll find some of the most beautiful scenery that Arkansas has to offer, but there is a lot more. In addition to the natural surroundings and wildlife, this venue operates several zip lines. You can see the area from above for a panoramic view of the area. There is also a cool sky bridge with an observation deck if you don't want to go up in a zip line.

Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf

4. Play Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf

If you're a golfer but you also love pirates then you'll love this golf course. Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf is for people of all ages. It's a challenging golf course that features 18 holes and a pirate theme. There are dark caves with waterfalls and you play on a full-size pirate ship that is set on rugged cliffs, sandy beaches with pools of water nearby, hammocks filled with sleeping pirates, and more. It's a total immersion golfing experience.
Galaxy Connection

3. Take the family to the Galaxy Connection

The Galaxy Connection is a must-see for all fans of the Star Wars franchise. This venue features costumes, toys, props, and life-size figures from the Star-Wars movies. There are interesting exhibits in the museum with numerous galleries. You can go through the museum on your own or schedule a guided tour. You can also dress up as your favorite Star Wars character here. There is a gift shop at the museum where you can purchase a variety of different Star Wars-themed merchandise.

Bathhouse Row Winery

2. Stop at the Bathhouse Row Winery

You can take the entire family into the Bathhouse Row Winery. This establishment offers some of the best wines in the Hot Springs area for adults to indulge in. There are also beverages such as grape juice and other tempting non-alcoholic drinks available for the kids. It's a great stop for anyone who enjoys wine tasting without the need to get a babysitter for the kids.

Mid-America Science Museum

1. Visit the Mid-America Science Museum

The Mid-America Science Museum is a must-see for anyone who has an interest in science. There are more than 100 interactive exhibits so you can get in on the fun while you're learning about science. There is also a ball machine that hits the balls around a complex track that is entertaining. It's a great place for kids to get hands-on learning at the fun and interesting science exhibits that promote learning.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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