An easy drive from College Station, my husband Mike and I set out on our next great adventure and road trip across Texas to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Crossing over the state line into Arkansas we were enamored with the lush pine trees, rolling hills, and winding roads that led into the city of Hot Springs. Our three-day summer road trip took us from wandering through beautiful gardens to exploring the natural state.
If you are planning a road trip destination with your family or maybe a romantic getaway for two, plan your next trip to Diamond Lakes Region / Hot Springs, Arkansas with my travel guide. I cover all of the best things to do, what to eat and where to stay in Hot Springs!
Garvan Woodland Gardens is a 210-acre botanical garden developed by the University of Arkansas. The botanical gardens are a great family activity where even your “fur family” members can go too. If you travel with your pets, Garvan Woodland Gardens allows one dog per person, on the premises with an admission price of $5. Equipped with the Bob and Sunny Evans Tree House out of a storybook and the Sugg Model Train Garden The best time of year to visit the gardens is in the spring to take advantage of the Tulip Extravaganza. Click HERE for the full bloom calendar.
The Gangster Museum is a glimpse into the history of Hot Springs and a peek into the past underworld of Hot Springs. If you are looking for a place to cool off and enjoy a kitschy tourist experience then check out The Gangster Museum of America. I recommend that you stop by to reserve your tour time slot earlier in the day and then return for the full experience in the afternoon when you need time in the a/c and a break from the heat.
Astral Spa is luxury all the way. I spent the afternoon relaxing at the newly opened spa located at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. If you enjoy a relaxing vacation, away from the action, book a couples massage and spend the day pampering yourselves at Astral Spa. 10/10 would recommend.
Lake Day at Hot Springs Marina on Hamilton Lake. Take the family out to the lake and rent a boat at the family-owned Hot Springs Marina. If you forgot your swim gear that’s ok because they have the best selection of swimsuits and accessories for the entire family that I have ever seen. Friendly staff are eager to make your day on the lake perfect. Coming soon to the marina is a bar and grill so you will be able to enjoy a quick bite to eat while you are visiting. My recommendation is to book your boat early in the season (by April) because they have limited availability for weekend rentals. The marina parking can be a bit tight, so I would also recommend asking your hotel if they could take you out to the marina and drop you off or possibly use a rideshare option, such as Uber or Lyft.
Hike and Bike. While we did not have the opportunity to take advantage of their amazing trials, this is on our list for our next trip to Hot Springs. There are 26 miles of mountain biking trails located only a few minutes from downtown. The Diamond Lakes region is also home to five lakes and three rivers if boating, canoeing, and kayaking are more your speed.
Bathhouse Row is a “MUST do” during your trip to Hot Springs. Located on Central Avenue, there are eight bathhouses in a row, built between the years 1892 and 1923. Two of the Bathhouses are still operational today and one has been converted into a brewery. Click HERE to see a full list of the bathhouses, along with a map of the area.
Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail. Hot Springs is the birthplace of “Spring Training” for baseball players and you can visit each historical site throughout the city.
Horse Racing at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is one of the oldest Thoroughbred racetracks in the country, established in 1904. They have expanded their race days this season and you can place your bets later this year for derby days at Oaklawn. Outside of the horse racing season, plan your trip around two major events in Hot Springs. The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, held each March, on legendary Bridge Street in Hot Springs National Park. Or visit during the Stueart Pennington World Championship Running of the Tubs held in June to celebrate the city’s unofficial motto “We Bathe the World.”
I wish we could have stayed another week to visit every restaurant Hot Springs had to offer. Keep in mind we were there only two days so we got in as much as we could during our time, but I’ve rounded up some of the best of the best… starting with the “Best Cafe and Bar.”
The Best Cafe and Bar is a MUST. Go early and get the Crème Brûlée French toast or their amazing biscuits and gravy.
Will’s Cinnamon Shop is the place for the best homemade cinnamon rolls in town. Custom order your cinnamon roll with their traditional white icing, cream cheese, lemon, orange, or maple coffee icing using in-house locally-roasted coffee. When you thought it couldn’t get better… from there, choose a topping: sprinkles, pecans, bacon, chocolate, or caramel.
Lunch and Dinner Options:
DeLuca’s Pizza but get the burger. No frills, just meat, cheese and a buttery bun.
Steinhaus Keller is another “must” eatery on the list. You will want to make a reservation because a seat at Steinhaus is a hot commodity in Hot Springs. Enjoy a charcuterie board inside of a Bavarian pretzel and served with dipping sauces for your pretzel and a variety of cheeses.
Superior Bathhouse Brewery is a great lunch option and right in the middle of the bathhouse row inside Superior Bathhouse. This brewery is special for several reasons because it is the only brewery located in a National Park and they use the water right out of the hot springs.
The Vault is located in downtown Hot Springs and is a great date night spot. Their cocktails are a showstopper and you can’t go wrong with the scallops. Reservations are needed and plan plenty of time to park downtown because it is located in a highly trafficked area.
During our trip, we stayed at the newly renovated Oaklawn Racing Casino and Resort. The rooms were gorgeous and I took advantage of their newly opened spa, Astral Spa. Below I’m including additional options, in alphabetical order and clickable links, that range in price so that you and your family can find the right resort to fit your travel budget.
Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa is in the heart of downtown and packed with Hot Springs history.
Best Court Hot Springs is centrally located and also home to the “Best Cafe and Bar.” This restored motor lodge is a hidden gem and like traveling back in time but with all of the modern amenities, we are accustomed to today.
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is home to horse racing, gambling, and live events coming this Fall. If you want to be in the action and enjoy the nightlife, fine dining, and of course the Astral spa, Oaklawn is the spot. They will soon open a pool on the property as well.
The Reserve at Hot Springs is an elegant and luxurious boutique hotel. When you stay at the 100-year-old restored home, explore four acres of gardens and expect to be pampered with your own personal chef and true southern hospitality.
The Waters Hotel is in the action downtown and home to the best rooftop bar. On top of the Waters Hotel you can see the entire city and beyond. This is a Hilton property if you are looking to earn your points during your stay.
Hopefully, my travel guide to Hot Springs, Arkansas will help you plan your next road trip adventure. Leave me a comment telling me your favorite destination in Hot Springs and where we should travel to next. Cheers to the next road trip!
This is a sponsored post with DiamondLakes.org . All opinions are my own. Get your free Hot Springs Diamond Lakes Vacation Guide here to plan your perfect trip.