Now that my best girl friends and I are getting older and having babies, our girl’s weekends are becoming few and far between. It seems like only yesterday there was a bridal shower or a bachelorette getaway every other month or so! While we are all scattered all over the country, we decided we are not going to let distance keep us apart so we’d continue our girl’s getaways as often as possible. I found myself heading up to Memphis with Annie in mid-July and I knew making the road trip from Houston was going to be a loooong one. Thankfully two of my best girls decided to join me in Hot Springs, Arkansas! Not only did the visit help break up my trip, but it made for a weekend getaway that I seriously can not wait to repeat!
Sharing details on our trip to Hot Springs and why you have got to check out this charming town too, all in today’s post!
Annie and I rolled into Hot Springs just before sunset with my friends Carey and Madison following shortly behind. We were greeted with green rolling hills that morphed into tall tree covered mountains along our drive into town. Hot Springs sits next to the Ouachita Mountain Range and gets its namesake from the bubbling natural hot springs that flow from nearby Hot Springs Mountain.
Tourists flock to Hot Springs for many reasons, to relax at the world-renown spas, to shop, to dine, to hike and to even kayak and mountain bike. It’s nature’s playground with something for everyone, even the non-outdoorsy type!
Where to STAY:
The three of us stayed smack dab in the center of town at The Hot Springs Hotel. What we loved the most about it (aside from the fabulous view from our room!) was the fact that it was just steps away from everything we wanted to see.
Where to EAT breakfast:
One of my favorite things about traveling to new places is trying the best restaurants in each town I visit. The Pancake Shop has been serving breakfast to locals and visitors alike since 1940 … and it couldn’t be more delicious! Definitely, order the namesake dish if you stop by, you won’t regret it! (I certainly didn’t!)
Shop the Look:
What to SEE: Bathhouse Row
After a hearty breakfast, we strolled downtown Hot Springs, popping in and out of boutiques while gazing in awe at the gorgeous architecture on Bathhouse Row in the National Park. Fountains dot the town with fresh water from the flowing hot springs. We filled our water bottles with the stuff, only to realize it was just a bit too hot (143 degrees to be precise) to drink! Afer it cooled down, it tasted just about as delicious as any water possibly could!
A must see when in town is Hot Springs National Park. These sweltering hot springs have been attracting visitors for years & years, and the city has a lot to show for that. One of the most stunning buildings in town, Fordyce Bathhouse, is now the visitor center for the National Park. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the historic bathhouse for free, and I’m sharing a peek for y’all in the photos below!
Opening in 1915, Fordyce Bathhouse was considered “The American Spa” and wealthy tourists would flock from all over for a dip into the hot waters to cure whatever was ailing them. Marble floors, stain glass windows, and ceramic fountains decorate this lavish bathhouse, which made it one of the best in the country back in the day.
The men’s spa included marble partitions, benches and even a larger than life fountain sitting under a stain glass ceiling. Would you believe it if I told you the women’s spa was not nearly as fabulous? These days it’s kidn of the opposite! Funny how that one changed.
After guests would bathe on the hot waters they would retreat to the top floor for a bit of socialization and further relaxation.
Or if they were willing, they’d get a work out in this state of the art early 20th-century gym. (Kind of felt like stepping in a time machine just walking into this room!)
Shop the Look:
Where to EAT lunch:
After a tour of Bathhouse Row, don’t forget to stop at Superior Baths. You might be surprised to find that a brewery and a restaurant sit inside. Light, dark, mild and strong brews alike are all made using water straight from the springs.
What to SEE: Arlington Hotel
The Arlington Hotel was once the center of the action in Hot Springs, hosting grand balls and social events since it opened in 1875. What was a girl to do after a long day relaxing at the bathhouses if it was not to dance the night away in a lavish ballroom? Anyone can pop in for a peek at the fabulous lobby for a nostalgic treat of the grandeur of long ago.
Where to EAT dinner:
Rolando’s was a spot that was recommended to us by several people in town. This popular restaurant serves Latin cuisine in both a cantina setting downstairs and in the tucked away speakeasy upstairs. Definitely get the quesadillas! So good!
What to SEE: Garvan Woodland Gardens
If the weather is nice, a visit to Hot Springs isn’t complete without a stroll through the Garvan Woodland Gardens. You may even see a peacock running around the floral covered grounds!
Shop the Look:
The four of us spent several hours strolling along the scenic trails and stopping every so often to admire the view. From rock formations, colorful flower beds to a loop around a lake, we couldn’t get enough! Now here’s to hoping Annie loves the outdoors just as much as I do.
What to DRINK: Artisan Coffee
Before heading out of town on our last day in Hot Springs, we all grabbed coffee and a light bite at Artisan Coffee. This colorful coffee shop is everything you would want a local watering hole to be. Comfy chairs, a relaxed atmosphere and an authentic coffee shop vibe made for a leisurely morning that we didn’t want to end!
Hot Springs is not just a pit stop on the way to another destination, it is a destination in and of itself. And one that I can not wait to return to! I can’t imagine how fabulous a fall visit would be. Crisp and colorful autumn leaves with a steaming hot spa experience waiting for me!? Yes, please! If you find yourself heading to Hot Springs soon, I hope my little travel diary & guide helped you to plan your visit! If you have half as much fun as I had with my girlfriends, then you’re in for a treat!
As always, thanks for stopping by the blog! And thank you Arkansas Tourism for the stay and fabulous recommendations!