Known since the 1800's for its restorative springs, the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas has unique natural beauty and cultural, recreational and family attractions like no other in Arkansas. Home to the oldest federal reserve of land in the United States, Hot Springs National Park
, this "spa city" attracts many vacationers as well as permanent residents to its picturesque beauty. Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains
in the midst of placid lakes and lush forests, Hot Springs offers a plethora of recreational opportunities like camping, fishing, hiking, boating and much more. Challenging golf courses and a famous thoroughbred horse track, Oaklawn Park
, provide other recreational opportunities within Hot Springs. In addition to its outdoor resources, Hot Springs is also a cultural hot spot in Arkansas. With music and film festivals, and no shortage of live music and entertainment available nightly, both visitors and residents can enjoy everything from Jazz and Blues to Classical music. Hot Springs is also the boyhood home of the famous saxophone-playing 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
While Hot Springs may have been America's first resort destination, today Hot Springs is no longer just a tourist town. Though most residents are employed by some facet of the recreation or tourism industries, thriving logging and livestock industries employ many more, and round out Hot Springs' economic base. Additionally, businesses in other sectors have started to flock to Hot Springs. The city's pro-business municipal policies coupled with an unparalleled quality of life for employees makes Hot Springs a win-win for business. With about 37,000 full-time residents, and many more moving there each year, Hot Springs's greatest attraction to residents is its natural splendor and small town feel. Move to Hot Springs for the truly natural side of the Natural State!
Hot Springs AR History
Before the area became a world-renowned tourist destination, the Hot Springs area was first frequented by members of the Caddo Indian tribe. This "Valley of the Vapors" was a place of peace as feuding factions laid down their arms to enjoy the baths together. The valley was first discovered by Europeans when Hernando Desoto on their march through the area, stayed several weeks to enjoy the curative waters of the hot springs. The area that is now Hot Springs and Arkansas was purchased by the United States from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Shortly thereafter in 1807, the thermal phenomenon of the springs attracted the first permanent settlers to the area. By the 1830’s, crude structures had been built over the springs to shelter bathers. The United States Congress sought to protect the unique the unique resource of the springs and make its water accessible to all. In 1832, Congress set aside the Hot Springs area as the first "federal reservation," or forerunner to today's national parks. Later, in 1921, Hot Springs would be officially designated as a National Park.
During the early part of the 20th century, elaborate bathhouses were constructed to accommodate the massive number of spa tourists flocking to Hot Springs annually. Historic Bathhouse Row, as it is called today, contains eight preserved bathhouses from the period. One of these bathhouses, the Buckstaff, still remains in operation today. In addition to a national park and the bathhouses, by the 1920's Hot Springs had become a popular resort destination also featuring gambling and horse racing. Through the 1920's to 1940's, some Major League baseball teams would use Hot Springs as their Spring Training camps. The teams would use the springs to soothe their tired and aching muscles. As the casinos closed in the 1960's, Hot Springs became a popular family vacation and convention destination. Through the rest of the 20th century, Hot Springs also focused on expanding its industrial base. Situated on a cache of natural resources, efforts to attract manufacturing to the Hot Springs area proved successful in the 1950’s. Today manufacturing remains strong and businesses choose to relocate to Hot Springs for the outstanding quality of life that entreats many visitors to stay and live there. At the center of it all, keeping the identity of the area, however, remains the springs.
Hot Springs AR Parks and Recreation
In the heart of the Natural State, Hot Springs offers park land unlike any other in the nation. In the hills of the Ouachita Mountain
, one can explore vast, emerald green forests. Four large, placid lakes are perfect spots for family recreation and tournament-quality fishing. Both state and national park facilities offer camping, hiking and biking opportunities. Most importantly, you can view the geologic wonders synonymous with the Hot Springs area. Rich in quartz deposits, many facilities allow families to mine quartz and take home everything they find. Most importantly perhaps, both hot and cold mineral springs have made the Hot Springs National Park famous for many years!
Used for centuries by native tribes, years before European settlement, the springs have drawn many to its healing waters. This resource was deemed so valuable that the hot springs were the first lands designated by Congress for federal preservation in 1832. People from all walks of life traveled from near and far to partake of the mineral baths, and a town eventually sprung up around the Hot Springs Reservation to accommodate them. Hot Springs National Park today surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Hot Springs National Park is nicknamed "The American Spa," containing both the springs and the historic bathhouse structures.
Visit this grand 1,940-acre lake featuring camping, hiking, boating and fishing. Lake Catherine lies adjacent to Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. Call 1-800-264-2422 for more information.
This 13,800 acre lake is a great site for water sports and fishing. Located just 30 minutes south of Hot Springs, DeGray Lake Park also features a public PGA championship-rated golf course. Campsites as well as a lodge and conference center, round out the park's facilities.
Hot Springs Magic Springs You and your family can have, "Twice the thrills! Twice the fun!" with a visit to Magic Springs Theme Park. At Magic Springs, you can go to both the Theme Park and the Crystal Falls Water Park, all for the price of one ticket. A Theme Park and a Water Park for the price of one! The only theme park located in a national park, Magic Springs is the best entertainment value in the region. With 25 new rides, a day at Magic Springs & Crystal Falls is sure to be a hit with the entire family.
You can see Magic Springs Theme Park at a discount! Purchase discount day passes and season passes at my office. Only cash or checks are accepted.
Hot Springs has a great tradition of thoroughbred racing. At famous Oaklawn Park, thoroughbreds, many Triple Crown contenders included race in the "Firth Season." From February to April, see some of the nation's best races located in the middle of historic and beautiful Hot Springs National Park.
Try some wine and beer native to the Natural State! The Winery of Hot Springs offers locally produced wine and beer paired with Petit Jean meats and cheeses. Tour the winery and purchase wine or beer by the glass or bottle at the end of the tour.
Hot Springs AR Local Events and Festivals
With a variety of local events and festivals, there's something for everyone to do in Hot Springs. The Hot Springs area is especially noted for its music events. From Jazz to Classical, and everything in between, you can find it at one of Hot Springs' festivals.
This active community band put on nearly twenty performances every year. Offering something for everyone, the Hot Springs Community Band's musical selections vary from lighter fare served with the Summer Park Series and specialty concerts, to formal concert works performed during the Winter season.
Held every September, the Hot Springs JazzFest celebrates jazz within Hot Springs National Park
. Vendors and food are available onsite, along with a "jazzy" craft area for kids and families.
Over 250 international musicians gather each June in Hot Springs National Park.
Hot Springs AR Museums
Hot Springs Artifacts
Hot Springs is committed to highlighting arts, culture in its museums. The museums listed below are great places for the whole family to visit.
The Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum features wax recreations of celebrities, royalty and presidents to historically accurate battle scenes. You'll be amazed at how lifelike the figures are!
This hands-on science center is the first Smithsonian Affiliate in Arkansas. Learning is fun for the kids and adults at this museum.
Hot Springs AR Arts
Both visual and performing arts have a home in Hot Springs. From galleries featuring paintings and ceramics, to live theatre, Hot Springs art scene is just as hot as the springs are!
American Art Gallery
Noted for the "truly unique and unusual," this gallery contains 4,000 square feet of exhibition space on two floors. This gallery features unique art from artists primarily in the South-Central region of the US.
Beautiful, collectible artware from mid-American clays and Arkansas quartz can be found at Dryden Pottery Factory. Watch while local artisans make pottery before your very eyes.
You can be the artist at Hot Springs' only paint your own pottery studio! Fun for kids and families!
Pivotal in the creation of Gallery Walk, The Fine Arts Center of Hot Springs also hosts Artist's Exhibitions and annual competitions. The Center also exhibits works by local schoolchildren.
The only year round live performing theatre in Hot Springs, The Pocket Theatre offers a variety of productions through their season.
For more information on other local areas, click on an area guide below