This Arkansas city has it all: a colorful past of gambling and gangsters, vintage stores, restored Victorian architecture, national parks and famous natural springs.
Hot Springs has been a popular destination for centuries. The city draws visitors from all over the world with its intriguing past, natural thermal springs and a revived arts scene.
Immerse yourself in the history of the city. Hot Springs in the 1800s was a hotbed for organized crime. Infamous gangsters like Al Capone, Bugs Moran, Frank Costello and Lucky Luciano came here to hide amid the corruption that was endemic to the city. Visit the Gangster Museum of America to learn about this side of Hot Springs’ history. At the museum, you’ll see vintage slot machines and old roulette tables while you learn about the city’s notorious gambling past.
The historic Victorian downtown has beautifully restored buildings housing independent boutiques, galleries and art studios. Ride on a riverboat to Historic Bathhouse Row, the eight bathhouses built between 1912 and 1923. Two of the structures, the Buckstaff and the Quapaw, are still in operation as bathhouses. The the Fordyce Bathhouse is now a visitor center where you can see rooms restored to what they would have looked like when the building was operating as a bathhouse in the early 1900s.
In the Fine Arts District, do a Gallery Walk or Antique/Boutique Walk and peek into the historical buildings that have been transformed into art studios. Sports fans can explore the Hot Springs Baseball Trail and walk in the footsteps of White Stockings players; the team is now the Chicago Cubs.
With plenty of parks and the Ouachita Mountains surrounding the city, Hot Springs has a wealth of outdoor activities. Bring a tent and camp at Catherine Lake, Hamilton Lake or Ouachita Lake. Walk through Garvan Woodland Gardens, hike through the Hot Springs National Park or boat around St. John's Island. After a long day of sightseeing, unwind in a relaxing spa with a massage.
The nearest airport to Hot Springs is in Little Rock, which is 55 miles (89 kilometers) northeast. With most attractions in walking distance and an effective public transportation system, Hot Springs is an easy city to get around or simply relax in.