Southwest Itinerary A:
Celebrate the Holidays in Hot Springs!
Love Christmas lights? Hot Springs, Arkansas, which is surrounded by the picturesque Ouachita mountains, has long been and remains a top destination to visit. The city is famous for many attractions including Hot Springs National Park with its famed Bathhouse Row and thermal baths, the 210-acre Garvan Woodland Gardens, a historic baseball trail, a thriving arts community and more! The holidays are a beautiful time of year to experience the city. The Christmas lights downtown will be turned on November 20 during an event on Exchange Street. Arlington Lawn located in Hot Springs National Park celebrates the holidays with a stunning display of Christmas lights starting on November 20 too. An annual Christmas Parade is set for December 4 in the city.
Ready to explore the city?
- You won’t want to miss Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue. Described as "the grandest collection of bathhouses of their kind in the nation," the eight bathhouses that make up the Row are a National Historic Landmark District with structures dating to the late 1800s. Two of the bathhouses, ( the Buckstaff and the Quapaw) offer therapeutic baths with natural thermal mineral water.
- Be sure to walk the Grand Promenade. This paved route is behind Bathhouse Row and also connects to other trails for those wanting a longer hike.
- Keep an eye out for markers of the Historic Baseball Trail. As part of the trail, historical markers have been placed across the city at various significant spots so visitors can see places where American baseball legends trained and played. Legendary names like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson are just a few of the high profile baseball legends that came through Hot Springs to play and train.
- Drive up West Mountain in Hot Springs National Park and enjoy the view from the overlooks, which provide a wonderful overview of downtown Hot Springs. To get to West Mountain from Bathhouse Row, go north on Highway 7 to Whittington Avenue and turn left. Keep going until you see the West Mountain Drive sign.
- Visit the headquarters of Mountain Valley Spring Water, which has twice been named the best-tasting spring water in the world. There is a visitor center on site to learn more about the history of the company. The building is at 150 Central Ave.
- Grab lunch or a brew at Superior Bathhouse Brewery. This craft microbrewery is located on Bathhouse Row and is the nation's first brewery in a national park. It is also the world's only brewery using thermal spring water as the main ingredient in its local brew.
- Want dessert? Grab a cupcake at Fat Bottomed Girls Cupcake Shoppe at 124 Central Ave. This shop was featured on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars!
- Stroll along downtown Central Avenue and visit the shops and many notable art galleries, such as Alison Parsons Gallery, that are in town.
- Ready for more art? Check out Dryden Pottery at 341 Whittington Avenue. They house the largest showroom of handmade pottery in the state. Materials used for the pottery include Ouachita Mountain clays and Arkansas quartz crystal. Another option for pottery can be found at Fox Pass Pottery (379 Fox Pass), which showcases handmade pottery by husband and wife duo Jim and Barbara Larkin. The Arkansas Arts Council recently named Jim Larkin an Arkansas Living Treasure.
- Ready for a recharge? Grab a cup of coffee at Kollective Coffee + Tea at 110 Central Avenue.
- Ready for more Christmas lights? Hot Springs is home to the fabulous Garvan Woodland Gardens – enjoy the whimsy of their annual Holiday Lights event which hosts over 4 million lights and holds title as one of the state's most elaborate outdoor holiday lights displays. This festive event opens the Saturday before Thanksgiving and runs through New Year’s Eve. Of note, it is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
- Hungry? Grab dinner and a drink at the Ohio Club at 336 Central Ave. Established in 1905, this bar was a former hangout for famous gangsters like Al Capone and baseball players like Babe Ruth.
- Tired? You can overnight at the Arlington Hotel at 239 Central Ave. This historic hotel is a landmark of Hot Springs and is the largest hotel in Arkansas. Guests have included a range of famous names, from Presidents to actors, athletes, and gangsters. Theodore Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, Yoko Ono, and Joe DiMaggio are among the hotel’s notable visitors. The city is also home to many other lodging options.
Drive home ( to plan your next Arkansas adventure) or if you want to keep going:
Take a mini side trip to Mount Ida
—the Quartz Crystal Capital of the World!