Recently my family visited Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. We visited this park as part of a ten day road trip from Minnesota. We had a great time and we had great weather. We visited in late May and we found this a great time of year for the trip. Hot Springs National Park is the smallest National Park in the park system, so we planned to only spend one day of our trip in the park. One day was perfect for us, I am sure we could have spent more time, but we left feeling good about seeing what the park had to offer. Below I will share five of our favorite things we did while visiting the park:
2 Children (age 2 & 4)
Spent previous night at Lake Ouachita State Park
1. Go to the top of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower
The first thing we did when we entered the National Park was visit the Mountain Tower. It did not disappoint. On the tower you are elevated 1,256 feet above sea level, overlooking 140 miles of beautiful Arkansas countryside, including Hot Springs National Park and the Ouachita Mountains.It was beautiful, and the kids absolutely loved it. I think the kids favorite park was riding the glass elevator, and getting to watch ourselves go above the trees and into the sky. The views were spectacular and it made us excited for our day!
Directions: To reach the Tower, turn off Central Avenue (State Highway 7) in Downtown Hot Springs onto Fountain Street and follow the signs to the Tower.
2. Explore Bathhouse Row
Nicknamed “America’s Spa” you must take a stroll through the Bathhouse Row National Historic Landmark District which includes the Grand Promenade. This is what the park is all about. The thermal water! You can explore on your own, or there are guided tours you can take. The most popular is of the Fordyce Bathhouse. Of course, you can also book yourself a traditional bath if you are looking to experience the park to the fullest. We loved walking the row and it was a perfect day for it. Really beautiful weather and really fun just to look at all the unique architecture and design.
3. Hike around the gardens
The picnic areas in the park are beautiful and there are also a number of short hikes to choose from. We loved exploring these beautiful areas and the kids enjoyed chasing butterflies and laying in the grass. We also loved sitting by the beautiful hot spring water. It really was very hot so hold your kids close!
4. Drive the Scenic Mountain Roads
There are two main mountain roads that are in hot springs national park. On one of them you will find the mountain tower, and the other is just a beautiful scenic drive. We enjoyed driving both the mountain roads and hoping out at overlooks to snap photos.
5. Explore Town
Hot springs National Park is unique in that it is right in the middle of a city. The city of Hot Springs was very charming. We enjoyed walking the main drag window shopping, and stopping for ice cream, and lunch. We also had a great time at the National Park Aquarium and the kids loved it.
We were happy to check this park off our list, and we had a great time doing it. I hope this has sparked your interest about Hot Springs National Park. It was a fun park, and not one you often hear talked about. I definitely wouldn’t say it was one of my favorite parks, but it was different, and it really was interesting and beautiful. We learned a lot and we had a lot of fun. It was a great quick stop, on a great road trip. If you decide to add it into one of your family road trips, check out my packing tips for road tripping with kids.
Much Love & Happy Travels,
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