Planning a mountain trip? Below you’ll find the best unique things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Nestled on the border of the beautiful Ouachita National Forest you will find the charming and unique town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s home to Hot Springs National Park which is also the only national park located within city limits. Little Rock is only 40 minutes from this adorable town.
Famous for its eight historic bathhouses located on the Historic Bathhouse Row along Central Ave. You can enjoy the healing waters and thermal baths in one of the luxury spas. Nicknamed Spa City, Hot Springs was America’s first resort town.
The town is surrounded by beautiful views, gorgeous lakes, and abundant wildlife. But if outdoor activities aren’t your thing, don’t worry there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained while visiting.
Hot Springs is best known for its thermal waters, historic spas, and outdoor activities. This historic town is the best place to spend a day, weekend, or weeklong vacation.
Unique Things To Do in Hot Springs, Arkansas
One of the unique things to do in Hot Springs is visiting the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. Here you can pet baby goats, feed baby alligators and even hold them if you are brave enough! You can also view wolves, mountain lions, monkeys, and peacocks.
Fun fact: Babe Ruth once a home run at a nearby baseball field and it landed in a pond on the Alligator Farm!
Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains, Garvan Woodland Gardens is 200 acres of absolute beauty! The garden is filled with beautiful flowers, trails, waterfalls, overlooks, bridges, and an amazing children’s garden. The children’s garden features a 3 story wood treehouse, play area, and caves.
This stunning 6-story-tall chapel is made of yellow-pine beams and floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s no wonder why over 200 couples a year choose this chapel for their wedding ceremony.
The chapel is located at Garvan Woodland Gardens on a hill overlooking Lake Hamilton. This is a great place for weddings and other events and seats up to 160 guests.
By far the best panoramic views of the city. Head inside to the gift shop and purchase a coin to ride the elevator to the top. The observation deck is open 7 days a week from 9 am-5 pm.
After a day of hiking & exploring Hot Springs, head to Purple Cow for some burgers and fries! But be sure to leave room for dessert. You don’t want to miss out on their famous Purple Vanilla milkshake. Their shakes are huge and made perfectly for sharing.
Everything in this museum has over 100 hands-on and interactive exhibits. They have everything from sand art, water features, light bridge, dome theater, and tinkering studio inside the museum. Outside features include a dinotrek which is a trail featuring an array of dinosaurs and a science skywalk. the skywalk has a music bench, rope bowl suspended 40 feet in the air, and rope bridges.
Take the guided tour and learn the history of Hot Springs in the 1920s and ’30s. The town has a rich history with mobsters and how they enjoyed the gambling and thermal waters. It’s fascinating to see how the city was a playground for famous gangsters such as Al Capone.
Take a self-guided tour of the bathhouse that operated from 1915-1962. Step back in time as you view the dressing rooms, electrotherapy beds, music room, gymnasium, and of course the bathtubs. The building has beautiful stain-glass windows throughout and is certainly a stop that even the kids will enjoy.
This is a popular, luxurious bathhouse to get pampered at. Visitors will enjoy the thermal pools, private baths, steam room, and an array of massage options.
The Grand Promenade
The walkway is a wide, half-mile brick path that is located on the backside of Bathhouse Row and Central Avenue. From here you can take one of the many hiking trails through the national park.
Three of the five-diamond lakes (Lake Catherine, Lake Ouachita, and Lake Hamilton) located in Hot Springs are all within a 20-minute drive from downtown. Each lake offers a wide variety of watersports, fishing, or cruise on a party barge.
About a 30-minute drive outside of Hot Springs, but certainly worth the trip. Purchase your digging fee at the front office where you can also buy a 2 in 1 digging tool. sign up to take a ride on the zip line or jeep tour of the mine. Head out to the digging site to hunt for the perfect crystal and quartz.
Ouachita National Forest
The forest is over 1.8 million acres that stretches between Arkansas and Oklahoma. The forest is used for timber harvesting, mineral leasing of course lots of recreation opportunities.
Visitors can take a scenic drive through the winding roads, canoe down the river, hiking, ATV rides, and horseback riding. One of the most popular hiking trails is Horsethief Springs Trail. The 11-mile trail starts at Cedar Lake, down Winding Stair Mountain, and back to Cedar Lake. It’s a long hike, but the views are incredible.
Oaklawn Racing and Gaming
Looking for horse racing and gambling, then you need to check out Oaklawn Racing and Gaming (formerly Oaklawn Park). Located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Oaklawn has been one of the premiere Thoroughbred racetracks in the country since 1904.
Stay or Grab a drink at the Arlington Hotel
Opened in 1875, this historic hotel has seen a lot in its day. Including a rebuild, fires, and gangsters. Grab a drink at the bar and enjoy knowing that the likes of Babe Ruth, Al Capone, Franklin Roosevelt, and Yoko Ono have enjoyed staying at the hotel.
With unique attractions and a blend of nature and city, it’s easy to see why Hot Springs, Arkansas is a must-visit vacation destination!