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Top Activities in & around Hot Springs
Favorite Restaurants to hit in Hot Springs

Top Activities in & around Hot Springs

by Brendhan Hight June 24, 2020

The Hot Springs area is best known for it’s beautiful series of lakes and it’s hot springs. The sheer expanse and beauty of the area along with all of the outdoor activities makes for a fun getaway.

Here are some highlights and recommendations:

  • Lake Hamilton
  • The Hot Springs Lake Home sits on the shores of Lake Hamilton in a private cove just off Central Avenue. Lake Hamilton offers a wide variety of activities including boating, fishing, hiking, biking and restaurants on the water. You can rent a party barge or a speedboat from a couple of places nearby. We prefer the Hot Springs Marina (family owned and less expensive) but Kahuna Bay is another option and is just around the corner. And, if you bring your own boat, you can launch it just down the road at the Willow Beach Resort.
  • Lake Ouachita
  • The largest and most pristine (ranked 2nd cleanest lake in the US) sits just down the road (13 miles) from Hot Springs. Lake Ouachita offers boating, fishing, hiking and biking (including the longest mountain bike trail in the state - 223 miles long!). No homes are allowed to be built on the shoreline so it provides a more private experience. You can rent boats for a day trip and there’s plenty of fishing for the angler (see more details below).
  • DeGray Lake
  • DeGray Lake, which sits about 20 miles south of the Lake Home, is a large (13,800 acres) lake popular for boating, fishing and water sports. The State Park also offers great hiking, horseback riding and an 18 hole golf course.
  • Lake Catherine
  • The last of the finger lakes, Lake Catherine is a smaller man-made lake that sits below Carpenter Dam off Lake Hamilton. Lake Cathrine State Park offers many of the same activities with boating, fishing and hiking across its 2,240 acres.
    • Hiking
    • The Hot Springs area is home to the longest and most advanced hiking trail (223 miles long!) called the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. There are also numerous shorter, easier and intermediate hikes in Hot Springs National Park and Ouachita National Park. Hot Springs Mountain trails are fun hikes that aren’t too strenuous and provide some nice views. At the top of Hot Springs Mountain sits the Mountain Tower which you can climb up or take an elevator for a spectacular view.
  • Fishing
  • Anglers are found throughout the Ouachita region as there are an abundance of fishing areas and fish - including Largemouth Bass, Small Mouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Bream, Crappie, Catfish, Walleye and World Class Striped Bass. All of these are found in the lakes surrounding Hot Springs. And you can easily drop a line off the dock in front of the Hot Springs Lake Home, too.
  • Biking
  • There are tons of different mountain bike trails throughout the surrounding national parks and beyond. Here’s a good resource to find a trail that suits your level.
  • Golfing
  • Hot Springs plays host to wide array of golf courses. Nearby, Hot Springs Village (30 minute drive) has 8 courses (some public). Closer to Hot Springs and our lake home the Diamondhead golf course is a fun course. And there are a couple of nine hole courses (Lakeside and Essex) nearby if you just want to hit the ball around. And, if you’ve got kids, there’s Pirate's Cove mini golf just around the corner from the lake home which is a kick.
    • Shopping
    • Hot Springs is known for its antiques and specialty stores in the historic downtown district. There’s a wide variety of places but the following are fun and unique to the area:
      • The Bathhouse Soapery is a charm-filled apothecary that captures the unique essences of Hot Springs with bath soaps, salts and scrubs.
      • Evilo Oils and Vinegars carries a wide range of unique olive oils, vinegars and hot sauces.
      • Riley Art Glass Studio is a an art glass studio with pieces and demonstrations (free) year-round.
      • Dryden Pottery has a studio and showcase with pieces for sale that incorporate unique elements like local Arkansas quartz silica.
      • The Savory Pantry offers a range of different unique specialty food gifts (from jams to sauces to cocktail mixers).

  • Health Club
  • The Hot Springs Health & Fitness Club is located just around the corner (2 minutes walk from the house). Voted one of the top three health clubs in Arkansas, Hot Springs Health & Fitness' 60,000-square-foot facility features one of the largest weight and cardio areas in the state.

    Unique Attractions in Hot Springs

  • The Hot Springs Bathhouses
  • The original bathhouses date back to 1832 when they became part of the Hot Springs National Park. They offer a range of different services and use some of the natural hot springs from the area. For an authentic experience we recommend the Quapaw Baths or Buckstaff Baths.
  • Garvan Woodland Gardens
  • Run by the University of Arkansas, the botanical gardens that sit on the edge of Lake Hamilton are a sight to behold. Be sure to check out the Anthony Chapel which is architecturally exquisite. The gardens are available year-round with a special offering of Holiday Lights between Thanksgiving and New Years. If you are into sheer natural beauty, this is a must-see.
    • Oaklawn Racing & Casino
    • You can catch the ponies from mid-January until early May at the race track just up the road from the Hot Springs Lake Home on Central Avenue. Oaklawn also plays home to a casino that’s open year-round with everything from slots to table games to sports wagering.
  • Water & Amusement Park
  • About a 15 minute drive from our home on Lake Hamilton, Magic Springs and Crystal Falls has plenty of fun activities for the kids. The water park is top of the line and covers the whole range from toddlers to teens. And the amusement rides are not for the feint of heart. It's a lot of fun!
  • The Arlington Hotel
  • Originally built in 1875, the Arlington Hotel was the largest hotel in Arkansas. The original structure was three stories high, made of wood and had 120 rooms. It was rebuilt in 1924 (after a fire) to its current 560 room structure. Many famous folks have traveled and stayed at the Arlington including Al Capone, whose favorite room was 443, and he kept the whole floor for his staff and bodyguards.
  • The Gangster Museum
  • During the early 1900’s, Hot Springs was a popular destination for gangsters. They enjoyed the gambling, the hot mineral waters and the bootlegging. Al Capone spent a lot of time in this area and the museum does a nice job of capturing this infamous chapter in the history of Hot Springs.
  • The Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo
  • The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo has been raising alligators since it was founded back in 1902. You can hold a baby alligator or pet a wide array of different animals on-site. Then check out the baseball venue nearby (see below)
    • History of Baseball
    • The city of Hot Springs is known as the birthplace of MLB spring training. Dating back to the late 1800’s all the way through the mid 1900’s over 300 professional baseball players took part in spring training including Babe Ruth and Lefty Grove - and 137 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame! You can check out Fogel Field (right next to the Alligator Farm) where it all happened.
  • Quartz Crystals
  • Hot Springs is renown for its quartz with several mines in the area. You can venture over to and do some digging yourself at Ron Coleman Mining. They guarantee you will walk away with your very own crystals. Great outing for kids (and it’s cheap!). They also have a shop in downtown Hot Springs where jewelry is made.
  • Lake Cruises
  • The historic Belle of Hot Springs offers scenic cruises and dinner cruises around the lake during the season. You can always go for a more interactive experience with the infamous Duck Tour which drives/boats right past our lake home.
    And last, but definitely not least, if you want to really enjoy your stay, I hope you’ll consider staying at the Hot Springs Lake Home. It’s cozy, convenient and right on Lake Hamilton (and sleeps 6). You can book here instantly!

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    Favorite Restaurants to hit in Hot Springs

    by Brendhan Hight June 27, 2020

    Hot Springs has a number of top of the line restaurants with unique culinary eats and some fun atmospheres. From a converted bathhouse to an outdoor patio built into the side of the mountain, you can usually find a spot that suits your tastes.

    Here are some of my personal recommendations:



    • Coffee Love & The English Muffin
    • I have to give my first shout out to my favorite coffee spot in Hot Springs. It also conveniently happens to be right around the corner from the Hot Springs lake home. Try the Mexican Mocha if you get the chance.
      And just a couple doors down is the English Muffin where you can grab a delicious breakfast in an authentic Arkansas diner setting (be sure to try one of their many English muffin varieties).
      4832 Central Ave.
      Hot Springs, AR 71913

  • Java Primo
  • Just up Central Avenue Java Primo is another great breakfast spot that serves great espresso and delicious breakfasts.

    4429 Central Ave.
    Hot Springs, AR 71913

  • Will's Cinnamon Shop
  • Arguably the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever eaten can be found at Will’s Cinnamon Shop!

    1001 Central Ave.
    Hot Springs, AR 71901



    • Rolando's
    • Located in downtown Hot Springs with a patio on the side of a mountain, Rolando's serves great Latin fare and has a fun atmosphere for lunch or dinner.

      210 Central Avenue
      Hot Springs, AR 71901

  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • The Fisherman's Wharf has a convenient location just down the road from the Lake Home right on the water. They serve steaks, seafood and drinks. It's a little pricey for the quality but the setting is hard to beat.

    5101 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71913

  • Sam's Pizza
  • Sam's Pizza sits right on Lake Hamilton near our lake house and is a cozy pub with great pizzas (and a nice view if you step/eat outside).

    401 Burchwood Bay Road
    Hot Springs, AR 71913

    Deluca's Pizza'


    • Deluca's Pizza
    • There’s a lot of pizza around town but Deluca’s Pizza is arguably the best. You need to call in advance (early in the day) to reserve your dough. If you don’t reserve, you aren’t guaranteed a pizza (and can often spend a long wait - but it's worth it!).

      831 Central Avenue
      Hot Springs, AR 71901

  • La Hacienda
  • La Hacienda is our favorite traditional Mexican restaurant around. Their salsas are legendary, their fruit punch delicious and their service is second to none.

    3836 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71913

  • Luna Bella
  • Luna Bella is an upscale Italian place (that serves only dinner) five minutes from our home. Very good hand-made Italian food but can get busy - reservations recommended.

    104 Grand Isle Way
    Hot Springs, AR 71913

  • 501 Prime
  • Known for their oyster bar and quality steaks, 501 Prime is a high end steakhouse for a special occasion. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday 5pm-10pm.

    215 E. Grand Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71901

  • Vault 723
  • Another swank, upscale steakhouse that’s quite popular is Vault 723 which is known for great service and great steaks. Open Tuesday through Saturday.

    723 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71901


  • Cash & Carry Liquor
  • The closest liquor store is just around the corner on Central Ave. They’ve got a ton of selection (beer, wine, liquor), friendly staff and are open 9am-11pm (except Sundays).

    4738 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71913

    The Ohio Club


  • The Ohio Club
  • If you want to rub shoulders where Al Capone used to spend some time and Babe Ruth was known to have a drink, you can hit the Ohio Club which is the oldest bar in Arkansas.

    336 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71901

  • The Big Chill
  • Your best bet if you want to catch live music from a local artist is the Big Chill. It's exactly that, a chill bar with a live band on the weekends.

    336 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71901

  • The Arlington Hotel
  • If you’re looking for an upscale, classical experience, the original Arlington Hotel bar is a can’t miss.

    336 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71901

  • Crystal Ridge Distillery
  • In the mood for some local bourbon, whiskey or moonshine? Crystal Ridge Distillery in Hot Springs can fill that need. They even offer tours of the distillery.

    2705 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71901

  • Superior Bathhouse Brewery
  • For another unique experience, grab a beer at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery (which uses Hot Springs thermal water for their brews!)

    329 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71901

  • Oaklawn Racing & Casino
  • The horses run from mid-January through mid-May but you can always grab a drink anytime of year at the Oaklawn Casino just up the road on Central Avenue.

    2705 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71901



    • Weldon's Meat Market
    • And if you’re looking to grill a nice steak, you can’t go wrong with Weldon’s. Open 8:30am -6pm (except Sundays)

      3911 Central Avenue
      Hot Springs, AR 71913

  • Kroger
  • The closest supermarket is Kroger just up Central Avenue. They are open 6am-11pm everyday. And, remember, no alcohol is sold in Arkansas on Sundays.

    3341 Central Avenue
    Hot Springs, AR 71913

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