Hot Springs is home to several remodeled motor courts that recall the days of family road trip fun! Get settled in, then stretch your legs downtown. Stroll Bathhouse Row and the Grand Promenade, following the staircase down to Arlington Lawn where you can take pictures and test the temperature of the water at the Hot Water Cascade, the largest visible spring in the park. Refuel with burgers at Bubbalu’s or treat the kids to ice cream from Kilwins Hot Springs. Afterwards, tour the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum, or take a short drive up Whittington Avenue to visit two other throwback attractions: Tiny Town is an interactive miniature city featuring scenes from all across America. Handcrafted and fully animated, it comprises hundreds of moving parts that visitors can operate themselves. The attraction was built over a 40 year period and is made almost entirely of recycled parts like aluminum foil, toothpicks, tin cans, coat hangers and sawdust. Just up the road, The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo is Hot Springs’ oldest tourist attraction, predated only by the Hale Bathhouse. Opened in 1902, it is home to over 130 alligators and a variety of other animals. End the day with dinner at 420eats, a food truck court with a variety of cuisines plus outdoor games, live music events, and an on-site restroom.
Spend the day at Arkansas’ only theme and water park! Magic Springs Theme & Water Park features dozens of rides and attractions with everything from kiddie rides to high-intensity roller coasters. There are also water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and a four story water play complex so don’t forget your bathing suits! With multiple restaurants and eateries onsite, you and the family can stay all day. The park also has an annual summer concert series with a diverse lineup of legendary performers across multiple genres. Concerts are held in an outdoor amphitheater, and are included with the admission price.
You and the kids will likely be bushed from the day before, so enjoy a slow start to the day with a late, leisurely breakfast at The Pancake Shop or Colonial Pancake & Waffle House. Then head to Mid-America Science Museum, an award-winning museum with over 100 interactive exhibits that you can enjoy at your own pace. Situated on 21-wooded acres, the museum has an outdoor walking trail and a 40-foot high skybridge in addition to all its indoor attractions. Among its most popular is the Guinness World Records’ most powerful conical Tesla coil – producing a whopping 1.5 million volts of electricity! The museum hosts regularly scheduled presentations where you can hear about the life and work of inventor Nikola Tesla and see the Tesla Coil in action! Plan to spend a few hours at the museum, then grab a bite to eat at a nearby casual restaurant like Trejo's Mexican Restaurant or Smokin' In Style BBQ. If the kids still have energy to burn, take them to Funtrackers Family Fun Park and ride the go-karts or play a round of mini-golf.
Garvan Woodland Gardens is your destination for the day but make Entergy Park your first stop. This lake front city park is en route and has two playgrounds, walking and bicycling trails, a fishing pond, and fishing piers on the lake. Afterwards, get some lunch at the nearby Red Oak FiIllin’ Station, then head on to Garvan Woodland Gardens. This sprawling, 210 acre botanical garden is a natural wonderland of flowers, rare shrubs, and trees, and also boasts a Children’s Adventure Garden and an architecturally magnificent, multilevel treehouse that the kids will love.
You’ll want an early start to the day (especially in the summer), so grab a quick breakfast then visit one of the most renowned quartz crystal mines in the country to dig for your own treasures! Ron Coleman Mining, located about 30 minutes from downtown Hot Springs, is a commercial mine that’s famous for producing huge clusters. The public is invited to dig in the dirt that has been excavated from the mine and you’re guaranteed to find enough quartz to cover the cost of digging or you will receive credit to use in their gift shop. Tools and safety gear are available for purchase or you can plan ahead and bring gardening gloves, protective eyewear, and a small, sturdy shovel. Be sure to also pack plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and a sun hat.
Breathable outdoor attire and comfortable shoes, a bathing suit for Magic Springs, and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty for crystal mining.
Families can enjoy Hot Springs year round but note that Magic Springs is closed November-April.