Uptown is home to Hot Springs’ hippest and most historic residential neighborhoods, and some of the town’s biggest supporters, including community organizers, local politicians, and small business owners. If you want to get a real feel for Hot Springs, this is the place to be. And there is no shortage of places to stay. The original gateway to Hot Springs, Uptown is dotted with vintage motor courts, bed-and-breakfasts in Victorian homes, and dozens of locally-owned, short-term vacation rentals. The District is bike- and pedestrian-friendly and provides direct access to Downtown, the National Park, and the Northwoods Trails System. Local businesses include restaurants, full service bike shops, a roastery and coffee house, art galleries, and multiple tourist attractions. If you seek authentic travel experiences, be sure to check out this special little pocket of Hot Springs.
Located just north of Downtown and encircled by National Park forestland, Uptown spreads out in two directions – north on Highway 7 (where Central Avenue becomes Park Avenue), and west on Whittington Avenue.
A historic corridor with a colorful past, Park Avenue is an eclectic mix of commercial and residential properties including lavish homes dating back to the late 1800s. It’s one of the most up-and-coming areas of town with locals pouring a lot of love into the neighborhood – remodeling houses, opening businesses, and fundraising for different projects, like the antique-style streetlights and the David F. Watkins Memorial Park. Named in honor of a former city manager, this picturesque city park features an all-inclusive playground, an amphitheater and a creek. Future plans include the addition of a splash pad. A little further north on Park Avenue is DeSoto Park, another city park with a creek running through it. Pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon here. There are picnic tables and a pavilion, a playground, and hiking trails. Just across the street from DeSoto Park is the Stone Bridge Area, located just up Stone Bridge Road. Once part of a historic estate, this picturesque setting includes a pond, stone bridges, a waterwheel, and access to the Sunset Trail, the longest trail in Hot Springs National Park.
During Hot Springs’ heyday as a health resort and gambling center, this historically diverse neighborhood was home to doctors, casino owners, and high rollers, as well as working class folks who served the hospitality industry. It was also home to a young Bill Clinton who lived at 1011 Park Avenue from 1954-1961. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house was built between 1896 and 1900. A private residence for many years, it’s now under new ownership and being renovated with plans to open to the public. In his biography, My Life, Clinton details the house and his time on Park Avenue, which at the time was home to one of the country’s most famous nightclubs. The Vapors rivaled anything found in Las Vegas or New York with crystal chandeliers, a mahogany bar, and a retractable stage that hosted some of the era’s biggest names in entertainment: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, and Liberace. The property reopened in 2020 as Vapors Live, a big production entertainment venue with tribute acts, comedy shows, and other live performances. It is decorated with photos of past entertainers, and boasts the original bar where elected officials, movie stars, and mobsters all bellied up.
Today, Park Avenue’s guests largely comprise families, couples, and outdoor enthusiasts. With the opening of the Pullman Trailhead, this end of town has become a haven for mountain bikers. The trail connects Uptown to the Northwoods Trails System via a short ride through the National Park. Stay in Uptown and you can access the Northwoods without ever having to get into your car. There’s also a full service bike shop, Spa City Cycling, conveniently located a half-mile from the trailhead.
With an expansive greenway surrounded by quaint, colorful homes, this historic neighborhood is one of the prettiest in Hot Springs. A perfect destination for fitness enthusiasts, it’s home to walking paths, hiking trails, a bike shop, a yoga studio, and a city park with basketball courts and a baseball field. It’s also a short bike ride to Downtown and the Northwoods Trails System.
Nestled in a valley, surrounded by the forested mountains of Hot Springs National Park, Whittington Avenue offers immediate access to West Mountain via the Mountain Top Trailhead and the West Mountain Drive. Hike or drive to the top and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the city and park. From the top, you can also access Sunset Trail, the longest trail in Hot Springs National Park. Before you go, get limber with a visit to one of the classes at The Yoga Place, and, be sure to fill up your water bottles with cold spring water from the Whittington Park Jug Fountain, located on Whittington Avenue in front of the Hot Springs National Park maintenance building.
At the center of Whittington Avenue, is Whittington Park, also national park property. Built in the late 1890s around Whittington Creek, this scenic, tree studded greenway features a 1.2 mile walking path around its perimeter, plus bridges and benches. As Whittington Avenue travels west from Downtown, it makes a one way loop around the greenway, and passes a variety of Craftsman and Queen Anne homes that helped earn the neighborhood a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Whittington is also home to several historic churches, attractions and other sites, including multiple stops along the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail. Most notable is the site where Babe Ruth hit a record-breaking home run from the historic Whittington Park ballfield into the still-operating Arkansas Alligator Farm located just across the street. One of Hot Springs' oldest tourist attractions, the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo opened in 1902. It features over 130 alligators, several caged animals, a petting zoo, and a mini-museum with Native American artifacts, and a variety of aquatic attractions. Another throwback attraction is Tiny Town, a handcrafted, fully animated miniature city constructed almost entirely from recycled parts.
Art lovers will also love Whittington Avenue. It’s home to Dryden Art Pottery, the oldest continuously operated art establishment in Hot Springs. Opened in Ellsworth, Kansas in 1946, it was relocated to Hot Springs in 1956. The founder’s grandson, Zack Dryden, is carrying on the family tradition, expertly shaping collectable bowls, vases, and mugs on the potter's wheel while adding his own artistic spin to the designs. Other art establishments include Emergent Arts, a nonprofit arts organization with classes, studios, and an art gallery; and Whittington Gallery, an expansive art gallery featuring works of 50 different Arkansas artists.
Fuel up with a visit to Redlight Roastery Coffee House, a popular neighborhood hangout serving a variety of espresso drinks, locally-brewed kombucha, speciality teas, and waffles. In a hurry? For lunch or dessert, grab a quick bite at Bailey’s Dairy Treat, a retro, drive-up dairyette. And when you’re ready for some downhome comfort food, head over to Emma Lee’s, open Saturdays and Sundays.
Looking for something different than the traditional hotel experience? Here you can beckon the bygone era of family road trip fun at a vintage motor court, or overnight in a historic mansion. There are also dozens of privately-owned short-term vacation rentals including small bungalows and towering Victorians tucked away in the neighborhoods along Whittington and Park.
Dame Fortune’s Cottage Court is a vintage and fully remodeled motor court that retains its retro vibe with 1950s tile in the bathrooms, mid-century furnishings, and just a touch of kitsch. The 1884 Wildwood Bed and Breakfast Inn is located in a historic mansion that was originally built for a local doctor and his wife, who designed the home for entertaining. Their guests included opera singers and Civil War officers. The inn features ornate woodwork, stained glass windows, and Minton tiles from England, and is decorated with the original family’s fine art collection. The Hilltop Manor Bed & Breakfast is an award-winning Diamond Collection Inn. Located in a converted 1910 craftsman manor home, the inn is situated on a picturesque five-acre estate bordering the National Park.
Boundaries: Uptown runs along Park Avenue from Whittington Avenue to Forrest Hills Trail; and along Whittington Avenue from Highway 7 to the Baseball Trail Park.
Weather-appropriate clothing that’s comfortable and casual.
Uptown can be enjoyed anytime of year and is especially active during the summer months.
By car, foot, or bike. Uptown is bike and pedestrian friendly and has two bike shops where you can rent bikes.