Headed to Arkansas and looking for the things to do in Hot Springs? We have compiled the best things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas that you are going to love!
We are so excited about this list – these really are the best things to do in Hot Springs! Not only are there amazing historic sites in Hot Springs but there first class museums in Hot Springs and things to do in Hot Springs with kids. You will be tramping through forests, finding architectural treasures and learning scores of historical tidbits to impress your friends with. You can even see the worlds biggest Tesla Coil!
Hot Springs Arkansas is also home to some absolutely stunning botanical parks, architecture, and national and state parks. You will not run out of things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas. We recommend you check out our list of cozy cabins in Arkansas. This will give you the opportunity to snag a nearby cabin to make a weekend (or even a week!) out of this list.
15 Best Things To Do In Hot Springs Arkansas You Shouldn’t Miss
Hot Springs National Park
Looking for some hiking on your list of things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas? Then the Hot Springs National Park should definitely be on your list. This expansive, lush park even has several historical bath houses from the early 1900s. These bath houses have their own natural hot spring are one of the historic sites in Hot Springs that you will not want to miss.
The Hot Springs National Park itself has sweeping mountain views, densely forested hikes, creeks, and even thermal springs that are literally ancient! What is even more incredible is that this national park is located right in Hot Springs Arkansas. So when you are looking for what to do in Hot Springs you don’t even have to leave to explore this gem.
There are several ways to enjoy the large 5500 acre Hot Springs National Park. You can make it a leisurely scenic drive. You could hike on the 26 miles of hiking trails through several different trail options. Camping is also an option at the well maintained campgrounds. Or you could opt for a learning adventure and visit the historic bath houses and stop in to the gift shop and visitor center which doubles as a museum. So this is a great place to visit if you are also looking for museums in Hot Springs.
Any way you choose to spend your time in Hot Springs National Park you are sure to feel like you have escaped the city even though you are still in it! It is even on our list of ultimate bucket list places to visit in Arkansas!
This small, lesser known stop is one of the original things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas. It is a great stop for model train enthusiasts. This is one of the museums in Hot Springs and showcases a tiny town entirely hand built.
The amount of time, artistry and effort that went into this is admirable. This is a quality display with several moving parts, lights and electricity. The museum has been in place for more than 50 years. The staff are so helpful and are happy to answer any questions you have. They are also happy to walk you through the history of the build and how it came to be.
While the museum is small and doesn’t take much time to see (30 minutes to an hour) it is worth a stop. You will have the chance to see a full quality display. Well worth the stop.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
Things to do is Hot Springs Arkansas would not be complete without a visit to the Garvan Woodland Gardens. This 210 acre botanical park is the result of the incredible joining of the botanical park to the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. The Garvan Woodland Gardens was donated to the school in 1985 and it was a beautiful chemistry.
The huge garden park now boasts an incredible mixture of lush forest trails, a wooded shoreline, a chapel and charming waterfalls. This is one of the great things to do in Hot Springs with kids. Kids can spend an entire afternoon exploring the trails and discovering all the architectural treasures that await them.
Have kids head on a scavenger hunt. Can they find the 12 foot waterfall? What about the Anthony Chapel that blends beautifully into nature that it looks like it grew there? How about the stone circle bridge, the fairy house or the waterfall with a cave in the 1.5 acre Evans Children’s Adventure Gardens? Opportunities for pictures are around every corner!
If you happen to be lucky enough to be here during the holiday season the annual Holiday Lights display is not to be missed. Featuring more than 5 million lights it is an amazing scene. At any time of year the Garvan Woodland Gardens is one of the Hot Springs attractions not to be missed. In fact, it is one of the most interesting weekend getaways in Arkansas!
Mid America Science Museum
The Mid America Science Museum checks of so many boxes on your things to do in Hot Springs list. Need things to do in Hot Springs with kids? Check! Things to do in Hot Springs with couples? Check! Museums in Hot Springs? Double check!
This museum will spark your curiosity for the unknown so quickly. There is so much to do at the museum. Between the tours, displays, hands on exhibits, fossils, art galleries and science projects you will be amazed. Half a day could easily be spent here. And whether you are traveling with kids or without you are sure to love this museum. The exhibits are kid friendly but not dumbed down.
The Mid America Science Museum is truly a hidden gem worth a visit. And it is so affordable. At only $10 per adult and $8 per child it’s cheaper than a movie and will keep you entertained for longer! While you are there don’t miss the Bob Wheeler sky walk. This outdoor exhibit it located out the door in the west wing and welcomes you to a 180 foot bridge. The bridge is 40 feet off the ground and rewards you with spectacular views of the wooded forest around the museum (a massive 21 acres!). The view is amazing.
So if you aren’t sure what to do in Hot Springs – definitely visit the Mid America Science Museum. As an added bonus you can also see the world’s most powerful Tesla coil. And that is really cool!
Lake Catherine State Park
Lake Catherine State Park is a treasure of things to do in Hot Springs. The 2240 acre state park has several things to do in Hot Springs with couples or with kids or even as a solo traveler!
The Lake Catherine State Park is located on the southeastern side of Hot Springs Arkansas. On the edge of the Ouachita River it isn’t surprising that there is excellent fishing available here. There is also plenty of hiking. And even cabins from the 1930s built right on the water’s edge.
You can rent boats throughout the year here and rent cabins. Be aware that if you show up and the parking lot is full that also means that the park has reached capacity. To preserve this amazing park they limit how many people can enter. So arrive early to avoid disappointment!
In addition to the cute 1930s wood cabins there are also several wood and stone buildings that are native to the area. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy historic sites in Hot Springs Arkansas. If you can time your visit for autumn you will be amazed at the autumn colors!
Whether you’re headed here for hiking, fishing, boating, camping or even a horseback ride you’re sure to enjoy these places to visit in Hot Springs.
This is one of the things to do in Hot Springs that you will want to plan an entire day for. Magic Springs is an extensive water park on the northeast corner of Hot Springs.
Magic springs is one of the amazing things to do in Hot Springs with kids. No one will be bored here. Magic Springs is not just a water park. It is also an amusement park complete with roller coasters. If you prefer to lounge around there is plenty of water space to just kick back and relax. Or grab a tube and enjoy floating down the artificial river.
If planning a trip to the theme park you will have lots of options. There are thrill rides, family rides and kids rides available. The Plummit Summit is a great way to cool off on a hot day if you don’t mind getting wet! Be prepared to walk as the rides are spaced further apart and the terrain is hilly. And be sure to enjoy some of the slushies to cool down!
If you’re headed to the water park there are so many options to enjoy your day. There are coin lockers available to store your belongings and even cabanas to rent. The cabanas are equipped with tube rentals, table and chairs and even a television (if you opt for the deluxe option)! There are plenty of water attractions for everyone. From floating the river on the tube, to waterslides, boogie boarding, and Splash Island you are sure to love it.
At Magic Springs you definitely won’t be wondering what to do in Hot Springs you just need to decide how you’ll fit it all in!
Superior Bathhouse Brewery
Your things to do in Hot Springs is definitely going to need a place to eat. The Superior Bathhouse Brewery is the perfect answer to your hunger needs.
Not only does the Superior Bathhouse Brewery have an amazing menu they also cater to special diets. So if you are looking for gluten free options, vegetarian or vegan options then you are in luck!
The Superior Bathhouse Brewery is located on the edge of Hot Springs National Park in one of the historic sites in Hot Springs. This Brewery is not only located in a historic bathhouse but they use the natural mineral waters to brew their own beer! The Superior Bathhouse Brewery is actually the first place in the world to use natural mineral waters!
It’s also the first brewery to be located in a national park! So with all these ‘firsts’ under their belt they work hard to keep up their reputation. The menu is classics with a tasty twist like grilled cheese with a delicious three cheese blend. You’ll want to try one of their beer flights which is a sampler of four tap beers of your choice. And the root beer float for dessert is a must! You’ll love kicking back and refuelling at one of the historic sites in Hot Springs!
We highly recommend adding this to your things to do in Hot Springs list. You can easily add this to your list while you are in the area of the Hot Springs National Park as this is on the outer edge. The Superior Bathhouse Brewery is also on this corridor so you can combine that as well! This is truly one of the best romantic getaways in Arkansas!
The Bathhouse Row is one of the quintessential historic sites in Hot Springs. Of all the places to visit in Hot Springs this would be one of the top “can’t miss” places. We definitely recommend head here if you are looking for things to do in Hot Springs with couples. Exploring the historic bath houses is a lovely romantic outing. And you can round out your day with a visit to the Superior Bathhouse Brewery.
There are are some shops along the way that offer great opportunities to get some souvenirs. The bathhouses themselves house different things each. Head to the Lamar Bathhouse for a museum and a shop. The Buckstaff Bathhouse has been in continuous operation as a spa for over 100 years. And the Fordyce Bathhouse has the park visitor center where you can stock up on information for planning your stops because there are still more bathhouses to visit!
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and enjoy your day at these places to visit in Hot Springs.
Adventure Works Hot Springs
For the adventure seekers among you this is a must-do on your things to do in Hot Springs. The Adventure Works is a tree top adventure park. You could do the canopy zip tour, the aerial adventure course or get a combo ticket to do both.
In the canopy zip tour you head into the tree tops by the tributary creek. You will get to climb on up and then enjoy the ride along 10 different zip lines. The entire course will take between 1 to 1.5 hours.
Alternatively you can head to the aerial adventure course. This is a challenging obstacle course high in the tree tops. There are cargo nets, hanging vines and swinging bridges. You will work your way higher into the tree tops as you progress through the course. Participants should be 12 and older (can head up as young as 9 if you are with an adult) and should be wearing good, sturdy shoes.
Of course, you can do both adventures if you really love pushing your heights. Adventure works also runs special tours throughout the year like the haunted forest zip tour in the month of October. Be sure to check out the website for any special tour options and to book your tickets. This is one of the great places to visit in Hot Springs if you are in for adventure.
Ouachita National Forest
Ouachita National forest isn’t just a must for your things to do in Hot Springs it is one of the best places to experience fall in Arkansas!
The Ouachita National forest is massive at more than 1.8 million acres. It even stretches into Oklahoma! With that much space we’re sure we don’t need to emphasize the variety of hikes available. You can make it a camping hike and carry your gear with you to really venture into the depth of the forest. Or enjoy a scenic drive through the great expanse of craggy mountains and substantial forest.
A favourite hike among many is the winding stairs hike. This isn’t for the lighthearted. There are several water crossings and, even with low water levels, you can expect to get wet making the crossing. The trails are mostly marked but expect to head out prepared. Sturdy shoes, walking sticks, bug and sun protection and plenty of provisions.
The best way to enjoy Ouachita National Forest is to go prepared for whichever kind of journey you are planning. This is definitely one of the great places to visit in Hot Springs.
Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum
Visiting the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum is one of the kooky and fun things to do in Hot Springs. Located at the end of bathhouse row it is one of the really easy to access museums in Hot Springs.
The wax museum statues are super realistic though some of the set ups need a little updating. Bear in mind that all the wax statues are behind glass so this does limit your ability to have a picture with your favourite celebrity. However, you can still enjoy the artistry that has gone into each of these statues.
You will have the opportunity to learn a lot about gambling, historical facts and even get spooked by their horror section. It is not advisable to take young children as some of the displays are on the scary side. Overall, this is a great place to pop into and enjoy admiring the art of wax figures. And you will get to learn some new things in addition to it all!
Hot Springs Mountain Tower
The Hot Springs Mountain Tower is a great lookout to add to your list of things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas. This 216ft tower gives you a great place to look out over the Hot Springs Mountain and the surrounding Hot Springs area.
The tower is located in Hot Springs National Park so you can easily pair this with a visit to the national park at the same time. This would be a fun stop to add if you are traveling wit ha group or looking for things to do in Hot Springs with kids.
No need to worry about the height of the tower as there is an elevator to the top. So you can enjoy views from 1,256 feet above sea level with very little effort. You are sure to have an absolutely amazing scenic view.
Of course, if you are keen on getting in your steps for the day or to save a few travel dollars you can opt to climb the stairs. You’ll find a souvenir shop at the bottom of the tower with plenty of options. And there are several plaques with historical facts to turn this into historic sites in Hot Springs. It will be one of the fun Hot Springs attractions to add to your itinerary.
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
Among things to do in Hot Springs is Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf. This mini golf course is pirate themed and has 18 themed holes. There are waterfalls, caves and great landscaping. This is just good, solid fun.
You may have heard of Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf before as they area chain throughout several US states. This location does not disappoint. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and so well maintained that the course has won the City Beautification Award from the city of Hot Springs more than once.
During the summer heat you are best to time your visit for the early morning or later in the evening to avoid the midday sun. You could enjoy this as one of the things to do in Hot Springs with kids or enjoy it just as much with a group of adults. There are two courses at this location – both are really fun. You can opt for one course or plan for two. Both courses will take a couple hours to complete and are sure to be a lot of fun.
Hot Springs Baseball Trail
For the baseball lovers among you this is a must do of things to do in Hot Springs. This area has a rich baseball heritage. There are many famous (and infamous) baseball legends that have trained or loved to spend time in the area.
The famous bathhouse row was hailed as one of the best places for them to rejuvenate at. The Boston Red Sox and other well known baseball teams loved to spend time at the Majestic Hotel. Walter Johnson trained for many seasons here. The well-known Babe Ruth trained here nine times and became well known in the area.
Be sure to stop by the Playing Cards Mural where five baseball legends with ties to Hot Springs have been honored in the mural. Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige, Honus Wagner, Lefty Grove and Jackie Robinson are all pictured here. The city of Hot Springs was seen as the best places for baseball players to get ready for the season. Each location in Hot Springs has a great sign with additional information for you to glean from. Which makes catching some of these historic spots some great places to visit in Hot Springs.
Mountain Valley Spring Co – Visitor Center and Museum
This is an unexpected museum for your things to do in Hot Springs Arkansas. Housed in a historic building from 1910 the Mountain Valley Spring Co Visitor Center and Museum is one of Hot Springs tourist attractions.
Mountain Valley Spring Co has been bottling water for America since 1871. The truly remarkable thing is that this has been from the same natural source all those years! Tour the museum, learn about the area and the product, then browse the shop for Mountain Valley Spring Co products. There is even a sampling of the water for you to try.
You’ll be able to get additional details from the visitor center including a map. The staff are super friendly and well organized. And, as a great bonus, their water is better priced here than at the local grocery shop!
No matter which you choose of places to visit in Hot Springs, we are sure you will have a fantastic visit to this beautiful part of the world.