Featured Trips Types:

  • All Featured Trips
  • National Parks Trips & Tips
  • Outdoor Escapes
  • Ghost Guides
  • Weird Guides
  • Camping & Road Trips
  • 48 Hour City Guides
  • Family Road Trips
  • Classic USA Road Trips
  • Interstate Highway Exit Guides
  • Scenic Drives
  • Airstream - Live Riveted
  • Thor Industries
  • Fun for the Whole Family
  • Grand County
  • Explore Memphis like a Local
  • Offbeat Camping
  • Scenic Routes
  • Outdoor Adventure
Clear All

Accommodation Types:

  • All Accommodation
  • Bed and Breakfasts & Inns
  • Boutique Hotels
  • Hostels
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Unique Stays


Look for FastBook for quick links to
your favorite booking sites

Clear All

Attractions & Culture Types:

  • All Attractions & Culture
  • Amusement Parks
  • Children's Attractions
  • Fall Attractions
  • Museums
  • Offbeat Attractions
  • Top Attractions
  • Tours & Excursions
  • Winter Attractions
  • Zoos & Aquariums
Look for the icon to book the best
tours and activities nearby.
Clear All

Food & Drink Types:

  • All Food & Drink
  • Bars & Drinks
  • Burgers & BBQ
  • Coffee & Tea
  • Delis & Bakeries
  • Diners & Breakfast Spots
  • Ice Cream & Sweets
  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian & Health Food
  • Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries
Clear All

Outdoors & Recreation Types:

  • All Outdoors & Recreation
  • Beaches
  • Fall Foliage
  • Geographical Areas
  • Geographical Features
  • National Parks
  • Nature Reserves
  • Parks & Gardens
  • Scenic Point
  • Swimming Spots
  • Trails & Hikes
Clear All

Points of Interest Types:

  • All Points of Interest
  • Abandoned
  • Architecture
  • College Icons
  • Film & TV
  • Historic
  • Holiday Lights
  • Literature
  • Military
  • Monuments
  • Photo Op
  • Planes, Trains, Autos
  • Public Art
  • Science & Tech
  • Spooky Places
Clear All

Vacation Rentals Types:

  • All Vacation Rentals
  • HomeAway
  • Vacation Rentals

We’ve partnered with HomeAway to find you the perfect vacation rental.

Clear All

Camping & RV Types:

  • All Camping & RV
  • Cottages & Cabins
  • KOA Campgrounds
  • RV Parks
  • Tent Campgrounds
Clear All

Entertainment & Nightlife Types:

  • All Entertainment & Nightlife
  • Art Galleries
  • Casinos & Gaming
  • Cinemas
  • Games & Amusements
  • Music
  • Nightlife
  • Shows & Entertainment
  • Theaters
Clear All

Services Types:

  • All Services
  • ATMs
  • Auto Services
  • Gas/Fuel Stations
  • Rest Areas
  • Tourist Information
  • Transportation
  • Vehicle Rental
Clear All

Shopping Types:

  • All Shopping
  • Antiques
  • Books & Music
  • Crafts & Handmade
  • General Goods
  • Gifts & Souvenirs
  • Groceries
  • Malls & Shopping Areas
  • Quirky Shops
  • Thrift & Flea
Clear All

Sports Types:

  • All Sports
  • Adventure Sports
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian Sports
  • Fishing & Hunting
  • Golf
  • Gyms & Fitness
  • Skate & Surf Spots
  • Stadiums
  • Water Sports
  • Winter Sports
Clear All

Motoring Types:

  • All Motoring
  • Automotive Attractions
  • Off-Road Trails
  • Racetracks
  • Scenic Drives
Clear All
  • Trip
  • Places I've Been
  • My Saved Places
  • Collection
  • Featured Trips
  • Accommodation
  • Attractions & Culture
  • Food & Drink
  • Outdoors & Recreation
  • Points of Interest
  • Vacation Rentals
  • Camping & RV
  • Entertainment & Nightlife
  • Services
  • Shopping
  • Sports
  • Motoring

0 Layers

The Ultimate Guide to Hot Springs National Park

Gangsters, bathhouses, and mountains!

  • 14

Created by Roadtrippers - July 28th 2016

A National Park inside a city? Well, almost. The city of Hot Springs, Arkansas was founded right up against Hot Springs National Park (which happens to be the smallest National Park in America) to capitalize on the tourists coming to the area for a dip in the healing hot spring waters. Cy Young, John F. Kennedy, Billy Sunday, President Herbert Hoover, Helen Keller, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Frank & Jesse James, and Scarface himself, Al Capone, were among the celeb fans of the springs in Hot Springs, so a visit here will put you in fantastic company. It's definitely one of the more unique National Parks, loaded with fascinating history crammed into a tiny area.


Hot Springs, AR

Some tips for visiting Hot Springs National Park:

-Hot Springs National Park is small, but because it's developed, there's a lot to dig into here. The visitor center offers guided tours, so you can choose one that speaks to your interests and start from there.
-There's no NPS parking, so find something along a street, in the garage a block off of Bathhouse Row, or in a private lot downtown.
-You can taste the hot springs water at one of the spigots in the park. The National Parks Service has deemed it safe to drink, and even though in the past, the mineral water was considered "curative", the NPS doesn't make any guarantees that it's medicinal. Plus, it's free to drink!
-You can also bathe in the mineral water at one of the bathhouses. A guide will take you through the traditional experience of visiting a bathhouse and make sure that you're totally relaxed and comfortable the whole time... and some places even offer optional massages!

Bathhouse Row

There are 47 pools at Hot Springs, but the main attraction in the park is Bathhouse Row. The street is lined with old bathhouse buildings in a variety of architectural styles. Many have been turned into shops and spas. Stroll down the Grand Promenade behind Bathhouse row and dip your feet into one of the public fountains.


The border between the city of Hot Springs and the park itself is kind of blurry, which is actually a cool thing. Plus, because the park was such a massive tourist draw back in the day, there are tons of historic restaurants and buildings. One of the most notorious is Maxine's. Named for former owner Maxine Temple Jones, who ran a cathouse out of the building, this music venue and boisterous bar is pretty much a guaranteed good time. Order a few decadently topped hot dogs, some cheap beers, and enjoy whatever show happens to be going on that night... if you're lucky, you'll get a taste for what the place was like when Maxine ran the show with one of their monthly burlesque nights.

Gangster Museum

Back in the day, Hot Springs attracted all sorts of people. The small town, Southerner locals mingled with sports stars, Hollywood greats, politicians, and even mobsters. The Gangster Museum is dedicated to the salacious history of the notorious mafioso greats who spent time here, including Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, and Lucky Luciano, who was arrested and detained by Hot Springs police.


Hot Springs, AR

Fordyce Bathhouse is actually the Visitor Center for Hot Springs National Park, but from 1915-1962, it was the most opulent bathhouse on Bathhouse Row. It had a bowling alley, a concert hall, and tons of massage rooms, fancy state rooms, and a nice gymnasium as well. Today, it houses exhibits on the history of the park, and is a great place to learn what Hot Springs (and a bathhouse) looked like at the height of the park's popularity.

Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery

Not only can you drink the hot springs water, you can also drink beer made with it, at Superior Bathhouse Brewery! Does that make the beer healthy? Maybe. Is their beer delicious? For sure. Plus, their brewery/taproom is located in a historic bathhouse. They offer everything from stouts to saisons to shandies, plus they have guests beers on tap and kombucha. Order a flight of beer, a meat and cheese plate, or a sandwich, and if you're with kids or non-beer drinkers, get them a glass of root beer, or something from their onsite gelato bar!

Hilltop Manor Bed & Breakfast

Located in a historic, turn-of-the-century Craftsman-style mansion built by a Hot Springs local who rubbed shoulders (and partied) with Al Capone, Hilltop Manor Bed & Breakfast is a luxurious getaway. Only 2.5 miles from Bathhouse Row, the B&B offers comfy and well-furnished suites, a stunning patio and great room with a giant fireplace, and, of course, delicious homemade breakfasts.

Sunset Trail

There’s still plenty of nature to explore in Hot Springs National Park, too. Hike part (or all) of Sunset Trail to get the full experience. It passes the park’s highest point, a peaceful pond, wildflower fields, wildlife and more. Hot Springs is also a prime destination for bird-watching- you can see cardinals, finches, wrens, eagles, hawks, chickadees, woodpeckers and much more.

Hot Springs Mountain Tower

Located at the top of the park's Hot Springs Mountain, the Hot Springs Mountain Tower offers 360 degree views of the region. Hike up the mountain to the observation deck, or drive to the top to take in the views. There are some historical exhibits and a nice gift shop here in addition to the observation decks, so take your time exploring, and definitely consider taking the trail up. It starts right behind Bathhouse Row and it isn't too long... but it is a bit steep!

The Pancake Shop

If you're looking for a solid breakfast to kickstart a day of exploring Hot Springs, then you'll want to make a stop at the Pancake Shop. This local favorite closes at 12:45, but a trip here is worth it. The menu isn't huge, but they do everything right. A variety of French toast and pancake options, plus eggs, omelettes, homemade sausage, bacon, and a great cup of coffee are all you really need!


Click to find a
great deal for this hotel

The Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa

If location is important to you when you're looking for a hotel, then you'll want to book a room at the Arlington Resort. It's smack dab in the middle of downtown/the park, and it oozes Jazz Age glamour, since it was built in 1924. The rooms are elegant, the lobby bar is renowned (and features live music on Friday and Saturday nights), and they have an onsite bathhouse!

Ohio Club

Party like a mobster at the Ohio Club. Open since 1905, this bar offers live jazz and blues, a menu of solid pub grub, and endless history. Ask a bartender about the gangsters and athletes that gambled and boozed it up here back in the day.

Buckstaff Bath House

Buckstaff Bathhouse is the only continuously operating bathhouse left in Hot Springs National Park. An hour-long traditional whirlpool mineral bath is only about $33, and is as classic as it comes. You can add on Swedish massages, moisturizing treatments, manis, pedis, or facials for an additional fee.

Of course, even though there are great B&Bs and resorts in Hot Springs, camping in a National Park is as American as apple pie. Gulpha Gorge Campground is the perfect place to set up camp. It's cheap, perfect for tents and RVs, and even though there are no showers, you don't really need them if you're planning on taking a mineral bath, right?

There's no bad time to visit Hot Springs National Park. Spring and summer are spectacular, with mild weather and less crowds, but summer is great for hiking and exploring as well. Keep in mind that Oawlawn Racetrack attracts huge crowds during races, and rates can spike. Winter isn't a bad time to visit (the springs are naturally warm, and Arkansas winters aren't intensely snowy or anything) either.


The best of Roadtrippers - hand picked by our team!