Hot Springs National Park#1 in Best Things To Do in Hot Springs, AR
Price & Hours
Given that Hot Springs National Park shares a name with the nearby town, it should come as no surprise that the 5,500-acre park serves as the main attraction in Hot Springs. The park's thermal waters are its primary draw, and visitors can still soak in the historical establishments lining Bathhouse Row, including the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and the Buckstaff Bathhouse. Additionally, numerous trails weave throughout the park. A majority of the trails are concentrated between the Hot Springs and North Mountain trails as well as the West Mountain Trails. Both these areas offer short, interconnected trails, while the approximately 10-mile Sunset Trail provides a more challenging trek for experienced hikers.
Past visitors suggested taking on the 2.6-mile Sugarloaf Mountain segment of the Sunset Trail, which includes a short spur trail to the Balanced Rock that rewards hikers with one of the most stunning views in Arkansas. They also appreciate the park's attractions in the middle of town, like Bathhouse Row and the Grand Promenade.
Due to Hot Springs National Park's central location, many of the park's points of interest are easily accessible on the town's three bus routes, as well as on foot. Still, some of the more remote areas in Hot Springs are only accessible via car. Parking options are limited. Unlike most other national parks, admission to Hot Springs National Park is completely free, but camping at the Gulpha Gorge Campground (the only campground in the park) costs $30 per night. More information about Hot Springs National Park is available on the National Park Service website.
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#2 Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center
The Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the visitor center for Hot Springs National Park. The bathhouse welcomed guests from 1915 to 1962 with treatments ranging from massages to electrotherapy. The building eventually closed, remaining vacant until it reopened as the park's visitor center in 1989. Now, travelers can admire the ornate architecture of the storied buildings, which are outfitted with stained-glass ceilings, ceramic fountains and intricately tiled floors.
Past travelers appreciated the opportunity to explore nearly the entirety of the building, which spans three floors and a basement. Some additional gems to discover include a grand piano and a bowling alley. Recent visitors enjoyed the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center's self-guided tour, because they were able to enjoy the attraction at their own pace. Those looking for a more in-depth experience can go on one of the bathhouse's guided tours, but groups must contact the park in advance to make sure space is available.
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