Hot Springs National Park

Today I want to share about a trip we took over Thanksgiving break to Lake Catherine State Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We rented a cabin right on the lake and enjoyed hiking within the park which I wrote about here.

Lake Catherine State Park Arkansas
Lake Catherine State Park in Hot Springs Arkansas

What to do in hot springs, arkansas

We spent a large part of our time hiking and relaxing at Lake Catherine, but we were excited to explore the area too. There is a lot to do!

Garvan Woodland Gardens is the botanical garden of the University of Arkansas. We didn’t make it to the gardens on this trip, but a stroll through the Evan Childrens Adventure Garden which features the Bob and Sunny Evans Tree House is high on my list for return visits.

The Mid America Science Museum is another spot that is high on my list for our next trip to Hot Springs. The museum has an outdoor exhibit called Dino-Lites which features festive dinosaurs dressed up for the holiday season.

Hot Springs National Park is located in historic downtown Hot Springs. The indoor tours are currently closed because of COVID-19, but we were happy to walk the trails and read signage about the history of the park.

Hot Springs National Park

According to hotsprings.org, ‘Native American tribes called this location the “Valley of the Vapors” and believed that the naturally hot springs had healing powers.’

Hot Springs National Park
A penny for good luck (and a donation).

Grand promenade at hot springs national park

The Grand Promenade is a National Recreation Trail. Learn more about the history of the promendade here. Despite being adjacent to the busy downtown streets, this area felt serene. Our girls loved stomping in the autumn leaves.

Hot Springs National Park

We also enjoyed walking past Bath House Row which consists of eight bathhouse buildings and the historic Arlington Hotel , the largest hotel in Arkansas according to the hotel’s website.

“Politicians, dignitaries, actors, gangsters and entertainment and sports legends bathed in our bath house, danced to our music and enjoyed our splendor and charm. The Arlington has survived a devastating fire, economic downturns, changing social attitudes and much more. Steeped in history, The Arlington is truly a legend.” (arlingtonhotel.com)

Hot Springs Arkansas Arlington Hotel
Arlington Hotel

where to eat in hot springs, arkansas

As we strolled the streets of downtown Hot Springs, we made mental notes of several restaurants and breweries we hope to visit on return trips (post COVID-19). This time we grabbed a quick (and delicious!) cupcake at Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcakes. This local favorite was featured on the Food Network’s television show, Cupcake Wars.

We also found a great lunch spot with outdoor seating outside downtown. Taco Mama was a hit for our whole family. The authentic Mexican food was fresh and delicious. The local owner exuded hospitality.

Hot Springs Arkansas Cupcakes

I’m currently reading a book called This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are which explores place attachment. I admit that I never expected to live in Arkansas, but since moving here two years ago, I’ve enjoyed exploring the Natural State. Trips like this one, and our recent trip to Mount Magazine State Park, have been great ways to build a deeper connection to the beautiful state which we now call ‘home’.

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