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  • Writer's pictureAngie Soto

Hot Springs, Arkansas, a fun little Spring Break Getaway

Updated: May 2

I want to share my Spring Break Getaway with you all in case my experience can help or motivate someone to organize a trip to a little place called Hot Springs, Arkansas. My family had been there before, but we had not taken the time to appreciate the beauty of the city.

We reserved a little house through VRBO. The rental was the same price as renting a hotel room, so it's totally worth it to check out VRBO as well as hotels. The Little Pelican vacation home has 2 bedrooms, a King size bed in each bedroom and 2 bathrooms. The beds were comfy and the bathrooms had plenty of toilet paper and towels. The kitchen was fully stocked. We found anything and everything that we needed. The house was very clean and the laundry room had plenty of cleaning supplies in case you like your house "Monica clean" (Friends reference) or you make a mess. Although the house looked very clean, I still used an antibacterial spray bottle to wipe down all the light switches, handles, doorknobs, and countertops. The hosts went above and beyond to make us feel welcomed. When we arrived, we were greeted with a personalized welcome sign and some cookies. They also left us cold water and drinks in the fridge, which were perfect after a long day of driving.

We started our vacation by driving a mile to the Anthony Chapel and the Garvan Gardens. The Anthony Chapel is outside of the Garvan Gardens, so we went there first before we paid the entrance fee to the Garvan Gardens. We were only at the Anthony Chapel about 20 minutes. The Anthony Chapel is a beautiful glass chapel in the woods. Be sure to check their calendar though to make sure there's not a wedding or event scheduled at the time of your visit, otherwise it won't be available to see it. We were there at 10:00 a.m. right after they opened, so we were some of the first people to see it that day.

From here we went to the Garvan Gardens. We spent at least 3 hours here. The Garvan Gardens are the botanical garden of the University of Arkansas. We saw so many tulips in so many colors, we walked the beautiful trails, and we saw the different views of Lake Hamilton.

After the Garvan Gardens, we were starving. We had lunch at The Purple Cow. We only went there because of the funny name. The food was actually good and their home made chips were wonderful. The malts and desserts were delicious!

To finish off the day, we took a tour at The Gangster Museum of America. We learned a few things about Hot Springs that we didn't know. Apparently, Hot Springs was a popular spot and playground for some of the country’s most infamous gangsters, including Al Capone. At one point, Hot Springs was “the site of the largest illegal gambling operation in the U.S.” The tour was interesting, but they played a video in each room to help tell the story and I think a storyteller would have done a better job.

After the museum tour and strolling through Central Avenue, we agreed to head over to Capo's Tacos for dinner. This little place was fabulous! Insted of chips and salsa, they gave us pinwheels with Valentina! Yum! Their margaritas were delicious. Their tacos were amazing! They make their own corn and flour tortillas there. It was all really good. The tacos were a little bit different than authentic Mexican tacos, but they were still very tasty. We were pleasantly surprised.

The next day, we visited the Hot Springs National Park. This was an interesting experience. This is an urban park. It's surrounded by shops, restaurants, and roads. I kept wondering where the entrance to the park was and then I realized that I was already in the park. So, we started at the Visitor's Center and got a map to make sure we didn't miss anything important. This is where Bathhouse Row is located. It's so cool to see all the beautiful old buildings. We found the Springs display and the Hot Water Cascade. We touched the water and it was coming out pretty hot! We walked The Grand Promenade, a half-mile trail between Bathhouse Row and the nearby mountains. We had to stop at the "fat bottomed girl's cupcake shoppe" and get a cupcake. Of course, it was wonderful.

There are 2 Bathhouses still open: The Quapaw Bathhouse and the Buckstaff Bathhouse. One of them was closed the day we were there and the other one doesn't allow children under 14, so we couldn't experience the thermal waters of Hot Springs. Most springs are capped now to preserve the purity and health of the natural thermal water. The water is routed to a larger reservoir beneath bathhouse row to be redistributed for public use.

After our walk, we headed over to Rocky's Corner for lunch. We enjoyed our pizza and pasta. This place was not as pricey as some of the other Italian restaurants in Hot Springs. Which after hearing about all the Italian gangsters, we understand why there are so many Italian restaurants in Hot Springs.

After lunch, we headed over to the Gulpha Gorge Trail for a hike. We did that for a couple hours. The view from the top (and I don't think we ever made it to the very top) was amazing! It was breathtaking. I didn’t want to climb down, I wanted to keep staring at the beauty of nature. Eventually we did climb back down and left.

We didn't go out to dinner that night since we had so much leftover pizza.

The following day, we checked out of the house and headed over to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. It was interesting. We had to rent some tools since we weren't prepared. We chose a spot and started digging. Unfortunately we didn't find a diamond. I mean, the diamonds are the size of a pea. Honestly, it didn't feel like a lot of fun. It felt more like we were working hard. It had rained earlier and the dirt was sticky, so it was hard to sift through the dirt, maybe that's why it didn't feel fun. We did that for a few hours before we gave up and left.

These were just a few of the things we had time for during a short visit. There are so many other things to do in Hot Springs. Among them the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort for those interested in horse races, Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo, Mountain Valley Spring Water Visitor Center & Museum, The Winery of Hot Springs, Hot Springs Mountain Tower, Mid-America Science Museum, Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf, many hiking trails, and several lakes nearby to do some camping, boating, kayaking or fishing.

I'm not affiliated with or sponsored by VRBO. I'm just trying to personally recommend a cute little house to my family and friends. I will say that the house had a strange set up. It has 2 front doors. Apparently, one of the bedrooms can be rented out separately, so one of the front doors opens into one of the bedrooms. This made me a little uncomfortable, so we wedged a chair under the know, just in case. Other than that, it was a great little house. We enjoyed our stay there.

If you haven't been to Hot Springs, I hope you give them a try sometime!


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