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There’s a Good Reason for Visiting Hot Springs, Arkansas

We often don’t spring for a visit to places that have T-shirt shops, magnets with the name of the town on them and coffee mugs made in China that are marketed strictly to tourists.  But there are times when you must.

Hot Springs was something we weren’t sure of and didn’t know quite what to expect except for what we read in the State of Arkansas’ visitors guide.  From what I could tell it was something special but I was reserved in getting excited about it since it seemed so well known to tourists.  I was expecting a tacky place for some reason and it is interesting to really analyze what your expectations are based on but that’s another story.

The old Army-Navy hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas which is now a rehabilitation center.

The old Army-Navy hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas which is now a rehabilitation center.

We did the fairly easy drive from Little Rock and stumbled into town on our way elsewhere and easily found parking for an RV downtown.  It is very easy to navigate and once you park on the outskirts of the town it is easy to walk the length of the main street.

We easily found two parking spaces for our RV from Cruise America in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.

We easily found two parking spaces for our RV from Cruise America in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.

What we found was a pleasant woman at the welcome center providing us with great advice.  She steered us nearby to the Brick House Grille for some lunch.  She suggested the potato soup and she was certainly right.  It was delicious in and of itself.  In other words, simple food without adding any spices really.  I’d suggest a stop here for lunch as it is family friendly and the service was great.  The food was excellent too!

The potato soup at the Brick House Grille in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas came highly recommended and after tasting it, it is easy to understand why.

The potato soup at the Brick House Grille in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas came highly recommended and after tasting it, it is easy to understand why.

We then walked toward the Bath House Row which is so famous and soon discovered a number of great little stores along the way.  We opted to go to the Fordyce Bath House as it is now a museum and a visitors center.  It was much larger than expected and you could gain access to an incredibly large amount of the space.

Buckstaff Baths in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Buckstaff Baths in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I found it fascinating and we spent probably a good hour walking through the facility and looking at all the various treatments, room, artifacts, stained glass, bronze statues and anything you would find in a 1920s American Bath House.

Inside the Fordyce Bath House you can see how people who would take the cure spent their time inside the facility.

Inside the Fordyce Bath House you can see how people who would take the cure spent their time inside the facility.

Just near the Fordyce and across the street we fell in love with a soap shop that was filled with so many incredible things we had to buy gifts.  It was all locally produced and some of the soaps looked good enough to eat – in fact one we bought as a gift looked just like a chocolate cupcake and smelled like it too!  The lotions here we also found excellent and purchased some of those.

The preserved Fordyce Bath House is now a visitors center and you can meander around and see how the Bath House once looked.  It is fascinating.

The preserved Fordyce Bath House is now a visitors center and you can meander around and see how the Bath House once looked. It is fascinating.

A few doors down there was a knife store and a general tourist store where we found a magnet and some gag tourist gifts that were just plain old hilarious.  It was fun to play tourist with loads of tacky merchandise that you just have to buy some of it.

Great little shops are tucked into beautiful historic buildings in a park-like setting in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Great little shops are tucked into beautiful historic buildings in a park-like setting in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Our intent was to see if this was a place we’d come back to as there is an incredible tourism infrastructure here including all sorts of other attractions nearby not to mention the entire state park.  It definitely was and we would love to go back and explore the surrounding area.  There was the usual things you might expect such as hotels, go cart tracks, miniature golf, buffet restaurants and some of the most incredible scenery in beautiful hills.

But we were on our way west and trying to get to warmer weather so off we went toward Texas on part of our 17 day journey in our rented motorhome from Cruise America.

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