Last week my parents were in Hot Springs, Arkansas for some relaxing. Wednesday evening me, my husband, and my sister drove down to join them and my grandparents for a couple of days. I have always heard people talk about Hot Springs, but I had never been.
It’s a beautiful 4 1/2 hour drive from Tulsa into the Ouachita mountain valley, complete with many winding roads. Unfortunately it was my turn to drive Wednesday night and of course it rained cats and dogs the entire way. Not to mention the fog that set in right about the time we hit the winding roads. Great fun I tell you! But, we made it safe and sound.
We stayed in a time share in Hot Springs Village, just north on highway 7 (super twisty highway….motorcyclists rave about it). This is a completely gated, huge community. They have their own gas stations, restaurants, gym, etc. The majority of the residents are retired. So, we were by far the youngest there!
Hot Springs got its name because of all the natural springs in the area. The temperature of the water flowing out of the ground is 147 degrees! Steam rises from the grates in the streets, the fountains, streams, anywhere there is water. Of course I had to touch it and it was very warm!
During the 1920′s it became a popular resort destination because of it’s ”healing waters”. People would come to take baths to hopefully cure their ailments. Multiple bathhouses were built, creating “Bathhouse Row”. They are still standing, some have been turned into museums and such, but there are two that are still functioning bathhouses. I knew right away that I would need to try out a bath. I’m a sucker for a great massage, so I figured it couldn’t be that much different….well I was wrong.
There are a couple of different options. One option allows you access to multiple thermal water soaking pools. Each pool is a different temperature ranging from 90 degrees in the lap pool all the way up to 102 (or 104…can’t remember exactly) degrees. You can lounge and relax and move from pool to pool as you wish. The second option is a private bath like they did years ago.
Well my sister and I figured that if we were going to do it, we should do it the original way. We headed to the Arlington Hotel (the only one open on that particular day) for our private 45 minute bath. I’m not really sure what I expected, I mean it was called a “Thermal Mineral Water Bath”, but not this.
image via Penny Postcards from Arkansas
You have an assistant that takes you through each step. First up is your thermal mineral water whirlpool bath. Your assistant takes you back to your own private tub (original and huge…I could stretch out!) where she turns on a contraption that makes bubbles (again, original tub, no water jets or anything). This contraption reminded me of a mini boat motor, or maybe an electric paint mixer. Anyways, you soak in the tub for 20 minutes, and let me tell you, it was hot! After 20 minutes your assistant comes back in and uses a loofah to scrub your legs, arms, and back. Then you step out and move to the sauna where you site for about 5 or 10 minutes. After this you are warm…getting out all of those toxins for sure! For the third step you move to a table where you lay down and they wrap dripping wet hot towels on each leg and arm. Then they put one on your stomach, and just when you think you can’t be any hotter they place an ice cold towel on your head to help regulate your temp. You lay there for about 20 minutes. The fourth and final step is the needles shower. Basically your rinse off in a shower that has multiple streams shooting at you. Again, not a high tech shower that you may have seen before. It looks like pipes with lots of little holes in them. And that’s the end, unless you opt for a massage.
Nothing like I have experienced before, but let me tell you, I wouldn’t mind doing that every day! Those 45 minutes were so relaxing. I loved the loofah scrub down, but my favorite may have been the hot, dripping wet towels that they wrap you in. It was awesome. I know it probably sounds weird…having someone give you a bath…but if you ever find your self in Hot Springs, Arkansas, be sure you try it out!
Besides the bathhouses they have a great downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants. It was beautiful with all of the Christmas lights.
image via flickr
A fun side note: back in the day gangsters such as Al Capone frequented Hot Springs and the baths. There is actually a gangsters museum in downtown!
One night we attended a bell ringing concert at the Anthony Chapel, which is absolutely gorgeous.
Really, there are no words to describe it. Just beautiful architecture. And that’s all glass in between the wood…it’s enclosed, not open air.
After the bell ringing we walked around the Garvan Woodland Gardens. They have over 2 million Christmas lights that you can walk through.
image via Garvan Woodland Gardens
And finally (I know…long post!) I have to mention a couple of tasty restaurants that we tried out.
First up is Roland’s Bar-B-Que Company.
Hot Springs, AR 71901
We saw this while we were driving to a huge antique store (lots of these in Hot Springs!), the parking lot was packed full and we laughed b/c it looked like a hole in the wall (which is always a good sign). After a couple of hours at the antique store we needed food, so I urbanspoon’d Roland’s and it had a 92% approval rating, so we tried it out. Fabulous ribs and the potato salad was awesome; my husband even liked it and he hates potatoes! And the owner was a super friendly Texan.
image via flickr
Great burgers and fried catfish! The catfish was my favorite. They also have homemade pies. My parents ate their once before we arrived and got to have my favorite, coconut cream pie. Mom said, “You may have tasted as good of a pie, but not better.” That says a lot coming from a baker like her. Unfortunately they were all sold out of pies by the time we got there Friday night (we were there around 7, but the 65 and over crown eats promptly at 5 and apparently had all of the pies). We were able to score some pretty good chocolate malts, though.
And finally, Fat Bottomed Girls Cupcake Shoppe
124 Central Avenue | Hot Springs, AR 71901 |
image via Fat Bottomed Girls Cupcake Facebook page
Oh. My. Goodness. This was hands down the best cupcake I have had. My husband and I shared the Salted Caramel one. Not dry at all, the frosting was perfect, and it was beautiful! They are located right in downtown and their store front is simply adorable…and how about that name???
All three restaurants had fabulous hand made food and friendly, personable people. What more could you ask for?
So, if you ever need a weekend getaway, be sure and check out Hot Springs, Arkansas and all it has to offer!