26 Best & Fun Things To Do In Hot Springs (Arkansas)
The steamy pools might be the most famous places to visit in Hot Springs, but there are plenty of other attractions and activities in this southern delight.
There’s a reason why more than two million tourists visit every year!
Nature lovers can enjoy lush mountain scenery with activities ranging from camping and quartz mining to horseback riding through the hills.
Thrill seekers can get their blood pumping at casinos, magic shows, and horse derbies.
Foodies can scarf award-winning barbecue; honeymooners can enjoy lake cruises and botanical gardens; history buffs can learn something new at themed museums.
There are even quirky destinations like alligator farms that you can’t find anywhere else in the region!
Another great thing about Hot Springs is that it’s quite affordable for a vacation destination, so if you’re looking to have a blast without breaking the bank, this is the spot for you.
Let’s dive into the most unforgettable things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Whether you’re interested in baseball, ziplines, or wax museums, this fun and funky city has it all!
Things To Do In Hot Springs, AR
1. Hot Springs National Park
You can’t visit Hot Springs without taking a dip in the hot springs.
Formed by deep, high-pressure currents flowing through the rock of the Ouachita Mountains, they date back thousands and thousands of years, and they’re said to have healing properties from both their minerals and their temperatures.
Sliding into the springs is as simple as visiting Bathhouse Row, a series of eight historic bathing houses situated along the hills.
Other tourist attractions include more than 26 miles of nature trails that cover beautiful forest scenery such as creeks, cliffs, and gorges.
If you don’t want to hike it, take a scenic drive. If you want to see it all at once, ascend the mountain tower and its 1,250-foot observation deck.
Hot Springs National Park is the most well-known of Hot Springs attractions, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
Enjoy a luxurious soak in the “Valley of the Vapors” just like everyone from Native American tribes to Spanish explorers and European settlers.
You might even cure a few ailments while you’re there!
Address: Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
2. Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort
A playground for adults, the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is a place where you can find endless entertainment day and night.
It’s ideal for insomniacs and late-night travelers as well as daytime visitors just looking for a little fun.
The casino offers everything from table games and slot machines to sportsbook areas for betting.
The racetrack offers you the chance to watch the Arkansas Derby live; otherwise, the bars and grills are outfitted with plenty of TVs to keep track of the horses.
The hotel is a luxurious one, and its amenities include swimming pools and full-service spas.
The event center always has a new musician or comedian on stage.
If you’re wondering what to see in Hot Springs, how about the dazzling lights and chimes of someone hitting a jackpot?
Court Lady Luck with a trip to the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort today.
Address: 2705 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
3. Gangster Museum of America
The Gangster Museum of America is one of the major points of interest in Hot Springs.
Not only does it cover the exploits of famous names like Al Capone, but it also showcases the unique role that Hot Springs played in early 20th century gambling and bootlegging.
Historically, Hot Springs was a “den of sin” for the south.
People came from all over the country to drink, soak in the springs, visit the local ladies, and try their luck at everything from cards to craps.
The revenue went to funding various gangster operations.
Today, the gangsters have fled, but their legacy lives on.
You’d never expect such a quiet, charming town to be a hotbed of illegal activity, but that’s exactly what makes the Gangster Museum of America so fascinating.
It’s one of the top things to do in Hot Springs if you like cool and unusual tourist attractions!
Address: 510 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
4. Hot Springs Trolleys
The Hot Springs Trolleys are cute, old-fashioned trolley cars that take riders around the city.
They’re a must do for anyone hoping to hit all of the local hot spots, but they’re also great for first-time visitors who want to orient themselves in the area before touring or sightseeing at length.
Lasting about an hour and a half, the tour covers a lot of land, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth in terms of travel.
You’ll be taken through the historic district with its 1800s and 1900s homes, the mountainous regions with their breathtaking views of nature, and downtown Hot Springs with its many shops, restaurants, and attractions.
All the while, your tour guide will share fun facts about the neighborhood’s interests and landmarks.
There are ample places to go in Hot Springs, so it pays to have an idea of where you’re headed before you set out.
Hop aboard a Hot Springs Trolley to experience a quaint and charming ride that’s also quite useful for making vacation plans.
Address: 706 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
5. Superior Bathhouse Brewery
Located within Hot Springs National Park, the Superior Bathhouse Brewery is the first brewery to be built inside of a national park.
It has another distinction, too: It uses thermal spring water in its drinks and dishes.
The taste is crisp, delicious, and utterly unlike anything that you’ve had before.
Alcoholic beverages range from beers and wines to hard ciders and cocktails, so you’ll have plenty to choose from when you have a thirst.
The menu includes classic pub fare like soft pretzels and chili cheese dogs as well as more exotic favorites such as banh mi.
For a touch of southern charm, ask for a side of pork rinds!
Hot Springs has plenty of cool and unique stuff to do, but it’s hard to top drinking a lager made from its namesake.
If you want a cool story when you get home, this is the place to live it.
Address: 329 Central Ave, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901, United States
Visiting other parts of Arkansas? Why not check out some of the things to do in Eureka Springs?
6. World Championship Running of the Tubs
Held every summer, the World Championship Running of the Tubs is something that you have to see to believe.
It’s an annual competition where participants race down Bathhouse Row pushing gigantic, water-filled bathtubs on wheels, allowing spectators to spray them with water guns as they go.
Does that sound crazy? It gets even wilder.
When racers make it to the end, judges in bathrobes will decide who wins based on completely arbitrary rules that they make up on the spot.
Additionally, everyone is in costume, and teams often come up with themes for their get-ups.
You might see a Harry Potter team pushing a bathtub with wands and brooms tucked beside their loofahs and shampoo bottles.
The icing on the cake is the yearly one-on-one race between the police department and fire department.
If you’re in Hot Springs and wondering what to do that’ll give you an epic story when you get home, make sure that you visit during the World Championship Running of the Tubs.
They take the city motto, “We Bathe the World,” extremely seriously.
Address: Hot Springs, AR, United States
7. Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo
If you’re looking for unique things to do while visiting Arkansas, how about feeding a slab of meat to an alligator from the end of a 10-foot pole?
The Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo is a privately run menagerie.
Like its name suggests, its biggest draw is its gators; you can watch them, feed them, and even hold their tiny hatchlings in your hand.
Other animal encounters range from emus to Pygmy goats.
You can get up close and personal with all kinds of wildlife, including species that you wouldn’t expect to find in a petting zoo.
Guides are available to bring a little education to your excursion, so don’t be surprised if the kiddos absorb animal facts that get repeated even after you’re home.
The Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo is among the quirkiest of Hot Springs attractions, but that’s exactly why it’s memorable.
You and the kids will never forget the time that you cradled a baby alligator in your hands!
Address: 847 Whittington Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
8. Mid-America Science Museum
The Mid-America Science Museum is a must see for any kid interested in STEM.
It offers literally hundreds of exhibits, many of them hands-on, and it covers a broad range of topics relating to space, engineering, zoology, and natural history.
Maybe your child is interested in dinosaurs.
If so, they’ll love the life-sized skeletons that tower over the corridors.
Or do they prefer playing with toys?
Maybe they’ll like the “motion gallery” with its pendulums and wave machines that showcase the laws of physics.
Other fun exhibitions include light bridges, star shows, art stations, water tanks, and general science labs.
The Mid-America Science Museum is entertaining for all ages, but it’s especially wondrous for kids who are just beginning to explore, discover, and question their worlds.
It’ll be a fantastic outlet for their curiosity, and it might even teach mom and dad a thing or two to boot!
Address: 500 Mid America Blvd, Hot Springs, AR 71913, United States
9. Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
Known to the locals as Magic Springs, this amusement park has been a favorite among facilities for generations.
It dates back to the 1970s when it featured rides like the Plummet Summit, a sky-high splash drop, and the Arkansas Twister, a wooden roller coaster that snakes through the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains.
Today, many of its vintage rides remain, including the Arkansas Twister.
There are also new and updated rides, games, and concessions.
An amphitheater holds outdoor concerts.
Stands are available with all kinds of souvenirs and other merch.
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park is Arkansas’s only theme and water park, making it a rare find as well as a fun and exciting day trip for the whole family.
If you’re wondering where to go this weekend with the kids, the answer is the thrill rides of Magic Springs!
Address: 1701 E Grand Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
10. Bombers & BBQ
Held at the Hot Springs Memorial Field Airport, Bombers & BBQ is an annual event that celebrates aircraft, music, community, and finger-lickin’ barbecue.
The most prominent places to go at the festival are the food stalls.
You can enjoy round-the-clock ribs in addition to specialty events like cookoffs and eating competitions.
The other big draw of the festival is its celebration of aviation.
You can admire the landed planes, explore the vintage aircraft displays, and gape at the close-formation flyovers in the sky.
All things considered, Bombers & BBQ is one of the most fun things to do in Hot Springs.
You don’t even have to be a geek for planes to enjoy it.
If you like southern food, live music, and happy crowds “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing at plane formations, this is the festival for you.
Address: 525 Airport Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913, United States
Exploring other areas of Arkansas? Why not check out some of the fun things to do in Little Rock?
11. Riley Art Glass Studio
With free glassblowing demonstrations every day, the Riley Art Glass Studio makes this uncommon art form very accessible to the public.
You’ll be amazed at how the artisans turn molten glass into pots, jars, bowls, vases, figurines, and candle holders.
They’re beautiful, multicolored, and utterly unique to the hand that shapes them.
If you want to take some of the artwork home, that’s possible, too.
New pieces are always on sale.
You can also windowshop if you’d prefer to just silently take them in.
The artisans stay close by if you have questions or want to talk technique.
Visit the Riley Art Glass Studio if you’re looking for fun, unique, or cheap things to do this weekend.
It isn’t the usual tourist experience, but going off the beaten path can result in the best Hot Springs memories.
Address: 710 W Grand Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
12. Ouachita National Forest
Stretching for 1.8 million acres between Arkansas and Oklahoma, Ouachita National Forest is a paragon of beauty and tranquility.
You’ll be dazzled by hills, lakes, streams, and more.
Sightseeing is the most popular activity in the park, but it’ll be up to you to decide how to go exploring.
Trek on foot; hop on a mountain bike; put the pedal to the metal on an ATV.
You can even rent a saddle for a horseback ride along the hills!
There are many outdoor adventures to be had, too, including camping, boating, fishing, and even hunting.
Arkansas might not be the first state that springs to mind when you’re thinking about the most beautiful vacation spots in the US, but once you’re surrounded by the deep, lush landscapes of Ouachita National Forest, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing.
Whether you’re looking to sleep under the stars or picnic among the wildflowers, this is one of the best places to really connect with nature.
Address: Hot Springs, AR 71902, United States
13. Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum
What do Jesus Christ, the Seven Dwarves, and the Queen of England have in common?
They’re all ready to pose for a selfie at the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum!
The Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum is one of the most unique things to see in the Hot Springs area.
As you’ve probably guessed from the name, all of its famous figures are made of wax, and they range from the weird and misshapen to the stunningly lifelike.
They include celebrities, politicians, athletes, fictional characters, and more.
Other places to go include a casino-themed hall and an amusement room with a couple of small rides for children.
If you visit during holidays, the museum often hosts themed events such as haunted house nights for Halloween.
If you’ve always wanted to meet Abraham Lincoln, this is your chance to do it.
He might not be the real deal, but with the help of the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum, you can take a photo anyway!
Address: 250 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
14. Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail
Hot Springs has a long association with baseball.
Babe Ruth, for example, was reported to love the baths, and he once hit a 573-foot home run that flew entirely past the stadium and into the Arkansas Alligator Farm.
The ball was never seen again!
This is just one of the tidbits of trivia that you’ll learn along the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail.
Available via app, it’s a free, self-guided tour that you can take at your leisure, allowing you to geek out about your favorite sport while exploring the city at the same time.
Landmarks include baseball fields and training grounds where famous players once honed their skills.
Unique attractions include the Playing Cards Mural, a colorful piece of artwork dedicated to baseball Hall of Famers, as well as hotels, bathhouses, and gambling dens where the athletes once indulged themselves.
The best vacations have free things to do that are still genuinely interesting.
For fun that doesn’t cost a dime, hit up the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail!
Address: Hot Springs, AR, United States
15. Garvan Woodland Gardens
Owned by the University of Arkansas and hosted near Hot Springs National Park, the Garvan Woodland Gardens are a mesmerizing sight.
The fields bloom with flowers of every color.
The trees form sun-dappled canopies over pavilions and promenades.
In the distance, the Ouachita Mountains rise like something out of a misty movie.
Visitors can enjoy a diverse mix of flora and fauna through hikes, tours, and nature camps.
You’ll pass by bridges and cottages; you’ll get lost in moments of quiet contemplation in zen gardens.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, you can head to the on-site cafe for meals made with fresh and organic ingredients.
If you’re in love, the chapel is a popular spot for weddings; it has a vaulted glass ceiling and picturesque outdoor courtyard that gives it a real storybook setting.
It’s considered one of the best places to visit for couples in Hot Springs!
The only thing prettier than a garden is a garden in the middle of a mountain.
To see the sights for yourself, visit the Garvan Woodland Gardens!
Address: 550 Arkridge Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913, United States
16. Mountain Valley Spring Water Visitor Center
If you’ve ever enjoyed the cool, refreshing taste of Mountain Valley Spring Water, you might be interested in this attraction.
It’s the bottling center for the brand, and it’s open to visitors for tours, tastings, and more.
The architecture will immediately catch your eye: With towering white columns flanked by boxy windows, it’s a model example of the Classical Revival style that dominated the early 1900s.
It’s no surprise that the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Another fun thing about the visitor center is that it’s steeped in real history.
For example, Elvis Presley was a dedicated fan of the Mountain Valley brand, and you can learn all about him during your tour.
If you’re a person with daily water drinking goals, you won’t want to miss the Mountain Valley Spring Water Visitor Center.
It’s one of the top things to do in Hot Springs if you’re looking to stay hydrated during a hot Arkansas summer!
Address: 150 Central Ave, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901, United States
17. Ron Coleman Mining
Mining. Camping. Ziplining.
These are just a few of the activities that are available at Ron Coleman Mining, a rock quarry brimming with beautiful crystals that you can dig up and take home.
This isn’t a kitschy, touristy place where they bury gems for visitors to “discover.”
It’s a genuinely rugged mining site filled with quartz, and you can tour it, dig it, and even camp within it.
RV stations are available with electricity.
A zipline stretches over the mining pit if you’d like to whizz by with a bird’s eye view.
Did we mention that kids under seven dig free?
The price is also affordable for older children and adults.
If you’re on a budget, this is a place to enjoy a little adventure without hurting your wallet.
The land beneath Hot Springs has been around for awhile, and at Ron Coleman Mining, you can unearth literal hidden gems that have been buried beneath the mountains for millennia.
It’s easily among the top 10 places to visit for tourists, especially if you’re looking for free things to do.
Address: 211 Crystal Ridge Ln, Jessieville, AR 71949, United States
18. The Galaxy Connection
Calling all nerds!
The Galaxy Connection is the museum of a self-proclaimed geek, and his collection is both extensive and awe-inspiring for fans of Marvel, DC, Barbie, Star Wars, and beyond.
Memorabilia ranges from vintage toys to authentic props and set pieces from fictional universes.
You can admire a custom-made light saber; you can tour a gallery filled with superhero capes and cowls.
There’s even an arcade with working games if you have a few quarters to spare for a nostalgic round of Mortal Kombat!
Tours can be either self-guided or booked in advance with the museum’s owner.
Special events include trivia nights, birthday parties, and holiday specials with refreshments and other freebies.
There are so many things to see at The Galaxy Connection that you won’t even know where to look.
Like all journeys, however, it begins with a single step.
Venture inside and greet a whole new world of geekdom.
Address: 536 Ouachita Ave, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901, United States
19. Adventureworks Hot Springs
Fly across Hot Springs by strapping into a zipline at Adventureworks.
You’ll have a blast, and you’ll experience the area like few tourists ever do!
While technically located outside of the city and within the old-growth forests of Garland County, Adventureworks is only a short drive away, and its scenery is part of its appeal.
You’ll love the landscapes surrounding you as you partake in your outdoor adventure.
When you’re done ziplining, there are other fun activities at the park as well, including hanging vines, rope bridges that sway in the wind, and mesh and cargo nets for jumps.
Specials include couples ziplining “for sweethearts” and once-per-month “moonlight” ziplines that take place at night.
If you’ve been contemplating what to do in Hot Springs, consider visiting Adventureworks.
It’s one of the major points of interest of the region, and it’ll give you the chance to cross off bucket list items like ziplining.
It’s a win-win!
Address: 1700 Shady Grove Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
20. Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic
You’ve never seen a magic show quite like this!
The Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic is a multipurpose entertainment venue that includes a stage and a curiosity museum that keeps the fun going even after the show has ended.
The main draw, of course, is the magic, and Maxwell Blade will make you doubt your own eyes as he performs stunts beyond imagining.
Everything is family-friendly, so Hogwarts hopefuls of all ages can attend.
Once the curtain falls, it’s time to hit up the curiosity and oddity museum.
With objects from around the world, it’s one of the more unusual things to do in a place like Hot Springs, and it’s the perfect nightcap to a night of wonder.
Come one, come all to the Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic.
It’s a must see for fans of card tricks, optical illusions, feats of mentalism, and other things that amuse and amaze.
Address: 817 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
21. Lake Ouachita
One of the best Hot Springs attractions for nature lovers, Lake Ouachita is so beautiful that it doesn’t even look real.
Its vivid blue waters are like something out of Photoshop in real life.
The best thing about the lake, however, isn’t something that can be captured in a photograph.
It’s the sheer possibility contained within its outdoor sports and games.
Do you like to be on the water?
Rent some equipment and go angling, sailing, or scuba diving.
Do you prefer to stick to the shore?
Visit a bathhouse with your sweetheart or take a trek around the nearby nature trails with your kids.
Camping is another popular pastime at the lake, and lodgings are available if you don’t want to rough it in a tent.
Fully-booked cabins can give you a luxurious experience with trees and shimmering waves right outside of your front door.
Whether you’re interested in hiking, biking, camping, or kayaking, Lake Ouachita is one of the most fun vacation spots in the region.
It’ll be a great place to enjoy the stunning scenery of Arkansas even as you make unforgettable memories of outdoor adventure.
Address: Hot Springs, AR, United States
22. Hot Springs Bike Fest
The Hot Springs Bike Fest is exactly what it sounds like: a celebration of motorcycles.
It’s one of the coolest things to do in Arkansas for motorheads, but it’s also nice for laypeople who can appreciate big wheels, shining chrome, and leather jackets as far as the eye can see.
The main event is for the bikers themselves; they take to the streets and go in a procession of growling and revving engines.
Once the ride is finished, however, they hit up the main venue, and that’s where you can also join as a spectator.
There will be food, drink, live music, car shows, poker runs, and countless vendors hawking their wares.
If you like motorcycles, the Hot Springs Bike Fest should be in your top 5 places to see.
There’s just nowhere better to get your fix of Harley-Davidsons.
As a bonus, it’s hosted by the Arkansas Veteran Support Services, and proceeds go directly to local vets.
Your fun weekend will support a good cause!
Address: Hot Springs, AR, United States
23. Charlton Recreation Area
Located just 20 miles from Hot Springs, the Charlton Recreation Area is another great destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
You can go swimming, camping, fishing, biking, backpacking, and more.
The scenery is gorgeous, and it includes both nature’s splendor and man-made attractions like a dam and stone bathhouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There’s no admission fee for the grounds, but you’ll need to pay for things like parking and equipment rental, so bring a little cash.
The land is open year round, so no matter when you visit Hot Springs, you can enjoy the radiance of the great outdoors.
Shiver in the winter and splash in the summer; it’ll always be exciting!
If you’re a fan of vacations that get you away from the grind and into the fresh air and sunshine, consider the Charlton Recreation Area.
It’s among the best of cheap and free things to do while you’re near Hot Springs.
Address: 154 Milholen Trl, Royal, AR 71968, United States
24. Hot Springs Farmers and Artisans Market
Hosted at an old train depot, the Hot Springs Farmers and Artisans Market is a semi-regular gathering of farmers, florists, bakers, crafters, and other creatives in the area.
It’s a place where sweet-smelling bouquets can be found right next to honey jars and handmade quilts.
Authenticity is the most important thing at the farmer’s market, so you won’t find any big-budget businesses here.
It’s all local vendors with locally sourced and produced goods.
Not only will this ensure that you’re buying one-of-a-kind products, but it also means that you’ll be supporting the Hot Springs community with every purchase!
Another nice thing about the market is that it often plays host to events such as “health and wellness days” or “shop with a chef” specials that prioritize good nutrition and better lifestyles.
You can learn something new even while you’re on vacation.
All in all, there’s a plethora of fun things to see and do at the Hot Springs Farmers and Artisans Market.
If you’re in the area when the stalls go up, make sure to swing by and see what’s on offer!
Address: 121 Orange St, Hot Springs, AR 71913, United States
25. Funtrackers Family Fun Park
Have you ever played mini-golf across a volcano spewing lava?
This is just one of the ways that Funtrackers Family Fun Park will delight you and the kids.
It’s called Volcano Falls Miniature Golf, and it includes volcanic “fireballs” as well as cascading waterfalls and other crazy, nature-inspired obstacles.
Further activities at the park include go-karts, bumper boats, and laser tag.
You can play arcade games; you can squirt each other with water guns.
The kids will have a chance to burn off all of their energy while the adults hit up the snack bar and unleash their inner child on some nachos.
Ultimately, a trip to Funtrackers Family Fun Park is one of the most fun things to do in Hot Springs.
Visitors of all ages can find something to entertain them, and as a result, the whole family will have a blast.
Address: 2614 Albert Pike Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913, United States
26. Lake Catherine State Park
Arkansas is home to the “Diamond Lakes,” a group of five lakes known for their pristine and sparkling waters.
While all of them are Hot Springs attractions in their own ways, a special shoutout goes to Lake Catherine and its attendant Lake Catherine State Park.
Centered around its titular body of water, Lake Catherine State Park is a gorgeous destination for all four seasons.
Spring and summer are popular times for swimming, hiking, and fishing, but fall also attracts a number of visitors for the changing colors of the leaves.
Winter has its fair share of mountaineers as well: Arkansas doesn’t get very cold, and the cabins and campgrounds along the lake’s shore make for a comfortably cozy experience.
Other park amenities include trails, playgrounds, horseback riding stables, a marina, and a visitor’s center.
Come and enjoy the brilliance of Arkansas with a trip to Lake Catherine State Park.
While not as impressively large as some of its other recreational areas, it can still be a place of peace, beauty, and fun.
Address: 1200 Catherine Park Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Hot Springs, AR
These are just a few of the best and most memorable things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
As you can see, it’s a fun-filled city where you can indulge in everything from gambling to mountain climbing to petting baby alligators.
If you’re wondering what to do during your vacation, the sky is truly the limit!
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