Hot Springs, Arkansas | RTX Traveler Magazine

157085489wDesignated as the first federal reservation in 1832, Hot Springs is America’s first national park and vacation destination. More than 180 years later the Arkansas town is still bustling with tourists. See why Hot Springs should be on your exchange radar.

Nestled  in the pristine Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas, Hot Springs enjoys a mild, four season climate making it the perfect RTX vacation destination anytime of the year.

Taking its name from the natural thermal waters that flow from the ground, Hot Springs is not only rich in history but also offers a wide variety of activities; from Bathhouse Row and the art galleries and boutiques of Central Avenue to the excitement of Oaklawn Racing and Gaming.

Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers will be overwhelmed with the picturesque beauty of Hot Springs National Park and the five lakes in the area. Enjoy playing golf, fishing, water skiing and hiking while surrounded by some of the South’s most scenic vistas.


At 147 degrees the water pouring out of 47 springs on the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain have always had an alluring appeal, from the Caddo and Choctaw Indians to Spanish Explorer Hernando de Soto and the baseball stars of the 1920’s and ‘30s.

Believed to have healing powers, the springs were designated a federal reserve in 1832 by President Andrew Jackson, giving birth to Hot Springs National Park and the development of Bathhouse Row and Hot Springs as America’s first resort. The healing powers of the spring water was so revered during the early 20th century that presidents, celebrities, athletes and most notably outlaws flocked to Spa City. During prohibition illegal casinos and speakeasies ran by organized crime made Hot Springs a center for debauchery.

Today, RTX members can eat, relax and walk in the footsteps of the likes of Al Capone, Babe Ruth, Mae West, Sammy Davis Jr., Bugsy Seagal, President Bill Clinton and more as you explore the historic buildings, restaurants, theaters and bathhouses of Hot Springs.



Consisting of eight turn of the century historic buildings, Bathhouse Row is located within Hot Springs National Park on Central Avenue downtown. Offering a variety of spa treatments the bathhouses are perfect for relaxing away the day.

Start your experience at the Fordyce which is now a museum and visitor information center. Learn all about the history and healing powers of the bathhouses and springs from the friendly guides. Inquiring about the different spa treatments offered at the two houses still open will help simplify the process of choosing which service best fits your needs.

Those looking just to experience swimming or relaxing in the spring water should pay a visit to the Buckstaff Bathhouse. For $18 visitors are granted access to a large pool and tub area for an entire day. Pedicures, manicures and facials are also available as well as private steam rooms and tub rooms.

Anyone seeking a full day of being pampered should stop by the Quapaw Bathhouse. Start with an awakening soak in the spring water then select from an array of massage treatments including the Hot Stone. Aromatic oils and natural herbs enhance relaxation as smooth hot stones roll away the stress.

After rewarding yourself with a massage head to the south wing of the bathhouse and stop for a bite to eat at the Quapaw Cafe. Using only the freshest ingredients the cafe serves delicious sandwiches, satisfying smoothies, coffee, tea and beer.

good to know: Reservations are highly recommended so call ahead.


With a bustling downtown, beautiful lakes and mountains and a plethora of attractions there is plenty to see and do for all ages in Hot Springs.

Explore the history of Bathhouse Row and downtown before splashing into Lake Hamilton for a peaceful sightseeing adventure of John’s Island with the National Park Duck Tour. Continue taking in the beauty of the Ouachita Mountains with a visit to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. Perched above the town at the top of the mountain, the tower rises more than 200 feet above the ground and offers panoramic vistas that overlook 140 miles of the surrounding mountains.

Take a trip back to the 1920’s and ‘30s when gambling and bootlegging took over this small Arkansas town and uncover the secrets of notorious criminals like Al Capone and Frank Castello at The Gangster Museum of America. With seven galleries full of guns, cars, moonshine jugs and more the audiovisual tour is well worth the time.

A good selection of live entertainment is also available in Hot Springs. Be mesmerized with the illusions of magician Maxwell Blade at the Theater of Magic or take in dinner and a show at The Five Star Theatre downtown.

Go-kart tracks, miniature golf courses and arcades are also scattered throughout Hot Springs, offering plenty of options for the family. A trip to the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo or the National Park Aquarium provides animal lovers the chance to learn about the area’s wildlife and get up-close and personal with some of the animals.

From April until October Magic Springs and Crystal Falls Water and Amusement Park provides plenty of thrills for the whole family. With five roller coasters, multiple thrill rides and plenty of child-friendly attractions the adrenaline is sure to flow. Cool down on a water slide or in the wave pool at the water park before heading over to the park’s amphitheater to close out the evening with live music.



Surrounded by the Ouachita Mountains and five shimmering lakes – Catherine, DeGray, Greeson, Hamilton and Ouachita – Hot Springs is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. The region’s natural scenery can be enjoyed while fishing, hiking, biking, boating or playing a round of golf.

While Hot Springs Country Club  is a private course, they do open their doors to visitors to the area, providing golf lovers a great opportunity to play either the  Arlington course or the Park course. Recently renovated by Masters Champion Ben Crenshaw, the Arlington course features steep and narrow Bermuda fairways to challenge the  most experienced golfer. Also  recently renovated by Crenshaw, the Park course is more open and suitable for the player looking for a casual round. Best of all both courses feature new Bentgrass greens which are suitable for play year round.

Those looking to get out on the lake should pay a visit to Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters. Kayaks, canoes, hiking gear and fishing supplies are all available or you can have them provide everything  for you and take one of the guided tours like the  kayak tour of Lake Ouachita.

Anglers looking to attack the many lakes and rivers in the area should contact Action Fishing Trips.  Spend a day on Lake Greeson catching black bass, catfish like the Captain’s favorite to eat, crappy. They’re so confident that you will have a good time that if you don’t catch your dinner for the night, then the next trip is on them.


Tour of President Clinton’s Hot Springs

Take a look at a few of the landmarks and places that were meaningful to future U.S. president, Bill Clinton, when he grew up in Hot Springs.

Early Boyhood Home: See where the future president spent his early childhood. The family lived in the house from 1954-1961 and is located at 1011 Park Ave.
Later Boyhood Home: Drive past the house where Bill Clinton spent his  teenage years growing up. 213 Scully St.
Hamburger Hangout: Enjoy a hamburger and milkshake for lunch at Clinton’s favorite diner The Polar Bar (now named Bailey’s Dairy Treat). 510 Park Ave.
Mountain Vista: While there are plenty of scenic vistas in Hot Springs National Park the view from the West Mountain Loop trail is the former president’s favorite.
High School:  See the building where Clinton graduated and played in the marching band. 125 Oak St.
Barbecue: Finish the day with a healthy portion of McClard’s barbecue, still Clinton’s favorite today. 505 Albert Pike Rd.


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