Garvan Woodland Gardens is Arkansas' premier botanical garden. It is located on a Lake Hamilton 210-acre peninsula. This is a highly recommended attraction. They are continually expanding so even if you were there a year ago it will be very different. There's a dock with stalls so you can also visit by boat. In late November through December the gardens light up with an elaborate holiday lights display. In March daffodils and hyacinths start to bloom followed by more than 100,000 dutch tulips. Make sure you see the Anthony Chapel before you leave. Open 7 days a week.
Stroll along Hot Springs National Park's famous bath house row and take in the history as you go. Today Bathhouse Row consists of eight bathhouse buildings that were constructed between the years of 1892 and 1923. The bathhouse buildings are Buckstaff (Bathhouse & Spa), Fordyce (National Park Visitor's Center), Hale (Hotel & Eden Restaurant), Lamar (Park Offices), Maurice (vacant), Ozark (Hot Springs National Park Cultural Center), Quapaw (Bathhouse & Spa), and Superior (Superior Bathhouse Brewery). Bathhouse Row along with the Grand Promenade was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1987.
In 1915 the Fordyce Bathhouse was considered the best in Hot Springs. After extensive restoration in 1989 it reopened as the Fordyce Bathhouse Museum & Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center. This brought the Fordyce Bathhouse back as it was in its early years including its beautiful stained glass ceilings and statues. Open everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. When you leave the visitor's center, make sure you also take a walk behind the bathhouses on the Grand Promenade.
A mountain tower has been on top of Hot Springs Mountain or North Mountain as some call it since 1877. The current Hot Springs Mountain Tower opened in 1983. It stands 216 feet tall and rises up 1,256 feet above sea level. It offers incredible panoramic views of Hot Springs, Hot Springs National Park, nearby lakes and the Ouachita Mountains. The ground level of the tower has a gift shop. The drive to the tower is an added bonus. It start just past the Arlington Hotel off Fountain Street. General admission $10.
West Mountain Drive is a must do drive that starts off Whittington Avenue and exits on Prospect Avenue. Turn right to the Summit Loop to see three great overlooks of the city and far beyond. You can bring lunch and have a picnic at one of the tables if you plan ahead. Take a hike on the Canyon Trail to downtown near the Mountain Valley Water building.
There are some nice scenic trails to hike within the National Park. Most of the trails are around West Mountain and North Mountain. They are short to medium length trails that intersect with other trails. The Sunset Trail is a longer 4 mile trail that travels through more remote areas of the park starting near Gulpha Gorge campground and ending on Cederglades Road. The Dead Chief Trail (now referred to as the Oertel Trail) is approximately 1.4 miles in length. It goes from Bathhouse Row until it intersects the Gulpha Gorge Trail leading to the Gulpha Gorge campground which is a great place to have a picnic. The Gulpha Gorge Trail is approximately 0.8 miles in length. This trail goes from the Gulpha Gorge campground to the shelter on Hot Springs Mountain.
The renovated historic Malco Theatre is home to Maxwell Blade's magic show. Blade has been entertained people with his ever changing magic show for 30 years. Blade's magic show is very popular and often sells out. Arrive early and have a drink at the Malco lounge before the show. An evening walk through downtown is a nice add-on after the show is over.
Hot Springs is near several state parks and it is near three lakes: Lake Hamilton, Lake Catherine and Lake Ouachita. Lake Ouachita is the largest in the state. It's clear water and surrounding forest make it a top choice. Options around Hot Springs lakes include hiking, fishing, camping, renting a cabin, renting a boat and having a picnic for the day. Take a look at options for Lake Catherine State Park, Lake Ouachita State Park, Entergy Park on Lake Hamilton and the Ouachita National Forest.
The Mid-America Science Museum has interactive exhibits and programs focused on science. Kids love the, more than 100, hands on exhibits at the museum. See the World’s Most Powerful Conical Tesla Coil with 1.5 million volts of electricity and explore the solar system in their 180-degree planetarium style theater. Open Thursday through Sunday.