As I have said before, one of my absolute favorite ways to spend my free time is by traveling and exploring new places. While traveling overseas or across the country is amazing and so much fun, I am also a huge advocate for exploring your own state. This can be done inexpensively and also on the spur of the moment. When Anthony and I were dating during college we would always take random road trips to try out new hikes, restaurants, and to see new places around Arkansas together. Now we have so many places that are special to us because we travelled there when we were first falling in love. So grab a road trip buddy, and get out there!
One of my favorite places to visit near Little Rock is Hot springs, Arkansas. It is the perfect place to visit during the summer because it boasts a multitude of lakes, my personal favorite being Lake Ouachita. There is nothing I love more than being on a boat in the water. In the spring it has the Oaklawn horse races, and you can’t miss visiting Garvan Gardens when the tulips are in bloom. While there is a ton to do, if you only can take a day trip, here are my personal reccomendations of what to see, do and most importantly, eat!
See the natural Hot Springs
You may have guessed it, but Hot Springs garnered it’s name for a reason. In Hot Springs National park there are a total of 47 natural hot springs that bubble up 147 degree fresh mineral water from the ground. While most of them have now been capped off, there are still a few that are free flowing, and it is most definitely worth a stop to see them. The largest one is located in a park at the end of Central Ave. the main stop running through Downtown Hot Springs. Locals swear by this water and there are several places in town where you can fill up jugs with either hot or cold water.
Consequently, because of it’s “healing” natural waters, Hot Springs is famous for Bathhouse Row. There are currently eight bathhouses located on Central Ave. in Hot Springs, all built in the late 1800’s. Today, only two are actually used for bathing and spa’s, but you can take a self guided tour through Fordyce bathhouse and it is really interesting as everything is still in it’s original condition. My personal favorite bathhouse is Buckstaff Baths because of it’s quaint blue and white color scheme and southern charm.
This place is so good, sometimes we take special trips to Hot Springs with friends just to eat here! It is Latin American food and if you are in Hot Springs, it is a must eat! If you happen to be around during the spring or summer months, or just on a beautiful day, make sure you eat outside on their patio under big oak trees and twinkling lights and on certain weekends they even have live music. If you like goat cheese at all, and want to make me extremely happy, do yourself a favor and get the Quesadillas de Chivo. Some of the other crowd favorites are the Queso Flamado, Popeye’s Burrito, and Carribean Rum Cake for Dessert. Some of my other favorite Hot Springs eateries are The Ohio Club, The Pancake Shop, McClards Bar-B-Q, and….
Fat Bottomed Girls Cupcake Shop
After stuffing your face at Rolando’s, make sure you leave room for one of the tastiest cupcakes you will ever put in your mouth. Fat Bottomed Girls was recently featured on Cupcake Wars, and for good reason. Their cupcakes are seriously delicious, and I would recommend trying one of their three signatures, Salted Carmel, Crème brulee, or Lemon Lavender. I personally went with the crème brulee and it was so tasty! After walking down Central Ave. looking through all of the shops, it was the perfect pit stop.
Some other fun things to do in Hot Springs are hike up to the Mountain Tower, take a lake cruise on the Belle of Hot Springs, visit one of the many parks, or just window shop as you stroll along downtown. If you are ever in the area, definitely give it a visit!