Hot Springs is a gem. An absolute gem. I had visited before but never realized it was a National Park. It is a picturesque, old timey down town area with the amazing architecture from the boom of affluence (we really appreciate that in Pittsburgh), plenty of southern charm and just a dash of tacky tourism! And the baths!!! While on this trip I did not have a chance to “take the waters,” but I have previously availed myself of the services at The Buckstaff and I highly recommend it!
We picked up our Junior Ranger booklets at Fordyce Bathhouse, which is a full visitors center, and began the tour. The booklet covers mostly architecture, fixtures and the water cycle of a hot spring which is enormously interesting. The water in your hot bath was rain 4,000 years ago. AMAZING! The tours can be self guided (WIN) or you can have a guided tour schedule. There is an interesting movie that explains the history of the baths well, and is short enough that my one year old did not run away. The tile and glass work are beautiful, and well preserved, and there are lots of interesting doors and nooks to peek in. Here are my kids in a giant bathtub and in the frightening luxury of a needle shower and sitz bath:
I really wish I had had that tub while I was pregnant. Also that is literally the only picture of all of them where no one looks like they are about to cut someone. If you do take the waters at one of the functioning bath houses you will still use all the same equipment. Hot Springs also has jug filling stations through out the main drag so if you believe in the curative power of the waters, or you just want a free souvenir that you can later drink then bring yo jugs!
We wished we had a sitter so we could do the baths, but c’est la vie. There are lots of really reasonable lodgings in the area and it is very close Crater of Diamonds State Park which we also managed to see in the same day!