Hot Springs, Arkansas Itinerary: How To Spend an Ideal 3-Day Weekend

By | Wine Writer & Wine Judge
Last Updated: June 12, 2022
Hot Springs, Arkansas Itinerary: How To Spend a 3-Day Weekend

While Hot Springs may be a mystery to some, many local visitors and travelers from nearby states like Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri have been traveling to Hot Springs (yes, it’s actually the name of a city) or “the Valley of the Vapors” for rest and rejuvenation for eons.

Soaking in the famed geological hot springs is said to release any muscle tension or stress from your body. The natural thermal water flows from 47 springs on the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain. These waters flow out of the ground at 147 degrees and are thought to possess medicinal properties. Several early Native American tribes praised these waters as a source of strength.

Bathhouse Row was created in the early 1800s and it has been a wellness destination ever since. In fact, in the late-1800s through the mid-1900s (especially in the 1930s), Hot Springs was a popular place for Al Capone, Frank Costello and other famous mobsters to unwind on Bathhouse Row. It was considered a safe zone and there was a mutual agreement with law enforcement that they could visit unbothered, as long as they didn’t cause trouble. 

With domestic travel becoming so popular given the circumstances of the past year, the reach of Hot Springs visitors has expanded vastly. It’s the perfect destination to cleanse any lingering stress from the past year. No mob activity necessary. 

If you’re considering spending a long weekend in Hot Springs, Arkansas, we’ve mapped out the perfect 3 days for you below. You can also take a look at current flight deals into the Hot Springs area (HOT or LIT airports), and see recommended hotels ranging from luxury to quaint bed and breakfasts.

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Hot Springs, Arkansas Itinerary: How To Spend a 3-Day Weekend
Sunset over beautiful Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Day 1 

Depending on your starting point, you will most likely fly into Little Rock. Car rentals and services are available to take you to your final destination an hour away in Hot Springs! 

As you drive, take in the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs Mountain, and Diamond Lakes area from 1,256 feet above sea level at the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. Not only does it offer a bird’s eye view of the National Park and the natural springs that provide the thermal mineral water for all the spas in downtown Hot Springs, but it also serves as a museum. 

Before checking into your hotel, take a quick hike on the Northwoods Trail. While there are 26 miles of world-class mountain biking and hiking trails, there are also loops that are 4 miles or less to choose from. If you are looking for something more athletic, the Northwoods system (home to the annual Gudrun MTB Festival each November) includes Green, Blue and Black single track, multi-track, flow trails, jump lines and the Lucky 13 expert section. The Cedar Glades trailhead includes a bike skills park. 

Check in to Lookout Point Lakeside Inn. The lakeside setting is a place to zen out and enter a meditative state on the hammocks and lounge chairs dotted along rolling hills and manicured gardens overlooking the water. A garden path leads to a secluded waterfall to settle near. Inside, use the spa products in your in-room jacuzzi and then slip into the provided robe and pour a glass of wine to enjoy next to your fireplace. If you are feeling social, pop downstairs for happy hour. Bath House Row Winery is served alongside a lovely spread of cheese and fruit, flatbreads and other specials. 

The inn offers just about any outdoor activity you can think of—waterfront yoga, kayaking, canoeing, pedal boating, hiking their state park trailhead entrance, ziplining, and even diamond and crystal hunting. Your workout routine will not be put on the back burner on this vacation.

3 Day Long Weekend Itinerary for Visiting Hot Springs Arkansas
Be sure to hike around and explore Hot Springs National Park.

Day 2

Wake up refreshed and grab some breakfast at the inn or grab a smoothie from Ram Nutrition

You’ve seen the National Park from above, but make sure you check it out on foot. The 47 mineral hot springs, pumping one million gallons of water a day, are showcased in protected forested land. The Goat Rock Trail is a 2.4 mile out and back hike that unfolds into a sea of wildflowers and vistas of Indian Mountain and east Hot Springs. 

For lunch, fresh salads and lite fare can be found at Cafe 1217 with highlights such as the Ancho Almond Quinoa Salad with fresh raspberries or the Lemon Basil Chicken Salad with sun-dried tomatoes.

Enjoy a traditional bath at Buckstaff Bathhouse. Built in the Roman Gothic style of architecture, the Buckstaff opened in 1912, and currently, it remains the only operational traditional bathhouse of the original eight on Bathhouse Row. Unlike any spa service you might be used to, a traditional bath includes the use of thermal mineral water in a whirlpool mineral bath with a loofah mitt scrub, then a series of different saunas and water therapies before a 20-minute full-body massage. Altogether the treatment takes about an hour and a half.

Walk a few steps to enjoy a refreshing beer at Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery. As mentioned above, many of the bathhouses are no longer operational but are considered landmarks and have stayed aesthetically the same since the late 1800s/early 1900s. After lying vacant for 30 years, the Superior Bathhouse was re-imagined as a brewery, craft beer tasting room, full-service restaurant and event venue. Most interesting is that they were the world’s first to utilize the thermal spring water as a main ingredient. 

For this evening, have dinner at Eden in Hotel Hale. Another great bathhouse modification, Hotel Hale is a newly restored boutique hotel that includes nine suites right on Bathhouse Row. The therapeutic waters can be taken advantage of in each suite. The restaurant, Eden, has an eclectic decor vibe with black and white tile floors, set against bright teal walls and a massive skylight from which hanging plants cascade above the tables.

Day 3

Enjoy a plant-based breakfast at Kollective Coffee + Tea. Kollective is a 3rd-wave coffee and tea house that strives to use organic and non-GMO ingredients.

Then, stroll through Garvan Woodland Gardens. Nestled in the picturesque Ouachita Mountains, the 210-acre gardens are a gift from local industrialist and philanthropist Verna Cook Garvan. Each turn is stunning and serene—from the powerful nature-driven chapel and the floating treehouse of renowned architect E. Fay Jones (who honed his skills as an architect working alongside Frank Lloyd Wright) to the manicured Japanese gardens and koi ponds. Make sure to say hi to Handsome George the peacock. 

Enjoy a mineral bath at Quapaw Baths. The newest bath and spa to Hot Springs, Quapaw offers four large capacity thermal mineral water pools of varying temperatures, as well as a recently opened private bathing area. Take breaks and grab a cold beverage or a snack at the canteen. They offer spa services as well, or you can opt to check out the brand new Astral Spa at Oaklawn Luxury Resort. The crystal-infused spa treatments are uniquely Hot Springs—Geologists say that Arkansas and Brazil have the best quality quartz on Earth.

At this point, you should be so relaxed that you could forgo the airport and float home.

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