The American Spa: Kid-Friendly Fun in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs, Arkansas, a quick plane flight from Atlanta, is considered The American Spa because of its natural hot springs. Thermal waters (average temperature of 143 degrees Fahrenheit!) drew famous people from around the world to “take the baths.” If you’re considering a visit, check out these kid-friendly spots we love.
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Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park was the first U.S. land set aside by the government for recreation, before national parks existed! Explore 26 miles of trails and look for the thermal pools where you can touch the water.
Visit Hot Springs Mountain Tower to see panoramic views of the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs Mountain, and Diamond Lakes from 216 feet in the air. The tower museum fascinates with history of the area, how bathhouses operated, and the celebrities who visited through the years.
Tour the Visitor Center and Museum inside the Fordyce Bathhouse of Bathhouse Row to see the many rooms in an Edwardian Era bathhouse. Bring along a jug or water bottle to fill with spring water at the nearby fountain. But be careful, it’s very hot! The Buckstaff Bathhouse is the only park system bathhouse, offering traditional mineral baths just as they were given in the early 1900s. Kids as young as 10 can experience the thermal whirlpool baths. Tubs are private, water is cooled to a safe temperature, and bathing suits are optional. You’ll feel like you time-traveled back a century while taking part in this old-fashioned “spa” treatment.
Hot Springs was a mecca for professional baseball spring training, with greats like Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson making their mark since the late 1800s. Walk the Baseball Trail and follow a tour of Hot Springs baseball fun facts and legends through the app, a QR code scanner, or your phone.
Opposite Bathhouse Row, families will find many shops, restaurants and attractions. Try to make A Narrow Escape from an escape room attraction with multiple themes. We recommend the Bionic Dilemma for its AI robot and exciting puzzles! The Gangster Museum of America spotlights notorious criminals and their unique connections to Hot Springs. Browse retro candies and surprisingly-flavored sodas at Rocket Fizz or snag sweets at Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcakes. Eat a meal in a former bathhouse at Superior Bathhouse Brewery. Here, adults can taste hot springs-brewed beer in flights. At Bubbalu’s Burgers, burgers, hot dogs, and shakes are served in a 1950s-style diner. Kids’ meals come on Frisbees instead of plates for playtime after eating.
Open since 1902, the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo offers interactions with native animals of Hot Springs. Hold and feed baby alligators, touch tortoises, and get up close with pygmy goats. You can also see full size gators, wolves, emu, mountain lions and monkeys here.
Experience Magic Springs Theme and Water Park in warmer months for water park attractions. In cooler months, go for thrill rides like The Gauntlet roller coaster or Sky Shark, a ride that combines the sensations of skydiving, hang-gliding and bungee jumping.