Hot Springs National Park is the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend trip. Treat yourself to a spa session in a historic bathhouse, after a rewarding hike through the Arkansas forest. Quench your thirst with craft beers made of thermal water, or sip on a martini in a former gangster hangout. The smallest national park of all has a lot to offer.
5 p.m.: The Arlington Tradition
The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa is an institution in Hot Springs. The hotel has welcomed many famous guests in the past 100 years, some more notorious than others. Al Capone used to rent the entire fourth floor for his entourage. Staying in the Arlington feels like stepping back in time – a glamorous time. The original interior is entirely preserved, which only adds to the vintage charm.
7 p.m.: Ohio Club
Another establishment that reminds of the glory days of Hot Springs is the Ohio Club. The oldest bar in Hot Springs was founded in 1905. During prohibition, the Ohio Club became the Ohio Cigar Club, a true speakeasy. A cigar shop out front led into a hidden bar and casino. In the 1930s, Hot Springs turned into a gangster paradise. Its remote location, healing waters and casinos attracted America’s most notorious gangsters. The Ohio Club was their preferred hangout. Nowadays, the classy club is known for delicious dirty martinis and live music seven days a week.
9 a.m.: The Savory Pantry
Today is all about the Arkansas forest. Pack up a picnic from The Savory Pantry, Hot Springs’ hippest food store. On the shelves you’ll find Italian spreads and breadsticks, tapenades, saucisson sec, and everything else you might need for a Mediterranean picnic. You can fill up on breakfast just by trying all the delicious dips on display. For those with a bigger morning appetite, the Pancake Shop next door is a popular breakfast spot.
10 a.m.: Sunset Trail
Hot Springs National Park counts a modest 26 miles of hiking trails. Half of that is made up by the Sunset Trail. The 13-mile loop encloses the entire national park. Start at West Mountain summit, where a few parking spots are available. The trail is easy to hike but hard to follow. Without a GPS, we might still be wandering through the Arkansas forest. Don’t expect stunning vistas on the Sunset Trail, but a relaxing time in nature is guaranteed. Despite the big crowds in town for Easter weekend, there were only a handful of people on the trail.
4 p.m: Superior Bathhouse Brewery
No better way of quenching your thirst after a four-hour hike than with a beer. Superior Bathhouse Brewery brews beers from Hot Springs’ healing thermal waters. Housed in an old bathhouse, it has a front patio that was designed for people watching. A flight can help you decide between the 20+ beers on the menu. My favorite came out to be the Space Force Hazy IPA, which looks a lot like Harry Potter’s butterbeer.
We are the first brewery in a U.S. national park and the world’s first to utilize the thermal spring water as our main ingredient.
6 p.m.: Hot Springs Mountain Tower
More than half of Arkansas state is made up of forest. That becomes all the more clear when walking up the stairs of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. The observation deck reveals forest as far as the eye can see.
9 p.m.: Arlington Lobby
Enjoy a nightcap in the Arlington Hotel Lobby. The elegant lobby offers live music on weekend nights. Some guests take the vintage ballroom-feel very seriously, complete with evening gowns. This is the place to show off your dancing class results.
10 a.m.: Bathhouse Row
Historic Bathhouse Row has been drawing visitors to Hot Springs for over 100 years. At the end of the 19th century, people got word of Hot Springs’ healing thermal waters. Over a course of thirty years, eight bathhouses were erected along the street that came to be known as Bathhouse Row. Today, two of of the original eight continue to operate as a bathhouse: Buckstaff and Quapaw Baths. A traditional treatment typically consists of a mineral bath, a scrub or massage, and a hot towel wrap. The bathhouses preserved their original infrastructure, which makes for a unique spa experience.
12 p.m.: Brunch
No spa weekend would be complete without indulging in brunch. The Arlington Hotel hosts a chic Sunday brunch in its Venetian Dining Room. The brunch is buffet-style, with everything from Eggs Benedict to carving stations and peach cobbler. Start with a brunch cocktail on the sunny front porch.
2 p.m.: Grand Promenade
Wrap up the weekend with a stroll along the Grand Promenade. The tree-lined promenade runs parallel with Bathhouse Row. From the Grand Promenade, you can access the 2.7-mile Dead Chief Trail. This trail used to be part of the historic Oertel Fitness Trail. It was developed by doctor Max Oertel as a complement to the thermal water treatments. Perfect to burn off those brunch calories.