Ahhhh, the summer road trip—it’s an American tradition! One of my favorite parts about living in North Texas is our proximity to other states. You can actually DRIVE to so many other parts of the country that it’s easy to plan a fun adventure with your little road warriors. And so, this summer, my family and I decided to make a pit stop in Hot Springs, Arkansas on our way to meet friends in the Smoky Mountains (yay!). Driving to Tennessee is no joke (around 13-14 hours), and in hopes of making the miles count, we decided to stop in this hidden gem of a National Park for a day or so.
It takes less than 5 hours to get to Hot Springs from DFW.
Why Should You Visit Hot Springs?
The town is built up around a national park, and while we opted to skip the actual hot springs (not super kid-friendly), there were many other fun things to do. If you should you ever find yourself in this charming place, here are my top five favorite things to do with kids in Hot Springs. Keep reading and start planning.
1. Go Take a Hike. There are a bunch of super short treks, like the Grand Promenade, which takes hikers right behind Bathhouse Row, and offers a great view of historic downtown Hot Springs, the hot springs cascade, and the tufa cliffs. One of the best woodsy trails for families is the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. At 1.7 miles, it’ll take you to beautiful vistas through a hardwood and pine forest.
2. Take a Duck Tour. Is it a bus? Is it a boat? The kids will thrill to find out when you take a duck tour through the city of Hot Springs and down to Lake Hamilton. You’ll get the deets on the history of the city and the National Park from your knowledgeable tour guide. And, the coolest part? Most of the ducks in the rotation are from World War II. Find out more here.
3. Go to Garvan Gardens.
This 210-acre botanical garden is about seven miles away from downtown Hot Springs. Designed to bring out the beauty in the surrounding Ouachita Mountains, Garvan Gardens also offers kid-friendly aspects: a fantastic fairy village, nature bingo, a children’s adventure garden, koi fish, kindness rocks and more. Take a peek at the website by clicking here. And, the best part? You get free admission if you are a member of the Dallas Arboretum!
4. Visit the Alligator Farm. Kids can hold baby alligators, pet goats and sheep (feed included in your admission price), spot peacocks, and much more. And, on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from at noon from May – Oct, visitors can watch a live alligator feeding! Get more info by visiting their website: alligatorfarmzoo.com
5. Eat a Cupcake. There’s a reason why Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shop was a contender on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. The best-sellers include Salted Caramel or the Lemon Lavender—they are beautifully decorated, Insta-worthy desserts. See more over at Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shop.
Have you been to Hot Springs with kids? What’s your favorite thing to do? Share with us in a comment!