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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Hot Springs: Hot and Historic

Natural beauty and an eccentric history combine in Hot Springs to create an attractive destination for work and play.

Hot Springs is known as a famous tourist destination where folks came to get away for a day or a weekend. The natural hot springs are iconic: For hundreds of years people have sought out the water for its healing properties, and visitors continue that tradition today.

“Before there were paved streets, there was water,” said Tammy Clampet, director of sales for the Hot Springs City and Visitor’s Bureau.

There are many spas in the town, including Swan Song Spa, the House of Balance Healing Arts, the Buckstaff Bathhouse Company and the Lotus Jewel Qi Energy Center.

The outdoors are a major attraction in Hot Springs; favorite spots are Lake Hamilton and Garvan Woodland Gardens, a botanical garden that spans 210 acres and is open nearly all year.

“There’s always something blooming there year-round,” Clampet said. “During the holiday season, there are lots of Christmas lights, too.”

Garvan Woodland Gardens also functions as a venue for off-site events and hosts weddings at its beautiful glass and wood chapel.

Oaklawn Park is a fast-paced attraction known as the home of the Racing Festival of the South. The park hosts gaming and a thoroughbred racetrack with a season that runs from January through April. Another unusual off-site venue is the National Park Aquarium on Lake Hamilton. It is home to Arkansas’ largest fish and reptile exhibit and has gorgeous views of the lake.

Attend meetings during the day and enjoy the vibrant nightlife when the sun goes down. Live music, gaming and great food and drink can be found at sites like the Big Chill. The business was established in 1997 and is still going strong with music every night and a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Hot Springs also has many festivals, including jazz festivals, film festivals, art walks and even dog shows.

If you’re looking for an interesting glimpse at history, visit the Gangster Museum of America. Al Capone and his cronies frequently vacationed in Hot Springs and booked rooms at the historic Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa, the largest hotel in the state, adjacent to the national park. The museum features Capone and other notorious criminals from the intriguing gangster era.

Other historical sites are the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum, the Veterans Memorial of Garland County and the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, which overlooks 140 miles of the Arkansas countryside.


Spotlight on Hot Springs

Primary meeting facilities: Hot Springs Convention Center

Other meeting properties: John Q. Hammons’ Embassy Suites; Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa; Austin Convention Hotel and Spa

Largest meeting space: Hot Springs Convention Center (360,000 square feet)

Total hotel rooms: More than 4,000

CVB website: