Go From Bath to Brewery at Hot Springs National Park

October 7, 2016Travel Ideas
– John Minette, Share the Experience

The city of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is home to Hot Springs National Park, a truly unique park with a rich history. The city and the park are collectively known as "America’s Spa," and the bathhouses that sprung up around the springs over 100 years ago have attracted countless visitors, many of them hoping to experience the springs' supposed "curative" properties. The naturally heated water that first attracted settlers to this once-remote area in central Arkansas is just as bewitching today as it was in the 1800s.

 

The spring water at Hot Springs National Park, reaching up to 143 degrees Fahrenheit, bubbles to the surface at various points throughout Hot Springs—the city and the adjoining park are interconnected and inseparable from one another—where you can see, touch, and in some cases even taste it. Among the park's many attractions are the historic Fordyce Bathhouse, which now houses the park’s visitor center, and Buckstaff Baths, a park concessioner since 1912, where you can take a traditional bath just as visitors did decades ago. Be sure to experience these essential sights and attractions while you're there: 

Visit the only brewery inside a national park

 

The brewery at the Superior Bathhouse is the only one of its kind, offering small-batch craft beers made with the famous Hot Springs water. Samples are available at the craft beer tasting room, which opens daily at 11 a.m. The brewery serves food as well, and you can even fill up a growler to take some spring water-brewed beer home with you.

 

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See the historic bathhouse gymnasium

 

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The water from Hot Springs was initially touted as a cure for all manner of ailments, and the town was a major attraction for turn-of-the-century health nuts. The original focus of the city's bathhouses was health, and walking into the gym at Fordyce bathhouse is like stepping back in time. The antique weights, punching bags, parallel beams, and workout equipment look untouched, hearkening back to the earliest days of the modern health club. The nearby music room is equally entrancing, with its opulent stained glass ceiling, patterned tile floor, and Knabe grand piano. 

Stroll through the Fordyce Bathhouse lobby

 

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The grandeur of the Fordyce Bathhouse—built in 1915—is apparent from the moment you walk into its entryway. Today, the bathhouse also serves as the visitor center for Hot Springs National Park, where you can take a guided tour, check out films and exhibits, and find a wealth of information on the park's history and attractions. 

Drink from the fountains

While we can't support the claim that the Hot Springs water has healing properties, we can tell you that it is absolutely safe to drink. The water arrives at the surface tasteless, odorless, crystal-clear, and free of harmful bacteria year-round. You can try it for yourself at hot water "jug fountains" throughout the city, including the ones at these locations: 

  • Libbey Memorial Physical Medicine Center on Reserve Street
  • Between the Hale and Maurice Bathhouses on Bathhouse Row
  • Hill Wheatley Plaza on Central Avenue
  • The National Park Service Administration Building on Reserve Street
 

A photo posted by Stefanie Payne (@istefpayne) on

 

Hot Springs National Park also offers a host of attractions that have nothing to do with hot springs, like hiking trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds. With so much to see and do, this park is perfect for a weekend getaway or an extended stay. Use the free map of Hot Springs National Park from the National Park Service to help plan your adventure!

Comments

So excited to visit for our 35th anniversary.
Sonii
Nagel

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