The full proper name of Hot Springs, Arkansas is Hot Springs National Park. Hot Springs has a large military retirement population. With the location just about an hour southwest of Little Rock, easy access to the military bases and the major airport make this a great location; especially when you consider the number of lakes, restaurants, shopping, and hospitals nearby. Hot Springs is a small city which is easy to navigate and has great historical roots – a great place to live and to visit! One additional historical fact: known as the boyhood home of President Bill Clinton.
Let’s talk about retirement. If you are an outdoorsman, love to fish, or enjoy nature, then this should be one of your destinations to consider. On Lake Hamilton, you can find a waterfront place to live for any budget, from cabins to multi-million dollar homes. Visit Meyers Realty, operating since 1961, www.meyersrealty.com, to find friendly, personable agents that are ready to help you find your dream home. Not ready to retire but looking for some place to take an extended weekend? Then take a look at Hot Springs.
Horse races occur live from January to April, with simulcast opportunities throughout the year. Check www.oaklawn.com to find the location, the hours, and the ins and outs of racing. In addition to the horse racing facility, Oaklawn also boasts a full service casino open year round. We usually try to make it to the race track once a year and like to book a table at the Post Parade restaurant which provides easy access to the betting windows and for viewing the horses in action. The Arkansas Derby rounds out the racing season and is known as one of the last tune-up races before the Kentucky Derby.
Another thing we like to do, which is a must if you love to pamper yourself with massages, facials, etc., is to visit Bathhouse Row located in downtown Hot Springs. “Spa City” is one nickname for this historical area that has a downtown collection of bathhouses and gardens featuring 47 natural hot springs and mineral waters. Buckstaff and Quapaw Bathhouses are currently operating seven days a week. Buckstaff has an older, more conventional staff and bath facility (offering thermal mineral baths in large claw-foot tubs, hot towels, and Swedish massages). Buckstaff Baths is a great historical location, but there can be a long wait between the bath, towels, and massage which kind of takes the enjoyment out of the experience. Quapaw Baths is one of our favorites as you can actually make an appointment which they stick to fairly close. Friendly staff takes you to your mineral hot bath, body scrub, massage and facial. There are packages available as well so you can get a taste of the bath house experience.
Allow time to walk downtown to see the antique shops, art studios, wax museum, and take a ride on the Duck, a large yellow boat on wheels that traverses land and water for tours of Hot Springs and Lake Hamilton. And, if you like ceramics, don’t forget to visit Dryden Pottery.
Lake Hamilton has great lake access for all of your boating needs including wave runners, water skiing, fishing, party barge touring, and just meandering about the lake to look at the houses. And, when drought conditions don’t exist, watching 4th of July fireworks from either your boat or from the shore is spectacular.
By far, the one MUST place to visit in Hot Springs, especially if you like barbeque, is McClard’s Bar-B-Q! Known far and wide by BBQ enthusiasts since 1928, the family owned and operated McClard’s is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-8pm. Located on Albert Pike Road on the west side of town, no reservations are accepted but patrons manage to work their way through either the booths or counter service. Just remember, bring cash because they do NOT take credit cards. Chopped BBQ Pork Sandwich, French fries, cole slaw… MMMMM.
I honor my father, Richard Tooke, with this blog about Hot Springs. My dad spent 30 years in the United States Air Force before retiring to the spa city. Once he “retired” he couldn’t sit still for long so he became a parimutuel at Oaklawn. He was one of the many men and women who collect your bets and pay out your winnings if you are lucky! Dad was always the social person in the family and he loved interacting with the people at the racetrack – both employees and guests. He did finally retire from this job in April, 2012, and sadly, passed away in January, 2013. If you make it to Hot Springs, and the “track” – please tip your hat to my dad!
Clues to the next stop:
1) Caribbean Island located near Venezuela.
2) Dutch, English speaking country
3) Destination location for golfing and/or scuba diving.