Hot Springs is known for its 47 hot springs. The water literally comes out of the ground at 147 degrees! Hot Springs National Park is the oldest (1921) Federal reserve in the country, and the water made it famous as a spa town back in the day. A creek actually flows underneath what is known as "Bath House Row." The buildings are gorgeous; Jane and I visited the Buckstaff Bath House, and it was well worth it! You can easily imagine people coming to this little town for the healing waters.
There are eight bath houses left, and they are managed by the National Park Service. Only two are actually open, with another undergoing renovations. We visited a very interesting spa museum, Fordyce Baths, which was very luxurious when it was an ongoing business. Besides the baths, it also sported a gymnasium, a beauty shop, a billiards area, individual massage rooms, and, really, just about anything you'd want. Everything is a sparkling white and silver, very fancy, with lots of stained glass. For some reason, it kind of reminded me of some of the older buildings in San Francisco.
In the early 1900's, Hot Springs was known as the training camp for many major league baseball teams. Babe Ruth could be seen walking Central Avenue, and visiting the bath houses! Al Capone and many other gangsters also favored the city, as it was a mecca for illegal gambling and horse racing. You could definitely feel the town's character while driving down its main street, which is Central Avenue.
So...it's great to be able to visit a town with such a colorful history! We spent some time driving around looking at the older houses. These are a few of my favorites.
I definitely plan to go back for more exploring. The weather was a bit too hot in mid-September, but I'm sure that autumn will be beautiful there, and I feel as though it's the kind of town that always welcomes you back.
As always, thanks for coming along for the ride!