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Best Attractions & Activities

With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. We have narrowed all of the available attractions in Hot Springs to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to aide in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please.

Oaklawn Racing & Gaming
Fans of thoroughbred horse racing wait in anticipation every year for the Mid-January opening of another exciting season at Oaklawn Park. Live racing, great food and the lure of picking a winner have attracted throngs of visitors to Hot Springs since Oaklawn ran its first card in 1905. There's also Simulcast Racing, allowing patrons to bet on races occurring at other tracks, and the latest electronic games of skill are offered every day through late evening. (501-623-4411, 800-625-5296)

Garvan Woodland Gardens
Verna Cook Garvan had a vision when she donated her 200+ acre peninsula on Lake Hamilton to the University of Arkansas with instructions to continue her decades of work. They did, and Garvin Woodland Gardens has become a world-class botanical garden with an impressive array of rare trees and shrubs and thousands of flowering plants managed seasonally so there's always something in bloom. Highlights include interesting bridges and architectural structures plus a Holiday Lights Display second to none. (501-262-9300, 800-366-4664)

Mid-America Science Museum
A 57,000 sq. ft. facility full of wonder and amazement awaits inquiring minds at Mid-America Science Museum. Dedicated by then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in 1979, the museum employs a hands-on approach with interactive exhibits and programs designed to promote interest in the sciences. They partner with NASA to provide space education and enjoy the distinction of affiliation with the Smithsonian Institute. A preferred family attraction, the museum is also a popular school field trip destination. (501-767-3461)

Gangster Museum of America
Hot Springs' newest attraction, the Gangster Museum of America, memorializes the city's role in the Gangster era of the early 20th century. Filled with artifacts like old slot machines and the original roulette wheel from Hot Springs' notorious Southern Club, the museum is appropriately housed in a former brothel of the same period. It features displays dedicated to such famous visitors as Capone, Lansky and Luciano alongside the city's own crime boss, Owney "The Killer" Madden. (501-318-1717)

Hot Springs Mountain Tower
The view is great from up here! Hot Springs Mountain Tower is actually located within the National Park, but its iconic status deserves recognition as a stand alone attraction. Many fatiqued travelers have pointed out the tower in answer to the age old question, "Are we there yet?" as the structure has stood on Hot Springs Mountain since 1877. The current one, at a prominent 216 feet, offers an unsurpassed view of historic Hot Springs and its beautiful surroundings. Don't forget your camera! (501-623-6035, 800-772-2489)

Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park's hot thermal springs and the mountains that bear them were set aside as a Federal Reserve in 1832. The therapeutic waters drew many famous visitors over the years, including a "Who's Who" list of '30s-era gangsters, contributing to the area's colorful history. The park offers visitors a unique experience with famed Bath House Row, a series of early 20th-century bathing establishments, and the City of Hot Springs Downtown Historic District at its center. (501-623-2824)

Magic Springs
Thrill seekers will tell you it's the exciting rides, water lovers vote for the wave pool and music fans cheer for the great live concerts. Actually, all of the above combine to make Magic Springs one well-rounded family attraction. Daily admission covers all the rides, access to Crystal Falls Water Park and entry into any concerts scheduled that day at Timberwood Amphitheater. Season passes offer all access — all season long, for only a few dollars more. (501-318-5370)

National Park Duck Tours
A decidedly unique attraction, National Park Duck Tours is a "must do" activity for a complete Hot Springs experience. Simply known as "Riding the Ducks," the tour begins in Historic Downtown Hot Springs and includes a thrilling transition from land to water that never ceases to delight. Visitors board a brightly painted WWII era DUKW, a six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicle nick-named "Duck," for an unequalled sight-seeing tour of the city, Hot Springs National Park and Lake Hamilton. (501-321-2911)

Arkansas' Diamond Lakes Region
Five beautiful lakes provide nearly 70,000 acres of surface area to satisfy the call of the water. They are Arkansas' Diamond Lakes - Lake Ouachita, Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine at Hot Springs; Lake Greeson an hour's drive west; and DeGray Lake just 45 minutes to the south. There's plenty of open water for cruising and water sports, quiet coves that produce world record angler's trophies, an abundance of marinas and lodging options and four state parks to enjoy.

Jenn writes and edits travel stories to feed her wanderlust while she is busy raising three daughters and teaching fifth grade. Having been all over the United States, Canada and Europe, she loves to enable others to explore new places, or even just discover something new right at home. Jenn holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in English. She is currently working on her first novel while she dreams of faraway places until the opportunity to travel again presents itself.

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