Hot Springs Diamond Lakes & Ouachita River Kayaking: An Unforgettable Arkansas Weekend Getaway

Hot Springs Diamond Lakes & Ouachita River Kayaking: An Unforgettable Arkansas Weekend Getaway

Are you in need of a memorable Arkansas weekend getaway? Look no further! Our family recently had an amazing extended weekend in the Hot Springs Diamond Lakes region of Arkansas, where we discovered a variety of thrilling attractions and fun-filled activities suitable for everyone.

Hot Springs is renowned for its thermal springs, iconic Bathhouse Row bathing facilities, and picturesque hiking trails. During our trip, we had the opportunity to explore Hot Springs National Park, marvel at the stunning natural beauty of Garvan Woodland Gardens, embark on exhilarating hikes, enjoy kayaking adventures, take a boat ride, and create cherished family memories.

Hot Springs National Park Sign

There is so much more to discover in the Hot Springs and Diamond Lakes area. We were unable to fit everything into a single weekend, which is why we are already planning our return trip. However, if you are visiting for the first time, we have created a fantastic itinerary that will provide you with a taste of everything Hot Springs and Diamond Lakes have to offer. For more information, you can also refer to the official Diamond Lakes Vacation Guide.

Watch the Video of Our Trip

Day 1

Where To Stay: Home2Suites in Hot Springs

Home2Suites in Hot Springs Lobby

Home2Suites in Hot Springs Room

Kick off your adventure by checking into Home2Suites in Hot Springs, Arkansas. This hotel not only boasts a vibrant and colorful lobby but also offers kitchenettes in each room. We were delighted to find a room with a sofa bed, perfect for our kids to enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep.

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Home2Suites Hot Springs
106 Catalina Cir. (map)
Hot Springs, AR 71913
(501) 520-4444

Take a Boat Cruise with Captain Jack

Boat ride with Captain Jack in Hot Springs

Although we initially planned to take a dinner cruise with Belle of Hot Springs, we were unable to do so. However, we happily discovered an alternative option – a boat ride with Captain Jack’s Lake Cruises! We set sail on Lake Hamilton alongside Captain Jack, enjoying the peaceful serenity of the water. On that sunny day, Captain Jack provided ice and drinks, ensuring we stayed refreshed throughout the journey.

Learn about the fascinating spots around Lake Hamilton as Captain Jack regales you with intriguing tales. The boat ride typically lasts an hour and a half. For more information or to charter a boat ride, visit the Captain Jack’s Lake Cruises website.

Explore Downtown Hot Springs

Downtown Hot Springs Parking View

As you venture into the downtown area, you’ll be pleased to discover that there is free parking available at the Exchange Street Parking Plaza. Look out for street signs directing you to this parking garage, conveniently located at:

Exchange Street Parking Plaza
128 Exchange St (map)
Hot Springs, AR 71901

Restrooms are essential, especially when traveling with kids. Fortunately, we stumbled upon restrooms at our first stop, the Visitor’s Center. Additionally, restrooms can also be found on either side of Quapaw Baths.

Stop by the Hot Springs Visitor’s Center to gather more information about the area and discover exciting activities. The visitor’s center operates from 9 am to 5 pm daily and is located at:

Hot Springs Visitor’s Center
629 Central Ave (map)
Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901
(800) 772-2489

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Downtown Hot Springs offers an array of charming shops, galleries, and museums. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore some of our favorite spots, including:

  • Mountain Valley Spring Museum and Store (map) – Immerse yourself in the history of Mountain Valley Spring.
  • Bath House Row Winery (map) – Indulge in a wine tasting featuring delightful Arkansas wines.
  • Hot Springs Hat Company (map) – Discover a fantastic selection of hats for all your fashion needs.
  • BATHHOUSE Soapery (map) – Delight in unique and vibrant soaps and bath products.
  • evilo (map) – Browse through a collection of oils, vinegars, spices, and sauces.
  • Artists’ Workshop Gallery (map) – Admire affordable and original art crafted by local artists.
  • Crystal Springs Mining Co (map) – Explore a treasure trove of crystals, jewelry, and art.
  • Gangster Museum of America (map) – Dive into the fascinating history of gangsters in Hot Springs.
  • Tombstone Old Time Photos (map) – Capture the essence of the past by dressing up and taking an old-time photo.
  • Toy Chest (map) – If you’re traveling with kids, a visit to this toy store is a must.
  • Historic District Antiques (map) – Discover a wide variety of unique antiques, including exquisite jewelry.
  • Bathhouse Row Antiques (map) – Find antiques and vintage furniture to add character to your home.
  • Josephine Tussauds Wax Museum (map) – Immerse yourself in the captivating world of wax figures created by the great granddaughter of Madame Tussaud.
  • National Park Aquarium (map) – Delve into the wonders of underwater life at this small yet educational aquarium.
  • Beef Jerky Outlet (map) – For beef jerky enthusiasts, this outlet offers over 100 tantalizing varieties.
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Indulge your sweet tooth at one of the following dessert options:

  • Kilwins Hot Springs (map) – Treat yourself to delectable ice cream, sorbet, chocolates, and sweet treats.
  • Chill and Go (map) – Savor the unique experience of rolled ice cream.
  • Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shop (map) – Enjoy an array of delightful cupcakes.
  • Ginger’s Popcorn Shop (map) – Sample a variety of flavorful popcorns.

Explore Bathhouse Row

Buckstaff Baths

Hot Springs celebrated its 100th anniversary during our visit, making our experience even more special. Bathhouse Row, located within Hot Springs National Park, features eight beautifully crafted bathhouse buildings constructed between 1892 and 1923. Here are the highlights of each bathhouse:

  • Fordyce Bathhouse: This bustling bathhouse now serves as a visitor center and museum, making it the perfect place to immerse yourself in the history of Hot Springs.
  • Quapaw Bathhouse: This operating bathhouse offers the opportunity to soak in the therapeutic hot springs water, providing a rejuvenating experience.
  • Superior Bathhouse: Once a hub for hydrotherapy and massages, the Superior Bathhouse has been transformed into a brewery where you can sample beer brewed with water from the hot springs.
  • Ozark Bathhouse: The Ozark Bathhouse is home to the Hot Springs National Park Cultural Center, serving as an art museum for the national park’s Artist-in-Residence programs and temporary exhibitions. Admission is free.
  • Buckstaff Bathhouse: If you’re longing for a traditional spa experience, head to the Buckstaff Bathhouse, where you can indulge in an array of invigorating treatments.
  • Lamar Bathhouse: The Lamar Bathhouse currently functions as an administration building and the park’s store, known as Bathhouse Row Emporium.
  • Maurice Bathhouse: The Maurice Bathhouse is currently vacant and available for commercial leasing.
  • Hale Bathhouse: The Hale Bathhouse has been transformed into a luxurious hotel known as Hotel Hale.

Fordyce Bathhouse Museum & Visitor’s Center

Walking up Fordyce Bathhouse in Hot Springs

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