Hot Springs, AK: Bathhouse Row

We drove to Texas from Indiana for the Final Four in Dallas. A lot of people thought this was kind of crazy, but we are used to routinely doing 10-12 hour drives from North Carolina and then Maryland to come visit family in Indiana and Ohio, so we didn't think a 13 hour drive was too bad. It wouldn't have been awful except we had to drive through Arkansas and then Texas :) (Truth be told, the drive wasn't too bad. We left on Thursday evening in pouring rain and strong storms which was a bummer, but our drive Friday was gorgeous - the best weather we had the entire trip.) 

To make long drives more fun, sometimes we plan in little side trips as a place to stop for lunch, especially if we think we aren't going to come back to a particular state and I want to get a map pin in (see our random stop in Alabama for more proof of this). I don't really foresee us going back to Arkansas anytime soon (although maybe we'll go check out the Ozarks sometime), so I wanted to take a trip to Hot Springs and check it out. We almost missed this side trip completely due to a massive miscommunication about needing to be in Dallas at a certain time, so this is a PSA about how good communication is imperative to good trips and less stress.

Anyway, Hot Springs, AR, is a city with a national park within the city. It's pretty cool, feels historic, and was well worth the extra miles off of I-30.

We parked on some metered street parking off the main street and were immediately next to one of my main interests here, a water fountain. There are a couple of fountains on this street that you can drink the hot springs water from! It is literally coming from a hot spring to this water fountain.

I look ridiculous because nothing is ever made for short people. I thought the water was good. It was very warm.

After a picnic lunch, we headed down the main street to check out Bathhouse Row, my other main interest while we were here. There is only one functioning bathhouse left where you can actually take a bath (it is mostly a glorified spa but I kind of wanted to do it; unfortunately the shortest amount of time offered was about an hour and a half), but the rest of the bathhouses are still there and you can marvel at the architecture.

This is the one that is still a spa:

The buildings all looked very architecturally interesting. I love when buildings are not designed all alike.

The visitor's center for the National Park is housed in a bathhouse, and they offer a free self-guided tour of the entire building (they also offer a free guided tour at certain times).

Wandering around the bathhouse was awesome and a tiny bit creepy. We were some of the only people there, and some of the bathing and massaging instruments looked like torture devices instead of relaxation help.

Steam cabinets (would you get in one of these?):

The men's bath hall had a beautiful ceiling and  fountain.

I really loved the doors to all the rooms because of the gold lettering and frosted glass windows.

The dressing rooms were like locker rooms, except everybody got to change in their own stall, then leave their things behind in that stall. Much nicer than how we have it these days.

I popped in one to see how it was. It wasn't too bad for me, but I could see it being pretty cramped if you were any taller.

On one floor was a beautiful parlor area. It was separated into men's and women's sides (the men had a billiards area and the women had a beauty parlor), but in the middle was this baby grand piano, another beautiful ceiling, and lovely windows.

Also on this floor was an immersion bath that you could get strapped onto a board and lowered into the water - hydrotherapy for patients.

I didn't take photos of this, but on the roof were also areas for sunbathing (for the men) and shadebathing (for the women). They were separated by lots of plant life so no one could see each other (the men were in the nude).

Outside back on the main street outside the Visitor's Center are a couple more fountains fed directly from hot springs. I stuck my hand in and found that it was warm. I was having a good time with this! Aren't you used to cold water in fountains?

We walked back to the car along the Grand Promenade, where Eric's sister and I veered off to the left to investigate a sign that said "Trial Hot Spring".

We found the only uncovered hot spring in the city. The rest were all covered up to feed directly into the bathhouses; they are under the bathhouses and promenade. We put our hands in here too and it was warmer than the fountains. We could see steam rising from the water!

With an average temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit, I guess there would be steam rising.

Our little side trip was about half an hour from Little Rock and definitely worth it.
Hot Springs, AK: Bathhouse Row Hot Springs, AK: Bathhouse Row Reviewed by Maria on 3:00:00 PM Rating: 5

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