Summertime in the Spa City

The list is endless with numerous activities for you and your family to enjoy this summer in Hot Springs

By Mandie Gober, photography by Mara Kuhn and Richard Rasmussen

By Mandie Gober, photography by Mara Kuhn and Richard Rasmussen

School’s out. The humidity is in. It’s (almost officially) summer, y’all! Your options for things to do this summer in the Spa City are limitless, no matter your age. Try your hand at fishing, visit some of the best playgrounds around, take advantage of the local tourist sites and enjoy one of the many local festivals. Having fun during the summer in Hot Springs doesn’t require a lot of money. In fact, many things to do, see and enjoy are absolutely free.

• Put on your bathing suit, grab your towel and head to one of the area lakes. Any day is perfect for swimming, boating, building sand castles, collecting seashells and basking in the sun.

• Hit the road and take in the sights as you navigate your way to the top of West Mountain. Available by car or by hiking, there are majestic views at the vista.

• Take advantage of warm summer nights and enjoy a number of free summer Movies at the Market presented by Visit Hot Springs and the Hot Springs Young Professionals. Movies will begin at sundown at the Hot Springs Historical Farmers Market. For a list of upcoming features call 321-2277.

• Stroll through historic downtown Hot Springs and feel the heated water flowing straight from the ground along Bathhouse Row and at Arlington Lawn. Once the stamping grounds of the legendary Al Capone, Central Avenue is now home to unique local merchants. You can even bottle your own mineral water. Be sure to bring your own containers.FARMER'S MARKET

• Sample some of the fresh produce grown in and around Hot Springs at the Hot Springs Farmers & Artisans Market, held every Saturday at the Transportation Depot at Broadway and Orange streets. You’ll find local produce, baked goods, jewelry, live music and more.

• Bike, walk or jog along many trails Garland County has to offer. Bikers, walkers and joggers share miles of scenic paths including a hike to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. The Peak Trail begins above the Grand Promenade and takes you up to the tower in a short 0.6-mile hike. Or visit a waterfall at Lake Catherine State Park. The falls can be found just 0.25 miles from the trailhead. Take the 2-mile loop around to cross Little Canyon Creek.

• Try your hand at the fifth annual $86,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge. The Hot Springs Fishing Challenge runs through July 31 at 5 p.m. The challenge provides anglers the opportunity to catch tagged fish that can be redeemed for cash prizes. Sixty tagged fish have been released in Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine including the grand prize, “Big Al,” worth $10,000.

MUSEUM DEDICATION CEREMONY• Check out the Summer Exhibit Dinosaurs Revealed at the local Mid-America Science Museum, the largest hands-on science center in Arkansas and the state’s first Smithsonian Affiliate. With more than 100 engaging, hands-on exhibits that explore the wonders of energy, matter, life and perception, the museum seeks to spark curiosity and enhance scientific understanding through inquiry, observational skills and discovery learning.

• Stimulate your heart and senses with health walks at Garvan Woodland Gardens every Monday through June 27 with an exhilarating 3-mile hike along various garden landscapes.

• Experience the diverse arts and cultural scene that place Hot Springs at No. 4 among the 100 best art towns in America. On the first Friday of every month, galleries downtown stay open until 9 p.m. and offer music, refreshments and on-site artists for the Gallery Walk.

• Cutwell 4 Kids offers a chance for children to express themselves artistically with a free program hosted the first Saturday of each month at the Maurice Bath House. Children of all ages are invited to come and join in fun painting and creating activities. Materials will be provided. Call Anthony Tidwell at 214-497-3715 for more information.SPA BLAST

• Oaklawn Racing & Gaming will host its annual Spa Blast presented by Budweiser on July 1. The family friendly event begins at 4 p.m. The free celebration includes a concert and concludes with one of the biggest firework shows in the state.

• Cheer on local contestants as they vie for the title during the Miss Arkansas Pageant held at Bank of the Ozarks Arena July 8-11.

• Summerfest Uptown Battle of the Bands, and BBQ and Salsa contest, will be held July 9. Call 282-1872 for more information.

• Be a part of the entertainment at the Murder and Macabre Mystery Dinner Theater Murder and Mayhem on Gilligan’s Island at Porterhouse Restaurant July 22-23. Call 627-4561 to make your reservations.

• Browse and shop during one of Arkansas’ largest gun and knife shows. Antique and modern firearms of all kinds, ammunition, custom knives, swords, accessories, and reloading supplies can be found at the semiannual South Hot Springs Lions Club Gun and Knife Show held at the Hot Springs Convention Center July 30-31.

MAGIC SPRINGS PERMIT• Cool off at Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, Arkansas’ only water and theme park. The park offers thrill rides for all ages as well as a summer concert series boasting headliners such as Hunter Hayes, Hinder and MercyMe.

• The Garland County Library offers a variety of educational and fun activities for all ages including dance classes, arts and crafts, and interactive story times during the summer months. The library even offers fishing poles you could use at Family Park or Entergy Park.

• Behind the Mall Cinema will host free family films at 11 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday all summer long. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. Add a soda or popcorn for $1. June is sponsored by First Security Bank with July and August sponsored by Relyance Bank.

• Take a cruise on the Belle of Hot Springs. They offer sightseeing cruises, lunch cruises, a dinner and dance cruise, and an ice cream social cruise taking you across beautiful Lake Hamilton.

• Explore Gulpha Gorge. You can camp or hike around this lush wooded area of Hot Springs National Park. It’s shaded and perfect for a hot summer day.

• Explore the Historic Baseball Trail. Follow along using the Hot Springs Baseball Trail site for a guided tour of Arkansas’ role in baseball history. Legends such as Rogers Hornsby, Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron are each featured on historical plaques at the site.

Magic Springs• Take advantage of the many public parks around Hot Springs including a family favorite, Cedar Glades Park. With 432 acres, 15 miles of bike and hiking trails, disc golf, an R/C flying field and camping area, there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.

However you choose to explore Hot Springs, it all makes for an unforgettable summer “staycation.” Let the fun begin.

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