Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hot Springs!

After that really bad day where I felt like I just needed to escape from reality for a while, John and I decided to take off and explore Hot Springs, Arkansas for the weekend. It was a bit of a last minute trip, as in, I planned it the day before we left, but it ended up being the perfect escape from my not always perfect life.

We took off around 8am on Saturday morning and arrived about 3 hours later in cute, little Hot Springs, home of the springs with really hot water. Upon our arrival, we ate a delicious lunch at Cafe 1217 and then proceeded to check out Bathhouse Row, AKA the "downtown" area of Hot Springs. I put "downtown" in quoties because the area was awfully small and more touristy than anything. But it was honestly perfect. We walked that short, little main street, Bathhouse Row, and checked out one of the old bathhouses, Fordyce Bath House, which is now a museum, free to tour.

My little ham, posing outside of Fordyce Bath House.

Inside the male section of the bath house, which was much larger and
more lavishly decorated that the female side.

The stained glass ceiling on the men's side. 

One of the old tubs.

Bathhouse Row is lined with, you guessed it, bath houses, most of which have been shut down since the hay day of Hot Springs. Seeing that one million gallons of 143-degree water flow from the natural hot springs in Hot Spring every day, this turned into a serious relaxation, throw-your-cares-away, cure-your-ailments vacation city back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with bathhouses popping up everywhere, all claiming to have different restorative powers. One video we watched while in the Fordyce Bath House museum even claimed that Hot Springs was as popular as Las Vegas as a vacation destination back when business was booming. It's no longer a big, famous, vacationy city, but there are still 2 bathhouses in operation, which we took advantage of the next day. But I'll get to that in just a bit.

After touring the museum, John and I went in search of some real hot springs to touch! Lucky for us, right outside of the bathhouse, we found a fountain from which flowed the most mineraly, hot, and steamy water.

Then, we walked a bit into the park (where all of the real hot springs are located), which was right behind all the bathhouses (convenient, right?) and touched more hot water from an actual spring! Mission accomplished!

Oops, he blinked! The hot spring is on the right.

By the time we were done enjoying the soothing powers of the hot mineral water, it was time to check in to our fancy, shmancy bed and breakfast. We contemplated staying at a hotel, but we decided since we were just staying one night, we should splurge and stay somewhere nice. I did a bit of research (in my one day of planning) and read lots of great reviews for Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, so we booked it and boy, are we happy we did! Just look at its prettiness...

Right on the lake!

Johnny showing off the room.

Relaxing on a hammock!

Outside our room.

The main lobby. So much pretty wood! Love that rustic feel.

Relaxing fireplace.

We settled in for a little while, took in all the lovely sites, then headed out to the vigil Mass. 'Cause it's always good to put aside time for God, even on vacation. :)

Dinner was at Rolando's, a most delicious nuevo Latino restaurant. We ate on their second floor, which they had set up to look like a speak easy, complete with girls dressed as flappers, a live pianist plunking out tunes, and a fancy bar. Not sure that's exactly how speak easies functioned back in the day, but it was pretty cute. Oh, and the food was soooo delicious. I just had to take a picture...


And then, because we weren't absolutely stuffed enough (sarcasm), we went out for some ice cream at Nom Noms Mexican Grill-n-Chill, because you just can't go on vacation and skip the most talked about dessert place on Yelp! I didn't take a picture (was too full to think straight), but I found one on the internet, so...

Picture stolen from Rafael Poe Alvarez.

'Cept we ordered this flavor AND avocado ice cream. I know, sounds weird. Trust me. Avocado is good in savory dishes AND as a sweet dessert.

And that ended our night out on the town in Hot Springs. We got to sleep early and woke up the next morning to a most delicious breakfast at our bed and breakfast. Then, we packed up, took tons of pictures of our room, said our goodbyes, and headed back to Bathhouse Row one last time for a dip in their relaxing hot spring baths.

Of the two bathhouses still in operation, we went with Quapaw Bathhouse, the one that has been modernized, where the baths are just four large hot tubs, each at different temperatures (up to 104 degrees), that guests can all bathe in simultaneously, in bathing suits of course! The other option was Buckstaff Bathouse, which still operates exactly the way it did in the 1800s. Men and women go to separate sides of the bathhouse and experience (in the nude, if you wish), a personal mineral bath with a loofa scrub from an attendant, hot packs, a Sitz bath (basically a bath for your butt), a few minutes in the vapor cabinet, and a needle shower. Since we didn't want to be separated, and a few of the old-fashioned bath treatments sounded a little weird, we opted for the more modernized bathhouse.

Quapaw Bathhouse

We spent about an hour relaxing in the deliciously hot mineral water, surrounded entirely by senior citizens doing the same. I guess large, communal bath tubs attract the elderly? Who knows. We still enjoyed the heck out of it, even if we did bring down the average age by a multitude of years.

It's said that the water of the hot springs is known to cure all sorts of ailments, so maybe after our little trip and dip in the soothing waters, our infertility woes are behind us. I'm gonna have to call "unlikely" on that one, but I guess it didn't hurt to try. No, actually, it felt very nice. :)

Before leaving, we did our usual adventure ritual and purchased a magnet from a little touristy gift shop as a sweet souvenir of our trip. All in all, I'd say it was a lovely getaway! I'm not rushing to get back to Hot Springs, as it was mostly pretty touristy, but I also wouldn't mind returning some day. I think if I had a group of galfriends with me, I'd like try out the more traditional bathhouse. And we also didn't have time to really explore the Hot Springs National Park or the supposedly beautiful Botanical Gardens there. So I guess another trip will just have to be in the works sometime.

Gosh, I just love vacations!


  1. I have been there one time, it was about 8 years ago. It really is a neat little town. Did they have the iceskating rink up downtown? I was there during Thanksgiving that year and it was so pretty! Glad you enjoyed your getaway! Its great to be close enough to go somewhere like that on a whim!

    1. We didn't see an ice skating rink downtown. Maybe we were a little too early for it? I think we were there the second weekend in November. But it was still a great time. And it's true, I love being so close to some great getaway cities: Hot Springs, Nashville, New Orleans, St. Louis. We've been to all four on little vacations in the past year. :)

  2. Vacations are the best!! This one sounds really fun =) Although I'm curious whether you took the pictures of your dh in the men's bathhouse... =) It looks like such a quaint sweet town and what a lovely B&B! Glad you had fun =)

    1. Hahaha. Yes, I took the picture. But it wasn't awkward, because it was at an old bathhouse that it's in operation anymore. It's just a museum now so you can go everywhere, including the side of the bathhouse for the opposite sex. :)

  3. I hadn't heard about that place until I read about it on your blog a few weeks ago. Looks like a great getaway! That B&B is beautiful!!!...and your shoes were super cute. Thanks for sharing the pics, hope those memories keep your heart warm!!!

    1. Well, then I'm glad I shared about it. You could go there in relax in the healing waters some day. :) I honestly hadn't heard about it either, 'til my husband mentioned it as a vacation option. Good thing I married my southern boy. He knows his way around!

  4. Haha I was going to comment on your shoes too! So cute! And looks like you had a great time! Good for you guys:-) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you! The shoes were a Valentine's Day present from my husband. I wasn't expecting to receive so many compliments on them. I just posted that pic because I liked being in that hammock. Ha!

  5. I love your shoes too, Stephanie!!! I love how you take so many pictures and tell us about the trip, maybe someday I can go there too :) Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed hearing about Hot Springs. :) Though, I must admit, if you're going to visit here, I wouldn't put Hot Springs on the top of the list of fun places to go. Only if you're in the area. And let me know, cause that would mean you're near me!!


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