Good, Cheap Fun: Hot Springs, Arkansas
Situated in the center of Arkansas state, the city of Hot Springs takes it name from the geothermal waters that flow from 47 springs on the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain in the historic downtown district of the city. Naturally, people have been flocking to the locale for years to take a dip in the naturally healing waters, giving the town its tagline of "America's First Resort." But there are plenty of family-friendly attractions in Hot Springs as well. And with its centralized location that is easily accessible by car from most parts of the country, Hot Springs is the perfect vacation destination for families on a budget.
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Read on for our top five must-do activities in Hot Springs.
Quapaw Baths and Spa - If you're going to make the effort to travel to Hot Springs, you must make an effort to experience the hot springs. With regular offerings of special package discounts, Quapaw is the place to do it. The website reads: "As the newest spa to Hot Springs National Park, and historic Bathhouse Row, Quapaw Baths & Spa offers guests a unique way to experience the acclaimed thermal mineral water in our four large capacity soaking pools and new Private Bathing Area."
Crystal Falls Water Park - While mom and dad are relaxing in the therapeutic springs at Quapaw, the kids can have their own water fun at Crystal Falls Water Park. The park boasts attractions including the world-class Crystal Cove wave pool, High Sierra Slide Tower, and Kodiak Canyon Adventure River. The best part is that admission is free with ticket purchase for Magic Springs Theme Park. Roller coasters and water slides for the price of one. Make sure to sign up on the website for additional savings.
Blue Moon Crystal - For folks that don't mind getting their hands dirty - literally - Blue Moon Crystal allows visitors to dig for genuine Arkansas quartz crystals at Coleman's Miller Mountain Mine. For just $10 a day for visitors aged 10 and up, you can keep everything you find. Kids under 10 are free, and Blue Moon offers full refunds to anyone that comes away empty-handed.
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival - History buffs will want to plan their trips to Hot Springs for the fall, so that they can attend the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, hosted by the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute. Launched in 1991, the festival is the only one of its kind and annually screens 100 films submitted from around the world. Many of the documentaries have been Academy Award-nominated, and past guests include Ken Burns and James Earl Jones. Tickets start at just $5 for admission to one film, panel or workshop during the festival.
National Park Aquarium - Kids love animals, but purchasing tickets to zoos and aquariums in some larger cities can easily run upwards of $100 for a whole family. With prices of $4.00 for kids aged 4 to 12 (under 4 are free) and $5.50 for adults - plus displays of freshwater fish, saltwater fish, frogs, turtles, tortoises, lizards and more - the National Park Aquarium in Hot Springs is a relative steal.
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