A Perfect Day in Hot Springs, AR

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returnee, here’s our guide to a perfect day.
Nick Patterson

7 a.m. Breakfast at The Pancake Shop
The breakfast at this Hot Springs institution has been winning fans since 1940. Get there before 8 a.m. to beat the crowds. Don't miss the smoked ham, the house specialty.
216 Central Avenue; pancakeshop.com or 501-624-5720

9 a.m. Hot Springs National Park
Take the waters at the natural springs and learn the history of America’s spas with a tour of the restored Fordyce Bathhouse―a museum and visitors center, and one of eight bathhouses on Bathhouse Row. 369 Central Avenue; nps.gov/hosp or 501-624-2701

12:30 p.m. Lunch at McClard’s Bar-B-Q Fine Foods
McClard’s Bar-B-Q, home to some of the finest barbecue in Arkansas, has tamales good enough to make folks weep. Try the hot tamale spread―corn chips, tamales, beans, chopped beef with barbecue sauce, and onions, all covered in shredded cheese. 505 Albert Pike; mcclards.com or 501-623-9665

2 p.m. Quapaw Baths & Spa
Head back to Bathhouse Row for a modern spa treatment in the recently opened Quapaw Baths & Spa. Named after the American Indian tribe that originally enjoyed the springs, the spa pampers with facials, massage, hot stones, and, of course, thermal water pools. 413 Central Avenue; quapawbaths.com or 501-609-9822. Treatments start at $50.

6 p.m. Lookout Point Lakeside Inn
Check into Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, a bed-and-breakfast, with take-your-breath-away views of Lake Hamilton and the Ouachita Mountains. Go fishing, canoeing, or take a stroll in the labyrinth out back. 104 Lookout Circle; lookoutpointinn.com or 866-525-6155. Rates start at $137.

7 p.m. Dinner and Drinks at Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante
Feast on the cuisine of Latin America at this restaurant. Try the Pollo Bohemio―tequila-lime-marinated chicken topped with a garlicky Cuban mojo ($14.95). 210 Central Avenue; rolandosrestaurante.com or 501-318-6054

9 p.m. Back to Lookout Point
You’ve had a full day of relaxation, and now it’s time to gaze out over the lake and meditate on how Hot Springs still soothes the spirit.