Some say the waters here make the place special. Known as the town where America bathes, Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers more than its 4,000-year-old thermal waters to rejuvenate the soul and refresh the senses this time of year.
Taste the town's big tamale at a favorite local eatery. Feel the excitement as high-strung Thoroughbreds hoof it out around one of the best racetracks in the country. See the boyhood home of a former President. Smell the scent of spring as magnolias perfume the air with their blooming fragrance. And hear the stories of how this town came to be known as our national spa. Your senses will thank you.
Check in at the 1882 Majestic Hotel (from $65; call 501-623-5511 or 1-800-643-1504), whose history is just as steamy as the bathhouses down the street. "Bugs" Moran, Al Capone's rival, hung out here during the days of Prohibition while Capone stayed across the way at the Arlington Hotel. Never fear: Those riffraff rivals have long since departed, although their memories haunt the premises. Hotel personnel will be more than happy to tell you a few stories if you ask.
Mollies, a deli noted for its home cooking, offers entrées ranging from chopped liver to potato pancakes. Don't let the small digs fool you: Mollies is big on taste.
It should be illegal to leave this town without taking a dip in its healing waters. The Buckstaff Bathhouse, the only functioning bathhouse on historic bathhouse row, provides separate bathing rooms for men and women. Ask for the "Works" ($38), and you'll enjoy an invigorating thermal bath and full body massage. "Pretend you're a goddess," says the massage therapist. It's not hard to do, because that's the way you're treated. The experience lasts a couple of hours, so attendants require that guests check in no later than 2:45 p.m.
Afterward, go to the Brick House Grill for a barbecue shrimp dinner ($14.95). Then cap off your first evening at the Arlington Hotel's lobby bar, where a jazz combo entertains.