Have you ever enjoyed a place so much, you make your way back as soon as possible?
We do too! So, two weeks ago, we jumped into the truck and drove back to Arkansas.
After a long Thursday, we departed our home in Katy, Texas and made our way to Hot Springs, Arkansas. 6 hours later, we jumped straight into bed, knowing we wanted to enjoy a quick trip to Arkansas and take advantage of our weekend.
I woke up early by the sounds of birds chirping in the tall maple trees. The leaves, orange, yellow, and red blew in the crisp, forty-degree weather. Once my husband woke, we drove over to a local Hot Spring favorite, Red Light Roastery. Upon arrival, we were instantly greeted by a young woman who offered great recommendations. The coffee was freshly brewed and the two-story outdoor patio was a great way to start our day.
Next, we went over to the Best Cafe & Bar where we enjoyed a huge breakfast in the cool, Fall weather. This brunch spot was conveniently within walking distance to the surprise VIP Tour I had obtained for my nerdy husband at The Galaxy Connection.
This interactive museum houses a vintage arcade room with several working games, plenty of hi-grade props from Star Wars, rooms filled from floor-to-ceiling with classic G.I. Joe, He-Man, Marvel, DC, and Barbie. The best touch? The tour also included a retro Polaroid photo for your scrapbooking pleasure! (Do people still do this?) If you are any type of Superhero or Star Wars fan, this is the place to visit!
After we nerded out all morning, next on the list was a hike at the Garvan Woodland Gardens. While the towering Anthony Chapel was being used for a wedding, we were able to sneak in a splendid hike toward The Perry Wildflower Overlook. During this hike we encountered the Bonsai Center, Koi Pond Waterfall, Southern Inspiration Trail, ultimately leading us to look over Lake Hamilton and the colossal Mt. Riante in the distance.
This was an easy hike with numerous rest stops and opportunities to find shade.
After a half day of hiking, it was time to enjoy the infamous Hot Springs National Park as well as Whittington Park where the iconic thermal springs poured freely for all to see. The steaming, hot water poured from one waterfall to another. To our surprise, Bathhouse Row sat right below the park, which housed eight buildings constructed as early as 1892. As of late, these bathhouses have been turned into local eateries, museum and art collections, as well as a visiting center.
As we began to wind down, we sat outdoors to appreciate the beautiful sunset while trying out some of the local delicacies. Our dinner varied from fried empanadas, locally farmed cheeses, hand-rolled pretzels, and eventually ended our evening with a tasty treat from the local chocolatier, Kilwins.
What better way than to start with piping hot lattes and deliciously homemade tacos? For this, we visited Melinda’s Coffee Corner, which happened to be filled with locals talking shop and within a few minutes, invited us right over to their tables. Our tacos, on freshly handmade tortillas, were filled to the brim and topped with two types of salsas. Needless to say, we felt right at home!
We made our way through the infamous Scenic 7 Byway towards Petit Jean State Park, our favorite hiking spot in all of Arkansas.
Starting behind Mather Lodge, we set out for the Cedar Falls Trail.
The Cedar Falls Trail is known to be the most popular trail in Petit Jean State Park. Though only 2 miles, it is posted as "Strenuous" with its cascading descending steps, steep ascending steps, and massive boulders, all requiring adequate hiking shoes/boots.
No photo can do justice for the Cedar Creek Canyon but I can tell you this, it is worth the climb!
Achieving difficult trails also have their advantages. Why? Carbs. Once we backtracked, we found ourselves at Mather Lodge. Their gigantic windows overlooked the canyon we recently accomplished and had plenty of seating before the dinner rush. The restaurant offered a great menu, excellent service, and the best fried green beans and homemade ranch I have ever tasted.
Our climactic hike and successful carb load sent us into hibernation mode. We set out for our Airbnb and spent the remainder of the evening gazing upon the golden sunset, eventually watching cheesy movies until we could not keep our eyes open.
We started off our day with Kollective Coffee + Tea and headed straight to The Pancake Shop for their infamous breakfast. Living in Houston officially paid off while we waited amongst the rest of the line of hungry people. Eventually, our waitress delivered us the largest, fluffiest pancakes I have ever seen. Our hearty breakfast was worth the wait, all 35 minutes of it.
Before we made our way back home, we stopped back into Garvan Woodland Gardens and had the chance to gape at the beautiful constructed Anthony Chapel, the world-famous 60-foot glass chapel.
While we were able to enjoy a quick trip to Arkansas, I do recommend adding a few more days to capture more of what the Hot Springs has to offer. If you missed our 2021 trip, which was a few days longer, check it out HERE.
If you have been to Arkansas and recommend a new site for us to see, please leave us a comment below.
Until next time wild traveler!