My friend David Bazzel of KABZ-FM, 103.7 The Buzz, in Little Rock will spend three nights in Hot Springs this week as the Racing Festival of the South takes place at Oaklawn Park.
David asked me to come up with the ultimate Spa City bucket list of things he should do.
A day at Oaklawn, complete with corned beef and oysters on the half shell, is already a given. There’s not going to be time to do everything on this list, but here’s my best shot:
1. Get a bath and massage at the Buckstaff for a classic bathhouse experience, and then have a bath and massage a day later at the beautifully renovated Quapaw.
2. Hang out in the Arlington Hotel lobby on Friday or Saturday night, listen to the live music and watch the couples dance.
3. Have lunch at the Superior Bathhouse in a window seat, which allows you to watch the people walking along Bathhouse Row.
4. Pay a visit downtown to the Gangster Museum, the wax museum in the old Southern Club and Maxwell Blade’s new museum of oddities. The mix of low-brow and high-brow attractions has always been part of the charm of Hot Springs. I still miss the auction houses.
5. Have breakfast one morning at The Pancake Shop and breakfast the next morning at the Colonial. Both are downtown. Make sure to buy the Daily Racing Form in the basement of the Arlington before breakfast so you can mark your selections while waiting on the food.
6. Take a slow walk after breakfast along the Grand Promenade.
7. Play tourist to the hilt and ride one of the amphibious Ducks.
8. Visit the Arkansas Alligator Farm, one of the state’s oldest tourist attractions.
9. Make multiple stops along the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail, read the markers and listen to the narration on your smart phone.
10. Hot Springs is among the top barbecue cities in the South. Visit one or more of the following: McClard’s, Stubby’s, Smokin’ In Style, Mickey’s.
11. Hot Springs also is one of the best pizza cities in the South. Visit one or more of the following: Deluca’s, Rod’s, Rocky’s.
12. Drop by the Ohio Club and Maxine’s, two historic watering holes downtown. Catch some live music at those venues.
13. Take a hike along the creek at Gulpha Gorge.
14. Visit as many of the art galleries as possible along Central Avenue. Also drop by All Things Arkansas for Arkansas-made products.
15. Take a trip out to the Mid-America Science Museum, which recently reopened following a multimillion-dollar upgrade.
16. View the wonderful collection of old photos in the lobby of the Hot Springs Convention Center.
17. While walking along Bathhouse Row, see the historic displays in the Fordyce, the art in the Ozark and the items for sale in the Lamar.
18. Go to Garvan Woodland Gardens while the tulips are still blooming.
19. Hot Springs still has some old dairy bars. Pay a visit to King Cone, Bailey’s and the Fros-T-Treat.
20. Go to the top of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.
That’s a start.
What else should be on the list?