“So where are you going on vacation this year?”
Me: “Hot Springs Arkansas”
“Oh, visiting family?”
Me: “Nope. Just going to a new state and a new place.”
“Where are you staying?
Me: “In a one-room bathroom-less cabin at a KOA campground.”
That very conversation I had no less than a dozen times leading up to this year’s summer trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas.
I guess it’s a little weird to go to Arkansas for vacation, especially when most people around here go to the beach.
But, I thought it would be a neat goal with the kids to try to see more states — all 50 if we can swing it — and Hot Springs actually has some pretty neat things to see and do.
First, let me tell you about our cabin. We stayed at the Hot Springs National Park KOA Campground which has several different accommodations to choose from. If you have a camper they of course have camper areas. They also several cabin options — cabins, cottages and lodges. The only option available for our dates was a one-room cabin, which we made work, but if I were to go back I’d prefer to stay in one of the larger cottages. The cabin was literally just four walls, a roof and beds. No bathroom, no kitchen, no mini fridge. It had A/C and cable TV, and the campground had wifi, so we weren’t really “roughing” it, except for the bathroom. But for a few nights, we made it work.
The campground had a great shaded pool, a neat lake and hiking trails, pancake breakfast on the weekend, a country store with game room, and the hosts were super friendly and helpful.
On our first full day in Hot Springs, we went to Magic Springs and Crystal Falls theme park and water park. We didn’t even make it to the coasters but spent the entire day at the waterpark. They have lots of water slides, a wave pool, kids area, lazy river, and — by boys favorite — the Boogie Blast boogie boarding.
On day two, we went to one of the crystal mining businesses about 15 miles north of Hot Springs to dig for crystals. Basically, the company has mined out truck loads of dirt and rocks and hauled them to an area where you can pay an admission to fee to dig for crystals. Anything you find that you want, you can keep. I think we came back with 50 lbs. or so of Arkansas rocks that maybe we can clean up into something pretty.
On our last day — we did things kinda backwards — we went into historic Hot Springs and saw the old bathhouse row where people used to come to take baths in the famous hot spring water. If you go, I recommend going to the downtown area first and taking the Hot Springs National Park Duck tour because they’ll tell you all the neat things to see and do, some of which we found out about too late to do.