Family fun

Family / September 15, 2016

Labor Day marked the ceremonial end of summer and fall is finally upon us. The official last day of summer is just a few short days away, on Sept. 22. The kids have returned to school and the adults are getting their families back into their normal routines. Many of us associate the end of summer with children going back to school, and with that comes a sense of melancholy.

The lazy days of summer have ended, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to. With the natural fall foliage and the plethora of activities our city has to offer, Hot Springs transforms into a playground during this time of year. Why not start some new fall family traditions and give the kids something to look forward to this season?


HER has compiled a list of family friendly things to do in Hot Springs to combat the back-to-school blues and help you craft the perfect fall family bucket list:

• Experience The Natural State at its finest by planning a visit to Garvan Woodland Gardens. The botanical garden is open every day through Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and through Dec. 31 from noon to 9 p.m. Visit http:// for more information.

• Magic Springs & Crystal Falls will host its annual Halloween event, Magic Screams, on Oct. 8-30 from 4-11 p.m. on Saturdays and 4-9 p.m. on Sundays.

• Head downtown for the Fourth Annual Maxwell Blade Festival of Magic. For three days, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, award-winning magicians, illusionists, comedians, jugglers and balloon artists will perform in a nonstop celebration of the magical arts. Visit for a detailed schedule of show times and locations or to purchase tickets.

• Check out Mid-America Science Museum, the largest hands-on science center in Arkansas and the state’s first Smithsonian Affiliate. With more than 100 engaging, hands-on exhibits that explore the wonders of energy, matter, life and perception, the museum seeks to spark curiosity and enhance scientific understanding through inquiry, observational skills and discovery learning. Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is AETN and PBS Kids Day at the museum during which the museum will welcome PBS Kids stars Daniel Tiger, Curious George and Cat in the Hat for a fun day of hands-on science and fun photo ops with the family.

• Pack a lunch, grab the kids and head down to one of our three lakes for a day of swimming, hiking, boating and sunbathing before the weather cools down.

• Take a sightseeing cruise across Lake Hamilton on the Belle of Hot Springs. The Belle has been sailing Lake Hamilton since 1984, offering 15-mile cruises for sightseeing, lunch and the most popular cruise, the sunset dinner/dance cruise. Call 525-4438 for more information or to book your cruise.

Maxwell Blade

Maxwell Blade

• Bike, walk or jog along the many trails Garland County has to offer. Bikers, walkers and joggers share miles of scenic paths including a hike to

the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. The Peak Trail begins above the Grand Promenade and takes you up to the tower in a short 0.6-mile hike. Or visit a waterfall at Lake Catherine State Park. The falls can be found just a quarter of a mile from the trailhead. Take the 2-mile loop around to cross Little Canyon Creek.

• Hot Springs Convention Center, in conjunction with the Garland County Library, is hosting a multigenre entertainment and comic convention on Sept. 23-25. Spa-Con will feature comic books, science fiction and fantasy-related film and television and genres including horror, animation, animé, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, web-comics and fantasy novels. Call 321- 2277 or email for more information.

• Make your reservations for dinner and a
show downtown at The Five Star Dinner Theatre, 701 Central Ave. From “Driving Miss Daisy” on Sept. 17 and Oct. 22 and the “Elvis Show” on Nov. 25-26 to one of the theater’s Christmas shows on Dec. 9-23, the theater has something for everyone. An optional dinner is served at 6 p.m. and show times are at 7 p.m. Call 318-1600 or visit http:// for reservations or more information.

• Cutwell 4 Kids offers a chance for children to express themselves artistically with a free program hosted the first Saturday of each month at the Maurice Bath House. Children of all ages are welcome

Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens

to come and join in fun painting and creating activities. Materials are provided. Call Anthony Tidwell at 214-497-3715 for more information.

• Who doesn’t like going to the movies? Get the family together for popcorn and a movie at one of Hot Springs’ two movie theaters, Hot Springs Mall Cinema, 351 Lake Hamilton Drive, or Carmike Central City 10, 909 Higdon Ferry Road.

• Or, if you enjoy documentary films, head downtown for the 25th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival from Oct. 7-16 at the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa.

• Put on your walking shoes and take a stroll down Bathhouse Row to experience the architecture, hot springs, historical markers and nature, then cross the street to visit the boutiques, museums, art galleries and souvenir shops.

• Try your hand at miniature golf at Pirate’s Cove, “the Original Adventure Golf,” at 4612 Central Ave. Its two 18-hole golf courses were specifically designed for the enjoyment of kids and adults alike.

• If you enjoy live-action, team-based interactive puzzles, stop by one of Hot Springs’ three escape rooms at Escape Hot Springs, 200 Spring St., Suite 200; GR8 Escapes Arkansas, 212 Central Ave.; or A Narrow Escape, 801 Central Ave., Suite 37.

• In the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, Hot Springs drew visitors from all over the world who took pleasure in the mineral water, gambling and bootlegging. Visit The Gangster Museum of America, 510 Central Ave., to take yourself back to these days through a historic and entertaining account of how some of the most notorious criminals in America coexisted with the quaint population of  this little valley town in the mountains of central Arkansas. Call 318-1717 for more information.

• Head over to the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, 847 Whittington Ave., to hold baby alligators and feed and mingle with

Mid-America Science Museum

Mid-America Science Museum

the animals. Call 623-6172 for more information.

• Funtrackers Family Park, 2614 Albert Pike Road, features a prostyle drift go-cart track, bumper boats, Volcano Falls Miniature Golf and an arcade for kids of every age. Call 767-8140 for more information.

• Adventureworks Hot Springs, 1700 Shady Grove Road, offers 12 zip lines for more than a mile of zip adventures and a sky bridge with observation deck. Zip line tours are approximately two hours long. The park offers a variety of tours including the Canopy Zip Tour, Full Moon Zip, Haunted Forest Zip, Valentine’s Day Zip Tour and New Year’s Day Zip Tour. Call 262-9182 for more

• If you’ve lived in Arkansas long, you’ve probably seen the Hot Springs Duck tour buses cruising up and down Central Avenue, and you know that a visit to Hot Springs is not complete without a ride on the Ducks. During the hour-and-a-half- long tour you will experience Hot Springs by land and water, all while hearing fun and informative facts from an experienced tour guide. Call 321-2911 for more information.

• See more than 3,000-square-feet of Star Wars and superhero-themed costumes, suits, promotional memorabilia, vintage toys and dioramas at The Galaxy Connection, 906 Hobson Ave. Call 276-4432 for more information.

• Discover 60 exhibits with more than 300 aquatic animals at the National Park Aquarium, 209 Central Ave. Call 624-3474 for more information.

• The Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum in downtown Hot Springs at 250 Central Ave. will take you through seven different worlds in more than 30 settings. You’ll see everything from celebrities, royalty and presidents to historical battle scenes and a creation of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” Call 623-5836 for more information.

• Superlift Off Road Vehicle Park, 2100 Mill Creed Rd., spans over 1,254 acres and is mazed with trails for 4x4s, UTVs, ATVs, dirt bikes and mountain bikes. Make a weekend out of it and reserve one of the available cabins or camping spaces. Call 625-3600 for more information.

Story by Lindsey Wells | Photography by Richard Rasmussen, Mara Kuhn and Beth Bright

Lindsey Wells

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September 15, 2016