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A Budget Guide to Hot Springs Arkansas

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Within a short drive of many Mid-South U.S. major cities, Hot Springs Arkansas is a great choice for a cheap weekend getaway.

A combination of free and cheap things to do, low-cost accommodations, and a central location make this a great destination for those on a budget.

What to do in Hot Springs Arkansas on a Budget

With an abundance of activities and sight-seeing opportunities that are either free or very low cost, a visit to Hot Springs won’t be a case of stretching the dollar, but the schedule.

hot springs arkansas

Visit a beautiful national park with lush mountains, gorgeous waterfalls, and thermal hot springs. Then after a long hike, splurge a ridiculously low amount to soak in the healing waters from those springs.

Tour slices of American history, reliving a vintage resort town of the 1800s and walking in the steps of a man who became a U.S. president – both free!

Where to Stay in Hot Springs Arkansas

For those who bring their own shelter, Gulpha Gorge Campground inside of Hot Springs National Park offers basic tent sites at $10 a night or full-hookup RV sites for about $25 a night.

Otherwise, Hot Springs offers a variety of lodging options, from old mom-and-pop motels to national chains like Embassy Suites. Avoid the Velda Rose, though, which was named to Tripadvisor’s “Dirtiest Hotels in America” list.

By contrast, if able to splurge a little, try the Hilltop Manor Bed & Breakfast, where suites with full breakfast, whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, free wifi, and more start at just $160 a night.

On Bathhouse Row, hotels offer a variety of thermal treatments using the 143-degree water from Hot Springs Creek. Hot Springs National Park, nicknamed The American Spa,” dates back to 1832 and is one of the smallest national parks in the United States. Visitors can opt for guided or self-guided tours of the 26-mile trail system and camp at Gulpha Gorge Campground.

Where to Eat in Hot Springs Arkansas

A visit to Hot Springs isn’t complete without a stop at McClard’s Bar-B-Q , which has been serving up award-winning BBQ since 1928. Bring cash as they don’t take credit cards. If they’re too busy, Stubby’s BBQ will satisfy the hunger and the budget, too.

Looking for a cheap dive that serves up juicy burgers? Try Jason’s Burgers. It’s a local favorite that also serves up tasty catfish.

Start the day out right with breakfast at The Pancake House. Portions are filling, and the prices won’t drain the wallet.

Then end the day with a stop at the Hot Springs Brau Haus for a German pub experience where the food is as good as the brew.

Getting to Hot Springs Arkansas

The city of Hot Springs isn’t serviced by major airlines or trains. However, Little Rock, Arkansas, a mere 60 miles away is.

Once there, either rent a car or take the flat-rate shuttle service from the airport to Hot Springs (about $50 each way).

Another option is Greyhound, which offers bus service directly to Hot Springs.

With so many cheap places to eat and stay, along with a wealth of free and low-cost activities, Hot Springs makes a perfect destination for a budget family getaway.

Hot Springs is the city where intriguing history and an astonishing collection of exciting new attractions bubble to the surface alongside the 47 thermal-water springs that give the place its name. Three blue-water lakes, a pristine National Forest and more family-friendly attractions than you can imagine beckon you to a modern city with historical roots that include the boyhood home of a President, a colorful past that includes Al Capone, the birthplace of Major League Baseball spring training and the prototype for America’s National Parks. 

A trip to Hot Springs wouldn’t be complete without a stop at one of the eight historic bathhouses to soak in the town’s namesake mineral springs. Other area attractions include the Garvan Woodland Gardens, the Magic Springs Water and Theme Park, and the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. Be sure to check out the town’s collection of Art Deco buildings.