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Introducing Hot Springs

The quaint city of Hot Springs (and its not-so-quaint strip-mall and mini-golf suburbs) almost surround the Hot Springs National Park (www.nps.gov/hosp; admission free), a tiny preserve 55 miles southwest of Little Rock. The thermal waters in and around the park spout a million gallons of 143°F (62°C) water daily from 47 natural springs, and modern-day pilgrims bathe in it at spas or sip it from fountains. The other big draws are the horse races at Oaklawn (www.oaklawn.com; races Jan-Apr), scenes from Bill Clinton’s boyhood and water sports on nearby Lake Hamilton.

Elaborate restored bathhouses line Bathhouse Row behind shady magnolias on the east side of Central Ave. Opposite, galleries, shops and restaurants pack 19th-century commercial buildings. For city information or to pick up a map of Clinton-related sites, go to the city’s visitor center (501-321-2277, 800-772-2489; www.hotsprings.org; 629 Central Ave; 9am-6pm).