Hot Springs is a gem of a mountain town, and we're not the first to notice. The healing waters the town is named for have been attracting everyone from Native Americans and early-20th-century health nuts to a good chunk of the nation's organized-crime leadership. When Hot Springs was at full throttle in the 1930s, it was a hotbed of gambling, bootlegging, prostitution and opulence.
Today the appeal of Hot Springs is less the actual springs than the tourism infrastructure that commemorates them. That said, a few elaborate restored bathhouses offering old-school spa treatments line Bathhouse Row, which sits behind shady magnolias on the east side of Central Ave. Otherwise Hot Springs is a shady, attractive town that has managed to preserve its historic center, which is always a cause for celebration.