Hot Springs, Arkansas

Showing off at Garvan Gardens. Small photo by Johanna Read

Posing peacock at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Have you been to Arkansas? Me neither. Have you ever heard of Hot Springs, Arkansas? Me neither.

Until recently.

Lamar Bathhouse, Bathhouse Row. Small photo by Johanna Read

Lamar Bathhouse, along Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park

I was introduced to both in April 2016 and was absolutely delighted by this spa town.

For those of you who have been to Banff, in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, there are some similarities — a town (partially) within a national park, hot springs, beautiful scenery, interesting history, lovely architecture, and lots of shops and restaurants catering to tourists.

Chef and owner Anthony Valinoti, Deluca's Pizzeria. Photo by Johanna Read

Chef and owner Anthony Valinoti, DeLuca’s Pizzeria

But Hot Springs is not Banff. Amongst other unusual things, it has a sordid past featuring gangsters like Al “Scarface” Capone, some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, a peacock who poses anytime someone brings out a camera, taps on the street to fill bottles with hot springs water (which, unusually, has no iron or sulphur), some really awesome blues music, and Bill Clinton’s favourite barbecue joint.

Intrigued? Read more:

Scott%22Rooster%22 Meeks playing bass, The Ohio Club. Photo by Johanna Read

Scott “Rooster” Meeks, of The Hump Day Blues Band, showing off his bass skills at The Ohio Club

Note: My visit was via a hosted press trip, but neither the tourism board, the PR company nor any of the businesses I describe reviewed or approved any of my articles. 

What do you think? Your comments are most welcome.

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