A March 2006 trip
to Arkansas by callen60
Quote: A 3-day excursion took us to Hot Springs, Little Rock, and the beautiful northern Arkansas countryside.
Attraction | "Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 6, 2006
Central High Museum and Visitor's Center
2125 W 14th Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 72202
(501) 374 1957
Attraction | "Fordyce Bathhouse, Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center"
Fordyce Bathhouse—Hot Springs National Park Visitor CenterWe arrived on a spring afternoon, circling the park’s eastern edge on US 70B by Gulpha Gorge. Driving between North and Indian Mountains, you’d never know you were nearing an urban park. Highway 7 then took us through northern Hot Springs onto Central Avenue. The sky was bright blue, and Bathhouse Row looked terrific in the late afternoon sunshine. We parked on Central, and walked across to the Visitors Center, housed in the Fordyce Bathhouse. Its builder—Samuel Fordyce—had done business here for decades, and aimed for his 1915 project to be the grandest bathhouse ever. When concern for saving Bathhouse Row arose in the 1970s, the Fordyce was especially targeted for preservation (and opened as the Visitor Center in 1988). A ranger behind the old registration desk greeted us with brochures for the self-guided tour of this three-story complex. This is still an amazing place. Equal parts hotel, bath center, rehabilitation center, and resort, there was nothing a visitor of the 1940s couldn’t find here. Gymnasium, sunbathing on the roof, the latest equipment for health and fitness: all were available here. Facilities for men and women were separate, with the space and quality of the womens' side of the building lagging behind. But every piece of the Fordyce looks as though it could return to service within hours, with the waters flowing again. Seventy-plus changing rooms indicate how busy it was in the 1940s; the 60-square-foot, twin-bed rooms indicate how guest expectations have increased. The emphasis then was on the common areas—the lobby with grand piano, the "men’s lounge" with pool table, the gymnasium. Guests came for 6, 12, 18 or more baths, relaxing afterward with their own party or with others. As the peak period came and went, the Fordyce added complex and sometimes ground-breaking equipment, including the Czech exercise machines that first incarnated the principles of the equipment in today’s gyms.You can’t understand Hot Springs without visiting this place. It takes no more than an hour to tour it well, but allow time for the movies in the visitor center: one on the area’s history, and another on what "taking the baths" was like. If you’re inspired to try a bath yourself, head down the street to the Buckstaff, or to one of the hotels slightly off the Row that offer baths.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 7, 2006
Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 7, 2006
Hot Springs National Park
P.o. Box 1860
Hot Springs, Arkansas 71902
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 6, 2006
Hampton Inn Hot Springs
151 Temperance Hill Rd.
Hot Springs, Arkansas 71913
Hotel | "Ducks at the Peabody Hotel"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 6, 2006
The Peabody Little Rock
3 Statehouse Plaza
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Hampton Inn Little Rock I-40
500 West 29th St.
Little Rock, Arkansas 72114