Go to the Lake! I personally...
Go to the Lake! I personally recommend Lake Hamilton, because it is the most active of the three lakes, but all three lakes are wonderful. Boat rentals are simple and cheap. When myself and 3 friends all took dates to a restaurant on the water and then spent the weekend at the lake. It was wonderful, and there are few places more beautiful than the view from Hamilton House (5 stars!) of Lake Hamilton. (picture hopefully forthcoming).
Hands-on Scientific Fun
The kids had a great time winding their way thru the interesting and educational (they didn't even realize they were "learning") activities at Mid-America Science Museum on a recent visit.
The facility is huge, and it's set in a wonderful outdoor setting with a nature trail and creek running thru it.
They had "The Brain" exhibit and we had some hands-on fun learning about the mushy grey mass that controls our bodies.
In the midst of all this brain stuff was this big red "cage" that houses a Tesla Coil... didn't even know such a thing existed until we saw this one. Turns out it had just been named as a Guinness World Record holder. At the push of a button, it puts out a jolt of electricity that melts the wax right out of the ears!
The museum is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth taking the few extra minutes to visit. Pack a lunch to enjoy on the nature trail.
They have duck tours-a lot of them-hawking off the street for you to sign up. They leave about every 1 1/2 hours, and the tour is 1 hour. Cost is $4-5. You get a trip down Central to the end of the street that leads into the Lake Hamilton. Turn around and come back. In season there also are cruises and dinner events of boats on the lake.
Hot Springs National Park
We stopped at the information center - it is a new one which is about 8 miles from the border. The old one is being bulldozed. The new one had a fire in the fireplace, and gave us a nice map and booklet of attractions.
Arkansas's motto is "The Natural State". We got to Arkadelphia about 2:34 and shortly after that turned onto Arkansas route 7 which is a scenic byway. We got to the Baymont Hotel which is right on one of the lakes about 3:30 and checked in. I found a discount in the booklet about Hot Springs that Bob picked up in the Visitor's Center, so we got the room for 10% off - it's only $60/night now including tax.
We went out at sunset - a spectacular red sky - to eat at La Hacienda which was supposed to be the best Mexican restaurant and one of the top restaurants in the area, and we both hated it. Bob had tacos with rice and beans for $8.95. They were made with roast beef instead of ground beef, and he wasn't happy with that. I had cheese quesadillas and chili relino. The chili relino was OK, but what I thought was sour cream on the quesidilla was spicy. Also neither of us liked the dipping sauce for the chips. I had a fried ice cream, which was heavy into honey. The service was extremely quick, so that was one good thing and I also had a coupon from that same booklet for 10% off,
which was another..
"Monday Feb 13th"
After breakfast (which the Baymont does very well - they have tea, coffee, juice and hot chocolate, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, waffle irons to make waffles, toast and French toast in the toasters, cereal, rolls and bagels and you get a free local paper and eat looking out over the lake), we did the Hot Springs National Park.
Hot Springs was made a National Reserve by President Jackson, and then was made a NP in 1921. The Park consists of 8 bath houses from the 1880s to the 1920s, and various mountain hiking trails and roads.
We parked on the street and walked up to the Fordyce Bath House which is restored to the original and is also the NPS Visitor's Center (top picture). It is free. We went through the Museum. I had left the NPS Passport in the car, so Bob went back for it and I got my stamp.
After that we looked at one of the hot springs which is out in the open and put our fingers in it to test the temperature. We did not however go to one of the 'jug springs' and fill anything up with the water. That is free also and there are several 'jug spring' outlets in the Hot Springs area.
Then we went up West Mountain and I took some pictures from the top of the town. We could see it better in the winter because the leaves on the trees didn't obscure the details of the town below us. Then we came down the mountain and ate lunch at Captain D's Seafood. I had the new pasta bowl (I got shrimp scampi) for $3.99 and Bob had Fish and Fries Combo (also $3.99)
We went up the Hot Springs Mountain to the tower at the top. This road had a LARGE number of switchbacks. I had a coupon for $1 off so it cost us $4 each rather than $5 each for seniors. They have an elevator to the top of the 214 foot tower. The elevator goes up the outside of the tower, but I had a problem getting the camera to fire in between the beams that are on the outside of the elevator. There was always something right in the middle of the picture.
The second level is enclosed and has a lot of information about the area, which includes a small exhibit on Taylor Instruments, and a section debunking the myths. One of the myths (which is repeated in the AAA book) is that the water is sterile. It is not - it's only 143 deg F. The top level is not enclosed, so it is much better for taking pictures. I took a lot of them.
I was going to try to straighten out the AFV reservations because the last one in Montgomery TX, they had no record of us coming. So I called our daughter to see if she had gotten it yet, and she sent our granddaughter out to get the mail (it was her day), but it had not come. She said I should called her sister, and that was when I found out about my mom being in the hospital. I called and talked to her and she sounded like she was getting better.
We went out to dinner at Perkins which we thought should be safe, and had a very nice dinner. I had the senior pot roast with no gravy and broccoli cheese soup and mashed potatoes, and Bob had the meatloaf with gravy and mashed potatoes and chicken noodle soup. I also had a small sundae. Our waitress was cute - I said we wanted the Senior menu items, and she said that she hesitated to ask anyone if they wanted the senior menu, but we were pointing to the Senior section when we ordered so she didn't have to ask.
"Tuesday, Feb 14th - Valentine's Day"
When I woke up this morning, there was a box of chocolates (from Bob) on the other bed.
We started out later today because we are just going over to the Garvin Woodland Garden. We had another coupon for that. Even though it was quite early in the spring, there were flowers in bloom. It must be really spectacular in March.
We started to go out to dinner at Fisherman's Wharf, but even though we got there about 5:45, they said there would be a 30 minute wait, so we went to Doe's Famous Eat Place On the Lake.
"February 15th and 16th"
Wednesday we went to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro (but I didn't find any diamonds.
Thursday Feb 16th we went to Oaklawn Racetrack. Bob had never been to the horse races, and he was bored to death. He also thought it was quite expensive. I had fun however, betting on paper, and I ended up (on paper) $1.80 ahead when I bet $2 to show on each horse that I thought would win. I think that's pretty good. Had I bet with real money, I would have paid for the price of the program.
Friday, Feb 17th we checked out of the motel in Hot Springs and drove to Branson, MO.