Degray Lake - 30 minutes south
A lot of people seem to stay on Lake Ouachita. We actually drove south to Degray Lake and stayed at a park lodge. This is a gem, and a bargain! For $85/night ($5-10 more or less depending on the time of year) you get to stay right on the lake, in a very nice and clean lodge. Or you can bring your RV, tents, or rent a Yurt and camp out. They also have some cabins.
There is swimming (pool and lake), hiking trails, bikes, horseback riding, fishing, watercraft rentals, golf, etc. (some for an extra fee of course). They also have programs and activities going on all the time.
For food, there is a reasonably priced lakeside dining room right in the lodge where you can eat all your meals, charged to your room bill, or you can get fast food with a 5-10 min drive south. This place will be a new favorite for our family!
Architecture of the Other Spa Bathhouses
These are along the row on Central. Most are from early 1900's because in 1878 a fire destroyed a lot of the existing buildings, and the last time they were all rebuilt-it was of brick, after two previous tragedies of fire. Due to decline of hot spa treatments and cure theories around 1960's, all but Buckstaff closed by mid 1980's. Lamar is from 1923 and cost was then $130,000; and closed in 1985. Buckstaff opened in 1912, and today offers the full treatments, even sitz. It is named for the family and has 27,000 SF space. The Ozark was completed in 1922 in Spanish revival style; closed 1977. Maurice was opened n 1912, and closed in 1974, while this 23,000 Sf three story building was family owned by them all that time. The Fordyce was donated by the family to Park Service, who opened it for tours in 1988, while before that since 1962 they were to have operated as a spa bathhouse, but precluded due to piping problems. It has 28,000 Sf space and two courtyards that are very nice.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
During the summer of 2004 I drove home to St. Louis from Houston, TX for my grandmother's 89th birthday. On my way I stopped to explore the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
I got into Hot Springs in the evening and ordered a pizza and got a cheap hotel room just off the main street. I made sure to gain a great deal of rest this night so I could wake early to explore the town before continuing on my journey home.
"Buckstaff Bath House"
I started my morning with a visit to the Buckstaff Bath House almost immediately after it opened at 7:00am.
I was a bit apprehensive, but decided what the heck! The traditional treatment was only $47. I was given a large white sheet to wear and shown to my changing stall which also included my locker. I went into the bath section and my "guide" asked me to give him my sheet and step into the tub. My jaw hit the floor and I said, "You're joking, right?" He was very straight faced and said, "Nope". I figured I had already paid my money and certainly they had seen people who looked a lot worse than I do so I obliged. I was given a full bath treatment, used a sauna, had the hot spring water run on my lower back, and was wrapped in hot towels. It was amazing! And to top it off I was given a Swedish massage. The masseuse spent a longer amount of time with me because there was no one else waiting. I would suggest you go early in the morning and you may find the same luck.
"A stroll through the Hot Springs Park"
Following my treatment at the Buckstaff Bath House I wandered through the nearby park and enjoyed the scenery and the springs.
For whatever reason this visit made me feel completely at ease and happy with myself and I made several changes in my life. I began eating healthier, made a decision to work out more, stopped drinking soda, and I stopped biting my fingernails.
I finished my exploration with a small van tour of the area, learning about the town's colorful past and catching a great view from the top of the observation tower (see first picture). When I left Hot Springs I felt very at peace with myself and my life. What an amazing experience!