Road Trip: Hot Springs, Arkansas
This Thanksgiving, we snuck off to Hot Springs, Arkansas for a little vacation. It was a great chance to spend family time together and get back to nature. Here are a few suggestions for family fun.
Mid America Science Museum
I have to admit, the name of this one puzzles me a little. Is Hot Springs really mid America? Anyway, name aside, this place is awesome! This was our second time to explore the facility and it was just as fun as the first visit. There are interactive exhibits that demonstrate science in action and really wow your kids–and you as well. The boys’ favorite part of the museum is the giant water tower and the balls visitors can throw in the different streams and spurts. There is also an area of large building blocks and an underfoot gallery to explore. Outside certainly doesn’t disappoint either! The 180-foot sky bridge is a must see. We wish we would have dedicated more time to exploring everything and I’m sure it will be on our list if we go again.
A visit to the Crater of Diamonds State Park is always exciting. I mean, it feels like buying a lottery ticket and hoping it pays off. However, what we thought was surely a diamond was only a broken soda bottle, so we didn’t strike it rich. Crystal hunting is a completely different story. Travel just a few minutes outside of Hot Springs and you’ll find that quartz is everywhere! The mine we chose is well off the beaten path, so be sure you have the appropriate vehicle for the trek. Once we got our hands dirty, it was no time before we all had buckets brimming with the shiny rocks. There are numerous mines you can explore, and with so many crystals lying on the ground or hiding just under the surface, you’re sure to find your share of treasures.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
By far, the highlight of our recent visit was taking in the Christmas lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens. This place is amazing! There were lights and displays unlike anything we had ever seen before. Word of advice: buy tickets in advance! Visitors who have pre-purchased tickets can bypass the long lines of traffic waiting to get in. One neat touch is that each parking area is designated with a different color reindeer light overhead. PMan actually noticed this and made note of the fact that we were in the purple reindeer lot. Once inside the actual gardens, you won’t believe what you see. We left thinking the gardens alone justified the trip north.
Tips for Travel
While we’re talking about traveling, here are a few tips I use to make road tripping a little easier with the boys.
- Before leaving, I stock up on cheap activities for each boy. Think Dollar Tree style. I pack these boredom beaters into a bag and keep them in the front with me. As the trip progresses and the boys get bored, I pull out a surprise.
- For our recent trip, we downloaded several books from the library for PMan to read on the way. This was a genius move because it was so easy and he really enjoyed it.
- Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Now, normally the boys don’t eat in my truck. But, that rule changes on road trip day. I usually pack a few treats that are easy to eat in route to keep hunger at bay.
- When traveling to Hot Springs, we found that Shreveport is a good spot to stop for lunch. We particularly like Marilyn’s Place. It’s very casual, which is important when you’re releasing two boys who have been in a car for so long. Plus, the food is great.
We’ve been taking road trips since the boys were little and it’s always an adventure no matter where we go. I can’t wait for our next journey! Have you had a great trip lately? Share the details in the comments. Who knows? It might inspire someone to hit the road.
Been reading your blog
One of many succinct entries I found interesting...plus I live in Hot Springs!! Hope you can come back again soon!!