Baseball, Gangsters and other Reasons to Visit Hot Springs, Arkansas

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From our partners at CloudNineMagazine.com

Baseball, gangsters, horse racing, bathhouses and that’s just the beginning!

If you didn’t already think of Hot Springs, Arkansas as an exciting destination it will surely be on your itinerary now!

If you haven’t heard or been to Hot Springs, Arkansas ..we humbly ask: Why Not?! Hot Springs is located in the Ouachita Mountains and is set among several natural hot springs for which the city derives its name.

The center of Hot Springs is the oldest federal reserve in the United States, today preserved as Hot Springs National Park. The hot spring water has been popularly believed for centuries to possess healing properties according to several Native American tribes.

Steeped in history and home to folks like Babe Ruth, Al Capone, former President Bill Clinton and a Triple Crown winner, you can see why Hot Springs is more than just its infamous Bathhouse Row.

Home of Spring Training

In 1886, Chicago White Stockings’ President Albert Spalding, the founder of A.G. Spalding, and player/manager Cap Anson introduced the concept of players having training and fitness before the start of the regular season, this move gave credit to Hot Springs being called the “birthplace of spring training baseball”.

This is where it was discovered that Babe Ruth could hit. St. Patrick’s Day, 1918, is nicknamed the “Day that changed Baseball Forever.” The pitcher for the Boston Red Sox,  Babe Ruth, hit a rumored 573-foot home run into the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo that altered the course of baseball history. In the opening exhibition game against Brooklyn at Whittington Park, Ruth (coming off a 24–13 ) was a last-minute replacement at first base and the rest, as they say, was history as he hit two home runs that day.

Over 100 players that have spent time training in Hot Springs are now in the Hall of Fame, including Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Honus Wagner and Mickey Mantle.

Today, as part of the Hot Springs Baseball Historic Trail, there are 26 green plaques and markers posted throughout Hot Springs that identify key people and locations, with an app available to provide live details (see our website for more information).

Gangster Life

Illegal gambling became firmly established in Hot Springs during the decades following the Civil War, with two factions, the Flynns and the Dorans, fighting one another throughout the 1880s for control of the town. In 1905, the oldest bar in Hot Springs opened known as the Ohio Club. the Ohio Club has been a stop-off place for many a celebrity. Al Capone, Bugsy Siegal, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano – just to name a few of the gangsters. Because of all the gambling that went on in Hot Springs, many headliner talents were brought to Hot Springs. In 1915 Al Jolson performed at the Ohio Club and in the mid-’30s even saw Mae West perform. If you are looking to live like a gangster, try the Arlington Hotel. Al Capone, whose favorite room was 443, had the whole floor for his staff and bodyguards.

Andddd… They’re Off

Considered one of the most beautiful racetracks in the U.S., Oaklawn Park began in 1904 and is now known as the Oaklawn Casino and Resort. Located in Hot Springs National Park, the setting is perfect for their premiere event, The Arkansas Derby traditionally held in early April.

Five weeks before the Kentucky Derby the “Racing Festival of the South”, the Arkansas Derby, has drawn many Triple Crown contenders. In 2015, American Pharoah won the Derby and another race at Oaklawn before going on to win the first Triple Crown in three decades. Over the last couple of decades, Oaklawn Park has become a launching pad for other champions including Zenyatta, Smarty Jones, Curlin’, Cigar and others.

Back To Nature

Hot Springs might be most famous for its Bathhouse Row but there are also hot springs to draw drinking water from, swim in and the city is surrounded by eleven lakes (if you include a reservoir lake, then there are 12 total), around 30 miles of trails, 9 golf courses, and over 500 miles of scenic road to drive and explore.

No matter what you love, Hot Springs, Arkansas has it! For Southern Airways flights in and out of HOT visit the Southern Airways website (iflysouthern.com). For more info on Hot Springs visit our website at CloudNineMagazine.com.

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