Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains, this lakeside town may conjure up thoughts of historic bathhouses or horse racing at Oaklawn Park, but it also offers some of our favorite resources for the home, plus restaurants and one-of-a-kind boutiques. Follow along for our top places to visit in the Spa City.
EATS & SWEETS
Start your adventure with breakfast at The Pancake Shop, one of the oldest family-owned and -operated restaurants in the state. Take your pick of favorite items, all made daily. Since it’s a local hot spot, you may have to wait—but even this is a treat. You’ll be directed next door to The Savory Pantry, their specialty food store, which offers premium ingredients and delicacies in the shop and online. Sip a cup of coffee or browse the selection of jams, oils, and mixes while you wait.
After discovering the historic downtown area, pop in Café 1217 (501-318-1094, cafe1217.net) for a satisfying lunch in a cheerful space. Here, chef, founder, and owner Diana Bratton creates an inventive menu that changes monthly. When we dined there, our favorites included the 1217 Tomato Soup and a roasted vegetable panini. All made from scratch, each bite was exquisite and fresh.
After you visit a few unrivaled boutiques, you’ll need an afternoon break. There’s no better spot to unwind than the Superior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery, located inside one of the downtown row’s historic bathhouses. The restaurant brews fine craft beers from the town’s natural hot spring water. They also offer spirits and non-alcoholic beverages. We recommend sharing a few of their small plates, including the Southern black-eyed pea hummus and warm, creamy buffalo chicken dip. To satisfy your sweet tooth, we suggest indulging in a cone of fresh-made gelato.
If you’re looking for a great dinner spot, head to Cajun Boilers (501-767-5695, cajunboilers.com), a staple for residents of the Spa City as well as visitors. Sample their fried alligator bites or crawfish tails, and try the traditional gumbo dinner for your entrée. The restaurant will also cater your next event or meeting if your party craves southern grub.
If you’re in the market for your own piece of history, you’ll find the finest at Tillman’s Antiques (501-624-4083). Owner David Tillman curates the shop with rare antiques, estate jewelry, fine glass, and other collectibles from around the globe. The selection also includes two new notable designer jewelry lines: Lafonn, crafted for elegance and infinite wear, and Ronaldo, a collection handmade in the United States. Each garners attention for not only their beauty, but also their reasonable price points. Also notice the stunning Venetian Blackamoor brooch shown here. Blackamoor figures are typically male, carved from ebony or painted black, depicted with a head covering and dressed in rich jewels and gold leaf. Even the most selective customer is sure to find what will become a beloved treasure.
For a summer wardrobe update, we know just the boutiques you’ll want to visit. Refined, yet comfortable, the lines at Accessory Gallery and Sparkle (501-321-9168) will clothe you in a stylishly timeless look year-round. You’ll feel welcomed by the open shop while you browse the large selection of Julio Designs jewelry, made with both vintage and contemporary materials, and Jeff Lieb custom jewelry. Our other favorites include Joseph Ribkoff apparel and Brighton jewelry, both of which are exclusive to the shop.
The mod, distinctive pieces at Ciao Bella (501-262-2201) will get you in the mood for summer. Upon entering, pops of color will catch your eye from the clothing and jewelry to the décor. Find a festive summer ensemble with Citizens of Humanity distressed jeans, Lane boots, Dolce Vita sandals, kimonos, cheerful pom-pom shorts (one of our favorite finds), or PilyQ swimwear. You’ll leave feeling prepped for a day on Lake Hamilton or an evening rendezvous.
Next, pay a visit to Luxe Boutique (501-520-2333) on Cornerstone Boulevard. The interior of the store— which is filled with fun details, including a black-and-white striped accent wall and bright paintings—is as boldly alluring as the lines sold there. Peruse the wide selection of bohemian styles from Chaser, Show Me Your MuMu, BB Dakota, Goddis, Whitney Eve, Free People, and more. Notice the heaps of fabulous premium denim from Hudson, AG, Mother, Current/Elliott, and Henry and Belle. Owner Lauren Jenkins also stocks the shop with jewelry lines such as Vanessa Mooney and House of Harlow, as well as gift items. Have a preteen or tween? Luxe offers Little Luxe clothing for girls, ages 7-16. On your visit, be sure to greet sweet Bowser, Jenkins’ shop dog, who also makes an appearance on the store’s logo.
Finally, don’t leave town before you stop in at Pink Avenue (501-520-0624). The shop offers contemporary clothing, accessories, and jewelry, appealing to women of all ages. You’ll find that new royal blue romper for a bonfire night on the beach, a cropped flag tank for Independence Day, or a lace dress for date night. Get geared up for summer with their selection of affordable finds. Owner Amanda Moore also runs local children’s boutique Grow (501-520-4769), the perfect place to shop for your little one. You’ll find a variety of comfortable and cute styles for any girl or boy.
MAKE IT HOME
If you currently reside in this scenic town or plan to move here soon, we know just the professionals to update or create an idyllic home.
Reach out to The Millwork Co. (501-318-0919, themillworkco.com) for all of your building materials needs. The family-owned shop provides moulding, doors, windows, stair parts, door hardware, and other items at wholesale prices. The friendly staff will be more than happy to provide quality supplies for any new construction build or remodel.
We recommend making Peter’s Flooring and Paint (501-623-1800, petersflooringandpaint.com) your next stop, a trusted Hot Springs business for more than 105 years. The store offers a huge selection of quality products including carpet, hardwoods, rugs, tile, stone, laminate, resilient vinyl, paint, and more. They also offer financial assistance, in-home measurements, and installation to ensure that you get just what you need and that it’s a perfect fit for your space.
From there, you might consider what furniture and accessories would work best in your new home. Head to Albert Pike Road to visit the three showrooms (in one location!) of Arkansas Furniture (501-623-3849, arkansasfurniture.com). Since 1952, the family-owned and -operated business has provided only the best brands, such as Ashley, Bassett, Broyhill, Hickory Chair, and Lane. If you’re in need of a mattress update, explore their collections from Tempur-Pedic and Serta to maximize your sleep time and quality.
Whether you prefer bright and modern or understated and elegant, House to Home (501-520-4949, shophousetohome.com) has everything you need to freshen up your nest, including lighting, bedding, furniture, rugs, artwork, and candles. There’s no doubt you’ll find a favorite new home accent piece in this well-stocked and beloved store. On our visit, we admired the Bella Notte fine linens and the scent of each Lafco candle, all made specifically for a certain room or environment (try the Master Bedroom, Kitchen, or Lake House scents). What’s more, if you love the fresh, comfortable vibe of the shop, owner and designer Jennifer Huett offers her services to help you design your own home.
Whether you’re looking for décor pieces or hosting a get-together, a trip to the recently opened Flowers and Home (501-525-0444, flowersandhome.com) is sure to inspire you. Browse the lively store for fresh blooms as well as home décor items including accent tables, paintings, pottery, art glass, and much more. For a detailed, custom floral design for your wedding or a silk flower arrangement to enhance your décor, consult with the talented designers, who are happy to create bouquets to suit your taste and occasion.
If you need help with your home’s overall design, we suggest conferring with Statements for the Home (501-620-4545, statementsinteriordesign.com), a full-service interior design business that handles residential and commercial projects, and which now has a recently opened retail space where you can shop their favorite pieces. The experienced staff offers everything from paint and palette consultations to complete, full-scale renovations. What’s more, they devote their time to bringing you a personalized vision with attention to detail, quality furnishings, and dependable results. Design consultants Julie Nichols and Ashley Campbell have more than 25 years of combined experience and they believe in timeless and practical designs to reflect their clients’ personalities.