Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Weekend in Hot Springs

This past weekend, Evan and I drove down to Hot Springs, AR. We went with two other couples, our neighbors, the newly weds, and my friend from work and her fiancé. The drive took about 3 ½ hours, so we left early Saturday morning and got to Hot Springs about lunch time. Our first stop was the race track. It was the last racing weekend of the season, so the track was buzzing with spectators. It was a gorgeous day, warm in the sun cool in the shade. I didn’t make any bets, but Evan was up a couple dollars at one point. We chose our favorites amongst the group. Our decisions were based totally on the names of the horses, with names like, Whatitsallabout, Mojito Man, and Daughtry being some of the favorites. We stayed at the races until about 4 o’clock and then headed to the hotel.

Before dinner we stopped at the Hot Springs winery for a wine tasting. We sampled several of the Arkansas wines, but the group was unanimous in the decision that Arkansas wine is gross. All of the wines, white and red, were so incredibly sweet. At least three of them tasted exactly like Welch’s grape juice. They are made from the same grape as Welch’s, which explains the similarity, but who wants juicy wine? My friend, Cheri, literally almost gagged on the port wine. After this we needed something to cleanse our pallets. Barbeque! Evan had a place recommended to him from a coworker and he did some research online to find the best Barbeque establishment in Hot Springs. McClard’s has been in business since 1928 and is a family owned and operated restaurant. It was featured on the food networks, “The Best Of” show. This was the obvious pick. Evan and our, neighbor Aaron, got Ribs covered with fries. I had a chopped pork sandwich. It was a delicious way to end the day. After dinner, we stopped in some local bars for a couple drinks and then headed back to the hotel.

Day two started with breakfast at The Pancake Shop. We had a 45 minute wait, but that flew by while we spent time in the Pancake Shop store sampling and collecting gourmet spreads, dipping sauces, salad dressings and other goodies. The actual restaurant is in no way gourmet. It’s your basic pancakes, bacon and sausage. We had a great meal, but then needed to walk it off.

Picture from website

We spent the morning walking around downtown and looking at the hot springs. Bath House Row is a National Historic Landmark with 8 Bath Houses lined up on one street downtown. We toured the Fordyce Bath Houses that has been preserved as a museum. It was fascinating to me to see the equipment and design of one of America’s original exclusive spas. The Bath Houses were more than a spa; they had gyms, bowling alleys, music rooms. They were designed for all day entertainment. Here is a little history from the website:

The Fordyce opened March 1, 1915. Designed by Little Rock architects Mann and Stern and constructed under the supervision of owner Sam Fordyce's son John, the building eventually cost over $212,000 to build, equip, and furnish. Totaling approximately 28,000 square feet, the Fordyce is the largest bathhouse on the Row. It has three main floors, two courtyards, and a basement under most of the building. The Fordyce became the first bathhouse on the Row to go out of business when it suspended operations on June 30, 1962, but it was extensively restored by 1989 and is now enjoying a renaissance as a historically furnished museum. It also functions as the park’s visitor center.

Before we left for home, we went to tour the Garvan Woodland Gardens. They were supposed to have a tulip festival or something of that nature going on, but we were a weekend too late. Most of the tulips were dieing, but still very pretty. Walking through the gardens was relaxing, but we were ready to go home after a couple hours.

I’m glad that we made the drive down to Hot Springs, AR. It was a really nice weekend and it’s always great to get away for a while.

1 comment:

Kanani said...

Isn't that where Frances Delano Roosevelt died?

Anyway, I guess they're making the wine from Concord grapes --that's why it's so sweet. I'd guess that Concords grow best in that humid climate --all other grapes require dry hot heat, as well as a gentle cooling toward the evening.

Glad to hear you had an otherwise nice time. It's fun to do things with other couples. Hope the place you stayed was really nice.