Welcome to Spa City, a pet-friendly destination crammed with activities for family fun nearby your Hot Springs, Arkansas vacation rental. This resort town has the reputation of being “The Las Vegas before Las Vegas,” a haven for gambling and moonshine production during the untamed gangster times in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Hot Springs is the only American city located within a National Park, so you are surrounded by forests and fabulous mountain views in the great state of Arkansas. Beautiful lakes beacon visitors who love to boat, fish, camp and swim as well as those who enjoy the arts, festivals and shopping in fantastic boutiques. Best of all, Southern hospitality welcomes you with enthusiasm and wraps you in warmth. Here are 12 suggestions on what do to during your Arkansas adventure!

1. Go to a magic show at Maxwell Blade

Who doesn’t love a magician? Well, kids love this one because he chooses his assistants right from the young audience. Maxwell entertains and delights with a mixture of magic, comedy, and music that often reflects his 1980s rock band background, and he happily signs autographs for his guests following the show. Be sure to stop by the curiosity museum where you can explore over 300 rare items from around the world. Before you leave, let the kids shop for a T-shirt, magic kit, or one of Maxwell’s original musical CDs.

2. Enjoy the Mid-American Science Museum

Delight the kids and yourself at this 65,000 square-foot science center. Explore more than 100 interactive exhibits that delve into the mysteries of energy, matter, and life. Take in some educational and entertaining shows in two theaters, or explore the outdoor Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk, an exciting adventure into the forest canopy just steps from the museum. Let the kids climb in the tree house, scale netting more than 40 feet from the ground and find their way across the misty fog bridge.Then, join in the scavenger hunt along the 21 acres of nature and walking trails. An on-site cafe and picnic area will keep you refreshed during the adventurous day.

3. Play at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf

Arrggg, shiver me timbers, matey! Explore this 18th century’s Buccaneer’s paradise as you mini-golf through mountain caves, under cascading waterfalls, and putt-putt across the deck of a full-scale pirate’s ship — but beware of the slumbering pirates in hammocks below decks. Kids of all ages can meet the challenges of this larger-than-life course.

4. Visit the Tiny Town Trains

Everyone gets to operate the interactive model trains over hill and dale, through tunnels, under bridges, past the animated Ferris wheel and more at Tiny Town Trains in Hot Springs. With hundreds of moving parts and over 40 years of handcrafted love, the Moshinskie family has created this eco-friendly exhibit from recycled items, such as aluminum foil, toothpicks, coat hangers and tin cans.

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5. Explore the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo

Kids are fascinated by animals of all sizes, shapes, and personalities and this alligator farm is sure to thrill them with specimens from six inches to 10 feet long. You need not fear, however, because the petting part of the farm features more lovable creatures such as wild ducks, lambs, pygmy goats, deer, monkeys and even a 100-pound turtle. Take the time to browse the museum where you’ll find the fascinating “Mer-Man” that was featured on “That’s Incredible” and in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!”

6. Visit the Hot Springs Baseball Trail

If your family loves hot dogs, popcorn and baseball, then you must explore this amazing place. This park was used from 1894 through 1942 for spring training and was the hub of activity for many major leaguers, including Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Cy Young. The hot springs were a welcome balm for those rehabbing from injuries, and the casinos lured in the gamblers.

7. Race at Funtrackers Family Fun Park

Take the family on the ride of its life at the large and fastest go-kart track in town and enjoy pro-style fun in the neat and clean surroundings. For a cool change of pace, race bumper boats through sprinklers under the weaving palms. Play games at the arcade, and if you still have energy, compete with the kids at the 18-hole miniature golf course right next door.

8. Play at Magic Springs Theme and Water Park

There’s something for everyone to enjoy at this expansive venue, including concerts and summer drive-in movies that show current hits such as The Angry Birds and Rogue One. There’s plenty of thrill rides for the adults and older kids, such as the Sky Shark and the Gauntlet, but younger families love to get squished together on the Diamond Mine coaster and the Rum Rummer pirate ride. Little ones twirl around on the colorful carousel or whirl on the Bugga Booga in Ferris wheel style. From bumper cars to bubble pools and water slides, the entire family can cool off at the water park.

9. Visit the National Park Aquarium

Enjoy the panoramic beauty of exotic marine animals at this aquarium. Over 60 exhibits explain the incredible behaviors of these fascinating and often beautiful creatures. Capture the kids’ imaginations as they browse the exhibits that include fresh and saltwater fish, lizards, frogs, turtles and salamanders, as well as invertebrates such as the pencil urchin and the feather-duster worm, one that is sure to tickle their fancy.

10. Explore the Garvan Woodland Gardens

You may think your kids won’t have fun in a botanical garden but when you see the sculptures inspired by living flora in the Children’s Adventure Garden, you’re all in for a treat. Delightful creatures such as a 40-foot sea serpent, a 13-foot tall Sasquatch, and a fairy village among a family of mushrooms capture imaginations and create beautiful memories.

11. Visit the Gangster Museum of America

It’s hard to believe that once notorious figures such as Al Capone and America’s last Public Enemy No. 1 Alvin Karpis rubbed elbows with the old-world residents of this quiet resort town. A one-hour historical and entertaining guided tour of the museum’s galleries highlights the gangster history that’s so prevalent in this area during the Roaring 20s and beyond.

12. Walk along with Hot Springs Haunted Tours

When the city cools down in the evening, take a 60-minute walking tour of haunted spots in historic downtown. Learn about fascinating facts, myths and legends both past and present that haunt this spa city.

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