Hot Springs with kids

Even when the live season at Oaklawn Park has concluded, Hot Springs is one of my favorite destinations for a weekend getaway with my husband or a quick girls' trip. Although Casey and I took our son for a day trip to the track, Case had not experienced any other aspects of the town. So I was excited when my friend Anne invited us there for a mommy and me trip.

Our big outing was a visit to Mid America Science Museum. This summer, the featured exhibit is Dinosaurs Revealed, composed of fossils, full-size dinosaur skeletal replicas and animatronic dinosaurs. Case has re-entered a Curious George phase, and Dinosaurs Revealed is advertised before each episode. We had plenty of time to talk up this visit, and Case was wildly excited to see the dinosaurs. I was also eager to visit the Mid America. I had not been there since I was in junior high, and the museum re-opened after a major renovation project in March 2015. 

The much-anticipated day arrived, and the kids were very eager to get inside the museum. 

Case vacillated between utter fascination and fear of the dinosaurs. 

MId America Museum received a $7.8 million grant from the Reynolds Foundation for the renovation. The Oaklawn Foundation sponsored the Digital Dome Theater, which our party seemed too out of control to try. The Advertising and Promotion Commission of Hot Springs sponsored the Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk, which takes visitors in the canopy of the woods. 

The skywalk play area is a magnificent addition to the museum. 


Our kids spent a lot of time at the museum's other exhibits and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Case asks us about thirty times a day to go see the dinosaurs again, so we will return before the exhibit ends, and this time we will make sure we visit the Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome Theater, because apparently we really missed out by not going. 

The evening of the Mid America Museum visit, we ordered take-out from Deluca's Pizzeria. Case and I headed downtown a bit early so I could show him some of my favorite sights. First stop: The hot springs, which really are hot. 

Since the Democratic National Convention was in progress, and Bill Clinton spoke extensively about the history he and Hillary have in Arkansas, this sign caught my attention. 

I love a walk down Bathhouse Row, and It was very special to experience my first one with Case. 

The next day, we decided to visit an attraction I had never been to before: The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. It has been in business since 1902. It is definitely a small-time attraction, but I found it to be charming in a kitschy, campy way. A sign by one alligator pond ties the attraction to Hot Springs's baseball history: in 1918 Babe Ruth hit a 579 foot shot from Whittington Park into the pond.

Each child had the opportunity to hold a baby alligator that had its mouth temporarily banded shut. No one in our group was game. The kids could also feed the babies a bit of hot dog or chicken, and our kids were willing to try this. Feeding was the highlight of our visit (I thought we were visiting on a big alligator feeding day, but I misread the website. Next time we will make sure we are present for this event). 

Hot Springs with kids is more exhausting than a trip with my husband or my best girls. Case was a party to breaking a TV that Casey and I helped replace. I constantly worried about him pushing other kids or throwing rocks (I witnessed him doing both). But sharing Hot Springs with my son was a tremendously rewarding experience. We have so much more to explore together, including Garvan Woodland Gardens and Magic Springs.  I look forward to many more trips with him to Spa City.