End of the Summer Road Trippin’ | Hot Springs

We’ve been talking about it all summer long.  What are we going to do?!  We usually try to plan something (anything) over the summer holiday, and this year we sort of fell to it late in the game.  
Last year we traveled solo to Mexico (HERE) while the babies stayed with Ashley and Jarrett/BB & Poppa (HERE), but this year we really wanted to plan something with the babes..and with friends.  We’ve traveled multiple times with Ash and J, and threw about a million things out in the air of places to go, and things to do.  Typically we make several circles around various ideas, but usually always make it back to making our trips as laid back as possible. 
Some of my favorite trips (HERE & HERE) with our sweet friends usually consist of a sleepy town, somewhere on a lake.  PJs and wine required.  Oh, and of course good food and if we can find it, football on the tv.
Which brought us to our 2014 summer destination..
Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Totally random, and seemed like a fun idea for a family road trip.
Ashley travels A LOT for work, so it is rare for her to find a place she’s never been. And then there are those commercials wooing us all the Arkansas..makes total sense to head that way for a long weekend.  
Thursday morning I had a doctor appointment, so my family of four loaded the truck to head out of town directly afterward.  While we waited for Ashley and Jarrett to give us the call to head out, we decided that we should let the little birds run off some steam before confining them to their carseat for the 5 1/2 hour drive.  
We headed to the mall place area, and made a stop to the potty for a quick selfie failure before I downed the tallest coffee the ‘bucks has to offer.  FOR the record – that bathroom was immaculately clean as the mall wasn’t even open yet, so we were the first to lay on that floor. I doused her in antibacterial post tantrum just to be safe.
We are learning with Parker that routine is super important.  She must eat and sleep on the regular or else the hangry fits are inevitable.  
It was most definitely snack time for this one.
 As of late, my kids are super impressed by other children and adults around them.  Jolie sat perched on this spot for a good 10 minutes.. just watching.
 Finally. We are off – not totally sure what to expect for this road trip or this weekend.  The longest we had ever driven in the car with Parker and Jolie was the 4 hour drive to Austin.  We were hoping for a decent trip without too many meltdowns and fights to break free.. and for them to sleep a looonnggg time.
They slept for 45 minutes.  
whomp. whomp.
We read lots of books, listened to music, danced, played, and ate the weekend’s worth of snacks in those 5 hours.  Surely there was a Kroger or something in town.  
When searching for a place to stay while traveling we have always had amazing success with VRBO. This little beauty popped up on my screen in the search box for ‘hot springs, ak’, and I was in love.  The Central Loft was everything the pictures boasted about.  Super affordable for the weekend rate, and the perfect amount of space for all of us.  There were just two rooms, but the master closet was enormous and allowed me to set up shop as a mock-nursery.  Two pack and plays, changing area, and plenty of room to move around freely.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect place.
Not to mention it was right smack in the middle of Bath House Row (the prime attraction for this little town in Arkansas)
note: baby gates were a must.
The decor.  The location.  The fact that it was walking distance from basically everything.  AND.. and.. gourmet cupcakes were just two doors down.

The girls were elated to be out of their car seats, and ran like crazy sillies around that loft of a solid 20 minutes before settling down in what came to be a favorite spot for the weekend- the heavy window sills were perfect for baby feet.  Not to mention to view.
We arrived late in the afternoon, so after getting settled we took the recommendations of the loft home owner and wandered across the street to Fat Jack’s.  Fried pickles (baby favorite!), crawfish stuffed jalapenos, oyster po’boy, Rueben sammies, shrimp pasta.. we were stuffed with amazing food.
headwraps / ruby blue inc

Not to mention the patio was surrounded by what felt like a canyon of rock. 

A quick trip to the grocery to grab snacks and food for the weekend, and we were settled down for the night.  Snuggles and board books with Auntie are the best after a long day in the car.
The next morning we were up and at’em.  While Jordan made a pancake breakfast we explored our new living space and I only hoped the shops below didn’t mind the pitter-patter (or stomping) of baby feet as we more of less played ‘fetch’.

Friday was designated as the day we played tourist of Hot Springs.  There was so much history (more than I could have even imagined), so we were ready to roll right after breakfast.
city select stroller {here}

The downtown streets were lined with gorgeous trees and provided perfect shade on the mild 89 degree day. Naps were held in the stroller, and while sister napped, Parker got some one on one time with momma and dad.

We stopped at the visitors center for a map to guide our way, and took some time to read about the fame that came out of Arkansas. 

I was really impressed with the condition of the original architecture of Bath House Row.  Many Bath Houses are still in use today, and then some, like the Superior BathHouse were vacant, renovated and repurposed into something new.
The Craft Beer Tasting Room is also technically a café, so we stopped for lunch to check it all out.

A flight to start my lunch out right. 
I chose the lighter beers, and even though they were ‘light’, they weren’t lacking on flavor.  One of the most unique beers I’ve ever tasted- The Leaky Roof (smoked jalapeno pineapple mead)
straight up smokey, ya’ll.
My favorite was Lemon Harvest Wheat.  If you’ve ever had Summer Shandy, it is very similar to that in color and flavor.

The Hot Spring National Park was directly across the street from the loft, so we took to trekking up the mountain to the observation tower.  You can see everything from up there!  It was gorgeous (and so breezy and cool). 
headbow / bean & bubs // shirt / baby gap

Parker was obsessed with the view- the went on and on about all the trees and the sights to be seen from up there.

All around the city there are random ‘fill stations’ tapped into the water of the springs. How could we come to Hot Springs and NOT fill a jug?  We found a really cool souvenir jug at one of the BathHouse shops, so tourist-y of us.

The water comes out at a steamy 143 degrees.  It is amazing how hot it actually is!

We made our way back ‘home’ and threw on a change of clothes for the babes and hopped on a ‘Duck Tour’ to get a real history lesson.
I told you – total tourists.

Oh, hay Dunaway’s

After the tour we walked over (we walked everywhere) to the live spring before making our way to dinner- and if you look close you can see the steam.  The temperature of the water was almost unbearable to the touch.

When we tell the girls to ‘put their arms around sister’, this is Jolie’s reaction- hug herself.  Too sweet.

My super picture perfect idea didn’t work out so well.  I have about 100 pictures of my traveling toddlers that resemble this very frame.  Too busy for you mom.

Mexican dinner at Rolando’s hit the spot.  Their black bean and corn salsa held this little girl’s heart for the evening’s entirely. 

Morning came quickly on Saturday, and Jordan was in the kitchen (he’s good good good at making breakfast)

We were ready for the water- we rented a boat for the day to take out on Lake Ouachita (Wash-ah-taw), just a short 30 minute drive from downtown Hot Springs.
Baby’s first boat ride..in fact the first trip to the lake! 
headband / shelby chic boutique // cover up / circo for target 

I feel like I need to throw a disclaimer for the remaining lake pictures- there were life jackets– we used Puddle Jumpers (per the recommendations of my readers – thank you!) 99% of the time.  They are still much too large for the girls to wear leisurely, and when we weren’t moving or just cruising, we let them ‘free’ as long as we were close by and had a hand on them.   
Having a ball with Daddy’s help

We found a lazy cove and laid anchor for the rest of the day.  We stocked up on comfy rafts before we left, so we were ready to float!

Parker stayed very close to mom the entire trip.  She was so nervous about everything, still having a great time, but really un-easy if ever I got too far away.


We packed a picnic lunch of turkey and Swiss sandwiches (turkey roll-ups for the babes), Ashley’s pasta salad, and chips and salsa.

It was getting late, and we wanted to catch the Cowboy’s first pre-season game while we ate a dinner ‘at home’, so we called it an afternoon.
The way my girls’ love her and her hubby.  SO very thankful for them.

headband / sweet t shoppe

Greasy 55 SPF sunscreen coated hair in the wind.  Nothing like it.
My sweet sister girl (we are not actually sisters, for the record)

Parker and Uncle J set up post at the front of the boat as navigators for Daddy..

..while Jolie took it upon herself to snooze the lazy river away.
It was a long day at the lake, and we were all exhausted.  Baths and bed for Parker and Jolie, and then it was adult time.  Cowboys football, wine, appetizers, and a pasta dinner hit the spot. 
This weekend was so much fun and we couldn’t believe it was time to head back to real life.  Check out was at 10:30am – so we loaded the truck and then walked to breakfast before heading back to Texas.
The Pancake Shop is where its at.. and if you ever happen to make the stop in, have a banana pancake.  AMAZING.
Board books..

..and people watching while we waited for our breakfast. 
headwrap / heavenly headwraps // necklace / bub & bug studio

Had to get a shot of all four of us before we called it a weekend and went our separate ways home.

The car ride.  Again with the shortest naps in the universe, coupled with discomfort, and the record for the most diapers that needed to be changed in one hour. 
It was enjoyable.. I was officially brain dead by the time we got back to the Dallas area. 
We whipped out the puzzles for the ride home that proved to be somewhat of a frustrating nightmare in holding the pieces out to see.  So, back to the books, music, singing, dancing, and snacks.  Buckets of snacks.   

Shout out to Sarah Tucker for dog-sitting our little Ginny for the weekend.  THANK you for allowing your pups to make a new friend.

Seriously great weekend.  LOVE spending time with those people, and the location was fab.  We were able to enjoy the town, the food, and then take a day to be lazy on the lake.  Totally our cup-o-tea.

Thanks, Hot Springs for a great end-of-summer trip!


August 18, 2014

  1. Becky M says:

    How adorable are they?! Love their headbands! This looks so fun!


  2. Kara says:

    Rolandos is the bomb! Looks like a great trip to Arkansas 🙂

  3. Sounds like the trip was lots of fun! I love Jolie's expression in the bathroom picture. Looking at Parker thinking, "hey sis, whatcha doing on the floor?!" I just love their expressions 🙂

  4. How fun!! Love a good touristy trip 🙂 And what a sweet pic of the pups too..seems like everyone had the best time!