Hot Springs, Arkansas

Photo: Lookout Point Lakeside Inn by Kristie Rosset and Ray Rosset
Photo: Lookout Point Lakeside Inn by Kristie Rosset and Ray Rosset

As soon as Halloween ended and November began, everyone seemed to switch gears to winter. The temperature dropped, as did the leaves. Christmas commercials flooded primetime programming. And the weatherman started to predict when the first snow would fall. But it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. What happened to autumn?

It may feel like winter has already arrived in the Northeast, but farther south, it’s still peak foliage season. The sweetgums, the oaks, and the hickories have turned vivid shades of gold and crimson. And though the mornings have a crisp chill in the air, the sun quickly warms up, making it the perfect time of year for a lakeside getaway in Arkansas.

Wake up early at Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, and watch the sky brighten from a rocking chair on your terrace. The fog looks like it’s being swept off the top of the water as it moves out of the way. Without any wind, the water is calm, rippling only when a duck skims the top of it. Take a short walk along the waterfront trail or push a canoe silently out toward a small island. An opossum is taking a drink from a stream along the shore. The faint tracks might be from a red fox. Return to the inn, and eat a big breakfast–custom blend coffee with raspberry stuffed French toast or a bacon-artichoke frittata–before you head into Hot Springs National Park.

Hot Springs National Park was the first federally protected land in the United States. Native Americans called the area “the valley of the vapors” because of the hot springs that flow from Hot Springs Mountain. It later became known as America’s First Resort, as people discovered the healing powers of a spa retreat.

Photo: Lookout Point Lakeside Inn by Kristie Rosset and Ray Rosset
Photo: Lookout Point Lakeside Inn by Kristie Rosset and Ray Rosset

Hike through a hardwood-and-pine forest on the Hot Springs Mountain Trail for views over the colorful Ouachita Mountains. Drive to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, an observation tower with a 360-degree view over the mountains. Walk among the soaring pine trees in the Garvan Woodland Gardens, a botanical garden on a wooded peninsula on Lake Hamilton. Don’t miss the extensive Japanese garden along the way. And book a private soaking room at Quapaw Baths & Spa along Bathhouse Row in town. You’re probably supposed to finish with a cup of organic tea, but you opt to walk farther north on Central Ave to have a glass of small-batch bourbon at the Porterhouse instead.

Return to the inn to read a book in a hammock, play board games in the sun room with an afternoon refreshment, or, if it’s cooling down, take a nap by the fireplace. Just return to your rocking chair in time for sunset. That’s when the lake and the leaves show off their brightest fall colors.

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