Uptown, Sidetown and More
The steady growth in Hot Springs tourism and sudden surge in home sales — many of which are vacation home and rental property sales — have fueled the need for revitalization and historic preservation throughout the city. As developers breathe new life into forgotten real estate, Hot Springs reciprocates with even more growth. This is most evident in downtown, especially in the hip up-and-coming districts of Uptown and Sidetown. Meanwhile, monikers for freshly delineated areas such as the “Gateway Corridor” and “Black Broadway” are just starting to stick. Be sure to explore these distinct parts of town—and watch how they transform even more on your repeat visits!
Located on Park Avenue, just north of Bathhouse Row, Uptown began taking shape six years ago. Lately, this district is on the fast track.
Renewed attention to Uptown came after a 2014 fire destroyed the historic Majestic Hotel. The city is in negotiations with developers for a reimagined Majestic Hotel project that will most certainly add to the allure of this burgeoning district and the revitalization of downtown, in general. Community leaders are pushing for infrastructure improvements in Uptown, too. For example, re-paving efforts in 2016 made the district more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. It's fast becoming a trendy area for vacation rental sales and overall gentrification.
As a natural extension of bustling downtown, Uptown gained notoriety thanks, in part, to Red Light Roastery Coffee House and Spa City Cycling. The roastery is a busy hangout and Hot Springs' first small-batch, craft coffee roaster. Spa City Cycling is a bike shop located right on Pullman Avenue, just blocks from the popular Pullman Avenue Trailhead for the Northwoods Trails system. This trail system is a big lure for visitors from across the country, with its unique trail cut-through within the National Park (something few National Parks allow).
Other notable stops include a quirky costume and gift shop, Hot Springy Dingy, and nostalgic Bailey’s Dairy Treat, a boyhood favorite of President Bill Clinton.
This hamlet is home to hip spots some locals wish were secret when the town swells with seasonal visitors. But the owners of SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint certainly appreciate the popularity. Cheryl Roorda and Zachary Smith performed an award-winning rehab on a historic old piano shop on Ouachita Avenue, turning it into this district's beloved SQZBX (pronounced “squeeze box”). Roorda and Smith are also co-founders of Sidetown’s 102.5 KUHS-FM. This volunteer-run station is the only solar-powered radio station in Arkansas.
Next door, the dive-y Starlite Club (which has now reopened after being temporarily closed as a safety precaution during the pandemic) is a zany place to drink, dance, play darts and attend wacky live events.
Other businesses anchoring Sidetown are Taco Mama-Sidetown, the Colorado Grill and Splash Wine Bar, an upscale hangout known for its back patio, fire pits and charcuterie boards.
Located between Grove and Gulpha streets along Malvern Avenue, this is a true "one to watch." Improvements for the Gateway Corridor began in January 2021, with plans for new streetlights, bike lanes, expanded sidewalks, rain gardens, bike racks and more. The Corridor is already home to lively 420eats Food Truck Court. This pet-friendly dining spot boasts a great mix of food, live music events and outdoor games (like pingpong and giant Jenga).
A historically significant landmark here is the recently completed “Black Broadway” mural, which pays homage to the area's history from 1930-60. During its heyday, this part of downtown was nicknamed "Black Broadway" because its businesses hosted world-famous Black entertainers.
Off-The-Beaten Path Bucket List
Five tucked-away treasures for you to discover:
1. Try the hamburgers President Bill Clinton loved at Bailey's Dairy Treat near Uptown.
2. See the spectacle at the famous Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo.
3. Savor Rock ‘N’ Roll Hibachi at the 420eats Food Truck Court on Malvern Avenue.
4. Step back in time at Tiny Town on Whittington Avenue.
5. Let the force be with you at The Galaxy Connection, a Star Wars and superhero museum.