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Southwest Arkansas

The Southwest section of Arkansas has a lot to offer: recreation in the Ouachita Mountains and Diamond Lakes, rich history in Hot Springs and family fun at the region’s parks, attractions and a botanical garden.

Hot Springs is known for gaming and horseracing at Oaklawn Park and for the famed historic facilities along Bathhouse Row.  Hot Springs was named for the mineral waters that bubble up from 47 underground springs and maintain a consistent temperature of 143 degrees Fahrenheit. There you’ll find Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery, the only craft microbrewery located inside a national park.

It's also known for its rich baseball history. During the late 19th and early 20th century, the city played host to the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Brooklyn Nationals, Chicago White Stockings and the Boston Red Sox for spring training. The Historic Baseball Trail marks those important historical locations within Hot Springs today.

The popular Magic Springs & Crystal Falls Water and Theme Park showcases thrilling rides, plenty of water activities, and concerts by nationally known musical performers. Garvan Woodland Gardens, situated on a peninsula in Lake Hamilton, was named one of the nation's top gardens by Bottom Line Publications and offers a variety of flora, fauna and special events year-round.

The Southwest area is known for its Diamond Lakes, including Catherine, DeGray, Greeson, Hamilton and Ouachita. Full-service resorts and opportunities for camping, fishing, boating, horseback riding and golf can be found near these Diamond Lakes. Golf is particularly popular in Hot Springs Village, a 26,000-acre gated community that’s home to nine championship courses.

Aside from the Diamond Lakes, visitors can dig for real diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro and keep whatever they find. They can also dig for the easier-to-find quartz crystals at Coleman Mines in Jessieville, at Wegner Crystal Mines in Mount Ida or at a number of different locations near Lake Ouachita.

In Hope, visit the birth home of President Bill Clinton, now a National Historic Site. Hope is also known for its watermelons — the popular Hope Watermelon Festival is held there each August. Hope's Amtrak Station offers passenger rail service on Amtrak Texas Eagle to other major cities. Close-by is Historic Washington State Park, which interprets and preserves the 19th century town with restored buildings, activities and special events.

The area is also home to Arkansas's first environmental education state park, Logoly, at McNeil; the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, which documents south Arkansas's oil boom, in Smackover; and the town that's "twice as nice," Texarkana – where attractions such as the Four States Auto Museum and the Holiday Springs Water Park are popular.

El Dorado, not far from the Louisiana border towards the center of south Arkansas, is a booming town undergoing an extensive revitalization. It's home to a historic downtown square, the South Arkansas Arts Center, the Rialto Theater and the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.