The Tourist Becomes the Tour Guide
For those who enjoy traveling and visiting destinations that are well-known and well-worth it, it’s not uncommon to pick up books such as Kristy Owen’s “100 Things to Do in Austin Before You Die,” or Karen Nelson’s “100 Things to Do in Branson Before You Die,” or any of the rest of the Reedy Press series. Now, Arkansas’ own Cassidy Kendall has introduced the state and travelers to “100 Things to Do in Hot Springs Before You Die.”
It’s Kendall’s inaugural book and one of the latest travel destination books in the “100 Things to Do Before You Die” series. As a travel guide, it introduces wanderers, Hot Springs locals, and Arkansans to the destination tucked into the heart of the Ozark Mountains.
Kendall, who is the publisher of The Hot Springs Post, didn’t grow up in Hot Springs, but she has been familiar with the family-friendly vacation spot for most of her life. Hot Springs was introduced to Kendall as a vacation destination, somewhere she visited with her grandparents, to whom she dedicated the words within the pages of her first book. Prior to living in Hot Springs, she had many cherished memories of visiting the Spa City, including making stops at Pirate Cove (No. 48 in the book) and eating at Cafe 1217 (No. 17 in the book).
“I remember going to Pirate Cove, choosing the color of the ball and picking a prize at the end of the game. I remember coming on vacation here and just having the best memories with my grandparents,” Kendall said, emphasizing the role her grandparents played in making Hot Springs memorable.
As a south Arkansas native, Kendall attended the University of Central Arkansas, where she studied journalism. Upon graduating in Dec. 2018, and unsure about her next steps in life, she moved to Hot Springs where she began her career in journalism and became part of the community she once saw as a vacation destination.
“After working in local journalism, I decided that I wanted to freelance full time, and shortly after, I was put into contact with Reedy Press, who wanted a book for Hot Springs as part of the series that features tourist towns.”
To Kendall, Hot Springs was all things fun, the place where she formed unforgettable family memories.
“Growing up I had fond memories of Hot Springs, but I never knew it on the community side,” she said. Now, as a resident, Kendall knows and loves the community-based factor that Hot Springs maintains.
“Living here has been really great. I love that I get to know it as a community that works so hard in preserving our history –– this is such a driven and caring community; they help make it great for the tourists and in return, the locals,” she said.
Reedy Press, the St. Louis-based publishing company, has published several books relating to travel. The national series includes more than 100 titles in print for “100 Things to Do Before You Die,” which features popular destinations laid out in guidebook-style. According to Reedy Press, the bestselling local guidebooks are perfect for locals and tourists and contain ideal destinations for food and drink, music, entertainment, sports, recreation, culture, history, shopping and fashion.
In her book, Kendall describes her relationship with the popular tourist destination. “I had the rare opportunity to be reintroduced to the most magical place I had ever been, and while I still got to enjoy all the things I had before –– like the lake, nature and yes, still games of putt-putt at Pirate’s Cove –– I found there was a whole other world of beauty and magic to be experienced in Hot Springs, year-round.”
Reedy Press has published several new destinations within the series, with Hot Springs among the latest to be released. While Kendall viewed Hot Springs as a tourist destination with her own memories of the city, the destination has long been sought out by others for a plethora of reasons.
The book features several places Kendall and fellow tourists and locals enjoy in the city, along with plans and suggested itineraries. Among these itineraries are detailed plans for spending a day at the lake, immersing yourself in the local history, exploring the scenery, going out for a date night and more.
Nature lovers can take a dip in one of the many swimming holes at Lake Hamilton, drive through the picturesque mountains, see the city from new heights on a ropes course or find a trail to bike. With Lake Ouachita and Lake Catherine nearby, renting a boat and enjoying a day on the water is also easily attainable.
Summer, fall, winter or spring — no matter the season, there are a multitude of reasons (100, to be exact) for anyone and everyone to make a trip to Hot Springs. As a tourist destination, there is seemingly always something happening in the Spa City, with annual events such as The Hot Springs Film Festival or The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade drawing in locals and tourists.
“I love the film festival; I go every year to see as many film blocks as possible, and I already love fall, so the film festival gives me another reason to look forward to that time of year,” Kendall said. “It’s a great time to go to the theater and view films and interact with each other in really glamorous ways. It’s a great experience.”
She also included helpful tips for travelers, such as pre-planning a gallery walk on First Friday Art Walk days and making time to visit the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum.
Thermal waters have been a longstanding draw for tourists, with visitors traveling far and wide to take a dip in the thousands-of-years-old waters, which are often regarded as having healing or magical properties.
As a tourist-turned local, Kendall says she has a great appreciation for the community-oriented aspect of Hot Springs.
“Everyone has seen the large tourist advertisements, and every time there’s something going on in Hot Springs, but if it wasn’t for our super great community, we would not have all these things that have existed for years and years, which is all made possible by the community members who strive and work to make this all happen,” she said.
The book, a touristic endeavor, was one that Kendall never expected to do, but had fun writing. “It was my first huge project as a freelance writer. It was a lot of fun and required lots of self- and time-management,” she said.
Hot Springs means something different to everyone who lives or frequently vacations in the city that offers so much. From the horse races to the bathhouses, to the annual events such as Arts in the Park, the Spa City offers fun for family and friends, young and old. Whether you live, work, or just visit Hot Springs, “100 Things to Do in Hot Springs Before You Die,” is well worth diving .