By Christine Dell’Amore,
Christine Dell’Amore For The Washington Post
The Fordyce Bathhouse was built in 1915 in the Renaissance Revival style, with Spanish and Italian elements. Now home to the national park’s visitor center and museum, the opulent bathhouse was once considered “the finest bathing establishment in the world,” in the words of its creator, Civil War veteran Samuel Fordyce.
I’ll just come clean: Baths have never appealed to me. They’re time-consuming, and now, with a toddler, just taking a peaceful three-minute shower is nigh impossible. So I was surprised that my favorite moment of a visit to Arkansas’ Hot Springs National Park was soaking in a lavender-scented whirlpool tub, watching ceiling fans turn lazily in the hushed calm of a high-ceilinged, century-old bathhouse. It didn’t hurt that I was luxuriating in thermal waters, which bubble up from dozens of underground springs in nearby Hot Spring Mountain and are piped directly into local bathhouses, allowing visitors to, as the saying goes, “take the waters.”