This is a guest post from Susan Guillory of The Unexplorer.
Despite having spent my formative years in Hot Springs, Arkansas, I continue to be amazed at how there are more and more fun things to do. This summer, I took my 13-year-old (a tough age to entertain) to visit family, and we discovered all sorts of new (or new to us) things to do.
1. Watch a $100 Bill Vanish in Thin Air
The Magic, Music, & Comedy of Maxwell Blade opened in 1996, the year I left for college. I managed to never see the show in over 20 years. But now, local celebrity Maxwell Blade has taken over the historic Malco Theater in downtown Hot Springs, so I had to check it out with my son, Max.
We first attended an up-close magic show performed by Jonathan Erlandson. We were close enough to try to figure out how he identified cards before he saw them, put a cell phone inside a balloon, and then swallowed needles then spit them out on a thread…but alas, we were unable to glean his secrets.
After touring the Oddities Museum, filled with curious artifacts and ephemera, we settled in the spacious auditorium for the main event. The show had generously provided Max and I front-and-center seats, so we were at the epicenter of the action.
Maxwell Blade certainly knows how to work an audience. He had us laughing, anticipating, and wondering for two hours straight. His show was the perfect balance of entertainment and awe. The trick you’ll hear the most about is the $100 bill trick. He asked a gentleman in the front row for a bill, which he proceeded to light on fire then make disappear. Not to worry; it appeared at the end of the show, and I won’t tell you where it was found (whole and unburned), but needless to say, we are still scratching our heads on that one.
Blade, who toured with rock bands in the ’80s, treated us to a few Elton John medleys in tribute to his greatest musical influence. Word is that he will have some full tribute performances coming next year.
If You Go
817 Central Ave. Hot Springs, AR 71901
- Adults: $24.50
- Children 12 & under: $20.50
- Seniors 55 & over: $22.50
- The Close Up Show: $10
2. Get Your Dino On
While Mid-America Science Museum is far from new to me or my family (I’ve been more times than I can count), there is always something new and exciting happening there. What I and my brothers love is that some of the same exhibits we knew from our youth are there, mingled in with innovative new exhibits.
This time, Dinotrek caught our attention. It’s Arkansas’ first permanent outdoor dinosaur exhibit and features dinosaurs from the Jurassic, Triassic, and Cretaceous periods (many I’d never even heard of). The exhibit is outdoors, and you work up a nice sweat (especially in the summer) meandering through the woods to find the next dino sculptures.
We also love the mining exhibit, where you crawl through a maze symbolizing the mines of Arkansas. My nephew worried he’d be too big to get through at age 14, but if I can do it at 40, what’s stopping him?
What I love about Mid-America is that it takes my son and his cousins away from their digital devices and gets them playing again. That to any parent is priceless.
If You Go
500 Mid America Boulevard, Hot Springs, AR 71913
- Adults: $10, plus tax
- Ages 3-12: $8, plus tax
- Senior, 65 and older: $8, plus tax
3. Escape a Bad Situation
I’ve done an escape room in San Diego, but my brother, his kids, and my son never had, so I was excited to introduce them to the concept at A Narrow Escape in Hot Springs. Choose one of five storylines, get locked in a room for an hour, and solve puzzles to get out. Pretty simple, right?
I’ve long wondered what sort of education a person needed to design escape rooms. Owner Shane and his wife Kirsten put together a mind-boggling collection of technology and puzzles that challenged us at every age. From Ada, the interactive robot, to the digital puzzle we needed to solve to get out, everything came from Shane’s physics/engineering/tech background. I wish my brain worked that way!
We managed to get out and not kill our new robot friend. The kids, once again, found something to engage with that didn’t require being glued to a screen.
If You Go
801 Central Ave Ste 35, Hot Springs, Arkansas 71901
Admission: $10 or $18, depending on the room you book
One thing I noticed on this trip to Hot Springs was the young energy infiltrating the businesses. Young entrepreneurs are seeing the value of setting up businesses in Hot Springs, and the city is thriving as a result.
Maxwell Blade, Mid-America, and A Narrow Escape provided me and my family comped tickets in exchange for a review, however all opinions are my own.