Hot Springs, Arkansas, is an ideal winter getaway from Chattanooga

Photo by Visit Hot Springs / Experience the famous thermal spring waters of Hot Springs at Quapaw, one of two of the town's early 20th century bathhouses that are still in operation.

Whether you are looking to relax with a spa experience, enjoy nature or learn history, Hot Springs, Arkansas, has you covered. Located about eight hours from Chattanooga, the area is ideal for a long weekend getaway that's unlike anywhere else within driving distance.

Where to stay:

Centrally located in the middle of Bathhouse Row, a collection of historic bathhouse buildings now a place to stroll and enjoy the architecture, The Waters Hot Springs is a unique boutique hotel that's part of Hilton's Tapestry Collection located in a remodeled 1930s medical office, which is apparent in its tiled hallways and wooden doors to the guest rooms. The hotel boasts a rooftop bar and hiking trail access just outside its doors. From $143/night.

Also on Bathhouse Row is Hotel Hale, a restored historic bathhouse where you can bathe in thermal spring water piped into the soaking tub in your room. Guests are also provided with unlimited quantities of mineral water to drink in their rooms. The hotel's restaurant, Eden, boasts a living wall and skylight, and breakfast is included in the cost of rooms. From $340/night.

What to do:

Explore Garvan Woodland Gardens, a 210-acre botanical garden with trails, bridges and waterfalls and a variety of plants. Don't miss the treehouse in the children's garden and Anthony Chapel, a beautiful wood beam and glass structure that blends in with the surrounding forest.

A visit to Bathhouse Row is a must-do in Hot Springs to experience a spa treatment using the area's famous thermal waters, learn about the area's history and see the early 20th century architecture. Two of the bathhouses are still operational, including Quapaw, which has thermal pools where you can swim on a first-come-first serve basis. Buckstaff allows you to make reservations for spa treatments, and you'll want to reserve well in advance. The area also has many shops, restaurants and attractions, such as a gangster museum.

Oaklawn Racing Resort and Casino is a popular thoroughbred racing venue that has been open since 1904. Racing season runs from December to May, with races held most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Where to eat and drink:

The Ohio Club, which has served such figures as Al Capone during its days as a gangster hangout, is the oldest continually operating bar in Arkansas. Known for its hamburgers and Reubens, the Ohio hosts live music Thursday through Sunday nights.

Superior Bathhouse and Brewery bills itself as the only brewery to use thermal spring water to brew its craft beers. Located in a historic bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park, try the pretzel and beer cheese dip and a flight of four beers of your choosing, or have a root beer if you prefer a nonalcoholic option.

For a nice dinner try, 501 Prime, which offers oysters, high-quality steaks and an extensive bourbon selection in an upscale atmosphere.