Hot Springs Travel Guide

A comprehensive travel guide to Hot Springs, North Carolina, including places to visit, hiking routes, food and drink scene, where to stay, and more.

Introduction to Hot Springs

Hot Springs is a small town located in the North Carolina Mountains, in the southern part of the United States. This town is famous for its natural hot springs that have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Visitors can enjoy outdoor adventures, relax in the natural hot springs, and learn about the local culture and history.

List of Places to Visit in Hot Springs

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • (1) Madison County Heritage Center: This museum showcases the history and culture of Madison County, which has a rich tradition of crafts.
  • (2) Smoky Mountains Astronomical Society: This society offers stargazing events and astronomy programs, making it a fun and educational experience for visitors.

Natural Attractions of Hot Springs: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • (1) Hot Springs Resort and Spa: Visitors can enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs, relax with a massage, or take a dip in the swimming pool.
  • (2) Appalachian Trail: One of the most popular hiking trails in the country, the Appalachian Trail passes through the town of Hot Springs, offering visitors stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • (3) French Broad River: Visitors can go fishing, kayaking, or canoeing on the French Broad River, which is known for its clear water and scenic beauty.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Hot Springs

  • (1) Lover’s Leap Loop Trail: This easy 1.5-mile trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the town of Hot Springs.
  • (2) Max Patch Loop Trail: This moderate 2.4-mile trail takes visitors to the top of Max Patch, which offers panoramic views of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • (3) Appalachian Trail: Visitors can hike a portion of the famous 2,190-mile trail, which passes through Hot Springs.

Best Things to Do in Hot Springs: Activities and Tours

  • (1) Rafting and Tubing: Visitors can enjoy the thrill of the rapids by rafting down the French Broad River or tubing down the calmer sections.
  • (2) Outdoor Yoga: Hot Springs offers visitors a chance to practice yoga in the great outdoors, with classes held at several scenic locations in town.
  • (3) Horseback Riding: Visitors can explore the beautiful countryside on horseback, with guided tours offered by several local stables.

Week-Long Itinerary for Hot Springs

Day Activity
Day 1 Visit the Madison County Heritage Center and learn about the local craft tradition.
Day 2 Hike the Max Patch Loop Trail and enjoy panoramic views of the Appalachian Mountains.
Day 3 Relax at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa, and soak in the natural hot springs.
Day 4 Take a rafting trip down the French Broad River and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Day 5 Visit the Smoky Mountains Astronomical Society and learn about the world beyond our planet.
Day 6 Explore the countryside on horseback and experience the local culture.
Day 7 Take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and admire the beauty of the mountains.

Food and Drink Scene of Hot Springs

Must-Try Dishes

  • (1) Madison County Ribs: These slow-cooked pork ribs are a local favorite, served with a side of coleslaw and baked beans.
  • (2) Appalachian Trout: This fresh-caught trout is seasoned with herbs and spices, baked to perfection, and served with a side of roasted vegetables.
  • (3) Hot Springs Hot Chicken: This spicy chicken dish is served with a side of homemade biscuits and gravy, making it the perfect comfort food.

Local Beverages

  • (1) Craft Beer: The Asheville area is known for its craft beer scene, and Hot Springs is no exception, with several local breweries offering tours and tastings.
  • (2) Moonshine: For a taste of the local moonshine, visit a distillery and sample some of the flavors produced in the region.

Where to Stay in Hot Springs: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • (1) Iron Horse Station: This historic hotel is located in the heart of Hot Springs, offering comfortable rooms and a restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine.
  • (2) Laughing Heart Hostel: This hostel offers budget-friendly accommodations for travelers, with a communal kitchen and lounge area.
  • (3) Mountain Magnolia Inn: This elegant bed and breakfast offers luxurious accommodations and sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.

What to Buy in Hot Springs: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Visitors can bring home a piece of the local culture by purchasing locally made crafts, such as pottery, textiles, and woodcarvings. Local honey, jams, and baked goods also make great edible souvenirs.

Local Culture and Customs of Hot Springs

Hot Springs has a rich tradition of crafts and is home to many artists and artisans. Visitors can experience the local culture by attending craft fairs and festivals, visiting craft shops and studios, and taking workshops in pottery, weaving, and other crafts.

Best Time to Visit Hot Springs

The best time to visit Hot Springs is from late spring to early fall, when the weather is mild and the natural beauty of the region is at its peak. The fall foliage is particularly beautiful, with vibrant colors taking over the mountains.

Do’s and Don’ts of Hot Springs


  • (1) Do take advantage of the natural hot springs and enjoy a relaxing soak.
  • (2) Do explore the local crafts scene and support local artisans.
  • (3) Do take in the beauty of the mountains by hiking or driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway.


  • (1) Don’t litter or harm the natural environment.
  • (2) Don’t disturb the local wildlife.
  • (3) Don’t ignore safety precautions when engaging in outdoor activities.

Safety and Health

Safety in Hot Springs

Visitors should be aware of potential hazards when engaging in outdoor activities, such as hiking and rafting. It is important to follow safety guidelines and be prepared for emergencies, such as carrying a first aid kit and informing others of your itinerary.

Health in Hot Springs

The natural hot springs have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, and their healing properties are known to alleviate aches and pains. Visitors should be aware that the water may contain natural minerals and bacteria.

Getting to Hot Springs: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Hot Springs

The nearest major airport is in Asheville, roughly 45 miles east of Hot Springs. Alternatively, visitors can fly into Charlotte and drive or take a bus to Hot Springs.

Bus Stations Near Hot Springs

Greyhound Bus Lines offers service to Asheville, about 45 miles east of Hot Springs. From there, visitors can take a taxi or rental car to reach Hot Springs.

Other Options

Visitors can also drive to Hot Springs, with major highways and interstates passing through the area. Car rentals are available at the airports and in Asheville.

How to Get Around in Hot Springs

Visitors can explore the town on foot, as most attractions are within walking distance. Biking and driving are also popular options for exploring the surrounding countryside and enjoying the scenic views.

Where to Go Next from Hot Springs: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • (1) Asheville: This vibrant city is known for its craft breweries, art galleries, and live music scene.
  • (2) Great Smoky Mountains National Park: This natural wonder is home to diverse flora and fauna, stunning waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails.
  • (3) Biltmore Estate: This historic mansion and gardens is a must-see for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.


Hot Springs, North Carolina is a hidden gem in the southern region of the United States, offering natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and a rich cultural tradition. Visitors can soak in the natural hot springs, explore the local crafts scene, and experience the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.