Hot Springs, NC


What would happen if you take two (sub)urbanites and put them in a town with a population of 645? That’s what Lyndsi and I found out earlier this month. It’s different, but that was part of the intrigue of Hot Springs, NC. Iron Horse Station is a fascinating little inn in the center of town where we stayed. It’s an old, restored historic building situated by the train tracks that run by town. Considering that I’m a bit of a train nerd, I found that cool.

Upon check-in, the hotel proudly displayed a newspaper story detailing Hollywood star James Franco’s recent stay there (his crew took over the entire hotel). After walking up the creaky wooden stairs (elevators? not in Hot Springs) we finally found our room upstairs, the Pullman Deluxe room. Nothing crazy given its $95/night price, but brewing with character. Our charming room had hardwood floors, a queen bed with four posts, and best of all, there was a restaurant and tavern downstairs.

Mind you, there were no TVs, no phones, and only a small window overlooking the railroad tracks. Oh, and no AT&T phone service. The WiFi was our only connection to civilization, it seemed. The room had its quirks — broken lamp shade, shower leaked on to the wooden bathroom floor, etc. — but it was cozy once the thunderstorm moved in that evening.

A couple of interesting things happened as we wondered around town before dinner. First, this is a dry county. In 2011. Really, Hot Springs? I jokingly asked a store attendant if this town has any alcohols, and she pointed across the street to this “biker” store. Hmm, looks interesting. And there’s a high likelihood we’ll be shot. So, onward!

Now listen. I enjoy the occasional cigar, so smoke usually doesn’t bother me. But the stench in this biker store was so horrific that Lyndsi had to breathe through her shirt to survive, before exiting. We picked up a case of Sweetwater and promptly escaped to fresh air.

Then I realized how are we going to open these bottles? Next door was a hardware store (far from Home Depot) and I picked up a bottle opener. The owner took my money and said, “that’s close enough.” I guess they don’t do exact change in Hot Springs. Interesting.

Aside from eating at Iron Horse Station, the other big attraction in the area is the “world-famous” Hot Springs natural mineral water springs. We enjoyed the hour-long relaxation of the hot tubs where they pump natural mineral water from the area. Walking distance from the town center.

Hot Springs was a nice little town, though too small for my liking. I love visiting small towns, but Hot Springs was just too small (case in point, the only place for breakfast in town was jam-packed, so we ended up getting snacks at a convenience store). It’s a great place for lunch and while it was nice to get away from Charlotte, it’s not somewhere we’ll be returning to. At least the twisty roads around it made it all worthwhile.

~ Marc


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