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October Getaway Idea: Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival


Picturesque autumn trails and one of the most renown film festivals in the country are just a four and a half hour drive away from Dallas. This October, take the trek down I-30 to be among the thousands of film buffs attending the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF).

From Oct. 6 through Oct. 15, festivalgoers and stars alike will attend Q and A sessions with filmmakers, mingle at swanky after parties, and choose from more than 100 films to be showcased by the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

From an endearing look inside the lives of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds to a critical look at social justice for South East St. Louis residents, each film was selected with the aim to provoke thought and a range of emotions. This festival has been held annually for the past 26 years.

“The HSDFF enriches the cultural life of our community, state and region with its unprecedented gathering of the best documentary films and their creators in one place,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. According to Arrison, thousands of people travel to this city each year to attend the festival and, consequently, discover even more that the city has to offer. “The festival’s unparalleled reputation for innovation and scope has long focused the attention of people across the United States on the city, its attractions and its unrivaled hospitality and amenities,” Arrison elaborated.

Not far beyond the institute walls is one of the most legendary hotels in the south - the Arlington Hotel. Nestled in the heart of Downtown Hot Springs, the Arlington Hotel is at the center of all of the major attractions. The hotel is also an official sponsor of the festival of which you can receive a reasonable rate by mentioning you are staying for the purpose of the festival. On the premises is the famous Hot Springs Spa and Salon and a Thermal Bathhouse equipped with a twin-level pool built into the mountainside, filled with warm water from the hot springs.

According to the Arlington Hotel site, since the 1800s, the halls of the historic hotel have been walked by presidents, actors and musicians such as: Franklin Roosevelt, Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand and Yoko Ono. Al Capone would reserve an entire floor for his staff and body guards. His favorite room was 442 so he could look out of his window at the Southern Club, which is now the Wax Museum.

Just a stone’s throw away are the natural hot springs in Hot Springs National Park and the historic bath houses in Bathhouse Row. Here, visitors can peruse a collection of gardens and the historic buildings that have acted as serene, social mainstays since the early 1800s. Eclectic buildings of varied styles house hot springs, pools, and baths for visitors to take a dip in. Some of the bath houses, such as Quapaw, have been turned into modern spas.

From a zipline through the trees with Adventureworks Hot Springs to a stroll through the Gangster Museum of America, there are a varity of attractions to experience while in-between films at the festival.

Whether the aim is to discover the work of budding filmmakers, to become one with nature, or explore a city rich with history, Hot Springs, Arkansas is your destination and only a 4.5 hour drive from Dallas. Find out about ticketing and festival pass information by visiting