One of the most frequently asked questions in Hot Springs  is, “Is there somewhere outdoors that I can go and sit in the hot springs?” For the most part, the answer is no. Most of the springs here are warm, not hot, and aren’t concentrated in one place. There are places, however, where you can enjoy the springs at no charge.
Take a walk along the Freedom Trail, a concrete pathway about a mile long that follows Fall River from the corner of North River Street and Minnekahta Road down to the Mueller Civic Center. Fall River is fed by over 100 warm springs and maintains an average temperature of 87°F year-round. Wading is allowed anywhere along the river, although the best spot is behind the Brookside Apartments (201 S. River St.). There are picnic tables there and it is a safe, fun spot to let the kids get wet.
Another favorite spot is Cascade Falls, located about 12 miles south of town off of Highway 71. From the road, it looks like an ordinary roadside rest stop. Walk to the western edge of the area, though, and look down to see a good sized pond and a fast-flowing shallow stream cascading over the rocks. The falls aren’t big, but there is something appealing about this hidden stream. There are no lifeguards or services other than picnic tables and restrooms, and there is no fee.
For those who love serious boating, fishing, and swimming, there is the Angostura Recreation Area (13157 N. Angostura Rd., 605/745-6996, for camping reservations 800/710-2267, www.sdgfp.info , open year-round, day fee $4 per person or $6 per vehicle, annual pass $28, camping $12–15). Located 10 miles southeast of Hot Springs  off of Highway 385/18, Angostura is part of the South Dakota State Park system and requires a park pass for entrance.
With 36 miles of shoreline, Angostura is the largest reservoir in western South Dakota. Single and double kayaks are available for rental at the northern entrance to the area. Kayak rentals are $15 for three hours or $30 all day. There are four campgrounds at the lake, with a total of 169 sites, showers, water, and dump stations.
If swinging a club sounds more satisfying than swimming, try golf at the Southern Hills Municipal Golf Course (West Hwy. 18, 605/745-6400, www.southernhillsmunicipalgolfcourse.com ). This beautiful par 70 course was cited by GolfWeek as one of “2009 Best You Can Play” golf courses, and given 4.5 stars by Golf Digest. The Seven Sisters range of hills are just east of the course, prairie views are to the south, and ponderosa pines and scenic hills are to the north.
Green fees are $19 for 9 holes on weekdays, $21 on weekends; $32 for 18 holes on weekdays, $36 on weekends. Cart rentals range from $8 for one person for 9 holes to $26 for two people for 18 holes.
The Red Rock River Resort (603 N. River St., 605/745-4400 or 888/306-8921, www.redrockriverresort.com , year-round daily 9 a.m.–9 p.m.) is housed is one of the many restored historic sandstone buildings in town. The facility has some interesting offerings, including a granite heat room, sand heat room, dry sauna, whirlpool/hot tub, and tranquility tea room (a place to sip tea, read, and relax), and has several well-appointed treatment rooms.
Massage services include Swedish style, deep tissue, hot stone, Craniosacral, gemstone, reflexology, reiki, and others. A day pass for use of the facility is $25. Treatments are $35–40 per half-hour, $65–120 for 60- and 90-minute sessions. Package deals are available and change regularly.
The sandstone architecture in Hot Springs  is truly stunning and both the Pioneer Museum  and the Chamber of Commerce have a booklet that will direct you through town on a self-guided walking tour. The booklet, called Step Back in Time, describes many of the historic buildings along River Street and other areas in town.
The Freedom Trail parallels Fall River through town. The path is lit after dark so it’s great for a nice after-dinner walk of about a mile in length. On hot days, if you start at the northern end and head south, you can reward yourself with a Dairy Queen ice-cream cone. If you start at the south end of the trail and head north, you can treat yourself to an ice cream at The Blue Bison.
The Hot Springs Theater (241 N. River St., 605/745-4169), built in 1910, offers movies year-round Friday–Sunday at 7 p.m. The fabulous feature of this theater is that the seats are spaced so far apart, it is possible to stretch your legs straight out and still not come close to the row in front of you.