K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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Soaking in hot springs not only offers the opportunity to relax, often surrounded by spectacular scenery, but it also provides many therapeutic benefits to mind and body as well. The minerals in hot springs are renowned for enhancing health, while the heat helps soothe aching muscles. The good news for locals and visitors in California is that the Golden State offers a number of incredible hot springs to enjoy, including these.
Calistoga in Northern California’s popular wine country offers a number of spas and spa hotels for enjoying the geothermal features in the area. Indian Springs is truly one of the best and it’s a place where you’ll be pampered like a Hollywood star. Look forward to sipping local wines alongside the main mineral pool, which is fed by geysers that are right onsite. Open until midnight, you can soak in one of the largest mineral pools in California while gazing up at the star-filled sky. A variety of spa treatments are on the menu as well, including everything from the famous mud baths made from thermal mineral waters and pure volcanic ash to massage, facials and scrubs.
Mercey Hot Springs is a popular stopping off point on road trips between the family-friendly attractions in San Francisco and the star-studded Los Angeles, just 13 miles off Interstate 5. It’s a good way to break up that long drive, soaking the stiff driving muscles in the indoor and outdoor tubs. If you want to stick around a while, you can stretch your legs on the property’s hiking trails, go bird watching or even take a yoga class.
Grover Hot Springs, located in a gorgeous valley tucked within the High Sierra, has a campground nearby, making it a popular place for campers who want to enjoy soaking in the historic hot mineral soaking pool after a day of play in the mountains. There are hiking trails on the property that offer sweeping vistas of the dramatic granite peaks, wildflower-filled meadows and a waterfall as well, with bald eagles and even the occasional bear sometimes spotted.
The California desert is home to a wealth of spas and generally less expensive accommodations that host warm healing mineral waters and spa treatments, like Tuscan Springs Hotel & Spa. While it’s less than a 20-minute drive from the posh Palm Springs resorts, here you can relax and enjoy quiet landscapes away from tourist crowds. This beautiful Italian-inspired boutique hotel houses two natural hot mineral water Jacuzzis and a large natural hot mineral water pool, all at varying temperatures for swimming and soaking. The onsite spa, La Bella, offers a variety of spa services for both overnight guests and day visitors. Accommodation is in luxurious rooms with beds that include down comforters and pillows, as well as comfy robes, fluffy towels and spa-style bath amenities.
Vichy Springs is about two hours north of San Francisco and a 90-minute drive from the breathtaking Mendocino coast near the town of Ukiah. This unique 160-year-old historic hot springs resort includes a country inn and hot springs, with guests staying in cottages or rooms that include full use of the hot soaking pool, Olympic-size swimming pool, and naturally warm, carbonated mineral baths — four outside and six inside. This resort also offers facials and massages and has 700 acres of hiking trails. Vichy has a rich history too, with a couple of U.S. presidents, author Jack London and actor Dustin Hoffman having stayed here.
Wilbur Hot Springs is just 22 miles east of Clear Lake in Northern California. This off-grid, solar-powered destination resort with naturally occurring hot mineral springs can be found in the heart of an 1,800-acre nature preserve. Thousands of people have come for centuries to soak in these therapeutic waters that are said to have a rare and unique configuration of minerals that make it unique from the other hot spring resorts and spas in the region. Sheltered by a Japanese onsen-style “Fluminarium,” the water is channeled into three long flumes with average temperatures of 98, 105 and 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Day use of the hot springs, pool, sauna and nature preserve is offered, along with accommodation for individuals, couples and families with children ages 13 and above.
Set on the dramatic cliffs of the central California coast near Big Sur, the Esalen offers one of the most awe-inspiring settings you can possibly imagine. Its cliff-side hot springs have been in ritual and healing use by the Esselen Indians and others for over 6,000 years. Guests can enjoy soul-seeking meditation and mindfulness workshops in this historic lodge that’s hosted legendary guests like Joan Baez and Steve McQueen, as well as world-famous spiritual people like Deepak Chopra. There are more than 500 workshops on all different subjects as well as the opportunity for hiking and kayaking.
Sierra Hot Springs, located near the Nevada border, sits at the edge of a lush, alpine valley. It offers a number of hot pools for soaking that range in temperature from 85 to 110 degrees, along with a dry sauna and a large sundeck. All are clothing optional. Spa treatments can be enjoyed as well, including Watsu water massage and 16 different massage therapies. The Globe Hotel in Sierraville serves as its main lodge, located about a mile from the springs.