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Whether you’ve spent a big day hiking, biking or just wine-tasting around beautiful California, there’s no better way to unwind in a scenic setting than with a visit to nature’s spa—a rejuvenating natural hot spring. Here are some of the best spots for a soak in California, plus two in Nevada.

Photo courtesy of Indian Springs Resort

1. Best Historic Soak After a Day of Wine Tasting: Indian Springs in Calistoga, CA
At Indian Springs in Calistoga, you can feel like a Hollywood star as you sip a glass of Napa vino alongside the resort’s Olympic-sized swimming pool, where the geyser-fed waters have been relaxing and rejuvenating guests for more than a century. As the sun sets, wait for the actual stars to come out—the pool is open until midnight. Looking for a quieter, more intimate soak? Head to the new adult pool, which is also kept at a comfy 82–102 degrees. Call ahead to book a spa treatment; pick from facials, massage, scrubs or the springs’ renowned mud baths made up of thermal mineral water and pure volcanic ash from the grounds. Then rest up in the on-site 1930s-style lodge, cottages, bungalows and private homes that include all of the resorts amenities and housekeeping.

Photo courtesy of @ajsharkstar

2. Best LA to SF Road Trip Soak: Mercey Hot Springs in Firebaugh, CA
Only 13 miles off I-5, Mercey Hot Springs makes the perfect pit stop on your road trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco. You won’t regret not taking scenic Highway 1 when you break up your drive with a soak in these indoor and outdoor therapeutic tubs. Guests can also opt to sweat it out in the sauna or take a refreshing dip in the pool. Other activities include an onsite 9-hole disc golf course, hiking, yoga, mountain biking and top-notch bird watching, which attracts birders from around the world. Accommodation options include cabins, tent camping with fire pits, RV sites and vintage Airstream trailers, as well as nearby hotels to fit every budget.

Keough Hot Springs | Photo courtesy of @mothrmntn

3. Best Aprés Ski Soak South: Keough Hot Springs in Bishop, CA
Only an hour drive from Mammoth Mountain ski area, Keough’s water contains 27 different minerals to soak and relax in after a fun day of hiking or hitting the slopes. Accommodations include camping, mobile home stays, and luxury tent cabins equipped with heaters, antique furniture and down comforters. Meanwhile, nearby options cater to a range of budgets. Closed Tuesdays; check road conditions in winter before heading out.

Photo courtesy of David Walleys Resort

4. Best Aprés Ski Soak North: David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort and Spa in Genoa, NV
After an epic day of hitting the slopes, the geothermal mineral water at David Walleys is sure to soothe away your aches. This relaxing hot spring resort is only a 20-minute drive from Heavenly Ski Resort and features a large swimming pool and a soaking pool heated to kid-friendly temps, which makes it a great choice for families. Spa treatments offered at David Walley’s Resort include facials, massage, body wraps, scrubs, Vichy shower and exfoliation, and Reiki. Casinos, the historic town of Genoa (featuring Nevada’s oldest saloon) and gorgeous Lake Tahoe, a.k.a. the Jewel of the Sierras, are all within a half-hour drive. One- and two-bedroom suites have full or partial kitchens, fireplaces and balconies.

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Photo courtesy of @yensul

5. Best Family Camping Trip Soak: Grover Hot Springs in Markleeville, CA
Grover Hot Springs isn’t a resort, but offers a family-friendly swimming pool vibe instead. The hot mineral soaking pool is kept between 102-104 degrees and is drained and refilled daily. The lifeguard on duty, large pool and nearby campground make this a great spot for an affordable family camping trip, though you’ll find a range of reasonably-priced hotels nearby, as well. Hiking trails have sweeping views of granite peaks, wildflower meadows and a waterfall. Keep an eye out for bald eagles and bears. Closed Wednesdays in off season. In winter, check road conditions before you go.

Photo courtesy of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

6. Best Springs To Tie The Knot: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn in Sonoma, CA
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn enjoys a well-earned reputation as a world-class luxury resort. After exchanging your vows in this beautiful setting in the heart of wine country, take the plunge with the entire wedding party in a natural mineral pool. Ancient, healing mineral springs flow from more than 1,000 feet beneath the inn. The spa’s recent renovation brought with it a rain tunnel, while treatments are broken down by category: Chose from Relieve, Restore or Results to narrow it down. For your wedding venue, choose from the Creekside Lawn, Pavilion, Sonoma Valley Room or nearby Sonoma Golf Club.

Photo courtesy of @run_marley

7. Next Best Thing to Harbin Hot Springs: Sierra Hot Springs in Sierraville, CA
West Coast-hot springs devotees are still mourning the loss of the delightfully bohemian Harbin Hot Springs, which a fire destroyed in 2015. While the beloved Harbin, just a half hour from Calistoga, remains closed while rebuilding is underway, Sierra Hot Springs near the Nevada border is Harbin’s sister retreat at the edge of a beautiful alpine valley. The property, which also houses a non-profit wellness workshop center, offers several pools to choose from, ranging in temperature from 85-110 degrees.
There’s also a large sundeck and dry sauna. The pools are open 24 hours a day and, like Harbin, are all clothing optional. Sixteen different types of massage are available, along with spa treatments such as Watsu water massage. Stay at the retreat’s main lodge, its Globe Hotel about a mile away in Sierraville or opt for an affordable nearby hotel.

Steamboat Springs, Nevada

Steamboat Springs, Nevada | Photo: By Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, via Wikimedia Commons

8. Most New Agey Soak: Steamboat Hot Springs in Reno, NV
Here’s the one from Nevada, though it’s just a 15-minute drive over the California border. As legend has it, Mark Twain named the  resort Steamboat when he stayed on the property in the 1860s, but native people have been soaking in these healing waters long before that. Choose your private mineral tub based on which of your chakras needs aligning, and then sit back and relax as the colored light filters through stained glass windows. The healing center and spa offer a range of therapies, including light and color therapy, sound healing, raindrop massage, mud wraps and detox, aromatherapy and energy work. No on-site accommodation is available, but you’ll find a nice assortment of hotel options in the area.

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Tagged: California

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Heidi Sheehan

Heidi Sheehan

Heidi is a graphic designer and freelance marketing specialist who recently left the urban hustle for beautiful Lake Tahoe. She now spends her days skiing, hiking, kayaking and enjoying the fresh mountain air.
Heidi Sheehan

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