Just hours outside of Northern California’s bustling cities you can find four of my favorite natural hot springs. Big on relaxation, these destinations feature therapeutic mineral baths practically guaranteed to melt your worries away. Take a long soak in one of these natural hot springs to relieve stress, boost circulation, soothe skin irritations and help detoxify the body.
From the rustic camper to the pampered traveler, everyone is bound to find relaxation at one of these hot springs getaways. What’s more, if you live within easy traveling distance, you can always skip the overnight lodging and opt for a cheaper, commitment-free day pass. No matter your length of stay, peaceful tranquility and rejuvenation await.
Ready to dive in? Read on for our top picks for hot springs in Northern California:
“But I live in Southern California?” Don’t worry we’ve got you covered.
Mercey Hot Springs, located 35 miles outside of Los Banos, offers a rustic, no-frills experience. With a focus on true rejuvenation, Mercey encourages a quiet, totally serene atmosphere. You won’t find rowdy groups, loud music, or even cell phone service here. Instead, guests are treated to single-user outdoor hot tubs, a dry sauna, private indoor bath house and a swimming pool. Water emerges from the source at 112 degrees, bringing the temperature of the baths to roughly 102 degrees.
Overnight accommodations: While there is a hotel on the premises, it’s not yet open to the public. Guests can reserve an Airstream trailer, small cabin or group house. Alternatively, pack your tent and you have access to several campsites dotting the property.
Bells and whistles: If luxury is what you’re after, look elsewhere. Mercey’s charm is in its minimalist nature. To wit, the cabins, originally built in the early 1900s, feature only a queen-sized bed and small propane stove. It should be noted that there are short hiking trails, yoga classes and massage appointments available.
Insider’s tip: Mercey has a strictly enforced no-smoking policy — holding a medical marijuana card does not exempt you. Breaking this rule could add an additional $200 fee to your stay.
A tranquil oasis, Orr Natural Hot Springs is a small resort nestled among 27 acres of rolling hills and lush forests. The bath house features single Victorian-era porcelain tubs and offers opportunity for a stargazing soak out on the deck. Communal indoor and outdoor tubs are also available. The bathhouse tubs feature continuously-filling water registering at 104 degrees. A sauna and steam room are available, as are traditional and specialty massages.
Overnight accommodations: At Orr Hot Springs Resort, visitors will find a range of lodging options from campsites and simple cabins to moss-covered yurts. There are cottages for large groups.
Bells and whistles: Shake things up and take a dip in the cold pool, which is built charmingly into the rock of a hillside. Drawing water from several springs, the cold pool is not treated with chemicals and temperatures average a brisk 65 degrees. Belly rumbling? Head to the communal kitchen where you’ll find everything you need to whip up a delicious meal. If you’re planning on using the kitchen, make sure you pack your own food, of course.
Insider’s tip: Keep an eye on the resort’s calendar for scheduled workshops, such as an upcoming Holotropic Breathwork retreat.
One of California’s oldest natural hot springs, Indian Springs in the heart of Calistoga offers serenity and a taste of old Hollywood glamour. Make like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz—two silver-screen stars who frequented the resort in their day—and enjoy luxurious spa amenities, private baths and a steam room. What’s more, the spa’s Olympic-sized pool, built in 1913, is filled via an onsite geyser and maintains a temperature of 102 degrees.
Overnight accommodations: Don’t expect to find a rustic cabin here. Instead, spacious and luxurious cottages, bungalows and historic Mission Revival buildings welcome guests.
Bells and whistles: Dine in at the resort’s restaurant, Sam’s Social Club, which offers rustic American cuisine. The club features a fresh, seasonal menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner—and serves up artisan cocktails and local wines, as well as craft beer brewed onsite.
Insider’s tip: Pick up a communal bicycle to roam the grounds, or for an alternative to strolling from the gardens to the bocce ball court.
Established in 1854, Vichy Springs Resort is now a designated historic landmark. Featuring what’s believed to be the only naturally carbonated mineral bath in North America, Vichy Springs offers private baths, a hot soaking pool, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and spa amenities such as massages and facials.
Overnight accommodations: A country inn provides a range of rooms and suites. Additionally, private cottages are available.
Bells and whistles: The resort sits atop 700 lush and verdant acres, so there’s plenty of space to wander. Take a 30-minute hike to Chemisal Falls and you’ll be rewarded with a rejuvenating dip in the natural cold pool.
Insider’s tip: Looking to save money? Included in your room rate is breakfast and full access to the resort’s pools.