The Best Hot Springs in Northern California

Best Hot Springs for Never Nudes

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Indian Springs, Calistoga
Vibe: Bohemian-Gatsby
Driving distance from SF: 1.5 hours
What’s good: The Olympic-size spring water pool (+ adult pool & Buddha pond) are open to all guests and spa customers. If you’re willing to stretch the boundaries of your always-clothed comfort zone, schedule a volcanic mud bath (Pro tip: leave your hands out) and spend the rest of your day dipping and sipping by the pool.

Piedmont Springs, Oakland
Vibe: Enya-esque with a side of cucumber-infused water
Driving distance from SF: 2 skips & a jump
What’s good: If you’ve already surrendered to the Gods of Sloth, chances are you don’t want to get in a car and drive 2.5 hours to soak in a tub of heated mineral water. Lucky for you, Oakland ain’t far. Piedmont Springs offers private, outdoor redwood hot tubs. While not natural spring water, they get the job done. The rooms are sold by the hour and reservations are required. Call ahead to request a combination room with an attached private sauna, and spend the whole afternoon pruning yourself.

Vichy Hot Springs, Ukiah
Vibe: A nice bottle of champagne, but like, not *too* nice
Driving distance from SF: 2 hours
What’s good: The pool is naturally carbonated, so that’s…interesting. This 150-year-old landmark has a non-heated Olympic size swimming pool, individual baths, and a heated communal pool. It’s clothing mandatory, which is great if you’re scared to see yourself naked. Even better that you won’t be forced to look at other saggy bods.

Honorable mention because we love ’em all: Mercey Hot Springs

Hot Springs for Chakra Chasers and Aura Cleansers


Esalen Hot Springs by Nate Bolt via Flickr Licensed by CC 2.0

Esalen, Big Sur
Vibe: Very vibey. Very, very vibey.
Driving distance from SF: 2.5 hours
What’s good: Esalen is self-described as a “world-wide network of seekers who look beyond dogma to explore deeper spiritual possibilities.” Whoa. Heavy. If you’re more into soaking than Don Draper-like enlightenment, consider checking out the retreat’s open bath hours from 1AM-3AM (by reservation only). The naturally heated, clothing-optional springs are situated on the cliffs of Big Sur and cost only $30, which for the potential of reaching nirvana sounds like a steal.


Orr Hot Springs

Orr Hot Springs, Ukiah
Vibe: Bindbole Woods minus the hobbits
Driving distance from SF: 2.5 hours
What’s good: Orr is the perfect respite from city life. It’s clothing-optional and silent after 10 PM. If you’re looking for even more time for self-reflection, don the provided red beads to request silence. At night, sneak away to private, spring water-filled clawfoot tubs under the stars, or rest your head in one of their rustic yurts. Looking to make a weekend out of it? Check out our other recommendations for Ukiah.

Wilbur Hot SpringsWilliams
Vibe: Sweatpants, hair-tied, chillin’ with no makeup on
Driving distance from SF: 2.5 hours
What’s good: Wilbur offers some serious science behind the benefits of its water, and we don’t mess with science. Plan to pay the $55 day rate, or stay in one of their no-frills rooms on the property. Like Orr, Wilbur has opportunities for mute relaxation in their “no talking flumes” and offers one of the highest concentrations of sulfur in its waters (which apparently has a lot of benefits other than smelling like scrambled eggs).

Honorable Mentions: Tassajara

Hot Springs for Crunchy Campers


Photo by Jon Hombre Sin Hombre via Yelp

Tavertine Hot Springs, Bridgeport
Vibe: Mother Nature’s impeccably decorated living room
Driving distance from SF: 5 hours
What’s good: Dang. Nature is so frickin’ cool. Tavertine is probably the most picturesque on this list and the furthest from the city, but definitely worth the stop if you’re spending time in Yosemite. The pools are as natural as they come. And the views? Fugetaboutit. Be prepared to wait your turn to soak, and be sure to check the Yelp reviews for directions since signage is sparse.

Steep Ravine (aka Marin Tidal Hot Springs), Stinson Beach
Vibe: Au naturel
Driving distance from SF: 1 hour
What’s good: Steep Ravine Hot Springs are nestled against the ocean’s boulders and only accessible in hours of low tide. Just look for the steam and follow the scent of rotten eggs. Make it a staycation and book one of Steep Ravine’s cabins for a night and be back in time for Sunday brunch.

Photo by Mark P. via Yelp

Photo by Mark P. via Yelp

Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur
Vibe: REI Spring 2016 Catalogue
Driving distance from SF: 2.5 hours
What’s good: Sykes Hot Springs are part of the perfect backpacking weekend. Hike 10 miles outside the coastal forest of Big Sur and you’ll be surrounded by FernGully forest and stone-bottomed hot springs. The hike is no joke, but that doesn’t matter when your campsite has nature’s ultimate hot tub.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.