Taking the Waters: Hot Springs in California
I’ve been a fan of getting out of the city and “taking the waters” for as long as I can remember. When we were growing up, Ma and Pa Darland packed my brother and me along on many a family outing to hot springs around California and the Northwest. I know that helped inspire me to create a spa of my own. Soaking in hot water was the first human spa experience and it’s a healing tradition older than the hills.
To put it plainly, hot mineral water is a great way to soothe and relax both body and mind. Sulfur, one of the main components in hot springs, smells like hard boiled eggs but is actually great for your skin, hair and nails. (It’s actually a prominent component of the keratin in your body.)
Mineral water is detoxifying and cleansing and draws out impurities. It’s kind of like immersing yourself in a whole-body facial, and having fun while you do it.
Indian Springs, in historic Calistoga, is a great resort if you want to incorporate an entire spa experience into your trip. They’ve converted their hot springs into an Olympic-sized swimming pool replete with lounge chairs and umbrellas. Growing up, it was a place a journeyed yearly with my family for a little hot water and mud baths getaway.
Esalen’s hot springs, located on the side of a stunning cliff halfway down Highway 1 in Big Sur, offer hot springs infinity pools with a panoramic view of the plummeting cliffs and the Pacific ocean. You should see the view from the baths. It’s world class. They only offer public access to the springs in the middle of the night, which sounds kind of strange, but can actually be a great twist on a camping trip in one of the nearby state parks or sign up for a workshop (they offer almost everything under the sun) and stay on sight.
My personal favorite is Wilbur. My friend and rocking yoga teacher, Sarana Miller was born on the property itself and her father still owns it. On a recent getaway to Wilbur, I quickly remembered how to relax and forget my stresses (or perhaps boiled them away in hot water!?). The special sauce was the combination of country sun and warm, healing water. Their motto, “In all the World, No Waters Like These,” holds true for me. Not only does that environment relax my body nearly immediately, but it relaxes my knotted mind.
Other folks say they really like Orr Hot Springs (in Ukiah) which is a lot like Wilbur, I’ve heard. Harbin is another well-known favorite near San Francisco although I’ve heard it’s more of a scene so I’ve tended to shy away.
Click here for a directory of hot springs across California!
Take the waters,