Instead of daydreaming over breathtaking pictures of natural hot springs, pack your bags and get going to a real one in California. From its picturesque deserts to majestic mountains, California is home to a variety of hot springs. Certain areas are family-friendly while others only allow entrance to adults. Bathe in steamy pools that range in temperatures up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit. After settling into one of many cozy vacation rentals in California, venture out to a nearby hot spring for a relaxing afternoon. Take a look at the most popular natural hot springs in California.
1. Travertine Hot Springs, Bridgeport
Bridgeport’s favorite hot spot, Travertine Hot Springs, has five separate pools that give you enchanting views of the Sierras. The water temperature varies in the pools from sizzling hot to a comfortable 103 F. About five minutes south of town there’s a parking area from which you walk to the pools. Things you need to know about this site are that it’s free, which means minimal amenities, including primitive pit toilets at the parking area. Plenty of families use the pools, including some who consider the site “clothing optional.”
2. Keough’s Hot Springs, Bishop
Since 1919, local and visiting families with children of all ages continue to indulge in the largest natural hot springs pool in the eastern Sierras, Keough’s Hot Springs. A natural spring feeds the scalding 130 F water into a waterfall cooling system, which sprays or falls into the two pools, carefully regulating water temperatures for safety. The large pool measures 100 feet by 40 feet, and ranges from 3 feet to 8.5 feet deep. The temperature never goes over 92 F. The hot pool measures 15 feet by 40 feet, and averages about two feet deep. The temperature stays at a soothing 104 F year-round. Staff drains, cleans, and refills both pools each week, and each pool also receives a constant flow of fresh running mineral water around the clock. This site features deck chairs, dressing rooms, restroom facilities, and a snack bar. Choose to eat inside or use the outdoor picnic area. Visit the gift shop to browse for bath and body products, toys, home decor, and swimming gear.
3. Mono Hot Springs, Lakeshore
Situated on the Sierra western slope between Yosemite and Kings Canyon, Mono Hot Springs Resort is one of California’s favorite family-friendly vacation destinations. This mountain sanctuary centers around the hot mineral baths, and includes a restaurant and a general store. Pure mineral hot springs water, piped from deep inside the earth, feeds the soaking tubs, showers, and spas. Your attendant directs you to a private bathing room, which has either a cast iron tub or a tiled tub filled with water ranging between 100 F and 104 F. During spring and summer, visitors also enjoy trout fishing in the South Fork of the San Joaquin River and the local lakes, including scenic Doris Lake.
4. Vichy Spring Resort, Ukiah
Just two hours north of San Francisco, Vichy Spring Resort draws lots of families with kids, singles, and senior adults. Vichy features the only naturally warm and carbonated mineral baths in North America, called champagne baths. Relax in one of the four types of pools, and enjoy strolling over the 700-acre private compound. Treat yourself to facials and massages to complete the experience. A half-hour soak in one of the 92 F, naturally carbonated mineral baths leaves you feeling relaxed and exhilarated. Water from a cold mineral source fills the in-ground hot pool, where heating elements raise the temperature to 104 F. The Olympic size swimming pool operates May through October, using bromine and hot pool ozone technology. You reach the fourth pool by hiking 30 minutes to the Chemisal Falls pool at Grizzly Creek, for a cold, refreshing dip on a hot day. Vichy Spring Resort never uses chlorine in any of their pools.
5. Delight’s Hot Springs Resort, Tepoca
Thinking outside the box leads you away from the hustle and bustle of city life to Delight’s Hot Springs Resort. This rustic hot springs site takes you off the grid into the middle of the desert, where it’s peaceful and quiet. You get to indulge in mineral-laden, geothermal artesian spring waters in one of four bathhouses, each having its own shower. You enter your private bathhouse and lock the door to enjoy your experience in the atmosphere you create. Three of the bathhouses have roofs, and one is open to the sky, which makes it breathtaking to bathe at night under the stars. The pool temperatures range between 102 F and 104 F, which is regulated by adjusting the rate of water flow. Check with office staff about scheduling a massage to pamper yourself. The tranquility you find in this desert retreat is due in part to the fact that there is no cell phone service, and it remains an adults-only facility. Use the picnic area with tables and grills to throw an epic picnic. Just eight minutes down the road, Tecopa Brewing Company serves up some great beer, BBQ, pulled pork, brisket, and chili you can enjoy before heading back to your vacation rental.
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