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As anyone who lives here knows, Northern California is the land of plenty. We have incredible food, stellar wine and a stunning coastline. But what you may not know is that we also have an abundance of natural hot springs. Pick a weekend and head out of the city in search of mineral waters. Here, our picks for the top hot-spring resorts within a few hours of your San Francisco home base.


For Staying Overnight: Indian Springs Resort

The coveted pools at Indian Springs Resort are reserved for hotel and spa guests only, so you’re best off booking one of the 75 newly revamped rooms and spending the night. The resort is famous for its Olympic-sized mineral swimming pool--fed from on-site geysers with waters as hot as 230 degrees--that stays open until midnight for a tranquil stargaze-and-soak experience. Don’t worry, they cool the water to 102 degrees before diverting it to the spa’s two pools, steam rooms and Buddha pond.

1712 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga; 707-942-4913 or


For the Mud Bar: Solage Calistoga

At Solage Calistoga, you can experience geothermal pools in the most luxurious of wine-country settings. Book the Mudslide, a modern riff on the classic mud bath. Choose a mineral clay from the Mud Bar (say, enriched with ylang-ylang essential oil), slather yourself with a rich coating, rinse and then soak in the co-ed geothermal bath warmed to body temperature.

755 Silverado Trail North, Calistoga; 707-266-7531 or


For the Massage: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

Mineral waters flow 1,100 feet beneath the grounds of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa and into pools that were once used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago. Complement your soak with the inn’s signature Willow Streams Elements treatment, which focuses on the restorative effects of nature’s elements: earth (via mud bath), air (aromatherapy), water (mineral bath) and fire (warm massage).

100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma; 707-938-9000 or


For the Night Owl: Esalen Institute

Esalen Institute is all about mindful meditation, inner awakenings and shamanistic journeys, but we’ve discovered a way to visit the legendary pools perched high on ocean bluffs that doesn’t require signing up for a, shall we say, progressive workshop. Between the hours of 1 and 3 a.m., the warm, bubbly baths are open to the public for blissful, middle-of-the-night soaking. Call in the morning to make your same-day reservation and then keep the coffee coming all day.

55000 Highway 1, Big Sur; 831-667-3000 or

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