Where (nearish San Francisco) can I sit under a beautiful star-filled sky in a hot tub, or similar atmosphere?
January 11, 2012 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Live in San Francisco and have 12 days to spend at the end of this month (January). I want to sit in a hot tub and stare up at a beautiful sky. Where should I go?

I'm a 24 year old dude, pretty laid back and open minded. Have funds, but not a ton.

I don't have a car, but can rent one. If the airfare is cheap-ish, I can totally do that too. I was thinking of taking a bus to santa cruz and finding a place on airbnb, but honestly none of the places there seem like what I want.

Lake Tahoe is also an option, as I have a snowboard collecting dust in my closet; however, I hear the snow so far this year sucks.

I've never been to San Diego or LA; I'm happy to stay in California or go outside of the great state.

Any tips are welcome, however unorthodox. Totally cool with couch surfing.
posted by davezor to Travel & Transportation around California (16 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Ooo! I know the answer to this! But I can't dang remember it!

It's closer to you in SF than it is to me in LA. They have a small campground and huts and hot spring tubs that are outdoors. They are famous for their no smoking policy. The huts are kinda ancient and low-tech. Tubs are swanky. A couple owns it. There is a "no dog policy" but according to Yelp reviews, the couple themselves have dogs that roam the property.

Their are some good hikes. It's pretty isolated.

I'm off to search my bookmarks and such. If someone else pops in with the answer I'll favorite it and add a note in thread.

Thanks for reminding me this place exists. I can't believe I didn't write it down!
posted by jbenben at 9:23 PM on January 11, 2012

I'd go check out Esalen. A friend of mine has taught there in the past and it's a cool place, from his description. I don't know that much about it, though.

But I'm pretty sure they have hot springs that looks like this, which may be a plus.
posted by kprincehouse at 9:30 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

A cabin in Idyllwild might not be a bad option. Many of them are privately owned and include hottubs. Mountains, stars -- my wife and I enjoy going there when we can.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:31 PM on January 11, 2012

Seconding Esalen.
posted by Specklet at 9:34 PM on January 11, 2012

Was just in Tahoe last week - the snow sucks, but there's still great hiking. And you can't beat the night sky from there.
posted by dd42 at 9:37 PM on January 11, 2012

Harbin Hot Springs north of Calistoga is close to SF. I stopped there on a bike tour through the area and it was a good, relaxing time. Very hippie-ish and new age (it's a commune, clothing is optional) but their land is beautiful, the hot springs are awesome, and there is a lot of great hiking. You can camp there for cheap (they also have dorms, normal rooms, and tent cabins I believe).

While there I heard about another place near Ukiah that is similar - Orr Hot Springs, but I haven't been there yet.
posted by bradbane at 9:58 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Grover Hot Springs is in Markleville, CA a quick hour from South Lake Tahoe. That satisfies the hot water and night sky requirement. Your right the snow does suck, their is none except made by machine.

Stewart Hot Springs is 20 minutes from Mt. Shasta, CA. Fantastic scenery and hiking, if there is ever any snow the modest ski resort is 30 minutes in the opposite direction.
posted by pianomover at 10:18 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Harbin Hot Springs has already been recommended. There are some things I'd +1 for it: the hot pool / cold pool switcheroo and the trails, but if you are not a vegetarian it presents certain problems: you're not welcome to cook meat in the kitchen. They are pretty strict about no alcohol. It gets crowded, especially in the big pool. If those strictures don't matter, Harbin's fun for a day or two, movie nights on a bunch of pillows and good yoga classes and chant circles.

Orr Hot Springs near Ukiah is my favorite. Very, very laid back. The pools are not quite as extreme as the hot/cold combo at Harbin and they organize few events. Sky viewing is middling, but better than at Harbin (too many lights, there). If you want to spend completely unstructured time it is perfect. You have to take whatever you're going to eat there, there is no store and there is not much of anything within fifteen miles. Kitchen's as big and much less crowded than Harbin's. I have never seen anyone engage in any kind of anti-happy behavior at Orr. If there are rules there, they are so unobtrusive as to be equivalent to none. Everyone I meet there is fun. Some nights, a talented person will play music in the lodge, and there are cats and a fireplace and when you're there you just... drift....

The most beautiful night I ever spent, though, was at Sierra Hot Springs in Sierraville. It was autumn. The Meditation Pool had frogs in the rock crevices and they'd sound off periodically. At around sunset, bats started flying over the pool. They would drink, on the wing, from the pool's surface. You could see the sky. The pool is very, very comfortable. The crowd is a little, uh, mixed.
posted by jet_silver at 10:43 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by jabo at 10:57 PM on January 11, 2012

Pigeon Point Light House!! Has a hostel where you can spend the night. Best part? it has a hot tub on a cliff over looking the ocean where you can watch for gray whales and look at the stars. I have never done it, but my sources highly recommend it.
posted by Felex at 11:04 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

What about Camp & Sons?
posted by ebear at 4:33 AM on January 12, 2012

Treebones in Big Sur!
posted by caoimhe at 7:23 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I liked Mercey Hot Springs a lot. It's near SF, but off of I-5 in the middle of nowhere. There are no trees around (just dryland) so you get a great view of the sky. They have both clothed and clothing-optional sections. And the little cabins you can rent are really nice.

Another option farther north is Orr Hot Springs. This one is great, too. It's probably about a 2-hour drive north of SF if traffic on 101 isn't bad. It's clothing optional all the way. There's also a community kitchen where you can prepare your own meals. The nearby scenery is great, too.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 8:56 AM on January 12, 2012

I was going to suggest the yurts at Treebones in Big Sure as well. We had a really nice stay there. You could also drive out to Mammoth and explore the hot springs there. It's a long drive but it's really worth it and it sounds like the Tioga Pass is still open (rare at this time of year) so it wouldn't be too awful to get there.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2012

Sea Ranch. Beautiful drive up highway 1, and the town is located right at the water's edge of the wind-swept Sonoma Coast.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:38 PM on January 12, 2012

Bay Area people - is hiking a possibility in February? It's not clear to me (being from the east coast) what gets shut down by snow in Lake Tahoe and what stays open.
posted by waylaid at 1:56 PM on January 12, 2012

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