Hotsprings vacation spots
March 3, 2013 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for places to go on vacation with a friend. We would love to find a place with natural hotsprings and beautiful nature and comfortable cabins (anywhere in the rustic to luxurious range, and at minimum providing the basics like plumbing and sheets/towels). We're primarily looking at the US, but we could also venture into Mexico or Canada. Other things we love: good food, massages, not-too-strenuous hiking, swimming, fireplaces, dressing up for fancy drinks. Help us find a super fantastic vacation spot!
posted by rosa to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oops, also forgot to say: we'd be happiest with a clothing optional spot. Thanks!
posted by rosa at 10:20 AM on March 3, 2013

Chena Hot Springs!

Great in summer, great in winter! About 50 miles outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Nice rooms, I think some decent cabins, access to great hiking trails.

Unfortunately, you need to wear swimsuits.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:21 AM on March 3, 2013

For a significantly more rustic approach, there's Tolovana Hot Springs, which I haven't heard of --- and which are not road-accessible---but might be fun.

But probably no plumbing, so maybe not what you want.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:26 AM on March 3, 2013

Orient Land Trust near Salida, Colorado. Clothing optional, natural hotsprings, mountain cabins and other accommodations available.
posted by faineant at 10:29 AM on March 3, 2013

Truth or Consequences New Mexico. Or heck anywhere in NM. It's amazing there.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:39 AM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Breitenbush in Oregon. Outside of Portland. Though, I have to say that the idea of a nature/hot springs sort of place with options for dressing up fancy for drinks seem to be contradictory to me. I've been to lots of places with the nature parts but not the fancy drinks parts.
posted by fieldtrip at 10:46 AM on March 3, 2013

I loved Calistoga in N. California. Lots of spas and springs, great restaurants, and of course, wine!
posted by waving at 11:18 AM on March 3, 2013

Ditto Calistoga if it's in your price range.
posted by salvia at 11:36 AM on March 3, 2013

Radium Hotsprings in British Columbia.
posted by Snazzy67 at 12:08 PM on March 3, 2013

I have never stayed at the lodge, but Liard Hot Springs are absolutely amazing.
posted by tr0ubley at 12:22 PM on March 3, 2013

Clothes are expected, but there are some nice hot springs on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. Temperate climate, beautiful historic town, and friendly for American tourists without being Cancun-style touristy. You can fly in via León or Querétaro.
posted by maxim0512 at 12:22 PM on March 3, 2013

If you are ready to leave the country, then why not fly to Iceland?

The Blue, Lagoon will fit all your needs. And there are other hot springs all around the country where clothing is optional. Nearby, Reykjavik will fulfill your requirements for good food, fireplaces, fancy drinks. Take a car to Vik to see stunning landscapes and the hiking you desire.
posted by seawallrunner at 12:26 PM on March 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

How about Saratoga Springs!?
Saratoga Springs is one of those special getaway spots where everything is just, well, pretty close to perfect. The city's lovely tree-lined streets and grand old Victorians, porch swings swaying and gardens brimming with colorful flora bring to mind a gentler era. World-class horse racing, renowned performing arts and natural springs spas, plus 13 golf courses, 10 museums, a historic battlefield, fabulous boutiques, antiques and restaurants mean there is something for everyone. Relax at the Lincoln Mineral Baths, window shop in town and then it's off to the races. Walk everywhere, it's that kind of place. One of the oldest tourist destinations in the United States, Saratoga offers ample accommodation choices in elegant hotels, historic bed and breakfasts or comfortable inns. The only drawback is you may never want to leave.
posted by SyraCarol at 12:31 PM on March 3, 2013

Taos, New Mexico! There's resort hot springs at Ojo Caliente, but also a few clothing optional hot springs right beside the Rio Grande in the bottom of the stunning Rio Grande gorge. Oh man, it's amazing to watch the moon come up over the rim of the gorge from the bottom. Ask any local for directions. The two that I'm thinking of are short hikes down from the rim, through sage and boulders. Taos also has great food, and some very cute Bed and Breakfasts and inns. It's not the classiest town, but there are a handful of nice restaurants to get gussied up for.
posted by Grandysaur at 12:33 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

A little bit more rustic, and in the eastern half of the US, is Hot Springs, NC. The dining options there are limited, but nearby Asheville is a serious foodie town.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:34 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Orr hot springs just outside of ukiah, ca fits the bill perfectly
posted by zia at 12:45 PM on March 3, 2013

Check out Chico Hot Springs near Livingston, Montana, and an hour away from Bozeman. It hits a lot of your points. The hot springs itself is a large pool and deeper soaking tub. It's sort of folksy-rustic but it has a hotel and I've heard good things about the hotel restaurant (they are trying to grow a lot of their own veggies onsite, heating the ground from the springs). We went a couple times this winter but stuck to the snack bar restaurant as we had our kiddo with us.

One thing: I don't think Chico is clothing optional.
posted by amanda at 12:46 PM on March 3, 2013

New Mexico is full of hot springs. Which one depends on what you want. Taos will be the high end (and most expensive lodging options), Truth or Consequences (called T or C locally) has a few and also has two big lakes nearby but it is in the bleakest part of the Chihauan Desert (and that is pretty bleak) and far away from any big city ,the closest place to fly into will be either El Paso or Albuquerque, either on at least 3 hours of driving away. My favorite for rustic New Mexico is Gila Hot Springs north of Silver City. It is up in the mountains and there is a lot of great stuff there. Ther e is a national park with native american ruins nearby that you can spend a day exploring and it is also the rumored birthplace of Geronimo. If you are going in the fall/winter/spring and driving in from El Paso you can go through White Sands National Monument (only a little out of the way) for some breathtaking dunes and the whitest sand you will ever see. The VLA (very large array) is nearby, Silver city has some great restaurants (Jalisco's is fantastic) and there is a decent resort right at the Hot Springs about an hour north of Silver City. There are tons of Ghost Towns around, Mogollon, Kingston, Hillsboro, Magdelana and the list goes on. There is a 'catwalk' up one of the rivers near there that is an easy hike and worth doing. The elevation there isn't as high as Taos or Las Vegas and the hiking is a little easier. New Mexico is great place. If you want the tourist experience and New Mexico as the rest of the country thinks of it go to Taos and Santa Fe, if you want to see a more austere (and more authentic-and a huge part of authentic New Mexico is grinding poverty) New Mexico go everywhere but there. You will have to drive there. I would fly into Tucson and drive from there, but it isn't much different to fly into El Paso (the drive is not as pleasant).
posted by bartonlong at 1:05 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

(Blue Lagoon is clothes on, sadly.)
posted by gregglind at 1:08 PM on March 3, 2013

Hot Springs, Arkansas is much more pleasant than the ", Arkansas" part of its name would lead you to believe.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:17 PM on March 3, 2013

I have never been, but had heard really great things about Harbin Hot Springs, a few hours north of San Francisco. Lots of fun hippie stuff, plus clothing optional sunbathing and hot springs!
posted by ruhroh at 1:25 PM on March 3, 2013

You could also check places in Costa Rica
posted by bluefrog at 1:52 PM on March 3, 2013

I had an excellent time hiking, soaking, and star watching at Gila many years ago. Do note: It is an hour+ drive to get there from Silver City, do not let the map fool you.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:55 PM on March 3, 2013

The Jefferson Pools (aka "the waters") at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia are rustic, historic, and clothing-optional. There are actually two very old buildings, each housing a pool, one for men and one for women. The water smells like the sulphur found in high amounts therein.

Hot Springs is home to the Homestead, a beautiful mountain resort hotel dating back to the 18th century. Luxury abounds. They have a wonderful spa, indoor pool, world-class golf (Sam Snead's name is everywhere), horseback riding, archery, skeet shooting, and some kind of terrible skiing if you're used to anything north of the Mason-Dixon line or west of Virginia. There are also several little B&Bs clustered around the Homestead if you want to be nearby but not pay the room prices.

If I were you I'd actually stay at Fort Lewis Lodge, 20 minutes away in Millboro, Virginia. Caryl and John Cowden are the innkeepers; lodging price includes both breakfast and a filling and delicious, buffet-style country gourmet dinner. There is no menu to choose from; Caryl shops locally a few times a week, and what she cooks is what's for dinner, such as pork tenderloin, crabcakes, a few fresh veggie sides and a couple of salads. A couple of drinks (beer/wine) are included with dinner, or you can BYOB. Lodging includes a restored mill building with hotel-style rooms, or a few separate cabins. Fort Lewis Lodge offers swimming in the Cowpasture River on the property, fly fishing, and hiking. There's a hot tub on the deck where you can gaze up at the stars with zero light pollution interfering with your view. There's a newish outdoor pavilion where you can sit before a fire with your wine or whiskey, meeting fellow guests or listening to a hired bluegrass band or playing board games.

Can you tell I'm in love with this area? Google Bath County, Virginia for even more.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:06 PM on March 3, 2013

Nthing New Mexico. Here's a list of hot springs in New Mexico. We stayed at Ojo Caliente during our honeymoon - the private tubs are clothing-optional, the rest are not.

Also Ten Thousand Waves is a Japanese-style spa/bathhouse minutes outside of Santa Fe. Not a hot springs, but ithits all your other requirements.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:47 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gregglind - correct, the Blue Lagoon requires a bathing suit in order to use the public hot springs, but other smaller hot springs in the country ( less popular, more private ) do not. Sorry I was not more clear up thread.

If you go to Iceland you can't miss the Blue Lagoon. It's a fabulous experience.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:43 PM on March 3, 2013

I have been to Harbin Hot Springs, mentioned above, and it is fantastic. Clothing optional, beautiful setting, hiking right on the property, accommodations are not fancy but comfortable.

I can't vouch for the food on the property - it's always seemed a bit too crunchy for me - but much of Napa Valley would be a brief drive away with many opportunities to eat delicious food and drink swanky drinks.

However, be warned it's very, very hippie.
posted by psycheslamp at 9:55 PM on March 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!
posted by rosa at 5:56 PM on March 14, 2013

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