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Hot springs in southern California – specifically Los Angeles – offer a swift sabbatical from the commotion of the city. There’s the golden sands of Malibu or surf beaches of San Diego, but relaxation can better be found in the thermal pools in Death Valley or the Santa Ana mountains in Orange County. Read our pick of where to stay – bookable on Culture Trip.
Unwind in the natural thermal water of a hot spring in southern California. Tracing the edges of the San Andreas fault, this volcanic region is a hub for geothermal springs, lauded for their perceived medicinal properties and health benefits. All of the springs listed are close to Los Angeles, but why not make a weekend getaway of it? Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or a change of pace during a family vacation, these are the best places to stay near hot springs in SoCal.
Located in the middle of Death Valley National Park, the Saline Valley Warm Springs is a destination for those seeking a multiple-day camping adventure. With the right amount of supplies and experience, this secluded desert sanctuary is worth the journey. Through years of volunteer work, the site includes concrete tubs, a shower with a sink for washing, and three meticulously maintained bathrooms. The fire pit and multiple art installations scattered throughout the property create an eclectic, community-oriented atmosphere. Stay for a short vacation here and leave with memories which last a lifetime.
South of Death Valley, the town of Tecopa sits on a hot springs-rich stretch of desert. This small town offers multiple campgrounds and RV resorts boasting private hot pools and opportunities for bathing. For those seeking a budget-friendly option for soaking, the Tecopa Mud Baths and nearby Tecopa Hot Tub are free of charge and a piping 105F (40C). The mineral-rich water leaves the skin feeling slick and renewed, while the muddy pool floors exfoliate and regenerate. These modest natural baths offer a unique opportunity for a relaxing night-time soak or a quick roadside stop.
Matilija Hot Springs (aka Ecotopia Matilija Hot Springs Sanctuary) is a natural healing sanctum in the mountains of Ojai in Southern California. Entrance to this easily-accessed roadside haven is by appointment only. The entry fee helps in maintaining the grounds, hot spring and local garden. Just 82mi (131km) from Los Angeles, this beautifully preserved spring is an ideal day trip for the time-conscious traveler or a short weekend refresh.
Dominic Bertolami contributed additional reporting to this article.