These Are the Best Hot Springs to Soak up in SoCal

Ojai Rancho Inn is a great spot to stay in near the Matilija hot springs
Ojai Rancho Inn is a great spot to stay in near the Matilija hot springs | Courtesy of Ojai Rancho Inn / Expedia
Photo of Debra Smith
19 April 2018

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.

Deep Creek Hot Springs

Natural Feature
Map View
Aerial view on hot springs at the Deep Creek hot springs, Southern California, USA
2AHAXHT Aerial view on hot springs at the Deep Creek hot springs, Southern California, USA | © Mountaingoat_Tom / Alamy
Less than 100mi (160km) outside Los Angeles in Apple Valley, California, this rugged oasis is a well-known haven for a relaxing getaway. The secluded, clothing-optional atmosphere has made it a hot spot for those seeking a commune with nature since the early 1960s. Catch some sun on the rocky beaches or spend the day soaking and chatting with the variety of characters who frequent the spring’s multiple pools. Whether in need of a break from life or looking for adventure, take a day to explore this unique destination.

Where to stay

UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge

Lodge
Map View
UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge
UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge | Courtesy of UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge / Expedia
When Lake Arrowhead Lodge was built in the 1920s, there was no access road and Hollywood stars came by boat in search of ultimate seclusion. After UCLA acquired the Craftsman-style property, 74 condolets were added to the main lodge. Each is a two-story, two-bed, two-bath townhouse. Single suites and rooms are also available, all imbued with an ambience that’s a cross between lakeside and library. Meditate on the Zen Deck overlooking the lake or take to the tennis courts and hiking trails – the springs are 12.5mi (20km) from here on foot.

Hilltop Tavern and Inn

Inn
4/5 (15 Reviews)
Hilltop Tavern and Inn
Hilltop Tavern and Inn | Courtesy of Hilltop Tavern and Inn / Expedia
Come for the mountains, stay for the music at Hilltop. True to its name, this rustic inn holds the high ground between the Mojave Desert and San Bernardino National Forest. Cover bands fill the open air stage with live music ranging from Johnny Cash to Queen. After a night on the dance floor, retreat to a ranch style room with a full kitchen or kitchenette or watch the stars twinkling above the desert sands from the porch. Deep Creek is a 30-minute drive away.
More info

At a Glance

Restaurant
Laundry Facilities
Bar/Lounge

Saline Valley Warm Springs

Natural Feature
Map View
Joshua trees line the 50 miles of dirt road into Saline Valley in Death Valley National Park, California - MXDGFJ
Joshua trees line the 50 miles of dirt road into Saline Valley in Death Valley National Park, California | © scott sady / tahoelight.com / Alamy

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.

Where to stay

The Oasis at Death Valley

Hotel
Map View
The Oasis at Death Valley
The Oasis at Death Valley | Courtesy of The Oasis at Death Valley / Expedia
The only hotel in Death Valley National Park, the Oasis has three ways to stay wet and hydrated. The 1927 historic inn has emerged from a multi-million dollar renovation with new amenities from heated floors to rain shower baths. The jewel in its AAA Four Diamond crown is a warm pool fed by natural hot springs. The casitas surrounding the grounds are charming one bedrooms with rocking chairs set out on the terraces. Families will enjoy the more casual atmosphere at the Ranch, a former motel, with a children’s playground, a pool, and horseback rides offered at the stables.

About this place:

Boutique, Cosy, Countryside, Historic, Design, Modern, Relaxed, Stylish, Unusual, Great Location, Private Pool

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  • Tecopa Springs

    Natural Feature
    Map View
    Tecopa Hot Springs Landscape
    2CAAPRF Tecopa Hot Springs Landscape | © Wirestock, Inc. / Alamy

    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.

    Where to stay

    Villa Anita DV

    Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel
    Map View
    Villa Anita DV
    Villa Anita DV | Courtesy of Villa Anita DV / Booking.com
    If all the art from Burning Man coalesced into one place, it might start to look like Villa Anita. Described by the owner as a gallery/museum you can sleep in, the villa is a hodge-podge of upcycled castoffs, paintings, statues, old tires and found objects arranged into a labyrinth. Carpets in the desert lead to guest cabins and an airstream trailer. Guests from around the world gather for communal vegan dinners, pulled from the desert garden and served with plenty of wine plus great conversation. Tecopa Springs is just 3mi (5km) down the road.

    Matilija Hot Springs

    Natural Feature
    Map View
    A natural pool of hot water at the Sespe Hot Springs near Ojai, California J1DX1X
    A natural pool of hot water at the Sespe Hot Springs near Ojai, California | © Bryan Toro / Alamy

    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.

    Where to stay

    Ojai Rancho Inn

    Inn
    Map View
    Ojai Rancho Inn
    Ojai Rancho Inn | Courtesy of Ojai Rancho Inn / Expedia
    Ride up to the Ojai and join the creative culture at this 17-room, 1950s motel turned boho outpost. Rooms are lined with fir planks and bed frames are made of hand-cut logs. Baths are up to date with remarkably strong showers; good to know after a hike into the Topatopa Mountains or a bike ride to the Matilija hot springs. The expansive grounds have a pool, Finnish sauna and hammocks for leisure lovers. Watch the skies overhead for glimpses of the largest birds in North America heading to the nearby Sespe Condor Sanctuary.

    Glen Ivy Hot Springs

    Natural Feature
    Map View
    People floating on rafts in mineral hot springs pool at Glen Ivy Hot Springs, a day spa in Southern California near Los Angeles,
    MHB052 People floating on rafts in mineral hot springs pool at Glen Ivy Hot Springs, a day spa in Southern California near Los Angeles, | © Robert Landau / Alamy
    This all-inclusive natural spring and spa retreat, 57mi (91km) from Los Angeles in Corona, was founded in 1860. Spend a long afternoon lounging with friends sipping cocktails by the pool. Indulge in the outdoor red-clay mud baths (known as Club Mud) or the skin-softening bliss of the mineral tubs and relaxing dry sauna,. Enjoy a healthy meal at the onsite Café Solé, or book a facial and massage. There’s free admission for birthdays, and the laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff guarantee a revitalizing stay.

    Where to stay

    Ayres Hotel & Spa Mission Viejo

    Hotel, Spa Hotel
    4.6/5 (960 Reviews)
    Ayres Hotel & Spa Mission Viejo
    Ayres Hotel & Spa Mission Viejo | Courtesy of Ayres Hotel & Spa Mission Viejo / Expedia
    The Ayres is full of pleasant surprises, starting with a complimentary full American breakfast, fresh apples in the lobby during the day and warm cookies in the evening. You can spend the day exploring the Glen Ivy Hot Springs, 40 minutes away by car. On return, watch the sunset over the Saddleback Mountains from the pool, then pull up a chair at the Old Camp Bar & Grill, a standout restaurant where locals come to dine. Spend an evening by the fire pit on the patio, before finally slipping into sleep in a Spanish influenced, contemporary suite.
    More info

    At a Glance

    Free Wifi
    Outdoor pool
    Full-service spa
    Business Centre
    Concierge Service
    24 Hour Front Desk
    Laundry Facilities
    Multilingual Staff

    Staybridge Suites Corona South

    Suite Hotel
    4.5/5 (548 Reviews)
    Staybridge Suites Corona South
    Staybridge Suites Corona South | Courtesy of Staybridge Suites Corona South / Expedia
    Bring your team to Staybridge Corona South, an all-suite hotel where guests rave about the friendly staff. Up your away game at nearby Lake Matthews, Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo, or play close in at the restaurants and shops at Dos Lagos. Glen Ivy is just ten-minutes down the road. Suites have kitchenettes, complimentary breakfast and free coffee daily in the lobby. Fire up the outdoor barbecue, take a float in the pool or practice your layup on the basketball court. Either way, this hotel is a slam dunk.
    More info

    At a Glance

    Free Wifi
    Outdoor pool
    Full-service spa
    Business Centre
    24 Hour Front Desk
    Fitness Facilities
    Laundry Facilities

    Courtyard by Marriott Foothill Ranch Irvine East/Lake Forest

    Hotel
    4.4/5 (806 Reviews)
    Courtyard by Marriott Foothill Ranch Irvine East/Lake Forest
    Courtyard by Marriott Foothill Ranch Irvine East/Lake Forest | Courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott Foothill Ranch Irvine East/Lake Forest / Expedia
    This affordable SoCal Courtyard has an enviable location. Shopping, restaurants and walking trails that lead into nearby Limestone Canyon Regional Park are right across the street, while Glen Ivy is just a 40-minute drive away. Relax in the sheltered outdoor pool and hot tub, surrounded by palm trees and a tall stucco wall. Allergy sufferers will appreciate the Pure Rooms that feature a seven-step cleaning process. Pets can shed to their heart’s content in a separate area of the hotel.
    More info

    At a Glance

    Free Wifi
    Outdoor pool
    Restaurant
    Full-service spa
    Wheelchair accessible (may have limitations)
    Business Centre
    Concierge Service
    24 Hour Front Desk
    Fitness Facilities
    Laundry Facilities
    Bar/Lounge

    Dominic Bertolami contributed additional reporting to this article.

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