Visit a Hot Springs Near San Francisco

Just north of San Francisco, Harbin Hot Springs is one of the most famous hot springs in the country. It also happens to be clothing optional.For those who have never been to a clothing optional hot springs, the idea can be pretty intimidating. Will people look at me? Will I feel uncomfortable? These and more questions may be enough to make you avoid a place like Harbin, but if so, you’ll be missing out an a great experience.

Harbin’s hot spring is volcanically heated; the water gets pushed to the surface by steam pressure. It’s then filtered without chemicals and then fed into the pools at a rate that means the water in each pool is completely changed in an hour. There are several pools to choose from – both hot and cold – and you can take part in water massage or jump in to a cold plunge pool or the extremely hot (113 degrees) “hot pool.”  In addition to the pools, the resort offers hiking trails and accommodation of various levels (though you can also stay in hostels in San Francisco and make it a day trip).

The idea of swimming naked with strangers can be off-putting, but you’ll quickly discover than no one is looking at your body; they’re concentrating too much on how good the warm water feels on their own. If you’re really uncomfortable with the naked aspect, you are welcome to keep your clothes on, but most people say they actually feel more at ease once they disrobe. A visit to a hot springs like Harbin will leave you feeling rested, relaxed, and rejuvenated – whether you go gully nude or not.

Photo by Luiza