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The best winter hot springs destinations for thermal soaks and more - Travel Online Tips
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The best winter hot springs destinations for thermal soaks and more

A hot springs vacation is on tap this winterA hot springs vacation is on tap this winter — Photo courtesy of gorodisskij / iStock Via Getty Images Plus

Once you get over the initial shock of disrobing in freezing temperatures, winter is a great time to experience a hot springs vacation. Vapor rising from steamy water combined with snowy surroundings sets a magical tone for relaxation.

Soaking in hot springs has many benefits. These mineral-rich waters can soothe sore muscles after a long day of sightseeing, help enhance sleep, boost circulation, and reduce stress.

Consider these 10 hot springs destinations — areas of the world, as well as specific resorts — for your next winter trip. Most are in seasonal snowy climates, but we’ve included a couple in warmer-weather locations in case you’re looking to escape winter’s chill in more ways than one.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Bring the whole family to the massive mineral pool at Glenwood Hot Springs ResortBring the whole family to the massive mineral pool at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort — Photo courtesy of Glenwood Hot Springs Resort

In western Colorado, Glenwood Springs boasts two amazing options for sublime soaking. Composed of 32 pools set right on the banks of the Colorado River, Iron Mountain Hot Springs has a freshwater cold plunge pool to really get your circulation going.

Home to the world’s largest hot springs mineral pool, Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is wildly popular among families year-round. There are four lap lanes for folks who like to keep up their exercise routine on vacation, and a smaller, hotter therapy pool with “bubble loungers” and water jets set to 104 F.

Check out the Colorado Hot Springs Loop for more incredible Colorado hot springs, including Strawberry Park Hot Springs (a 10Best 2023 Readers’ Choice winner), Durango Hot Springs, and Ouray Hot Springs.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Admire the volcanic surroundings from Silica Hotel's private lagoon in IcelandAdmire the volcanic surroundings from Silica Hotel’s private lagoon in Iceland — Photo courtesy of Blue Lagoon Iceland

The otherworldly Blue Lagoon, set amid rugged, volcanic landscape 30 miles from Reykjavik, is one of the top draws of Iceland. Day trippers are drawn to the milky blue, mineral-rich waters, silica scrubs, and gorgeous scenery.

Avoid the crowds and book a night at the sublime Silica Hotel, which features a private lagoon just for hotel guests. This is especially inviting in the winter, as you can enter the water indoors, just off the lobby — no need to expose your whole body to seasonal bitter wind.

Overnight visitors have premier access to the larger Blue Lagoon, a 10-minute walk or a quick shuttle ride away, where you can sample various mineral masks in the steamy water.

Bath, England

Take in views of nearby looming Bath Abbey from Thermae Bath SpaTake in views of nearby looming Bath Abbey from Thermae Bath Spa — Photo courtesy of Andy Short / Thermae Bath Spa

The Romans tapped into the natural thermal waters in Bath, England, more than 2,000 years ago, building a stately bathing complex that is still open today. A self-guided walk throughout the grounds is well worth a couple hours of your time, especially if you’re a hot springs aficionado and a history buff. The comprehensive exhibits showcase fascinating centuries-old artifacts.

While there’s no soaking allowed at the impressive Roman Baths, you can take to the waters at Thermae Bath Spa. Here, day visitors move among different soaking pools, including one on the rooftop with nifty cityscape views.

For the full experience, sit in one of the steam rooms, visit the infrared sauna, and cool off in the ice chamber. The Gainsborough Bath Spa, a luxury hotel, has a similar indoor thermal bathing circuit available for overnight guests.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Visit Buckstaff Bathhouse, which has been in continuous operation since 1912Visit Buckstaff Bathhouse, which has been in continuous operation since 1912 — Photo courtesy of Visit Hot Springs

Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, a great national park to visit in the winter, is composed of eight lovingly restored buildings that once housed renowned wellness facilities for guests to soak away their ailments in the therapeutic waters. Today, two still offer options for different bathing experiences.

Quapaw Baths and Spa has four communal, coed, indoor pools underneath a vaulted atrium ceiling. To experience a hydrotherapy regimen as it was performed a century ago, visit Buckstaff Bathhouse for package deals that offer a little bit of everything.

Relax in a private whirlpool mineral bath, sit in a sitz bath, sweat in a vapor steam cabinet, get wrapped up in hot towels, cool off with a shower, and finish with a moisturizing massage.

Banff Upper Hot Springs, Canada

Soak up the sun during the day, or stargaze at night, at Banff Upper Hot SpringsSoak up the sun during the day, or stargaze at night, at Banff Upper Hot Springs — Photo courtesy of Travel Alberta / Roth & Ramberg

At 5,200 feet, Banff Upper Hot Springs in Banff National Park is the highest-elevation hot springs in Canada. Views of the Canadian Rockies are stunning. Its remote location in Alberta, Canada, also makes for fine stargazing when the sun goes down, which is early in the winter.

Make your vacation photos especially memorable with a vintage bathing suit rental from the historic, rustic bathhouse.

Castle Hot Springs, Arizona

Walk a canyon trail between three hot springs pools at Castle Hot SpringsWalk a canyon trail between three hot springs pools at Castle Hot Springs — Photo courtesy of Castle Hot Springs

Tucked against the Bradshaw Mountains 50 miles northwest of Phoenix, Castle Hot Springs is an all-inclusive resort and luxury wellness retreat where the hot springs have been a draw since 1896.

The bungalows, cottages, and cabins sit amid beautifully landscaped desert surroundings, with three natural mineral pools reserved solely for overnight guests.

In addition to soaking, you can play pickleball, go on a guided hike, borrow a cruiser bike, and take a farm tour, among other fun outdoor adventures.

Calistoga, California

Immerse yourself in a mud bath at Dr. Wilkinson's Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs in CalistogaImmerse yourself in a mud bath at Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs in Calistoga — Photo courtesy of Mark Compton

Home to California’s Old Faithful geyser, the Napa Valley town of Calistoga boasts several hotels with on-site soaking experiences. In operation since 1952, Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, a 10Best Reader’s Choice Award winner for best wine country hotel, has a hip, retro vibe.

Visit the Olympic-sized pool fed by on-site geysers at Indian Springs Calistoga. The upscale Solage features a spa bathhouse with four geothermal pools of different temperatures and a cold plunge, infrared sauna, and eucalyptus steam room.

Arenal volcano and La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Visit more than 20 natural pools at Tabacon Thermal Resort & SpaVisit more than 20 natural pools at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa — Photo courtesy of Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa

At the base of looming Arenal volcano in the La Fortuna District of Costa Rica, there are multiple opportunities for hot-springs soaking surrounded by a tropical forest. And since Costa Rica is one of the best international travel destinations on a budget, a trip here doesn’t have to break the bank.

The Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa has more than 20 natural pools and cascades for hotel guests and day visitors. Family-friendly Termales Laureles is one of the least expensive ways to enjoy the hot springs in the area.

Each of the romantic villas at upscale, adults-only Nayara Springs has a private plunge pool fed by natural thermal waters.

Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska

Soak amid snowdrifts at Chena Hot SpringsSoak amid snowdrifts at Chena Hot Springs — Photo courtesy of Chena Hot Springs

Alaska is admittedly bone-chillingly cold in the heart of winter, but it’s also prime time for viewing the northern lights.

Chena Hot Springs, 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks, is one of the best places to see the brilliant green auroras because the night skies here are so clear.

Stay in one of the resort’s lodge rooms, suites, cabins, or yurts for convenient access to the hot springs lake. A day pass will also allow you to soak well into the evening for a chance to see the ethereal dancing waves of light.

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, New Mexico

Sit under desert cliffs at Ojo Caliente in northern New MexicoSit under desert cliffs at Ojo Caliente in northern New Mexico — Photo courtesy of Ojo Spa Resorts

You don’t need reservations to soak at Ojo Caliente, a 10Best Readers’ Choice Award winner for best spa resort, located about 40 miles west of Taos, New Mexico.

Opened in 1868, it’s among the oldest natural health resorts in the country. Your day pass gives you access to nine mineral pools, a sauna, and steam rooms. The pools, set amid traditional adobe-style buildings, are filled with natural, mineral-rich water straight from the hot springs.

Accommodations range from vintage trailers and historic hotel rooms to cottages and multi-bedroom homes. While in the area, you might also want to check out Ojo Santa Fe, a sister property that opened in 2020.

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