Spring is just barely upon us, but you may still need to shake out those winter chills after a long and dreary season. In our March issue, we wrote about road tripping it to Sol Duc Hot Springs and Resort, which is nestled in a valley carved by the mighty Sol Duc River in the Olympic Peninsula and embraced by old-growth evergreens. But we couldn’t just stop at one. Here are a few of our favorite not-too-far-away places to soak up the healing hot mineral waters.
The Olympic Hot Springs are worth the drive westward. Here’s why: access to these hot springs is free, thanks to the naturally occurring thermal waters, and they’re located in a peaceful undeveloped forest grove. After a short 2.5-mile hike (this hike is currently closed due to the Elwha River Restoration Project, but is expected to re-open later this year) to the springs to get your blood moving, you’ll be rewarded with a therapeutic soak in the calming waters. Note: it’s not entirely uncommon to find other bathers in their birthday suits. Other ways to access these springs, include a much longer hike via Appleton Pass (about 15 miles) or via the Aurora Ridge trail.
Take the 1.5-hour drive east of Snoqualmie Falls to Goldmyer Hot Springs, where multiple natural pools of varying degrees, connected by small waterfalls, are nestled deep in the Cascade foothills. Nudity warning also applies here.
Up for a north-of-the-border adventure? Travel to maple tree country, where the five mineral pools at the elegant Harrison Hot Springs Resort near Vancouver B.C. have hosted such stars as Clark Gable and John Wayne. And just a boat ride away from the coastal town of Tofino, B.C., Hot Springs Cove encloses a natural rocky grouping of meandering geothermal tidepools. The half-hour trek through the forest allows you enough time to clear your mind and get your blood flowing in preparation for the calming tidal bath.
And if you can’t get away at all, that’s no reason to stay out in the cold. Here are a few spa-like sanctuaries around town that are equipped with saunas and steam rooms:
For some good old fashioned relaxation, head to Banya 5 in South Lake Union, a Russian-style spa and sauna. There, you’ll find the intense but quintessentially Russian parilka, an extremely hot dry sauna. Recover afterward with a stop in Banya’s tea room or jaunt next door and sample a heavier beverage (read: vodka) from the Venik Lounge. If you happen to be up for the invigorating venik massage, which involves a good full-body lashing with birch branches, head to Downtown Banya Spa located in Everett.
Looking for something a little less extreme? Try the glowing ladies-only Ladywell Vitality Spa and Sauna in Greenwood. A cedar sauna, pink salt sauna, and hot and cold soaking pools present the opportunity to release stress and toxins, and feel purified and soothed in every way. Extra bonus: it has an indoor waterfall.