Even for people who love winter, that love often includes the idea of bundling up against the cold with maybe a mug of something warm in hand, augmented by an external warming device like a fireplace, bonfire, or heater.
Now add to those classic images the comforting hug of 104-degree water from a natural hot spring, and the sight of bare-limbed trees in the distance, as steam dances off the top of the water and floats into the gray expanse of sky overhead. You soak in some beneficial minerals, close your eyes, and your shoulders sink into a deep state of relaxation.
You need to find that place and warm up this winter. We know just where to go. Here are a few of our top choices:
Travertine Hot Springs, Bridgeport California
Original Image: John Fowler
The natural hot springs in Bridgeport, California, are located in an area that is quite barren and rocky, making for an interesting backdrop in which to soak. There are several pools, with the water flows from one to the next. As the water flows it cools, so you get a variation of temperatures in the pools from hotter at the top to cooler down below. The area is a little off the beaten track but a popular attraction for tourists.
Original Image: John W. Schulze
Relax where the Romans and the Celts did once upon a time. Bath, England, is the only place in the U.K. that features these mineral rich waters in which to relax. Though the bathing pools are a bit different than in days of yore, you’ll still get a sense of history in Bath. Check out the Thermae Bath Spa for its open-air rooftop pool which gives you extensive views of the cities. You can also visit the aroma rooms and choose from more than 40 spa and treatment packages. Then visit (sorry, you can’t bathe there) the Roman Baths. Built around 70 AD, it is one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world.
Blue Lagoon spa, Iceland
Original Image: Vestman
The geothermal water in this area of Iceland is actually used to provide electricity and heating for residents. However, overflow runs into man-made pools that hot springs aficianados use to relax and socialize in. At Blue Lagoon spa, the water is actually a milky white color containing algae, silica, and other minerals. When the sun shines on the silica it gives it a brilliant blue appearance. If you’re looking to relax and maybe also get a massage and skin treatment, Blue Lagoon features a combination of nature and luxury.
Kusatsu Onsen, Japan
Image: Jun Takeuchi
The Kusatsu Onsen is one of the more famous onsen (hot springs) in Japan. It’s said that bathing in its water cures a variety of illnesses. Located 1,200 meters above sea level in the mountains of the Gunma Prefecture, Kusatsu Onsen is found on what is referred to as the Romantic Road. Take a dip and then travel the road to visit several other onsen, see active volcanoes, and the mountain resort of Karuizawa. Spectacular scenery abounds, with lots of lush greenery.
Strawberry Springs, Colorado
Original Image: bk1bennett
Slip into a 104-degree mineral spring in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and warm up as winter happens all around you. From Strawberry Springs you can soak and take in exceptional views as the famous Steamboat Champagne Powder collects in the forest above. This relaxing pool offers spa treatments while putting you in touch with nature in a more rustic way. Warm up and chill out with scenic forest views. It’s the perfect wind down after a day of hitting the slopes.