The natural Santa Barbara hot springs are the place to go if you want to enjoy your hot springs while being surrounded by pure air and nature.
When visiting Santa Barbara, you can find an abundance of restaurants and shopping. But did you know that this location also contains enormous woods with towering mountains, magnificent waterfalls, and natural hot springs? Spend a day away from the city and hike to some of top hot springs in Santa Barbara.
Yes, you read that correctly: beautiful natural hot springs may be found in Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara is a lovely California coastal city with a Mediterranean climate. It’s a tourist hotspot sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, and it’s home to a number of electric villages.
But it’s more than simply a beach getaway; it’s a delicate stretch of California coastline that connects stunning beaches, vineyards, mountains surrounded by lush woods, and natural hot springs.
When you step into the warm waters of geothermal hot springs, something wonderful happens.
When you surround yourself with soothing water, natural stones, and breathtaking picturesque views, all of your stress will float away.
Best Santa Barbara Hot Springs
Are you looking for a calm getaway? If you answered yes, then join me as I take you to some of the best Santa Barbara hot springs.
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Gaviota Hot Springs
Gaviota State Park is a picturesque 35-minute drive from Santa Barbara and features breathtaking scenery such as the Santa Ynez Mountains and natural hot springs. After a tranquil half-mile trek, you may enjoy the magnificence of the Gaviota Hot Springs.
A set of three pools filled with sparkling, milky blue water are nestled among the trees. Spend some time soaking in the thick flora and steaming for a truly spa-like experience.
To get to this oasis, spend $2 to park in the Gaviota Peak trailhead parking lot. Gatiova Hot Springs can be found by branching off to the right of the trail that ascends to the mountain.
Gaviota Hot Springs (also known as Las Cruces Hot Springs) has been a popular tourist destination for hundreds of years. It was a popular spot for early British and Spanish residents to rest in Santa Barbara’s natural hot springs.
Because of the importance of the medicinal waters, they referred to Gaviota Hot Springs as “a magnificent desert oasis.”
Gaviota State Park is home to the Santa Barbara Hot Springs. The park was established in 1953 and is open to the public.
Gaviota Hot Springs Trail
The trail to Gaviota Hot Springs is about a mile long with a 400-foot elevation increase.
Hike up Gaviota Peak Fire Road from the trailhead off Highway 101. As you travel this road, you will gain 150 feet in elevation. Continue a little further and you’ll reach Trespass Trail.
Turn left at the intersection and continue along the road. You’ll be right near to a brook when you reach the next junction.
The water in this area comes from hot springs. Turn right at the fork in the road and follow the running water up the stream until you reach the source, which is where you want to be.
The hike up to the Hot Springs should take no more than 20 minutes.
If you continue going along Gaviota Crest, either before or after relaxing in the hot springs, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the ocean when you reach the peak.
Because the climb is from behind the mountain, this spectacular vista is hidden from us as we hike the rest of the trek.
Pools At The Gaviota Hot Springs
When you get at Gaviota Hot Springs, you can choose between two geothermal mineral-colored pools. The sulfur-scented hot springs are a pale milky blue colour. The smaller of the two pools has a capacity of only two persons.
The larger pool next to the smaller pool, on the other hand, can accommodate up to six people.
Throughout the year, the temperature in Gaviota Hot Springs averages around 96 degrees Fahrenheit. So, for the ultimate spa experience, soak in the steam for some much-needed relaxation time.
The Gaviota Hot Springs are open to the public all year. Because the campground is closed from January 1 to February 28, this is the best time to see these best Santa Barbara hot springs.
Because there are less people around, you may soak in the hot waters for as long as you like without feeling rushed because other people are waiting to go in.
Summer months, from June through September, are the busiest.
Hot Springs Canyon
Within an hour of Santa Barbara, there are a number of hot springs to visit. Hot Springs Canyon, commonly known as Montecito Hot Springs, is, by far, the most popular attraction on our list. It’s easy to get to, offers a beautiful trek, and the nicest pools for soaking.
In the Santa Barbara foothills, Hot Springs Canyon is made up of 462 acres of land just west of San Ysidro Canyon. It has been debated for real estate considerations over the years. Fortunately, the canyon has remained an unspoilt open valley with a number of paths going to peaks with views of the Pacific Ocean.
This area also has a number of hot springs. The four-mile round-trip Hot Springs Trail follows a small watercourse. The trail runs alongside numerous spectacular estates, one of which is owned by Jeff Bridges, the famous actor! The ruins of the Montecito Hot Springs Club, an upscale resort built in the 1800s for guests flocking to the springs, will also be visible. The resort was eventually destroyed by a forest fire and was never rebuilt.
Hike through diverse vegetation such as bamboo, agave, geraniums, palm, banana, and avocado trees to continue your hike. You’ll eventually come to two blue hot spring pools that have been restored and maintained throughout the years by residents. Relaxing in these natural tubs and breathing in the fresh air will be a pleasure.
Grand Canyon Hot Springs Trail
The Santa Barbara Hot Springs Hike is a 4-mile circle trail. Mountain Drive serves as the trailhead. Hiking along the trail will take you into the back of a residential complex and through the Montecito Hot Spring Club ruins, which were established in the mid-1800s as an exclusive tourist resort.
In 1964, a forest fire devastated the resort. Because no one wanted to take over the company, it was never rebuilt.
Continue on the walk and you’ll pass through beautiful exotic vegetation, which includes avocado, palm, banana, and bamboo trees, among others. You’ll come to a sign about water conservation, and the sulphur from the pools will begin to smell.
You’ll cross a riverbed if you take the left fork. The hot springs are located on your left not far after this.
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Pools At The Hot Springs Canyon
Several pools go up the canyon. The top pool is the hottest, with a temperature of roughly 105 degrees F. When I climbed in, I didn’t even last 10 seconds before climbing out and moving down to the lower pools. These are the colder pools. The cooler the water becomes as it travels down.
Because the water is sulphurous, you will notice a strong odour. But keep in mind that sulphur offers numerous health benefits.
It is vital to realise that the majority of this Santa Barbara hot springs trip is uphill. So, my advise is to make sure you have appropriate trail shoes.
If you wear silver jewellery, you should leave it at home to avoid damage when hiking or swimming in the pools, as sulphur renders silver a rusty orange colour.
When planning your next trip to Santa Barbara, don’t forget to include a stop at Hot Springs Canyon!
Big/Little Caliente Hot Springs
The Los Padres National Forest is home to some of the most spectacular Santa Barbara hot springs, including the Big Caliente Hot Spring.
It is accessible by car, however due to recent rain, we recommend phoning the forest service to confirm that the road is open. When the roads are closed, going for a hike or a bike ride is a terrific way to pass the time.
This hot spring is quite welcoming to guests, with a picnic table and change rooms available. It’s also been well-kept and is surrounded by colourful stones. Big Caliente is seven by four feet in size and three feet deep. The shaded trees and plants that surround this spring are a notable feature; feel free to relax comfortably in the shade on sunny days.
Continue on to the Little Caliente Hot Spring by following the forest pathways. This is a collection of three separate pools composed of rock and masonry. The tranquil pools are linked by hot, flowing water that flows from the top to the bottom, gradually cooling as it descends. You have the option of selecting the pool that is the most comfortable for you!
The Big and Little Hot Springs in California are two free hot springs that are only open for day use. The trails in this park are open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
How To Get To The Springs ?
The hot springs are reachable by car, but it’s an 8-mile journey, and the clay road can be treacherous in bad weather. Because this place is so remote, you’ll need a high clearance vehicle to go around safely. When the road is closed, the best alternative is to hike or cycle.
I recommend calling the forest service to see if the road is open and what the current conditions are.
The vistas of Santa Barbara are breathtaking when driving down Gibraltar Road. And the most amazing 360-degree views of the gorgeous coastline may be found along the ridge of the Santa Ynes Mountains. The Channel Islands may be seen to the west, and Los Padres National Forest can be seen to the east.
A big water tank with parking is located as you approach an intersection. Take a peek around and take in the scenery. You’ll be 3000 feet above sea level at this point.
It’s a 13-mile round trip hike that will take a couple hours if you chose to hike. It’s a downward stroll to the pools, but it’s a very difficult hike back uphill to your car after a beautiful restful day soaking in the hot springs.
Pools At The Big/Little Caliente Hot Springs
The cement and stone pool at Big Caliente Hot Spring is huge and well-kept. Here you’ll find restrooms and a picnic table.
Continue on the wooded pathways until you reach Little Caliente Hot Spring. Three rock ponds are linked by cascading water from the top to the bottom. The top pool has the warmest water, at a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. As you travel down to the lower pools, the temperature begins to drop.
The finest times to visit are in the spring, summer, and fall. And it’s busiest in the spring and summer. On weekends, the Hot Springs can get fairly crowded, so you might want to consider going during the week.
Always have plenty of water with you.
Where To Stay In Santa Barbara ?
This boutique hotel, nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, captivates tourists with opulent amenities and stunning city views. Each tiny Spanish-style room has an incredibly comfortable four-poster bed, wooden floors, hand-painted tiles, and a complementary yoga mat (because you never know when you need to down dog).
Finch & Fork, the hotel restaurant, serves delectable shareable tapas such as fish tacos and lamb burgers that can be enjoyed in your room or on the patio. The rooftop, though, is the hotel’s genuine gem – recline by the pool and take in the 360-degree views from mountains to sea, or get comfy by the outdoor fireplace and try some stargazing.
Pets are welcome at the Canary, with no additional fees or restrictions. You might find it difficult to depart with this level of hospitality.
The Kimpton Goodland is a short drive from Santa Barbara’s downtown area, but don’t let that deter you; this is a super-stylish hotel that you won’t want to leave.
Few hotels in the area are as well-designed, from the gleaming Airstream trailer at the main door to the magnificent surfer-shack lobby to the modest but comfortable rooms with record players and a selection of LPs.
They have live band nights with up-and-coming talent if you prefer live music. To top it off, the hotel’s laid-back bar prepares a killer Manhattan cocktail, and its superb coastal restaurant Outpost provides brunch, lunch, and dinner.
The Chesire Cat Inn is located in the heart of Santa Barbara, allowing you easy access to the city’s attractions.
Fuel up with a great European breakfast before heading to the Santa Barbara hot springs. Breakfast will be served every morning during your stay, and will include homemade granola and pastries, seasonal fruit, breakfast casseroles and quiches, bagels with cream cheese, and freshly brewed coffee from Santa Barbara Roasting Company.
The Agave Inn, one of four Shelter Social Club locations, is a budget-friendly, hip boutique motel with vibrant hues (think lemon yellow doors and teal accent walls) and creative accents like Mexican movie posters, painted tiles, and plenty of cacti.
There’s free wifi and morning coffee, as well as all the usual amenities (fridge, microwave, flatscreen, etc.). It’s also a short walk to the restaurants and groceries on State Street, making it a good base for exploring the area.
This isn’t the place to stay if you want to be near the water (or a pool), but if you want an inexpensive room with a healthy dose of charm, Agave is the place to go.