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10 sensational Southern California spas

Lounge room at Spa Montage Lounge room at Spa Montage | Photo courtesy Montage Laguna Beach

Need to relax and feel pampered? Head to one of Southern California's top spas, which offer all sorts of treatments from soothing massages to yummy body wraps.

Whether you’re seeking quick solace with a solo treatment or a full day of pampering to replenish, spas abound from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara. So how to choose which one to visit? Here are 10 spas that will relax and rejuvenate. 

Float Luxury Spa

18 E. Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara. 805-845-7777; floatluxuryspa.com

Treatments: $30-$215 for treatments, plus admission fees of $52 Mondays–Fridays and $72 Saturdays–Sundays.

Energy flow a bit blocked? This Santa Barbara spa’s signature Float Acu-Massage might help. It’s based on acupuncture, the ancient Chinese healing practice. During the treatment, a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine inserts needles into your skin for 25 minutes, followed by a personalized massage focusing on your areas of pain. A friend said the combination made her feel like she was floating. If needles aren’t your thing, get cocooned in the Ultimate Body Facial, a green tea and ginger enzyme wrap finished with glycolic peppermint cream–it left me feeling refreshed and tingling from top to toe. 

Glen Ivy Hot Springs

25000 Glen Ivy Road, Corona. 888-453-648; glenivy.com

Treatments: $30-$215 for treatments, plus admission fees of $52 Mondays-Fridays and $72 Saturdays-Sundays.

One of the 19 pools at Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona | Photo courtesy Glen Ivy Hot Springs

One of the 19 pools at Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona | Photo courtesy Glen Ivy Hot Springs

Calling spa lovers, water lovers, and mud lovers: Glen Ivy Hot Springs (pictured above) is for you. The day resort features a mix of 19 pools, including sulfur-rich, 104-degree geothermal springs, plunge pools, a saline pool, and lap and lounge pools, and Club Mud—a pool with California red clay mud that you slather on your body, let dry, and wash off, leaving you with soft skin. Consider signing up for the Aromasoul Elements Ritual, a combination of a full-body massage and exfoliation with volcanic ash from Sicily's Stromboli volcano. Or the Quartz Massage psammo therapy (using hot sand) on a table with a bed of quartz sand.

 

La Casa del Zorro Resort and Spa

3845 Yaqui Pass Road, Borrego Springs. 760-767-0100; lacasadelzorro.com/spa.php

Treatments: $20-$500

In the dry desert heat of sleepy Borrego Springs, the spa at La Casa del Zorro (Spanish for "House of the Fox") is my go-to hideaway oasis after a hot, dusty hike or just being lazy by the pool before a treatment. It's one of my twenty-something daughter's favorite local spa getaways, just 90 miles east of San Diego. We love the Lemongrass Mimosa Body Scrub and the Espresso Mud Body Treatment, which leave you smooth, revived, and ready for a refreshing cocktail.

Larchmont Sanctuary Spa

331 N. Larchmont Boulevard. 323-466-1028; larchmontsanctuary.com

Treatments: $89-$1,200 

The Larchmont Sanctuary Spa's lounge. | Photo courtesy Larchmont Sanctuary Spa

The Larchmont Sanctuary Spa's lounge. | Photo courtesy Larchmont Sanctuary Spa

This neighborhood day spa in the heart of Larchmont Village is a harmonious modern sanctuary from the busy city outside. I love the Coppertino private copper whirlpool, big enough for two, then having my "yin and yang balanced" with hot and cold jade stones during the popular Jade Gemstone Massage. For inflammation and sore muscles, CBD (cannabidiol) treatments are also on the menu.

The Spa at Rancho Valencia

5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe. 858-759-6490; ranchovalencia.com/spa

Treatments: $195-$380

A private grotto at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa | Photo courtesy Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa

A private grotto at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa | Photo courtesy Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa

This AAA Five Diamond resort near Del Mar Racetrack is popular with the horsey set. The spa, lush and tropical with palms and birds of paradise, makes you feel like you never want to leave. With a treatment called The Kur—a private grotto soak, a cooling wrap, and massage named for the Germanic tradition of annual weeks-long stays at holistic health retreats—it seems that Rancho Valencia doesn't want you to leave, either. 

Spa Montage at the Montage Laguna Beach

30801 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. 949-715-6010; montagehotels.com/lagunabeach

Treatments: $140-$455

 Poolside lounge at Spa Montage | Photo courtesy Montage Laguna Beach

Poolside lounge at Spa Montage | Photo courtesy Montage Laguna Beach

You'll feel like a celebrity at this elegant, modern AAA Five Diamond coastal resort spa—and chances are one of your fellow spa mates may be one. Spa Montage delivers the crème de la crème of treatments with the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop. Prices are high, but you'll get what you pay for. My dream treatment is the Seven Flower Ritual: You'll breathe in the aroma of flowers before a fragrant oil massage, which is followed by a dry petal body buffing and crystal quartz facial massage while your body is wrapped head-to-toe in petals. 

The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn

17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, San Diego. 866-261-8688; ranchobernardoinn.com

Treatments: $150-$220

The RBI Spa, in the sleepy San Diego suburb of Rancho Bernardo, is a local fave. It's a full-facility spa, with an Olympic-size saline water pool on the sprawling, manicured grounds of the AAA Four Diamond Rancho Bernardo Inn. While science-based treatments are offered, yummy-smelling treatments made from seasonal, organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers blended with yogurt or honey are the spa's specialty. My favorite? The customized Organic Hydrating facial, where your face is treated to creams made fresh daily from vitamin-rich fruits and herbs. Mine was a luscious blend of citrus and lavender. Insider tip: Spring for your treatment in a spa garden casita. 

The Spa at Salt Caves

740 State Street, Santa Barbara. 805-963-7258; saltcavesb.com

Treatments: $120-$545

A lounge area at the Spa at Salt Caves | Photo by Cicero Photography

A lounge area at the Spa at Salt Caves | Photo by Cicero Photography

For millennia, people have rejuvenated themselves by breathing salt air by the ocean. At this hideaway featuring pink Himalayan salt, you can too. Salt Caves combines speleotherapy (breathing inside a cave) and halotherapy (breathing salty air) to reenergize and soothe guests in one of the largest halotherapy caves in North America. Before getting a Himalayan mineral facial, salt scrub, or salt stone massage, lounge in a zero-gravity chair, listening to soothing music and inhaling air infused with microparticles of salt. 

The Spa at Two Bunch Palms

67425 Two Bunch Palms Trail, Desert Hot Springs. 760-676-5000; twobunchpalms.com/the-spa

Treatments: $145-$245 

Two Bunch Palms is famous for its mineral hot springs and mud-soak bath—affectionately known as the Two Bunch Tradition—but it's the decadently eclectic spa menu of traditional and holistic treatments that keeps regulars returning. Do your chakras need balancing? Need craniosacral therapy or myofascial release? You can request massages for those. Then, it's into the mud bath for a soak. Some call it a hippy spa. I prefer the term "ethereal." Either way, you'll feel transcendentally relaxed.

Tomoko Spa

141 S Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. 310-205-7300; tomokospa.com

Treatments: $220-$1,000-plus

A treatment room at Tomoko Spa | Photo by Lexus Gallegos

A treatment room at Tomoko Spa | Photo by Lexus Gallegos / Courtesy Tomoko Spa

Step into Tomoko, and you'll feel like you're in modern Japan, where the rituals of daily bathing are still practiced. At the spa, known for its zen-like couple's massages (which include green tea, sushi, and sweet Japanese desserts), some treatments combine Western and Japanese and other techniques. To feel totally relaxed, soak in an Ofuro recovery bath—a meditative Japanese ritual bath. I left feeling energized and renewed after the only facial treatment offered, a Toganseibi "head- and face-shaping" facial massage. 

Nicola Bridges has written about spas for a variety of national publications—and is a spa aficionado herself.

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