This Is Your End-of-Summer Water Adventure Bucket List
The season's not over yet
We don’t like the end of the summer much.
Of all the Bay Area blessings, may we briefly remind you of a climatological one: September is the warmest month of the year.
Which means you have a bit more time to capitalize on the region’s seven best waterward adventures.
We begin, as all wonderful things should, in a pool in Calistoga.
#1: SWIM AT INDIAN SPRINGS
The pool at Indian Springs Resort should be a wonder of the natural world. This is no ordinary Olympic-sized pool: its mineral waters are fed by four geysers on the hotel’s property, a situation which guarantees 92- to 100-degree Fahrenheit temperatures year-round. The pool deck is made for lounging, the “adult pool” for discreet flirting. And there’s more to come: book a classic volcanic ash mud treatment, which ends in a mineral bath. Even your room’s shower is gorgeous. Stay for the night, and don’t miss dinner at the newish Sam’s Social Club.
#2: PADDLE AT MONTEREY BAY
There are innumerable sublime kayaking spots nearby, but Monterey Bay beat out our two other, very different choices — McCovey Cove and Tomales Bay — because of the ridiculous wildlife spotting opportunities here. Expect sea otters, dolphins, sea lions and birds galore. Newbies can tour with Monterey Bay Kayaks.
#3: HIKE TO ALAMERE FALLS
Alamere Falls is one of only two waterfalls in California that empties directly into the ocean. Plus it’s beautiful. Plus the trail to it is fairly easy (until the steep finish). Plus it passes by picturesque (and swim-friendly) Bass Lake. If there’s a better way to spend a weekend afternoon, you tell us what.
#4: INDULGE AT THE ST. REGIS
This is our choice for the most luxurious pool in town: the Remède spa at the St. Regis, with its 50-foot heated pool. Come for the 75-minute Bay to Breakers athlete’s massage; stay for the swimming … and the peerless views of the city from the deck.
#5: DINE OVER WATER AT BASALT
So much attention is expended on the wineries that not enough is given to exploring downtown Napa and enjoying the Napa River, which runs right through town. The best vantage for enjoying it is from the outdoor seating area at the new Basalt. All we’re saying is that if we were planning a big date in Napa, this is where we’d head for dinner. Order the exquisite burrata salad, followed by the salmon.
#6: LOUNGING POOLSIDE
Speaking of Napa dates: plan on overnighting at the Marriott, not coincidentally our favorite pool scene that doesn’t involve a mineral-fed pool. The vibe here is fun and lounge-y; be sure to get a room that opens on to the courtyard, which is sociable and fun, with just enough fire pits to ward off the early evening chill.
#7: SOAK IN THE SPRINGS
WIth many of our favorite hot springs to the south closed up due to fire concerns — including Sykes and Tassajara — the only option is to head north, toward Mendocino. Orr Hot Springs offers not just a soaking spring but a steam room, sauna, onsen-style pools and its famous stargazing tubs. Special and sublime.
See the world from your inbox.
Sign up for The Journey, our Travel newsletter.