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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Sweetwater Gardens, Mendocino


One of the things I love about Mendocino is the smell. It's a combination of wood stove smoke, fresh sea air, fog and flowers. I think it's best enjoyed from a  hot tub and the one above is my favorite! I can't get excited about a  moulded plastic jacuzzi and I don't want to get in with my friends, but give me some privacy, an old fashioned wooden hot tub and some quiet and I'm a happy girl. If only I could have one in our garden
Sweetwater Gardens in Mendocino is a wonderful hot tub place which has expanded over the years and now offers a range of accommodation. But I love it for their combination room, an outdoor hot tub and sauna room which you can even rent overnight. Unfortunately they've put in a new infrared sauna which I didn't like on this visit, but luckily the gorgeous hot tub remains the same! 


Here's the entrance to Sweetwater, with the mild climate it's gorgeous here all year round. This is the laid back north coast, so if you're feeling relaxed you can try out the communal hot tub and meet lots of naked locals. There's an atmospheric water tower room, above the communal hot tub, but it's recommended solely for the open minded. You may need to watch out for the naked guy, who likes to borrow your deck, though it's technically private!
Lots of atmosphere and detail throughout
One of the water tower

Tip: Call them up to book in advance on the weekends or if you have a specific time in mind. If you're based in Oakland or Berkeley in the Bay Area, I recommend Piedmont Springs in the East Bay, which has a dreadful website but a similarly charming combination room with an outdoor tub and a sauna inside. 

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