BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Harbin Hot Springs (Middletown, CA)
Berkeley Parents Network >
Places to Go >
Harbin Hot Springs (Middletown, CA)
Harbin Hot Springs too hippie?
My husband wants to go to Harbin Hot Springs for a weekend.
I think based on what I've heard that it's really hippie or
new agey. It's a nudist resort, right? Anyone with any
experiences there, good bad or otherwise? I'm not a new-agey
person so I'm not sure I'd react well to it. But don't want
to disappoint my husband if I'm wrong about this. Thanks for
I've been to Harbin many times over many years and always
enjoy it despite it being way more new age than I am. Yes,
it's nudist around the pools, but clothed elsewhere, and I
always wear a robe going between the dressing room and
pools. It feels really nice to be in the warm waters without
The setting is very pretty, it's quiet and peaceful, and
there are hiking trails. The people who live there and many
people who go there are hippy-ish, but everyone minds their
own business and I've never felt crowded or offended by
anyone else's personal style.
It's a nice getaway place, and I especially like it in winter.
I have been to Harbin a few times. It is a place for
spiritual seekers, and there are many people who live at
harbin full time, who are on staff, or on longer courses, so
you will find more new age energy than at other hot spring
resorts, like Orr or Wilbur. For example, there are often
folks in group hot pool doing watsu massage, which is a
massage done In water and all times i have been there, the
folks receving and giving are nude. iIt all is fine for me
overall, but it does trigger stuff for me sometimes, but
workable, as I know the place is open and meant for all.
There are always other pools to go to. I think Wilbur sounds
like the best match for you. All are clothing optional, and
most people do go nude, but not all. Hope you find the right
place to go with your husband. Love hot springs
Harbin Hot Springs is a 'hippie' place. I have been to all
the hotsprings resorts in the area including Wilbur and Orr.
Harbin is the creepiest one (IMO). I often think there is
sex going on in the pools at night. During the day it is ok,
but still it is not my favorite. I always get a weird vibe
there. I don't go anymore because of it.
I think Orr
Hotsprings in Ukiah is the nicest though a bit new agey. The
only way that really affects is by listening to some of the
conversations that people have in the tub. Otherwise, it
doesn't come up. Nudity is only allowed by the pools so you
don't have to see everybody's bodies all of the time. I like
the pools. They have individual pools in enclosed rooms as
well as group tubs. You bring food with you and keep it in a
refrigerator in the communal kitchen. (That's the same for
all of them)
Wilbur's water is very hot and the sulphur smell is more
pronounced, but it is still a lovely place. It is also a bit
new agey like Orr. It is outside Sacramento. There is one
more resort called Vichy Springs which is not really a nude
place, but still has great water that is bubbly. I haven't
been to it before it was remodeled, but it is the most
mainstream. Check them all out on the web. -Hotspring Lover
Just came back from a girls weekend at Harbin and loved it.
Quintessential NoCal experience, clothing optional (almost
all are exercising that option) yoga classes, good food in
the restaurant. Several pools, some are quiet pools so you
don't have to listen to inane conversations. Incredible
setting, we stayed in the Domes which are very cool, though
a bit off the main pool area. We walked lovely paths to and
fro. Domes have own pool for use after 9pm which was very
peaceful. Highly recommend. Anon
Try Wilbur instead! Much less of a self-conscious weird vibe
than Harbin, in my opinion. Not hippie, just beautiful,
quiet and calming. Great hikes too. needing a trip too
From my experience, it doesn't get much more hippie than
Harbin. It's 'clothing optional', but you will stand out if
you wear clothes! I am not comfortable flashing my own
nakedness, but i do want to say it was a real lesson in
embracing deep rooted fears in just letting it go, and I was
hardly the most....unusual body type:) Having said that, the
mindset is veerrrrry new agey. They host polygamy parties
for crying out loud. i think it's possible to go and not
talk to anyone, and enjoy the somewhat fabulous hot springs,
but if you plan to stick to the main area (tubs, kitchen,
cafe), you'll probably be annoyed by all the chakra
channeling:) Try Calistoga! Or Oasis in Occidental! not
into tinfoil hats either
As one who has been to Harbin several times, I can assure
you that it is decidedly new agey, as you can probably
gather from their web site. It is clothing 'optional' in
the springs and dressing room, which means almost entirely
nudist, and one would feel out of place in a suit. Everyone
is clothed everywhere else on the grounds, which are
extensive and beautiful. My wife and I are not new agey and
haven't participated in any such activities that are
available, but we have loved going there and enjoying the
springs and the natural beauty of the area. The restaurant
is quite good, the rooms are adequate, you can soak in the
warm pool for hours at a time without overheating, and the
hot pool is really hot. There are several hiking trails up
through the oaks, and there's space available for camping if
you like. We're not ordinarily nudists, but it didn't take
us long to get used to it. There is a small annual fee
required for joining the Heart Consciousness Church, and we
get an entertaining magazine from them occasionally. It's a
good place to go for a peaceful, relaxing time, and you
might be surprised about how private it can feel. Aging
We have a cabin in Middletown, near Harbin Hot Springs.
While I have never been there personally, many of our
friends and neighbors from the community are either members,
guests or employees at Harbin. Harbin is clothing-optional
but I understand they handle that provision with ease. There
is no pressure to go along with the clothing optional
provision. I can only say that all of my friends who are
active participants at Harbin are intelligent, fun-loving,
peaceful and open-minded individuals. From what I've heard,
no one is forced into any single belief against their own
personal judgement. Actually, some of my favorite
Harbin-type neighbors are absolutely fun-loving and great to
spend time with. I hope you will give Harbin a try. If you
absolutely hate it, you can go back down the mountain and
stay somewhere in Calistoga or Healdsberg -- at probably 10
times the price of Harbin!! k4
HI there. So I just had to put my two cents in about Harbin
Hot Springs... I've been going there for over twenty years.
I would say that in the past, it was primarily 'hippie', but
it's gotten on the map and no doubt into many a travel guide
and now there's quite a mix of people who go there including
people who choose to wear suits. In the past it was sort of
a pick up place, but that's also changed. Despite that, I
kept going, because honestly, the surrounding environment
and the waters are completely worth it. Yes, there are
hippie types and new agers around so If you absolutely
cannot bear a second around such folks or that culture, then
I would say to give it a pass, but you'd be missing out on a
wonderful place where it's easy to slow down and unwind.
People make of it what they bring to it. While I'm open to
many ideas, I would not classify myself as a new agey kind
of person. I just chuckle at it. It's harmless and worth
it to be in such a beautiful place. The drive up is also
glorious if you take the Silverado Trail.
Anyhow, that's my two cents, and I've been there enough to
throw in an opinion. anonymous
I have been to various hot springs in Calif. Tassajara is
very very special (takes awhile to get there though) and is
my favorite. Orr Hot Springs is also nice (but you have to
cook). Harbin is very hippie, and while that can be fine, I
didn't really enjoy seeing all these 60 year men walking
around naked. It felt like its time has past, and a little
decrepit. I wouldn't go there again. If you want people to
be in bathing suits (which honestly at this point in my
life-my 50's-I do) I would recommend Calistoga. anon
Dear one, if you're worried about 'hippies' at Harbin, you
should probably find something else. Being uptight at Harbin
is not the right thing to be doing. Best be worried about
the sexual tourists...and they do exist but that's something
to be found on weekends and the busy season. Still, gotta
learn to deal! It's not the end of the world. I love the
place and visit by myself, with friends and lovers. It
usually takes a couple days for the peaceful vibe to be worn
down by 'civilization' once I return. Don't torture yourself
if you're worried about alternative lifestyles. One place
that wasn't mentioned is Sierra Hot Springs in Sierraville.
A sister of Harbin but much more low key and 'normal'.
re: Destination Spa for two moms
a friend swears by Harbin Hot Springs - see http://www.harbin.org/). She's been there again and again and
returns completely refreshed.
Good luck, and congrats!
Re: Weekend of solitude for mom
Although I haven't been there in a couple of years, I've enjoyed
time alone at Harbin Hot Springs- a bit NE of Calistoga, the town
begins with a ''W'' but I can't quite remember the name . I've gone
sometimes when I was feeling very inward and have never felt
intruded on at all. I have heard people say that it's a pick-up
scene, but that hasn't been my experience.
There's a place to buy (good, healthy) food, and a kitchen where
you can keep and cook your own. And I've had some great massages
too. They have several pools of various temperatures including a
big hot-bath-temperature one that I really like- there's lots of
room to move around in it.
The atmosphere is quiet (I am) and very new-agey (I'm not), but
the latter hasn't been a problem, in fact I've overheard some very
entertaining conversations in the dressing room.
It's in a very nice setting, tucked up into a little valley. It's
not fancy but it's very clean and comfortable. I'm sure they must
have a website to check out.
Have a nice time wherever you go!
Re: Visiting a spa while pregnant
I got a great pregnancy massage at Harbin Hot Springs when I was
seven months pregnant. The massage therapist was also a midwife,
which was reassuring! Harbin has a warm pool that is close to
body temperature and thus safe to go in while pregnant. It was
wonderful to float in the pool and feel temporarily weightless.
Harbin is a bit farther away than Calistoga--another half an hour
or so northeast--and its atmosphere is different from the typical
Calistoga spa (for example, the pools are clothes-optional). See
www.harbin.org for more info.
It's not for everyone, but if you like a clothing-optional (usually, VERY optional!)
atmosphere, Harbin Hot Springs is great. They are actually not in Calistoga, but
about 20 minutes farther "up" the road, outside of Middleton. Keep going on the
main route through Calistoga, and head up the hill and over the pass. They have
a large warm pool (kept at about 98 or 99 degrees) which is our favorite place.
They also have a hot pool and a cold plunge, as well as a large, unheated
swimming pool. And they have a small, warm, heart-shaped pool for the kids
(kids are only allowed from 10 am to 8pm, I think). There are practitioners of
many healing arts, including massage, and watsu (a massage given in the
water--amazing to try!). There's a vegetarian cafe, several small vendors,
a small store to buy sunscreen at, and a kitchen where you can cook
vegetarian food. They have day rates, and you can also stay overnight, either
in the rooms (but no kids are allowed in the rooms), or in camping spaces.
I don't have the contact info, but I'm sure you could get it from Information.
Harbin Hot Springs in Middletown, 20 miles north of Calistoga is
wonderful. It's clothing optional, but run by a church, has it's
own massage school, and trademarked massage technique (Watsu =
water shiatsu). They have 1000 acres to hike and camp, and a
central complex with turn-of-the-(1900)century hotels, an
organic food store, communal kitchen, good veggie restaurant,
free movie theatre, workshops, and lotsa hot pools, a sauna, and
an olympic-sized swimming pool, etc. It's run by women, but not
overly friendly to children. (I leave mine home.)
And cheap too, $20-$25 bucks for up to 24 hours camping/use of
They're at http//www.Harbin.org/
this page was last updated: Dec 3, 2012
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network