Vichy Springs Resort 2605 Vichy Springs Rd., 3 mi. E of town, (707) 462-9515. 18 rooms, 8 cabins; $$-$$$+. No TVs; some kitchens & gas fireplaces. Solar-heated mineral-water pool (avail. summer only); mineral springs hot tub; 14 hot springs soaking tubs. Full breakfast. No pets. Day use: $30-$50/person.
Founded in 1854, this 700-acre resort still has three renovated cottages from that era--they are the oldest still-standing structures in Mendocino County--plus two strips of redwood hotel rooms that date to the 1860s. The resort has the only naturally carbonated warm mineral baths in North America and is named for the famous French springs that have the same kind of alkaline waters and were discovered by Julius Caesar. In its heyday the resort attracted guests from San Francisco who endured an all-day journey to travel the 100 miles to get here--by ferry across the bay, by train to Cloverdale, then by stagecoach to the springs. They came in search of curative powers attributed to the waters that continue to bubble up from 5 miles underground at the rate of 65 gallons per minute. Among the famous vintage guests are writers Mark Twain, Jack London, and Robert Louis Stevenson, and presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, and Teddy Roosevelt. Vichy’s concrete "champagne" tubs, which date from 1860 and fill continuously with tingling 90-degree naturally carbonated water, are situated in several wood bathhouses as well as outside in a shady area overlooking Little Grizzly Creek. Swimsuits are required. Guests can also swim in a 130-year-old Olympic-size pool filled with unchlorinated mineral water, schedule a treatment in the massage cottage, and hike to a 40-foot-high waterfall or mountain bike over dirt roads. Picnic lunches can be arranged.
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