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San Francisco is absolutely one of the must-see cities of North America. It’s a cosmopolitan city with thriving international cultures, a skyline that ranges from skyscrapers to charming Victorian “Painted Lady” blocks, abundant green space and, of course, that stunning Northern California coastline with miles of gorgeous Bay Area beaches. Toss some world-class museums into the mix, along with a vibrant culinary scene and, let’s not forget streetcars (!) and you’ve got a city that really feels different from any place in the world.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t want an occasional break from sightseeing, dining out in Chinatown or watching sea lions at Pier 39. No worries — the San Francisco Bay Area has you covered. It’s home to some great spas, many of which are day spas perfect for some spur-of-the-moment pampering. At most of these Zenlike retreats, you’ll feel the dual influences of the region’s rich Asian culture, coupled with its traditions as a draw for holistic wellness, alternative medicine and — we’ll say it — peace-loving hippies. So practice a few “ohms” before you dive into this list of the best spas in the Bay Area.
601 Murray Circle, Sausalito
“Holistic” is the buzzword at this comprehensive wellness and retreat center just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. The Healing Arts Center & Spa at Cavallo Point combines conventional deep tissue massages and rejuvenating facials with the unexpected — have you ever tried cupping, hypnotherapy, guided meditation or a cacao ceremony? They’re all on the menu here, as are acupuncture, diet and fitness consultations, yoga and more.
The setting couldn’t be lovelier, in the middle of a fragrant eucalyptus and pine grove overlooking San Francisco Bay. Make it a really special getaway with your boo or your bestie by booking one of their historic lodge or modern rooms, dining in one of several on-site restaurants and enjoying spa pools and other amenities reserved only for guests.
Highlights of the Spa at Cavallo Point
- Tranquil Tea Bar with an outdoor garden
- A deluxe dermalinfusion facial promises to leave you “red-carpet ready”
- Well-equipped gym features Peleton bikes
- “Lean in to Love” couples itinerary features a sound bath and connectedness meditation
- The Mama Goddess Massage pampers expectant moms
757 Market Street, San Francisco
Located on the fourth floor of the luxury Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, the Spa at Equinox is a full-service facility for hotel guests, Equinox Sports Club members and visitors to the city looking for day spa services. The focus here is on post-workout recovery treatments, but there are plenty of options even if you’re not coming down from an endorphin high. Whether you book as a guest of the hotel or as a day spa customer, be sure to arrive 30 minutes early to enjoy the steam room or spa shower.
Body scrubs and wraps are signature treatments here and frankly, we’d have a hard time choosing between an exfoliating sugar scrub and skin polish, or the wrap that includes dry skin brushing, essential oils and European mud treatment that aids in lymphatic drainage. Combine it with an exhilarating pre-treatment workout if you wish, or just head straight to the spa!
Highlights of The Spa at Equinox, Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
- The Signature body scrub includes a seaweed algae wrap and a head massage
- CBD Hemp Balm Enhancement treatments aid in pain management, inflammation and stress
- Waxing available for every body part
- Body treatments include cold and hot stone massages, reflexology and traditional Swedish massage
- Facials may combine microdermabrasion, LED light therapy and acid peels
2421 Larkspur Landing Cir #43, Larkspur
Set inside the Marin Country Mart and only about 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco (depending on traffic!), modern International Orange (IO) is a popular day spa focusing on facials and body treatments. Facials, especially, are the draw here, and the spa is noted across the Bay Area for its treatments using bespoke IO skincare products.
We love that International Orange has a different feel than a lot of hushed, Asian-inspired spas. It’s bright and airy while still being tranquil and restful, and features calming, minimalist treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor relaxation areas with views of San Francisco Bay and an expansive spa store.
Highlights of International Orange (io), Marin
- IO facials are famous for their glowing results!
- A full massage menu includes Swedish, deep tissue massage, Shiatsu, reflexology and hot stone massage
- In addition to the IO line or products, the spa store stocks a range of natural skincare and body care brands
- Facials available in 60- to 80-minute sessions, with optional add-ons like eye-brightening and toxin drainage
1161 Gorgas Avenue
The former barracks of the Presidio military complex may seem an unlikely setting for a day spa, but that hasn’t kept SenSpa from winning multiple local, regional and national recognition as one of the Bay Area’s best spas. It’s the thoughtful little extras here that win us over — like the lemongrass steam bath in both the men’s and women’s locker rooms, well-insulated (as in silent!) treatment rooms, a soothing bamboo garden and a cafe with a healthy menu.
Despite being a day spa, SenSpa is a place to come and linger, rather than dash in for a quick facial before returning to the office. Book the Heaven Bundle and stay a while. It’s three and a half hours of pure pampering, and includes a lemongrass body scrub and and body wrap, a deep tissue massage and a customized facial.
Highlights of SenSpa
- A big facial menu includes peels, extractions with a Hydrafacial machine, light therapy and more
- Teen facials and men’s facials available
- Try a SOMADOME treatment, a sound- and light-therapy session in a personal dome
- Couples packages and a dedicated couples treatment room
- The SenSpa blog offers helpful tips to improve wellbeing
748 Innes Avenue
Of all the contenders on this list of best Bay Area spas, Archimedes Banya may win the prize for the most unique. A banya is a traditional Russian bathhouse — that is, a place to enjoy very hot saunas, cold plunge pools, crisp outdoor air and then repeat. Archimedes Banya is a clothing-optional day spa but as they put it, “nude is not lewd” — they expect patrons to behave respectfully at all times.
Want to know another quirky thing about a banya? It’s all about the hat! Guests at Archimedes Banya are encouraged to follow Russian banya tradition and wear a wool hat while in the sauna — it helps keep your head cool and enables you to tolerate the heat for a longer period.
Highlights of Archimedes Banya
- Clothing optional and clothed sections, except after 6 pm and on Wednesdays and Fridays when the entire spa is clothing optional
- Add a platza, a hot massage using tree leaves and performed in the sauna
- Aromatherapy treatments incorporate heat, steam and essential oils and herbs
- Per their website, a therapist will “pummel and slough your skin” during a hammam body scrub!
- Other facilities include a warm pools and jacuzzis, a restaurant and a rooftop terrace with San Francisco Bay views
845 Market Street, Suite 510
There’s a lot to love about the Burke Williams approach to spa treatments and wellness. The family-run chain of 10 California day spas was founded in San Francisco and still operates with its core values or helping people feel better in accessible, welcoming facilities.
Now located in the Westfield Shopping Centre, the downtown location has a Parisian theme, and features more than 20 treatment rooms, manicure/pedicure stations and the wetroom, where lucky spa-goers luxuriate under 12 Vichy showers — if you’ve never tried a Vichy shower, you’re in for a life-changing experience!
Highlights of Burke Williams San Francisco
- An ala carte spa menu lets you mix and match treatments and add on spa baths, body scrubs, wraps and other therapies
- Complimentary tea, infused waters and fresh fruit
- Come 30 minutes early to enjoy whirlpools, a steam room, a sauna, a cool misting room and a cold plunge pool
- Robes, towels and sandals provided
- Spa areas are clothing-optional
1750 Geary Boulevard
In the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown, it’s no surprise to find a Japanese-style spa. But did you know that communal baths are central to the Japanese spa experience? They’re the hallmark of Kabuki Springs and Spa, where day spa patrons soak, steam and plunge in a series of traditional hot and cold baths, saunas and steam rooms.
The other side of the coin is the Kabuki Day Spa, where you can choose from an extensive menu of Eastern and Western style massages and body treatments, facials and peels. The menu is straightforward and you can add additional enhancements, such as CBD balm, cupping or arnica serum, ala carte.
Highlights of Kabuki Springs and Spa
- Use of complimentary sea salt for DIY body scrubs, plus chilled face cloths, infused waters and tea
- Clothing optional, with a no talking, no touching rule
- Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays are reserved for women and girls, including transgender women
- 80-120 minute body rituals may include massage, mud pack, aromatherapy oils, foot rubs and body scrubs
1656 Post Street
Ladies, this one’s for you. Set in Japantown, Pearl Spa and Sauna is a Korean-style, women’s-only day spa that earns rave reviews from spa critics and satisfied customers alike, who especially praise the facility’s cleanliness and its super-friendly staff.
There are a lot of included amenities here (see below) so be sure to arrive early or stay after your treatment to take advantage of them. Body scrubs and deep tissue massages are among the signature treatments here and they are intense — so come prepared to be exfoliated and exhilarated. We love the affordable ala carte approach here.
Highlights of Pearl Spa and Sauna
- Relax in the red clay ball room, which eases sore muscles and joints
- A pink Himalayan salt room for detox and respiratory health
- Spa area is nude only
- Most body scrubs include hair shampoo and conditioning
- The Pearl Aveda special includes a body scrub, body wrap, face and body massage, hair shampoo and a collagen face mask — wow!
Liz is a writer and editor based in central Italy, from where she writes about family, soft adventure and sustainable travel in Italy, the rest of Europe and farther afield. She's also the co-founder and owner of Villaggio Tours (https://villaggiotours.com/), a small-group tour company offering an authentic taste of Italian village life.