Switching up your self-care routine can add a sense of fun and spontaneity to your daily life. It’s also a way to discover new things about ourselves! As Self-Care Awareness Month wraps up and September draws to a close, consider scheduling a self-care date with yourself. The Stella Nova team shared some of their favorite self-care ideas, maybe one will inspire you! Check out their favorite spots in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Self-Care Ideas In San Francisco & The Bay Area

Cold Plunges and Hot Saunas

Dr. Amelia Jayanty recommends enjoying a cold plunge and a sauna at Good Hot, a unique East Bay spot that offers outdoor saunas on the beach.

She says: “I experienced a beautiful self-care day visiting the saunas at good hot. It was a beautiful space and incredibly relaxing. I did a cold plunge into the bay, a quick rinse, and let the sauna heat me up. Repeat! It’s a beautiful space to bring some snacks, a book, journal and have a relaxing date with yourself or friends. I enjoyed being surrounded by beautiful views, connecting to all my sensations (it ends with a cup of delicious tea), and feeling grounded back into my body. I highly recommend it!”

According to their website, Good Hot is an anti-patriarchy, pro-LGBTQIA workers collective. They offer a space for bathers of all races, orientations, gender expressions and abilities to relax and experience leisure.

Learn more: Good Hot, Richmond, CA

Photo of a small wooden structure with towels hanging from hooks, shot against a blue sky.
A photo of the Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny day, taken from Lands End. Hiking by the Bay is a great self-care idea!

Good Food, Great Views

Dr. Shianling Weeks recommends a classic San Francisco picnic and hiking day as a perfect self-care day to spend solo or do with family. (Remember: Self-care isn’t always solo care!)

She says: “I love dropping by Breadbelly, a DELICIOUS Asian American owned bakery that mixes Asian and California flavors, either eating there or picking something up to bring on the hike. You really can’t go wrong, everything tastes amazing.

Then it’s on to Lands End for a walk along the Coastal Trail to Lands End Point. If you brought food with you, you can set up a little picnic along the trail, looking out over the Pacific toward the Golden Gate Bridge. For folks with kids, this whole trip is very family friendly. And if you’re traveling solo or with friends, this whole trip is fun and relaxing. Enjoy!”

Learn more: Breadbelly, Inner Richmond, San Francisco; Lands End Trail, Sutro District, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco

Exploring Quirky Neighborhood Gems

Megan Sullivan-Tuba, AMFT, knows that great self-care ideas can be budget friendly, or even free. One of her favorite self-care days is exploring the diverse and quirky Richmond District on foot. 

She explains: “My favorite self-care is an “artist’s date” (inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) because the possibilities are endless. The premise: Block off some alone time to get out of the house and discover where your creativity leads you.

Photo of a red and yellow goldfish in a tank

One of my go-to destinations is 6th Avenue Aquarium because it’s an absolute oddity that’s worth seeing even if you’re not in the market for a new pet. Even better, there’s a delicious dim sum bakery next door (Wing Lee) plus some fantastic book-browsing across the street at Green Apple. Self-care is diverse; it doesn’t always look like mani-pedis or a spa day. It’s as unique as you are and it doesn’t need to be pricey.”

Learn More: Green Apple Books, 506 Clement Street, San Francisco; Wing Lee Bakery, 503 Clement Street, San Francisco. The 6th Avenue Aquarium doesn’t have a website, but you can check them out on video. Their unique vibe has captured the imagination of several YouTubers.

A photo of Cupid's Bow sculpture, a giant bow and arrow on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. The ferry building and downtown can be seen in the background.

A Leisurely Sunday Stroll

Dr. Sahar Dorani enjoys a relaxed walk on the Embarcadero after her monthly massage as part of her self-care routine. Being by the water really creates feelings of deep relaxation for so many of us! 

She says: “I try to have a few different self-care routines to engage in throughout the month. After sleeping in on a weekend morning, I like to get a massage then take a leisurely walk to the embarcadero. I specifically love this piece of art along my walk, titled Cupid’s Span. I enjoy sitting in front of this bow taking in the view of the city skyline, water, and Bay Bridge.

When my body feels like moving again, I stroll over to the Ferry Building to visit my favorite empanada spot. There are numerous vendors inside who often hand out samples: samples of flavored honey, olive oil, ice cream, chocolate, and more. Who doesn’t love free samples to discover new favorite products (while supporting local small businesses)?!”

Learn More: El Porteño, Ferry Building, San Francisco; Cupid’s Bow by Claes Oldenburg, Rincon Park, San Francisco

Self-Care Ideas in Los Angeles

Surround Yourself With Art

Being immersed in art and beauty can leave us feeling refreshed and inspired. I’ve always passed by The Getty Villa and wondered what was inside — after reading Dr. Rona Maglian‘s recommendation I will need to put it on my self-care to-do list!

Rona explains: “A self-care activity I like to do is to go to museums, especially ones that have free admission, like The Getty Villa. Many museums offer free admission on certain days or certain holidays, so you just have to search for them! At the Getty Villa, they allow you to bring your own food, so I like to pack a picnic and spend quality time with a friend or a book. The Getty Villa is a wonderful way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and be immersed in beautiful landscaping and art. The exhibits they have also make you feel like you’re being transported to Europe!”

Learn More: The Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles

Photo of Los Angeles psychologist Dr. Rona Maglian, photographed at the Getty Villa.
Photo of the Broad Museum, a modern, white building on an LA street corner photographed at dusk.

Art, Nature & Ice Cream

Stella Nova’s Intake Specialist, Amber Salik, also loves infusing her self-care time with art. (As an Expressive Arts Therapist, that shouldn’t be a surprise!) Her favorite one for a self-care day is The Broad Museum in downtown LA featuring contemporary visual art displays. Like the Getty Villa, the Broad Museum is also free! Amber recommends leaving yourself a couple hours to wander and take in all the pieces. Tickets are free, but make sure to reserve one before your visit!

Are you more into literature or music? Another favorite spot is The Last Bookstore, which Amber describes as “a multi-level book and record store in the heart of Downtown LA. They have a really cool book maze on the top floor which is fun to explore for an afternoon, and a bunch of seating options to sit and read for a bit.”

If you’d prefer some natural beauty with your art, Amber recommends the Huntington Botanical Gardens. “It’s super relaxing — the Japanese and the Jungle gardens are my favorite.” The space here is huge, offering a café for lunch, a coffee shop, a gift shop, and yes, an art gallery!

And finally, no matter what you spend your day doing, ice cream is a great way to finish off a great day of self-care. Amber loves Salt & Straw Ice Cream. “The have really interesting flavors, like Honey Lavender and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle. My favorite is the Strawberry Coconut Water.”

Learn More: Broad MuseumDowntown Los Angeles; The Last BookstoreDowntown Los Angeles; Huntington Botanical GardensSan Marino; Salt & Straw, Multiple LA locations

See Wildlife At Play

The beach has always been my happy place — the salty air, the soothing sound of the waves, the sun on my face. I love it all!

There is no shortage of beaches to choose from in Los Angeles, and I’m sure you have your personal favorite. But in my opinion, the best one for a self-care day is Zuma Beach in Malibu. Yes, it’s a bit of a drive, but it’s one of the best places to go if you’re hoping to catch a dolphin sighting. I’m always delighted to see them playing in the waves. (Animals, they’re just like us!)

For me, a perfect beach day includes a good book, a good playlist, and a good folding chair. What can I say, I like my beach day ultra-comfy! (Looking for a great mental health read? Check out our team’s book recommendations for inspiration!)

Learn more: Zuma Beach, Malibu, California

Two dolphins, an adult and a juvenile, playing in the ocean in Los Angeles, California.

What are your favorite self-care spots in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area? Email us at hello@stellanovawomen.com to let us know. Got an idea for a future blog or a question you’d love for a therapist to answer? We want to hear from you!

About the Author

Dr. Maya Borgueta is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Stella Nova Psychology. As an East Coast transplant who has lived in Los Angeles, Daly City, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Walnut Creek, and Oakland throughout her 17 years in this beautiful state, she’s had the opportunity to sample the variety of natural beauty and culture that California has to offer. Her self-care includes learning new things, long walks with a good podcast, hanging with her cats.

Therapy for San Francisco, Los Angeles & Beyond

Stella Nova Psychology specializes in therapy for women, couples, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We offer individual, group, and couples sessions for a variety of concerns, including anxiety, chronic pain, depression, perinatal issues, trauma and more. Our team of majority BIPOC-identified clinicians specialize in serving the mental health needs of women of color

Currently, we are offering online therapy for clients throughout California. We are also offering in-person therapy in San Francisco at our Lower Pac Heights location. We are looking toward opening a brick-and-mortar location in Los Angeles in early 2023, so stay tuned for updates!

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