Three hours from Quito (given the traffic), the small village of Papallacta houses local hotsprings that serve as a weekend family getaway for Ecuadorians and a must-stop visit for travelers. Papallacta's location between two volcanoes, Volcano Cayambe and Volcano Antisana, provide consistent thermal pool temperatures between 36°C to 40°C (97°F to 104°F).
Note: Though the hotsprings are open to everyone, we just missed out on staying at the Termas Papallacta! Hostels are around the area, but the resort is the place to be. Book in advance - good prices on various Ecuadorian hotels can be found on booking.com
The next day we caught a ride to Lago Agrio (about 1.5 hours from Papallacta) to do a small 45-minute hike to the San Rafael Waterfalls.
Around 500 feet, the San Rafael Waterfalls are the tallest and considered most spectacular in Ecuador. A beautiful sight, this is a highly underrated attraction (perhaps due to the 5-6 hour ride back to Quito). Tag the waterfalls on with a Papallacta hotspring day and you will have a near perfect weekend!