5 Top Wellness Retreats in California
California’s options in wellness retreats are as diverse as the state itself. From Buddhist monasteries to posh (and pricey) personalized wellness retreats, the state has got it all. The following five are some of the top wellness retreats in California. While they range in accommodations and workshop offerings, all of them share the core values and intentions of helping their guests change for the better.
The value of visiting a retreat versus just booking some time at a hotel is high when a goal of transformation is on the table. No matter how luxurious a wellness retreat is, it will still be designed to ask something of you.
Retreats often include a community element, which can push you deeper into the work in the midst of it, and also it offers relationship building and the possibilities of long term friendship.
In this sense, retreating means getting away from routine, from outdated thought processes, and often from extracurriculars like alcohol and electronics.
It means getting back to your core, and spending some time honoring your growth.
Here are some of the top wellness retreats in California.
1. Two Bunch Palms — the sustainable desert hideaway
Two Bunch Palms, located in Desert Hot Springs, California, is located in an oasis that formed in the middle of the desert.
Legend has it that some dude stumbled upon the oasis in 1857. And he was probably happy he did…on account of all that water.
The Springs at Two Bunch Palms have been running for over 600 years. Today they make for some very relaxing spring water pools, which are notably low in sulphur. (Perhaps you’ve visited hot springs in the past that smelled just like rotten eggs—that’s not what you’ll find here.)
Some of the suites on the property are housed in a building that Al Capone was rumored to have owned. All of the them offer a modern desert vibe.
Two Bunch Palms offers a variety of classes and workshops that can be taken during your stay, which makes for a productive wellness getaway.
2. Shasta Abbey — The actual Buddhist MONASTERY
Shasta Abbey is a legit Buddhist monastery located near Mount Shasta. After its founding in 1970, the monastery has been offering the Dharma – the Buddha’s Teaching – to all who wish to visit.
The monastery follows the Serene Reflection Meditation (Soto Zen) Tradition, and offers retreats, ceremonies, teaching, spiritual counseling, and training.
All potential visitors are asked to attend an Introductory Retreat before diving into the Refuge, Celebratory, Meditation, Week Long retreat, or come for an extended stay.
Gotta make sure your mind can handle all the meditation.
3. Golden Door — the Zen Luxury experience
You’ll know the Golden Door spa and resort in San Marcos, California when you see it…on account of the golden door of course.
The zen resort, (which is located in San Diego county), focuses on luxury wellness, in a way that will leave you changed. Susan Sarandon said it best on the testimonial portion of their website saying, “The Golden Door pampers and challenges you, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to use the experience.”
The Golden Door certainly sounds unique. There’s a 4:1 staff to guest ratio, and much of the clothing you’ll need is provided. The rooms are all single occupancy only, and meals are provided twice a day.
The resort is surrounded in Japanese gardens, and beyond that more than 600 acres of nature to explore that include a bamboo and mountains. With a focus on exercise, Golden Door offers a variety of fitness classes.
Each week-long stay includes daily massages, five skincare treatments, and a mani-pedi. You’ll leave this California wellness retreat relaxed and scrubbed clean.
4. The Ashram — serenity in the malibu mountains
Interested in diving all the way into celebrity-style detox and refresh? The Ashram in Calabasas, California is pretty much that.
Reserving your adventure will get you “an invigorating week of body, mind, and soul rejuvenation, delicious organic cuisine, and nature’s unspoiled beauty.”
Expect organic eats—minus any caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten or dairy, and hikes ranging from 8-13 miles a day.
That’s right…you’ll be putting in quite a bit of work to reach that state of zen.
In your downtime you might find yourself playing pool volleyball, unwinding with a daily sports massage, doing some restorative yoga, and attending lectures on meditation, breathwork and discussions about the body/mind.
Oh yeah, it’s also suggested that you leave your phone and computer behind. Or, if you must bring them, keep them in your room. All in the name of balance.
5. Esalen Institute—The old school mind-body-soul Education
Big Sur’s Esalen Institute was founded in 1962, and has been credited with helping to popularize meditation and yoga in the states.
Esalen offers 600 workshops a year, bringing in speakers, teachers, etc to speak on changing the self and society, ie spiritual-minded concepts of varying types.
Categories include heart, mind, body, spirit, and community, with workshops on things like sexuality, writing, psychology, hiking, and shamanism.
Lodging at Esalen ranges from private bedrooms to bunk beds in shared rooms—and even the option of crashing in sleeping bags in the meeting rooms.
Esalen is perched near the ocean and also has hot springs, which can be booked for public night bathing from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. each night.
Namaste and swim? We’re in.