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The view from the Esalen Institute in Big Sur
The view from the Esalen Institute in Big Sur | © Jens Wazel
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The Best Wellness Retreats in California

Picture of Katie Watkins
Updated: 11 April 2018
With its rugged mountains and picturesque coastline, California is a haven for those looking to relax, revitalize, and reconnect with nature.

Whether the goal is to disconnect from technology, meditate in silence, trim down in size, or practice yoga, there are retreats that cater to every wellness need. These five retreats are some of the best that the Golden State has to offer.

Golden Door

Resort, Spa Hotel
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Golden Door in San Marcos.
The Golden Door resort in San Marcos does indeed have a golden door | © Golden Door
Located on 600 acres of land in San Diego County, the Golden Door is a destination spa with an emphasis on exercise and healthy living. Guests can explore over 25 miles (40.2 kilometers) of private hiking trails, as well as Japanese gardens and a citrus grove. Golden Door offers five- and seven-day programs and limits the number of guests to 40 per week. Visitors have access to personal trainers and can choose from mind and body classes, including yoga, archery and chakra meditation. The program includes daily in-room massages, and all rooms have a private patio.
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Esalen Institute

Resort, Hotel
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Lodge at the Esalen Institute.
Lodge at the Esalen Institute. | © Tom Beil / Arkin Tilt Architects
Founded in 1962, the Esalen Institute is credited with making yoga and meditation popular in the U.S. Throughout the year, Esalen offers over 600 different workshops, ranging from meditation and mindfulness programs to wilderness hikes and even seminars on business and entrepreneurship. “Esalen is neither a school, nor a church, nor a spa, nor an inn, nor a monastery…and yet its utterly unique mixture contains a bit of all of the above,” states their website. Located in Big Sur, there are cliffside hot springs on-site, and an adjacent massage area.
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The Ranch Malibu

Resort, Spa Hotel
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A guest room at The Ranch.
A guest room at The Ranch | © The Ranch Malibu
The Ranch Malibu offers a week-long health, fitness and weight loss retreat at their working ranch nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In order to encourage guests to fully disconnect and relax, there is no cell phone service and very limited access to wi-fi. Nutritious meals are provided, and each day includes a four-hour group hike, allocated nap time, an afternoon exercise class, and a massage. There are four-day and 10-day retreat options at their nearby facilities at the Four Seasons Westlake.
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New Camaldoli Hermitage

Monastery
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Founded in 1958 by a group of Roman Catholic monks, New Camaldoli Hermitage is a cliffside monastery overlooking the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by an oak forest. People of all beliefs can book accommodations to rejuvenate in “an atmosphere of gentle but profound silence,” as the website states. There is no internet or cell service, and most rooms are meant for one person. Accommodations start at $135 a night, including meals, making a stay at New Camaldoli Hermitage one of the more affordable retreat options.
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Sagrada Wellness

Resort
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A yoga class at Sagrada Wellness
A yoga class at Sagrada Wellness. | © Annie Hock Photography
Founded by a husband-and-wife team, Sagrada Wellness offers yoga-centric retreats on its 45-acre mountain property in California’s Central Coast. Although yoga is the focus, the retreats also integrate other aspects, such as writing, hiking, wine or live music. The property is 100% solar powered, and the accommodations were designed by architect and co-founder Scott Curie. Guests have access to the pool, Jacuzzi®, and on-site hiking trails. Meals are 99% vegetarian, 95% vegan, and 90% gluten-free, with most of the ingredients coming from the garden. While local wine is provided during the retreat, there is a digital detox element, meaning no wi-fi.
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