The Best Wellness Retreats in California

Reconnect with nature and yourself by practicing yoga in Joshua Tree
Reconnect with nature and yourself by practicing yoga in Joshua Tree | © Elena Ray / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Judy Cogan
28 September 2021

Embrace true California soul and book one of these wellness getaways, dotted between the beaches of Santa Barbara and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Expect yoga and meditation alongside hiking and plant-based meals.

Healthy living is almost a religion in California. What makes the quest for balance, calm and feel-good vibes such a joy here is that you’re surrounded by some of Mother Nature’s best work. Cool misty forests, poppy-dotted meadows and sun-drenched cliff trails overlooking the Pacific Ocean – what more could you want after a year in and out of lockdown?

Hiking, meditation and stargazing in Lake Tahoe

Trace constellations in the Milky Way over Lake Tahoe, CA | © scott sady/ / Alamy Stock Photo

Culture Trip’s very own curated meditation retreat in Lake Tahoe. Watch the golden morning light touch the Sierra Nevada mountains and take a deep breath, knowing you are in the expert hands of local instructor Jenna. Beginner meditation sessions are planned alongside a yin yoga class, mountain hikes and farm-to-table dining. The stargazing meditation ritual (with s’mores) is a highlight.

Women's climbing and yoga weekend in Alabama Hills

Building, School, Yoga Studio
Climber on the northeast ridge of Bear Creek Spire, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
© Russ Bishop / Alamy Stock Photo
Imagine waking up to a raspberry-colored sunrise, projected onto the rounded contours of the Alabama Hills in the Sierra Nevada. This trip will take you there. On this three-day, female-only retreat at Whitney Base Camp and Climbing School, your instructors Amy and Casey will host daily hatha yoga sessions and mindfulness exercises, plus teach you how to rock climb. Enjoy campfire dinners with new friends.

Digital detox and yoga retreat in Ramona

Yoga Studio
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve at sunset.  La Jolla, California, USA.
© Joseph S Giacalone / Alamy Stock Photo
In the real world, it’s difficult to avoid screens and be present. This digital detox escape is the cleanse you need. Run by SoCal Wellness Retreats, enjoy open-air yoga classes, hikes and meditation sessions inside the 2,000 acre (809ha) Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. In the comfort of the Serenity Estate Ranch in Ramona, learn about the benefits of a plant-based diet while eating nutritious meals.

Yoga, acupuncture and massage getaway in Santa Barbara

Building, Health Spa
Upward dog yoga pose, Windansea beach, La Jolla, California
© Cultura Creative RF / Alamy Stock Photo
Sometimes, all you need is a quick reboot to feel balanced again. This four-day retreat is short and intimate. Arrive at Santa Barbara Yoga Centre, which was established in 1992 and is now one of the leading yoga studios in California, ready to deepen your practice across eight styles including vinyasa, kundalini and yin. There is also an opportunity to enjoy massage, sauna and acupuncture. The center is very close to beautiful beaches and you will have your own private practice space.

Sound baths, yoga and spiritual discussions in Santa Ysabel

Yoga Studio
Man sitting in indian behind his two musical crystal bowls, with a display of sacred object and surrounded by candles
© Valmedia / Alamy Stock Photo
Meet your spiritual teachers Memo Ozdogan and Jennifer Robinson, co-founder of Love is the Prize, a sustainable spiritual coaching retreat center in Santa Ysabel. This four-day Find Your Secret Key Yoga and Detox Retreat includes group discussions, sound baths and daily detox drinks. Their aim is for you to leave with a life-is-good attitude. Embrace your inner hippy and sing songs around a campfire each night.

Self development and yoga escape in Joshua Tree

Natural Feature, Yoga Studio
Joshua Tree Acres
Courtesy of Book Yoga Retreats
Are you craving a total mind, body and soul rest? This four-day self-development retreat offers just that. Get ready to change your perspective, guided by instructor Katharine Hargreaves, an LA-based culture alchemist, writer and transformational facilitator. Enjoy outdoor yoga sessions, self-development workshops and one-to-ones with Katherine. The retreat takes place in the tumble-weed solitude of Joshua Tree desert and is capped to 10 people.

Horse riding, hot springs and yoga in San Luis Obispo

Yoga Studio, Health Spa
Asian woman sitting in hot tub
© Tetra Images, LLC / Alamy Stock Photo
Three days of twice daily outdoor yoga sessions, long walks on Avila Beach, soaks in natural hot springs and delicious dinners made using ingredients from the chef’s own garden. Pretty dreamy, right? Your experienced yoga teachers Jahan and Demi come from Hollywood studio Ella Yoga; now hosting this retreat in San Luis Obispo, one of the oldest towns in California. As well as yoga, there’ll be hikes, massages and horse riding.

Breathwork, hiking and yoga in San Diego

Young man and woman doing yoga on pier at Pacific beach, San Diego, California, USA
© Cultura Creative RF / Alamy Stock Photo
There’s nothing basic about this luxurious yoga, hiking and breath retreat in San Diego. Stay at the gorgeous Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines resort. Join guided meditative hikes along cliff trails and spiritually uplifting yoga sessions on white sugary beaches. Your compassionate teachers Amber and Lance care deeply for your wellbeing and believe healing comes from being near the ocean. Expect nourishing and delicious plant-based meals.

If you’re looking for ecofriendly accommodation, check out our guide to the best sustainable stays in California – and book now on Culture Trip. For a relaxing getaway check out the best spa hotels or luxury resorts in San Diego, or head south of the border and book one of the best resorts in Baja California for some R&R.

These recommendations were updated on September 28, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travellers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Trips are deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. Our Mini Trips are small and mighty - they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longer Epic Trips into a manageable 3-5 day window. Our Sailing Trips invite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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