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Wellness travel is no longer for a tiny, elite group of wealthy tourists. Gone are the days of overpriced luxurious destination spa packages being your only option for primary wellness travel in the U.S. Nowadays, taking a retreat has never been more accessible. Still, it took time for Western wellness practices to adopt a more holistic and down-to-earth Eastern style of the retreat experience. Fortunately, we have, and it doesn’t involve many overpriced luxurious gimmicks that don’t do much for your wellness!
You can find authentic wellness retreats across the U.S., from Arizona to Florida and (of course) California — home to some of the world’s best Western and Eastern-style wellness retreats.
We rounded up California’s 20 best wellness retreats by analyzing Google reviews and ratings for 240 wellness destinations in the state to ensure the best possible recommendations using data science. See our methodology for a full explanation.
What is a Wellness Retreat? They “offer a full-immersion spa experience in which all guests participate,” according to the Global Wellness Institute. “In addition to spa and body treatments, all-inclusive programs typically include a myriad of other offerings such as fitness, mind/body, special diets and cleanses, energy work, personal coaching, nutritional counseling, weight loss, sports medicine, preventive or curative medical services, etc.” These are places for adults who come for self-improvement. Expect to adhere to the program schedules, unlike hotel/resort spas.
From quiet, rustic lodges to retreat learning centers to classic destination spas, our list has something for anyone looking to get a break from it all! Here is everything you’ll find out about on this page:
- List: 10 Best Wellness Retreats in California
- Table & Map: 20 Best Wellness Retreats in California
Here is a table and a map of California’s 20 best wellness retreats.
Our research team operates independently to recommend the best destinations using data analysis. Our top recommendations are based solely on data extraction, a ranking algorithm, and a strict-as-possible definition of “wellness retreat.” Our research is editorially independent, but we may earn a commission for any purchases made through links on this page.
The analysis is based on extensive primary data research and secondary expert sources from April to May 2022, including literature reviews and database formulation through visual web data extraction software. Sources include global research institutes, industry-specific businesses, travel promotion publications, booking websites, encyclopedias, travel magazines, health information websites, and industry associations.
The rankings are based on an analysis of 240 yoga retreats in California. We used Octoparse, a data extraction tool, to find these destinations on Google Maps. All data were extracted between 4/23/22-4/27/22. Our algorithm gives each location a score by weighing its number of Google reviews against its average Google Review Score. Our scores are on a 5-point scale.
We used our wellness retreat definition, built off the Global Wellness Institute’s definitions, to individually examine every resort that our data extraction tool found and eliminated destinations that did not adhere to the description.
Our algorithm is proprietary, but if you want to build a similar project, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected], and we can walk you through the process. You can download a spreadsheet of the top 20 destinations based on our analysis here. Please feel free to use or share this data with whoever may find this helpful — we ask that your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page so its contributors can receive proper credit for their work.
Octoparse, Google Maps, Excel, Tableau, and Flourish are the tools used to gather, analyze, clean and create data for visualizations in this article.
1. Two Bunch Palms, Desert Hot Springs
According to our data, the Two Bunch Palms outside Joshua Tree is the best wellness retreat in California! This destination spa is an immersive experience featuring 600-year-old natural springs for “taking the waters,” vegan and vegetarian dining with mindfully created yoga classes and various workshops with creative adventures. They have a full-service spa with numerous massage and skincare options — not to mention the hot springs again. The rooms are thoughtfully designed to encourage “digital detox” for a complete retreat experience.
What Guests Are Saying: “TBP [Two Bunch Palms] balances serenity and luxury with flawless execution – five stars all around from accommodations to service to food and beverage to the unparalleled landscaping – I could go on and on; go with a partner or friends or go solo – lots of travelers alone taking in the calmness and beauty with no disruption from children! (one of the best parts of TBP, in my opinion!),” according to a recent Google review.
2. 1440 Multiversity, Scotts Valley
Named after the number of minutes in the day, 1440 Multiversity aims to enact its core principle, “a genuine love for strangers,” every minute of the day. It’s a nonprofit learning and luxury retreat destination in the redwoods of Scotts Valley — Woah, it’s a what? 1440 is a place you can interact with in many ways: attend leadership conferences, philanthropic programs, community events, and wellness retreats. Book private group or individual experiences with all-inclusive package options that include holistically prepared meals, access to classes, the 75-acre redwood campus, a fitness center, infinity hot tub, and much more! Fair warning, 1440 was selected as the site for a multi-year case study on corporate social responsibility and employee wellness and currently has limited availability for private and group retreat events. Book your wellness retreat here well in advance!
What Guests Are Saying: “If I could give a higher than a 5-star rating, I would,” according to a recent Google review. “There aren’t words to describe how amazing the staff is and how gorgeous the campus is. All of their offerings, classes, food, and music are presented in a professional but warm manner. Everyone was very inviting. I’d go every weekend if I could!”
3. Quiet Mind Mountain Lodge, Retreat & Spa, Julian
True to the definition of a wellness resort, the Quiet Mind Mountain Lodge is a tranquil oasis of natural beauty and meditation. This hidden wellness gem lies north of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in Julian, California. The lodge offers multiple wellness retreat packages, each carefully put together with your spiritual and holistic health in mind. The retreat packages that include the most yoga are the “Coming Home to Center Yoga and Meditation Retreat,” “Renew and Rejuvenate Journey,” and the “Serene And Silent Spa Wellness Retreat.” The best part about this destination is that you don’t have to wait for a once-a-year group retreat — book your personal, multi-day yoga retreat at the Mountain Lodge any time!
What Guests Are Saying: “This was exactly the stay my husband and I envisioned to relax and unwind after a stressful year,” according to a recent Google review. “We enjoyed the amazing serene spa suite with direct views of the lake, an amazing massage with Lorien and yoga with Denise. They are such a caring team at Quiet Mind Retreat. We especially enjoyed the library area in the mornings, coffee and breakfast while watching the deer in the garden below. My husband and I feel completely relaxed and can’t wait to come back and stay longer!”
4. Esalen Institute, Big Sur
Part holistic learning center, part Big Sur retreat, the Esalen Institue is home to philosophers, sociologists, theologians, psychologists, and artists of all walks. You can stay on campus for a weekend or longer to participate in an immersive workshop led by visiting faculty. Types of programs include holistic health and massage retreats, mindfulness and spirituality sessions, psychedelic and ancient healing ceremonies, yoga and movement workshops, and seven other categories! Accommodations range from a sleeping bag in a shared meeting room to the entire luxurious South Point House Suite making this a perfect wellness retreat for any budget.
What Guests Are Saying: “Esalen is a unique place full of history and extraordinary natural beauty,” according to a recent Google review. “It is a retreat center, not a luxury hotel, although it does offer some luxury accommodations. The Institute offers a variety of workshops and retreats and carefully vets the people who lead them. Many giants in the health, wellness and spirituality fields have led programs here.”
5. Ricochet Ridge Ranch, Fort Bragg
If you’re looking for a wellness getaway off the beaten path, quit bouncing from list to list and head to Ricochet Ridge Ranch! Ride a horse through gorgeous northern California beaches, trot your way through ancient redwoods and gallop through wide-open ranching fields in a riding vacation at this Mendocino Coast ranch. Create customized riding packages for you and your family or friends by selecting from various hotel destinations, Mendocino activities and desired trail routes. The farm will take care of the rest, planning an unforgettable multi-day horse trip for a hefty dose of equine therapy and character building.
What Guests Are Saying: “Great guides and horses. Perfect for beginners and people who have never ridden on a horse before,” according to a recent Google review. “My children and I thoroughly enjoyed our horseback riding tour through the woods and down to the coast,” according to another recent Google review. “It was the perfect way to see the area. Our guides were so nice and very knowledgeable about the area. The barn was clean, and the horses were so well cared for and healthy; it’s a perfect little haven for them!”
6. Ratna Ling Retreat Center, Cazadero
Located in the coastal redwoods of Sonoma County, California, this Tibetan Buddhist retreat center offers expansive views in a quiet and meditative setting. Book a private room or whole cottage for a solo retreat to take some time for space and quiet. While you’re there, schedule your appointment at the wellness center for a massage, one-on-one yoga attention, instructive meditation, spiritual coaching or aromatherapy!
What Guests Are Saying: “This is a very exceptional place,” according to a recent Google review. “My partner and I spent a 3-day weekend for self-care at one of their cabins, and our experience was lovely and memorable. Our yoga instructor was amazing. The environment was very peaceful and clean. The food was beyond amazing, and the entire place is run by volunteers. I highly recommend anyone who wants to explore yoga, meditation, spirituality and finding inner peace to consider spending some time in this magical place.”
7. Inn at Moonlight Beach, Encinitas
We knew the Inn at Moonlight Beach had to be on this list and are happy to see the data agreed! It’s one of the world’s first WELL™ certified hotels and just a quick 30-minute drive north of San Diego. Feel the ocean breeze in your naturally ventilated suite, and enjoy gluten-free pastries and organic tea on your patio. Book one (or all) of their “well offerings,” including massages, juice cleanses, and healing arts or gain some knowledge at one of the wellness lab workshops!
What Guests Are Saying: “So relaxing and nourishing. It was an exquisite wellness break that uplifted my soul,” according to a recent Google review. “Every detail of this place has been thought through, giving me a Zen-like experience. I loved the hot bath with fresh flowers and herbs, the food plates and baskets I ordered, and the quiet wood-panel room. My mind just relaxed. I used my two days there to write in my journal, read my spiritual book and meditate. Everything there supported my retreat. Wow!!!”
8. Sagrada Wellness, Santa Margarita
Another by-the-definition wellness retreat is the Sagrada between San Francisco and Los Angeles. They feature vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, homemade, organic and raw cuisine prepared fresh, on-site daily — all included with your retreat package. Stay in the newly constructed rustic, simple yet cozy private rooms or cottages or stay in the communal space for camaraderie and a cheaper experience. Sagrada specializes in yoga wellness retreats that occur at least twice a month. These are several-day weekend retreats with fully fleshed-out programs that include plenty of healthy food, meditation, yoga, writing, other light exercises and reflective time on the grounds.
What Guests Are Saying: “The gorgeous surroundings, delicious dinners cooked by Scott and Eva, combined with the well-planned schedule and amazing yoga teacher Victoria make this place perfect for those searching for a yoga retreat,” according to a recent Google review. “The communal room was tidy, and my ‘roommates’ and I became quite close and truly enjoyed the space. A wonderful experience that left me feeling nourished, peaceful, and whole.”
9. Cove Wellness Detox Spa of La Jolla
Choose between a three, six or nine-day detox and weight loss retreat packaged with medical spa treatments at this hidden wellness cove in the seaside village of La Jolla, California. The Cove Wellness Detox Spa is a unique experience combining western and eastern remedies to deliver complete wellness and preventative treatments. You can’t stay overnight at the spa, but they recommend nearby inns and hotels. Programs last six-eight hours a day!
What Guests Are Saying: “I am truly enjoying my six days Wellness Retreat experience,” according to a Google review two years ago. “Lisa is fantastic at serving her clients! My daughter and I are receiving first-class treatments and services. We have already experienced Medi Cupping Therapy, Liver/Gallbladder Detox, Lymphatic Drainage Therapies, Alkaline & Coffee Colonic and the Detox Foot Spa / Aromatherapy Salts Evening Soak! Not only am I losing weight, but I am also feeling more energized everyday day!”
10. The Expanding Light Retreat, Nevada City
The Expanding Light Retreat is a flexible option on our list, offering daily personal retreat programs and more expansive regularly scheduled wellness retreats — experience living in a spiritual community on a 700-acre rolling meadow campus in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The Expanding Light Retreat will pack your getaway with delicious vegetarian, organic food with gluten and dairy-free options, private and group yoga sessions, daily meditations and optional spiritual counseling. Their programs are already reasonably disciplined, but each day allows for 1-2 hours of your choice of program, class, activity or free time.
What Guests Are Saying: “Great staff, great programs, great food, great energy,” according to a recent Google Review. “But, it’s not the typical outward energy that relies on willpower and senses. Instead, the experience is more an inner one. There’s still beauty, good places to hike, and the fantastic tastes of the vegetarian meals. And quiet, peaceful energy, to expand my consciousness, renew and invigorate.”