The New Year always brings a renewed gusto to clean up our acts—physically and mentally. But in California, it’s always time to eat better, get fit and clear away the mental clutter. The state has an abundance of wellness retreats that offer mind/body programs that range from losing weight to finding more joy, often in stunning, luxurious settings.
We unearthed an eclectic mix of programs designed to answer your wellness wishes—and trust us, there’s plenty more where that came from. Whether you want to advance your yoga practice or chart a new lifestyle path, one of these seven retreats (listed from south to north) is for you. Bonus: You’ll get healthier and happier while enjoying some distinctly California scenery and sunshine.
Golden Door - Escondido
Go for: A totally immersive week of Oprah-approved wellness
Zen-inducing Japanese gardens and architecture provide the backdrop for Golden Door’s five- to seven-day programs, which offer a balanced blend of activity (hikes, yoga, fitness classes), relaxation (full spa), and mindfulness (meditation, tai chi, hypnosis). In addition to dedicated weeks for women, men and co-ed guests year-round, Golden Door hosts special programs such as “Women’s Inner Wisdom: A Six Step Journey from Mindfulness to Gratitude”.
We Care Spa - Desert Hot Springs
Go for: Serious detox under the guidance of established pros
Juice fasting and a colonic regimen (flushing of the digestive system) are at the centre of this minimalist desert retreat’s deep detox protocol, although they also offer a variety of activities and classes focused on healing body and mind. Choose from a three-day “tune-up”, six-day “retreat”, or eight-day “renewal”, all available year-round. Established in 1986, We Care is a popular spot for celeb guests looking to hit the health reset button.
The Ranch Malibu - Malibu
Go for: A weight-loss kick-start
Limited to 18 people, this year-round program in an upscale, coastal-rural SoCal setting provides a lot of individual attention from fitness trainers, teachers and nutritionists to ensure maximal, sustainable weight-loss from stays that run four, seven or 10 days. Each day starts with a four-hour hike and includes multiple fitness classes, but is balanced with an afternoon nap and massage. Guests fuel up with gourmet but low-calorie, organic, plant-based meals and are taught healthy cooking habits that can be easily incorporated back home.
The Pearl Laguna - Laguna Beach
Go for: A yoga- and hiking-powered reboot
The founders of this intimate (14-room) Orange County wellness retreat built their program around the belief in the transformative (and complementary) power of yoga and getting back to nature through hiking. Each day includes a long hike into coastal Laguna Canyon, two yoga classes (power yoga in the a.m., flow in the p.m.), therapeutic massage and vegetarian meals designed to cleanse and nourish stressed bodies.
Esalen Institute - Big Sur
Go for: Mental clarity in an inspiring setting
Stretching across 27 acres of striking Central California coastline, Esalen Institute annually offers some 600 workshops and programs “devoted to cultivating deep change in self and society”. Head here to clear your mental clutter so that you can dive into a new big project or just find greater peace of mind. Esalen’s “A Time to Reflect” program (weekend or weeklong options) gives access to the property’s natural hot springs and a variety of mind and movement classes, and workshops help guests conquer addictions or build stronger relationships.
Mayacamas Ranch - Calistoga
Go for: Family retreat
This is where San Francisco Bay Area tech giants like Apple and Google bring their employees for team building and relaxation retreats, but it’s also a fantastic spot for families to unplug and reengage with one another in a beautiful off-the-grid environment. Go fishing at the onsite lake, splash around the pool, explore the miles of trails and open space, and reconnect around a campfire. If you’re a yogi interested in a solo visit, there are ongoing retreat opportunities with well-known teachers.
Stanford Inn - Mendocino
Go for: A diet clean-up, vegan style
This gorgeous coastal Northern California eco-resort hosts four-day wellness retreats (in March, June and September) that educate guests on all-things vegan. In addition to cooking classes and mushroom foraging, guests can unplug with art classes and mountain bike excursions or trail runs with Sid Garza-Hillman, who heads up the property’s Mendocino Center for Living Well.