Travel Diaries

California’s Best Winter Wellness Retreats

By Michelle Konstantinovksy

Indian Springs Calistoga.

If the aftermath of the holiday season — all its shopping, traveling and extra-intense family bonding — hasn’t left your system, then perhaps it’s time for some rest and relaxation. You’re in luck: The Golden State is a hotbed of health and wellness sanctuaries designed to calm your nerves, realign your chakras, and cleanse any residual holiday stress from your system. We suggest these serene getaways to get you extra Zen in the New Year.

Views from Esalen.

Esalen. For more than 50 years, this Big Sur spiritual haven has offered world-renowned enrichment workshops in areas ranging from arts and creativity to meditation, leadership, movement and more. Offerings this month include Mark Nicolson’s “Designing the Life We Want: Self-Renewal in the New Year” and “Dancing with the Dharma: 5 Rhythms and Lucia Horan’s Insight Meditation.” And while self-improvement and service-oriented programs remain at the heart of Esalen’s mission, the surroundings aren’t half bad, either. Spread across 27 acres of scenic coastline, the institution boasts cliff-side hot springs, a farm and garden, and sweeping views of the ocean and mountains.

Kennolyn Retreats.

Kennolyn Retreats. If you’re looking to host your own event or private getaway, and you love a destination with a little bit of history and a fair amount of romance, checkout Santa Cruz’s Kennolyn. What started as a summer camp in the 1940s took on new life as a wedding venue in 1995, and now the 300-acre family-owned site hosts special events and retreats of all kinds. With comprehensive packages focused around everything from family reunions to spiritual expeditions, Kennolyn’s cozy setting tucked away in the redwoods is a true escape from urban life.

Body Flows. Four words: Wine Country yoga retreats. Already sold? Well, how about four more words? Move, breathe, balance and flow. That’s the mantra of Body Flows, the North Bay company that partners with local wineries, retreat centers and hotels to organize a variety of yoga, mindfulness and wellness retreats. Coming up this February is the three-night President’s Day Weekend Rejuvenation Yoga and Healing Retreat that integrates everything from Vinyasa flow and chakra balancing to vision boards, essential oils and, yes, wine.

The Ashram.

The Ashram. More than 40 years ago, Swedish health and wellness pioneers Catharina Hedberg and Anne-Marie Bennström had the idea to create a boot-camp-style retreat designed to “cleanse the body, still the mind and nourish the soul.” Decades later, The Ashram remains a restorative haven in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains. A typical day at the Calabasas oasis might include sunrise yoga in a geodesic dome, nourishing plant-based meals, mountain hikes and evening lectures on topics ranging from breath work to mindful meditation.

Indian Springs Calistoga. This iconic Napa Valley staple might have been established in the 1860s, but its roots really reach back millions of years, with the eruption of nearby Mount Konocti. The deposited volcanic ash resulted in thermal geysers that continue to supply rich mineral water throughout the property. Spanning 17 acres of rolling hills and ponds, the resort offers everything a serenity seeker could want, including an Olympic-size mineral pool, extensive gardens and every spa treatment under the sun. Gather a group of eight or more and you could book a private retreat that includes a visit to the spiritualBuddha Pond and meals at a local favorite, Sam’s Social Club.

Toscana Country Club.

Toscana Country Club.Yes, Coachella Valley is perhaps best known for attracting hordes of flower-crown-wearing millennials each summer, but it’s also building a reputation as a desert wellness hot spot. Case in point: Toscana Country Club, which recently underwent a massive renovation and now features so much more than 36 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf (though it offers that too). Guests can enjoy everything from aerial yoga to water glide aerobics, and spa director Jennifer DiFrancesco even leads international fitness and exploration adventures for members, including Amazon treks and Iceland glacier hikes.

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