It’s easy to feel pulled in a million different directions these days with the crush of social media obligations, busy family life, and jobs that seem to follow you home even after you’ve officially clocked out for the day.
To combat the stresses associated with modern life, you may want to think about visiting a meditation retreat, which might feature any one of several types of meditation, like walking meditation, qigong, or vipassana meditation. You might visit a meditation retreat for a brief respite from your busy life, or you might pursue a deeper understanding of your thoughts and emotions and learn how meditation can help you control them.
But how do you figure out which are the best meditation retreats in the United States? Is it the reviews? The price? The location? Or is it some combination of factors? Let’s learn about some of the most respected and beneficial meditation retreats around the country and what insights you might gain from learning about these yoga and meditation retreats.
What We Cover
- Best Meditation Retreats in the U.S.
- 1. Cal-A-Vie Health Spa
- 2. Esalen Institute
- 3. Kadampa Meditation Center
- 4. Zen Mountain Monastery
- 5. SpiritQuest
- 6. Sētu
- 7. Crestone Retreats
- 8. Art of Living Retreat Center
- 9. Retreat in the Pines
- 10. Gainesville Retreat Center
- 11. Silent Stay Meditation Center
- 12. Seven Springs Yoga and Holistic Retreats
- 13. Rolling Meadows
- 14. Spirit Rock Meditation Center
- 15. Cambridge Insight Meditation Society
- Are Meditation Retreats Worth The Cost?
- Is a silent retreat good for you?
- How do I choose a meditation retreat?
Best Meditation Retreats in the U.S.
1. Cal-A-Vie Health Spa
Address: 29402 Spa Havens Way, Vista, CA 92084
The Cal-A-Vie Health Spa is one of the most luxurious retreat in the United States with its villa accommodations and French Provencal-inspired décor. Located north of San Diego, this health spa and retreat boasts eternally beautiful weather and easy access to activities in San Diego and other hotspots in Southern California.
Retreat stays at Cal-A-Vie are custom-made for each guest and may include a variety of fitness, health, and nutrition classes. The health spa treatments are available in packages designed for different guests like mothers, teenagers, and couples. The spa also welcomes groups with facilities like a banquet hall and small classrooms for meetings.
Cal-A-Vie is by no means rural and rustic and offers guests access to luxuries like a country club and an 18-hole golf course, in addition to its mindfulness meditation and mind-body awareness programs. The spa regularly welcomes guest speakers and hosts unique programs, and the retreat is also a popular destination for special events like weddings.
2. Esalen Institute
Address: 55000 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
If you’re searching for one of the most beautiful spiritual retreats in the U.S., you couldn’t do better than the Esalen Institute, located in the mind-blowingly beautiful Big Sur of California. The institute’s claim to fame is its major role in the Human Potential Movement of the 1960s, which advocated personal growth as a means to improve relationships and overall well-being.
The institute encompasses 120 of the most beautiful acres in California, with views of the Pacific Ocean to the west and the mountains to the east. One of the interesting ways the retreat organizes its programs is that it allows for several hours each day for personal time.
The institute doesn’t cram every day full of learning; rather, it allows its students to enjoy the serenity that surrounds them. You may decide to take some time to explore the California coast with an audio tour along Pacific Coast Highway.
The institute offers instruction from long-time staff members as well as visiting teachers trained in a variety of contemplative arts and yoga. Visitors may attend mindfulness workshops or explore the institute with self-guided classes.
3. Kadampa Meditation Center
Address: 4953 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Kadampa Meditation Center of Los Angeles is a Buddhist temple and meditation center in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. The center welcomes visitors for daily classes and guided meditation. The meditation center’s purpose is to inspire peace of mind within its visitors, and the center welcomes individuals of all faiths.
Kadampa is a type of Mahayana Buddhism that was founded by an Indian Buddhist about a thousand years ago. The modern incarnation of Kadampa was conceived by a Tibetan lama who taught Buddhism in Britain in the 1970s.
If you’re interested in taking a class in meditation but you’re not yet ready to sequester yourself at a remote retreat, the Kadampa Meditation Center is the ideal option, especially if you live in Southern California or you’re visiting the area and staying in a local loft or vacation home. The community welcomes all visitors, and you may find yourself making lasting friendships with other students when you attend a class or deep study program.
4. Zen Mountain Monastery
Address: 871 Plank Rd, Mt Tremper, NY 12457
Zen Mountain Monastery is located in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York. As the name would suggest, the retreat focuses on Zen Buddhism and offers weekly classes, as well as weekend retreats with multiple meditation sessions. For the particularly dedicated, the center offers programs that last anywhere from a week to an entire year.
The short courses feature dormitory living, while the longer retreats offer private rooms. The main building on the property is a state and national historic landmark and was originally built as an operating Benedictine monastery. If you’re staying in a nearby hotel like the Kaatskill Mountain Club at Hunter Mountain, you might consider visiting Zen Mountain for a few classes.
If you’re interested in taking part in the classes at Zen Mountain Monastery but can’t make it to New York, the center does offer online retreat practice groups. You’ll also find an additional location in New York City. If you’re seeking instruction and information about the Zen meditation style, the Zen Mountain Monastery is an ideal retreat to consider.
See Related: Where to Stay Outside of New York City
Address: 75 Kallof Pl #102, Sedona, AZ 86336
Sedona, Arizona, is known for its wonderous natural beauty and has existed as an artistic and spiritual retreat for decades. The well-known local meditation retreat SpiritQuest offers its visitors a wonderful variety of treatments and experiences that focus on spiritual and emotional health. You might spend a day at SpiritQuest for your spiritual reset after a day on a private wine tasting tour.
SpiritQuest is styled as a spiritual and healing center and offers private and customized retreats for families, couples, or individuals. One of the special features of the retreat is its customized offerings for emotional and spiritual health. If you seek deep and affecting fulfillment, you might consider a customized retreat ranging from a brief three days up to a 15-day escape.
I’m not alone in finding the unusual and invigorating way the Sedona can make you feel, and this otherworldly place pairs beautifully with one of the spiritual experiences at SpiritQuest. The retreat and the community of Sedona are some of the best destinations in the country for spiritual journeys that take you out into the wilderness and away from city life.
See Related: Best Resorts in Sedona, Arizona
Address: 241 Quails Hill Rd, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Sētu in Brattleboro, Vermont, is an Ayurveda retreat, which is a whole body or holistic approach to healing the body. The basic tenets of Ayurveda suggest that disease is caused by stress and anxiety. Practitioners pursue harmony between their spirit, mind, and body through meditation, yoga, massage, and herbal remedies.
While a retreat like SpiritQuest explores the grandeur of the desert Southwest, the environment of Sētu is on the other side of the spectrum, offering experiences within the lush and forested hills of Vermont. The retreat offers yoga classes and wellness classes, as well as extras like spa treatments and medicinal training. Book a day at Sētu while staying in your Brattleboro vacation home.
One of the unique features of the retreat is that it offers its guests Indian cuisine, which pairs well with the origin story of Ayurveda 3,000 years ago in India. The word Ayurveda roughly translates to “knowledge of life.”
7. Crestone Retreats
Address: 2000 E Dreamway Unit Ste 130, Crestone, Colorado, 81131
Crestone Retreat Center is a Zen center located more than 8,000 feet above sea level in Crestone, Colorado. One of the most impactful facets of the experience at Crestone is the meal plan, which features foods prepared in the Ōryōki tradition.
Ōryōki is a method of eating that uses specific utensils, bowls, and mindfulness practices while eating. The method is used in Zen temples during formal meals with the belief that the practice can improve one’s understanding of self and cultivate gratitude. The meals at the Crestone Retreats feature homegrown, vegetarian food.
Guests at Crestone are treated to a gorgeous and peaceful meditation experience with classes that focus on body awareness, nature, and psychotherapy. Students may also engage in writing, meditation, and yoga during their stay.
The retreat welcomes guests for visits of four days to three months. When not engaged in official retreat activities, guests may stroll around the beautiful trails of the retreat or engage in solo meditation time.
See Related: Things to Do in Colorado Springs
8. Art of Living Retreat Center
Address: 639 Whispering Hills Rd, Boone, NC 28607
The Art of Living Retreat Center is a North Carolina wellness retreat that focuses on improving the general happiness of its students through mindful living. Retreat packages may feature yoga, mindfulness exercises, daily meditation sessions, and Ayurveda. The retreat covers 380 acres within the unforgettable Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
One of the benefits of The Art of Living Retreat Center is that it also caters to visitors who simply want to engage in some rest and relaxation away from their busy lives. There are no class requirements or mandatory activities. Guests are invited to select a retreat package that appeals to their personal interests and comfort goals.
The campus at The Art of Living Retreat Center is incredibly gorgeous, inside and out, with buildings that boast architecture as beautiful and breathtaking as the mountains surrounding them. The property offers housing for up to 1,100 guests with communal or private accommodations options.
9. Retreat in the Pines
Address: 431 Co Rd 2487, Mineola, TX 75773
The Retreat in the Pines is a meditation and personal transformation retreat for women located in Mineola, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. The experience at this retreat is designed to eliminate the distractions, judgment, and stress of everyday life in a welcoming and supportive environment. The Retreat in the Pines is one of the best self-care retreats in the nation.
The retreat offers some unique package options that feature goals like empowerment, balance, healing, and gratitude. Some of the activities you may experience during your retreat include walking meditations in nature, yoga, and essential oil treatments. In addition to the variety of packages, guests are also treated to chef-prepared meals of delicious and farm-fresh food.
The Retreat in the Pines is an exceptional option for those who want to experience a welcoming and non-judgmental environment with like-minded people. Group experiences usually feature fewer than ten participants with a kind and generous retreat leader who guides the experience. You may wish to travel to the retreat to relax after spending some time in Dallas exploring the city on a walking tour.
10. Gainesville Retreat Center
Address: 1551 SE 51st St, Gainesville, FL 32641
When you think about traveling to Florida, you might envision Disneyworld, Miami Beach, or the endless swamps of the Everglades. However, theme parks and beaches aren’t all that the Sunshine State has to offer. If you travel to Gainesville, you’ll find the Gainesville Retreat Center and its 140 acres of peaceful forested trails.
One of the neat features of the retreat is that it also functions as a wildlife refuge. If you want to meditate while enjoying the peace and serenity of the forest, you couldn’t choose a more beautiful destination than the Gainesville Retreat Center. The retreat is quite convenient to downtown Gainesville, too, so you can stay in a local hotel like the Gainesville Staybridge Suites and easily spend time at the retreat center each day.
When you’re not participating in your meditation practices and yoga classes, you’ll have miles upon miles of trails to enjoy as you relax and destress. The property even features a swimming pool for exercise and a small fire pit for cozy gatherings. The retreat relies on donations from its patrons to help keep rates reasonable for all guests.
See Related: Best Resorts In Florida
11. Silent Stay Meditation Center
Address: 801 Ladera Ln, Santa Barbara, CA 93108
The Silent Stay Meditation Center joins the other coastal California meditation retreats on this list as one of the most beautiful destinations for tranquil and peaceful experiences. One of the center’s main features is that it’s a silent retreat, which means it offers silent meals and a silent meditation space for guests.
The purpose of silent meditation is to remove the everyday distractions of life that can make it difficult to get in touch with one’s imagination, emotions, and thoughts. Through silence, guests may improve their focus, general well-being, and ability to pay attention.
Guests of the Silent Stay Meditation Center may select one of several retreat packages that last a few days, as well as enroll in the center’s sabbatical program that lasts at least 21 days. The retreat is around 35 acres, which is smaller than some of the other meditation retreats on this list, but every acre of this Santa Barbara meditation center is simply breathtaking.
12. Seven Springs Yoga and Holistic Retreats
Address: 125 Sweet Hollow Way, Maryville, TN 37803
Knoxville, Tennessee, is a great town to find some trouble, particularly if you love live music, Southern eats, and sampling strong drinks. So after enjoying The Scruffy City to the max, you may find the restorative nature of Seven Springs a convenient detox.
Meditation and mindfulness retreats are often a destination for solo travelers seeking spiritual healing and empowerment, but retreats can also serve couples well through yoga classes, nature hikes, and exercises designed to improve body and spirit. Seven Springs Yoga and Holistic Retreats is one such destination where couples or small groups may work together to get in touch with their spiritual sides.
Located in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, just south of Knoxville, the retreat covers more than 125 acres in a peaceful and sacred space. One of the unique and genuinely rewarding experiences offered at the retreat is the opportunity to work in the retreat’s vegetable and flower gardens. The family that runs the retreat offers fascinating courses on permaculture, which is the creation of agricultural systems that are sustainable and self-sufficient.
Guests of Seven Springs Yoga and Holistic Retreats comment on the wonderful intersection of education and healing through wellness activities like holistic health consultations, relationship counseling, meditation walks, and nature hikes. The retreat even offers unique experiences like forest bathing and sound baths.
See Related: Things to Do in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
13. Rolling Meadows
Address: 83 Sullivan Rd, Brooks, ME 04921
Some meditation retreats cover hundreds of acres and offer accommodations capable of housing the equivalent of a small city. The Rolling Meadows meditation and yoga retreat is quite different because it only welcomes ten guests for each retreat. The retreats occur inside a comfortable restored farmhouse that was originally built in the 1840s.
The group retreat experience at Rolling Meadows features a combination of yoga, meditation, and breathwork with lessons that invoke the disciplines of Buddhism, yoga, and tai chi. In addition to group practice, participants also enjoy unstructured time throughout the retreat, where they can relax, stroll around the property, or wander around the organic vegetable garden. The nearby Atlantic coast offers opportunities for more relaxing adventures like sailing on a historic schooner around Penobscot Bay, which is every bit as majestic as it sounds.
The property covers around 100 acres, which means there’s a significant amount of room for alone time and personal reflection. Rolling Meadows offers silent retreats, but there are opportunities during the experience to ask questions and engage in beneficial discussions with other participants and retreat leaders.
See Related: Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the U.S.
14. Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Address: 5000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd Box 169, Woodacre, CA 94973
Marin County in Northern California boasts some of the most idyllic environments in the state, and this county of gently rolling hills and forests is home to the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre. The center is about an hour from the bustling metropolis of San Francisco, but you wouldn’t know it from the retreat’s utterly peaceful and remote 400 acres.
The primary style of meditation at Spirit Rock is Vipassana meditation, which is a style of self-study that helps participants focus on the physical sensations of their body and how they intersect with the mind. Vipassana meditation is the pursuit of the true nature of reality and is the oldest meditation practice within Buddhism.
The meditation center offers several program options, from classes that run for just a few hours to silent retreats lasting anywhere from three days to two months. Experienced meditators can also register for yoga teacher training events, as well as educational programs on the Buddha, Dharma, Qigong, and other fascinating topics.
15. Cambridge Insight Meditation Society
Address: 331 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139
The Cambridge Insight Meditation Society is a retreat located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is right next to Boston. Insight is another Vipassana establishment (Vipassana is also known as insight meditation) and features two facilities: the Retreat Center and the Forest Refuge. Students who visit the Retreat Center may participate in more than two dozen courses, and those who visit the Forest Refuge will pursue retreats that may last several days.
In addition to offering Vipassana meditation, the Insight Meditation Society also offers silent meditation, vegetarian meals, and simple accommodations free of the complexities of modern life. The Buddhist practice center was established in 1975 and operates today as a nonprofit organization. Thousands of meditation practitioners have learned and taught within its walls.
All who wish to study meditation are welcome at Insight Meditation Society, even if they’re not adherent to Buddhist teachings. One of the interesting facets of the meditation and wellness retreats at Insight is that participants pay according to their individual means, as the retreat fees are charged on a sliding scale. You may wish to visit this Massachusetts retreat after an exploration of Cambridge’s highlights, such as the iconic street of murals, Graffiti Alley.
See Related: Where to Stay in Boston: Best Areas & Neighborhoods
Are Meditation Retreats Worth The Cost?
Yes, and some. I was once a skeptic, and it’s not like I get to go on retreats all the time, but I can tell you that meditation retreats represent an opportunity to reduce stress and escape a chaotic lifestyle so you can get grounded again.
Meditation retreats also provide lessons and information on different meditative techniques and how to incorporate meditation studies into your daily life once you’ve returned from your time away.
Again, I’ve been on a few retreats, and I left them recharged, rejuvenated, and reminded about what matters in life – but some folks decide to return regularly for further insight into meditation which can be truly life-changing for some.
Is a silent retreat good for you?
A silent retreat is a fascinating opportunity to get in touch with thoughts and feelings you might otherwise push down into the deep recesses of your mind during your daily life.
Managing negative thoughts when you have a busy lifestyle is difficult, and a silent meditation retreat may help you learn to deal with negative emotions and reactions as they have for me.
How do I choose a meditation retreat?
Deciding on a meditation retreat means taking into account factors like location, the type of meditation classes offered, and the price. Other considerations include the type of food served at the retreat and the type of accommodations offered. Some meditation retreats cater to advanced students, while others are appropriate for meditation beginners.