You don’t have to be an experienced yogi to take a yoga retreat. In fact, there might not be a better way to introduce yourself to this mind and body practice than by immersing yourself in a weekend getaway surrounded by nature in California, with experienced instructors guiding you through.
It can be challenging to make time for wellness and self-care when distractions surround us, and while weekly yoga classes can do wonders for our health, sometimes it takes a proper weekend detox to bring ourselves back into balance.
And why California? The state is home to the original Western retreat and increasingly down-to-Earth Eastern-influenced retreats. This spectrum allows you to choose the best experience for your preferred style and degree of luxuriousness. The more Eastern a retreat is, the more the program focuses on practice, meditation, and peace with accommodations intentionally humble.
We found California’s 20 best yoga retreats by analyzing real Google reviews and ratings. We individually reviewed 69 destinations to ensure the best possible recommendations. See our methodology for a full explanation.
What is a Yoga Retreat? It offers a break from daily routine to set aside distractions and devote time to practice yoga in a relaxing and minimalist environment, typically surrounded by nature, according to Yogapedia. Yoga retreats can be solitary but are usually instructor-led group activities that range from one-day to week-long getaways. Accommodations and meals can be part of the retreat package but are not as elaborate as you would find at a spa resort. Guests come for self-improvement and to adhere to program schedules. Yoga retreats frequently occur at luxurious resorts in Western society, but increasingly, more affordable, down-to-earth getaways common in the East are gaining momentum in the West.
Check out our list of California’s best yoga retreats this year, and keep in mind that each retreat offers something a little different, so they are all worth checking out!
- List: 10 Best Yoga Retreats in California
- Table & Map: 20 Best Yoga Retreats in California
Here is a table and a map of California’s 20 best yoga 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 “yoga 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 69 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 yoga retreat definition, built off Yogapedia’s definition, 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 are looking 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.
1. Treebones Resort, Big Sur
There ain’t no bones about it; based on our analysis, the Treebones Resort is the best destination for a yoga retreat in California. An off-grid yet premiere ‘glamping’ experience, this modest resort offers one-of-a-kind lodging options on the cliffs-edge of Big Sur, including yurts, autonomous tents and something called the ‘Human Nest’ — which looks exactly like what you are picturing right now. Yoga classes lasting 50 to 90 minutes are held every day except Thursday on the shaded, panoramic outdoor platform or in the Red Door fireside studio. Keep an eye on their retreat page for information on upcoming multi-day retreats! The last one was in December 2021, and a 2022 retreat is still unannounced but will fill up fast once they list it.
What Guests Are Saying: “This place is a well-oiled machine, and they’ve got it down,” according to a recent Google review. “Pack your bag and GO! Yurts 6 & 9 were amazing, but we noticed they all have great views and features. We read, relaxed and did a lot of yoga in the yurt, & facing the ocean was breathtaking.”
2. Serenity Spa & Soul Yoga, Roseville
The Serenity Spa & Soul Yoga, 20 miles outside Sacramento, California, is a temple of holistic health. Their offerings include ayurvedic consultation, spa packages, massages and skin treatments, to name a few. Their yoga offerings include daily classes rooted in the Hatha practice and are aimed at both beginners and experienced yogis. Their Soul Fire yoga/meditation/spa retreat wrapped up in May, but check their website for announcements on upcoming multi-day yoga retreats!
What Guests Are Saying: “I have gone to Serenity Spa for years, and it’s the best spa in town, according to a Google review two years ago. “You feel like you are at a resort spa! I also love their yoga classes and other self-improvement classes! I hope this spa stays open forever!!!”
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
The Esalen Institute is far more than just a yoga retreat. Part holistic learning center, part Big Sur retreat, it’s home to philosophers, sociologists, theologians, psychologists, and artists of all walks. The Institute is open to the public with its educational and spiritual programs. You can stay on campus for a weekend or longer to participate in an immersive workshop led by visiting faculty. Esalen leads yoga retreats at least four times a month, each lasting two to five days.
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. 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 the Summer Yoga Retreat this August 5th for a two-day getaway full of group yoga sessions, nature walks, meditation, and ayurvedic instruction with all meals and accommodations. Or, if you are a seasoned yogi looking for an intensive retreat, book the 5-day Yoga Intensive for a deep dive into Tadasana, alignment, key poses, standing postures, anatomy education and adjustments.
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.”
6. Sagrada Wellness, Santa Margarita
This retreat is one you’ll want to bookmark; Sagrada Wellness, 50 minutes north of Santa Maria, California, is one of the few locations on our list that specializes almost exclusively in yoga retreats. Sagrada offers several multi-day retreats each month and is currently accepting reservations as far as October 2023, giving you the flexibility and time needed to plan a multi-day digital detox in our modern, fast-paced lives. Skip worrying about jumping on that “one retreat per year” that other destinations offer, and book your wellness getaway now and in advance for the best ease of mind!
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.”
7. The Expanding Light Retreat, Nevada City
The Expanding Light Retreat is another flexible option on our list, offering ongoing (near-daily) retreat programs and more expansive regularly scheduled retreats. What’s great about this destination, two hours west of Reno, Nevada, is they offer family yoga retreats for kids as young as five! They also have first-timer programs, and if you can’t make it out to California, they even have a 5-week online class. The retreat offers Ananda Yoga instructions, a hatha yoga practice rooted in Eastern Paramhansa Yogananda teachings first popularized in the West over 100 years ago.
What Guests Are Saying: “We had serene personal Retreat at the Expanding Light,” according to a recent Google review. “The staff is wonderful, healthy delicious meals served & most of all meditation was the best part to relax & enjoy. Ananda yoga spiritual teachers inspire with yoga & meditation practice to all the members who are interested in attending.”
8. Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, Vista
For those looking to experience a more luxurious Western-style yoga retreat, the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa between Los Angeles and San Diego is a premier choice. This health spa is more like a spa resort with all-inclusive suites and villas to book. And while Cal-a-Vie does not currently offer multi-day yoga retreats, they offer over 15 yoga classes, including restorative, core, hip & shoulder opening, Chakra, strength, ashtanga and aqua.
What Guests Are Saying: “The finest health spa in the United States. Go only if you are interested in fitness, wellness, and nutrition,” according to a Google review a year ago. “The grounds are a delight of Southern Californian and French style. You will exercise and meditate daily with the nicest fitness staff there is. You will eat magnificently within your self-selected calorie budget. You will be pampered each afternoon. You will be renewed and restored in a way no other vacation could provide. Stay either four or seven nights. Three nights is too short. Seven might be too much for some.”
9. Mount Madonna Center, Watsonville
Located on a sprawling 380-acre campus of redwoods and grasslands, the Mount Madonna Center is a learning community and retreat offering spiritual, personal development and yoga programs. Reservations are required for day and overnight visits at this rustic retreat just south of San Francisco. Fair warning, the center is geared more towards experienced yogis and those looking to become yoga teachers. Check the retreats page for details on yoga classes, annual retreats and intensive yoga training programs!
What Guests Are Saying: “Came for the liberation retreat and had an amazing time,” according to a Google review two years ago. “There is definitely a Hindu presence (Hanuman and Ganesh temples), but I never felt out of place as an atheist. A tolerant, welcoming, genuinely kind-hearted group of people. I felt like I was able to really deepen my Asana and meditation practice here, and it felt good for the soul being surrounded by beautiful redwoods and foggy mountains.”
10. AZ I AM, Santa Monica
AZ I AM is a yoga studio in Santa Monica, California, with a group of teachers reaching over 65 years of combined experience. The studio organizes regular yoga retreats at various California resorts and luxury hotels. The programs also typically focus on detox, nutrition and fitness and include offerings like “One Day Detox Retreat,” “Detox Fitness Retreat,” “Detox Yoga Juice Fasting Retreat,” plus many teacher training programs!
What Guests Are Saying: “The 21-day detox was a game-changer for my mind and body,” according to a Google review a year ago. “The routine every day helped me with discipline and took my yoga practice to another level. The food recipes were incredible and very satisfying. Plus, ending it with the 3-day retreat in the desert was beyond amazing.”