Best Meditation Retreats

Escape from the stress of life

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Practitioners of meditation will tell you all about its benefits—how it can help reduce stress and improve overall mental and physical wellbeing. Researchers agree. Meditation triggers the body’s relaxation response. It can calm your mind and body by quieting the stress-induced thoughts that can cause a state of agitation.

For some, a quiet room in the house or a peaceful spot in the park can be enough to serve as a place to practice mindful meditation. But others may need more guidance with yoga classes or workshops, and a calm respite from their bustling cities and busy households with soothing, inspiring views and luxurious amenities. Meditation retreats offer these—and more. They can help you reenergize, connect with nature, and learn mindfulness techniques that you can bring back home. Here, we’ve rounded up the best meditation retreats in the country.

The 7 Best Meditation Retreats of 2022

Best Overall : Esalen Institute


Esalen Institute

Esalen Institute

  • Cost: $900-$8,000, based on accommodations
  • Location: Big Sur, California
  • Length: Most workshops are weekends, or 5 or 7 days long
Why We Chose It

A beautiful retreat in California's Big Sur region, Esalen Institute offers mindfulness workshops, yoga instruction, forest bathing and other classes designed for self-exploration against a backdrop of lush ocean views.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Variety of workshops

  • Natural hot springs

  • Meditation Hut and Art Barn

Cons
  • Rustic accommodations

  • Pricey

The California coast is home to hundreds of weekend and week long retreats inspired by the beauty of this cliffside wonder at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.

Guests can choose from several, three-day workshops including mindfulness retreats for lawyers, meditation in nature, self-love, and kindness that benefits all, mindful self-compassion intensive training, and mindfulness meditation. There are other options like modern life, music, mediation, and technology.

Longer retreats, lasting five to seven days, take on a more focused approach at helping participants integrate meditation into their daily lives. In addition to guided meditations and silent practices, you can spend hours of the day exploring the 27 acres surrounded by the Big Sur coastline. Esalen is also home to a community farm and garden, cliffside bathhouse, and natural hot springs.

Best Budget : Kadampa Meditation Center


Kadampa Meditation Center

Kadampa Meditation Center

  • Cost: Workshops start at about $20; weekend retreats start at roughly $60
  • Location: Glen Spey, New York
  • Length: 1-day workshops, 3-day retreats available
Why We Chose It

The Kadampa Meditation Center and Tibetan Buddhist temple is an affordable retreat that offers silent meditation, workshops, and hikes.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Offers silent retreats

  • Good for beginners

Cons
  • Limited onsite accommodations

Located in the Catskill Mountains in New York, the Kadampa Meditation Center and Tibetan Buddhist temple offer both personal and group retreats.

Individuals looking to gain a fresh perspective through quiet relaxation will find peace and calm with one of their personal Rest & Reflect retreats. And, if you’re new to meditation or looking for a group experience, you might want to try one of the group retreats to help you find ways to integrate the practice into your daily life.

A quick weekend away includes guided activities and individual time, Friday through Sunday, with meditation workshops, hikes in the 82 acres of natural woodlands, delicious food, and more. The Kadampa Meditation Center also offers in-depth silent retreats that focus on the teachings of meditation, along with silent meditation. These guided experiences involve two days of teachings, followed by three days of a silent retreat.

The Kadampa Meditation Center is ideal if you're looking to stick within a budget because of the variety of Saturday meditation workshops that only cost around $20. Add on a vegetarian lunch for about $5, and you have a day away for approximately $25. Workshop topics include developing confidence, letting go of stress, a day of silence, power to be happy, anger detox, and many more.

Can't travel for a retreat? Check out the best meditation apps around.

Most Flexible : Spirit Rock Meditation Center


Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Spirit Rock Meditation Center 

  • Cost: Offers sliding scale for retreats, $200-$2,450
  • Location: West Marin County, California
  • Length: Day-long, week-long, and month-long retreats
Why We Chose It

Spirit Rock Meditation Center holds a variety of one-day and multi-day retreats and offers scholarships, sliding scale payments, and volunteer opportunities for those with financial constraints.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Sliding scale payments

  • Retreats for LGBTQ+ people available

  • Silent retreats available

Cons
  • Programs fill early so you need to register months in advance

Buddhist teachings, extensive time for meditation, walks in nature, and a silent and mindful environment, are the key features that make the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in West Marin County, California such a popular location for group meditation retreats.

The center offers day-long, week-long, and even month-long retreats that are suitable for both new and experienced students of meditation. Fitting a retreat into your schedule is easy with the variety of stays they offer. The focus at Spirit Rock Meditation Center is on the teachings of Buddha and the practices of insight and loving-kindness meditation.

Spirit Rock also infuses meditation into every part of the day, including sitting, walking, and eating, which helps you have a better awareness of food and mindful eating. If you want to stay overnight, you can choose from one of their residential retreats.

But, if you live close by or want to stay off-site, Spirit Rock offers multi-day non-residential retreats that allow participants to spend the day learning and practicing meditation, and your nights, away from the center. These non-residential retreats are ideal for newer practitioners who are just learning to deepen their practice.

Interested in the benefits of meditation? Here's our guide to its positive effects on mental health.

Best for Beginners : Shambhala Mountain Center


Shambhala Mountain Center

Shambhala Mountain Center

  • Cost: Retreats start at about $100, sliding scale available for some programs
  • Location: Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
  • Length: 2-day, 3-day, and week-long retreats
Why We Chose It

Shambhala Mountain Center provides a stunning retreat setting for studying yoga, meditation, and contemplative arts, and is home to the 108-foot-tall Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, one of the largest stupa Buddhist shrines in North America.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers several programs for beginners

  • Offers family retreats

  • Outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking

Cons
  • Cell Phones don’t get reception at the site

Nestled in the mountains of northern Colorado, the Shambhala Mountain Center offers a variety of retreats, activities, and programs for all levels, but more specifically, to people new to meditation.

Participants can choose from guided meditations, hiking, yoga, and kayaking, among other indoor and outdoor activities. While the variety of activities is set up to accommodate all levels, what sets Shambhala apart from other retreats is their programs focused specifically on beginners. Their “Learn to Meditate” retreats are designed for people that are curious about the teachings and practice of meditation.

One popular option, Fresh Start: Yoga and Meditation for All Beings, is a two-day retreat that combines yoga and meditation to help beginners find a sense of relaxation, peace, and calm. Through this relaxed state, guests will find that meditation helps them reduce stress, increase body awareness, and increase their mental clarity.

Shambhala Mountain Center also offers week-long family retreats that center on community, creating a culture of kindness, wholeness, and strength. The teachings are done through play, outdoor time, and guided meditation. These family retreats involve group time, as well as individual time spent in separate spaces.

Best Intensive : Green Gulch Farm Zen Center


Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

  • Cost: Online programs start at about $180 (Center is currently closed)
  • Location: Muir Beach, California
  • Length: 1-day to 7-day programs
Why We Chose It

The Green Gulch Farm Center is a Buddhist practice center that focuses on the Japanese Soto Zen tradition in a year-round study format and offers a variety of online programs, including Zazen meditation and Dharma talks.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Year-round schedule of Zen meditation

  • Offers online programs

  • Organic farm and garden

Cons
  • Currently closed due to pandemic

If you’re looking to deepen your meditation practice, focus your energy, and commit to an in-depth program, consider booking a stay at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Muir Beach, California.

Just north of San Francisco, this Buddhist practice center focuses on the Japanese Soto Zen tradition in a year-round study format. Guests can stay short-term or extend to a long-term meditation retreat that also involves working in the community, for sometimes, months at a time.

The long-term option is geared towards individuals who want to take a deep-dive into an intensive meditation practice, while being part of the greater community. This includes a seven-day Sesshin (which means to collect the heart and the mind) to meditate, eat, and work in silence. The goal is to devote all of your energy to a deeper understanding of the Buddha Way.

Shorter sessions include guided meditations with on-site resident teachers that focus on a particular aspect of the practice.

Best for Wilderness : Alaska Stillpoint Lodge


Alaska Stillpoint Lodge

Alaska Stillpoint Lodge

  • Cost: Starts at about $2,200
  • Location: Halibut Cove, Alaska
  • Length: 3-, 4-, and 5-day packages
Why We Chose It

For a real escape, Alaska Stillpoint Lodge combines wellness retreats with wilderness hikes, kayaking, paddleboarding, silent meditation spaces, and yoga.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Guided local adventures and eco-tours

  • Group yoga, fitness and mindfulness classes

  • Zen garden, meditation cabin

Cons
  • Meditation retreats are only available from May through September

With wildlife, mountains, lakes, and breathtaking views, Alaska is known as the great outdoors. So, it makes sense that there would be peace, reflection, and mindfulness meditation found there.

The Alaska Stillpoint Lodge, Halibut Cove, near Homer, offers wellness retreats that focus on guided reflection and rejuvenation to nurture your soul. Wellness retreats are available in three-, four-, and five-day packages that include wilderness hikes, feasting on local, organic cuisine, silent meditation spaces, and yoga. Plus, you can participate in guided kayak tours, boating, guided meditation, massage, mindfulness classes, and journaling.

You also have the option to ditch the technology and make this retreat a digital detox. Request limited or no access to phone, TV, and Wi-Fi in your meditation cabin, and you will really experience the true meaning of a silent meditation.

Because of the harsh Alaska winters, meditation retreats are only available from May through September.

Best for Instructions : Insight Meditation Society


Insight Meditation Society

Insight Meditation Society

  • Cost: Starts at about $435 for retreats
  • Location: Barre, Massachusetts 
  • Length: One- to three-week long retreats
Why We Chose It

Insight Meditation Society offers instruction and guidance in insight and loving-kindness meditations—practices that aim to bring genuine happiness to lives.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Option for extended stays

  • Courses for both new and experienced meditators

  • Sliding scale payment

Cons
  • Simple accommodations compared to other retreat sites

The Insight Meditation Society (IMS), located in Barre, Massachusetts, offers everything from weekend retreats to extended stays lasting several months.

Guests are taught by residential instructors that deliver teachings through Vipassana and loving-kindness meditations. The facility is divided into two campuses: one for short-term meditation retreats lasting seven to nine days, and another designed to attract students wanting to stay for longer retreats.

While there, guests will spend time immersed in sitting and walking meditation, completely done in silence. Advanced levels can benefit from the high level of instruction provided at IMS’s Forest Refuge retreat. The longer retreats can last up to one year, with participants immersing themselves in one or more early Buddhist practices.

One thing that sets IMS apart from most other meditation retreats is a policy offering a sliding fee scale. Participants are charged based on a sliding fee scale that allows them to pay in accordance with their individual means.

Final Verdict

Feeling stressed? Or just need some calm and perspective and time to disconnect from your daily routine? A meditation retreat can be a respite from the hustle and bustle. Most of these meditation retreats offer beginner-friendly workshops located in inspiring locations. If you’re just starting out with the practice, consider day-long or weekend retreats such as those offered by Kadampa Meditation Center or Spirit Rock Meditation Center and see if they meet your needs. If you’re looking for a combination vacation-meditation getaway that offers amenities, top-notch cuisine, breathtaking scenery, and extracurricular activities—and don’t mind the splurge— consider Esalen Institute or Alaska Stillpoint Lodge.

Compare The Best Meditation Retreats 

Company Pricing Location Length (range) Experience Level (beginner, intermediate, advanced, any, etc)
Esalen Institute
Best Overall 
$900-$8,000, based on accommodations Big Sur, California Weekend, five, and seven days long Beginner to advanced
Kadampa Meditation Center
Best Budget
Workshops start at $20; weekend retreats start at $60 Glen Spey, New York One-day workshops, three-day retreats available Beginner to advanced
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Most Flexible 
$200-$2,450 for retreats (sliding scale) West Marin County, California Day-long, week-long, and month-long retreats  Beginner to advanced
Shambhala Mountain Center
Best for Beginners 
Retreats start at $100, sliding scale available  Red Feather Lakes, Colorado Two-day, three-day and week-long retreats  Beginner to advanced
Green Gulch Farm Zen Center
Best Intensive 
Online programs start at $180 Muir Beach, California One-day to seven-day programs Beginner to advanced
Alaska Stillpoint Lodge
Best Overall 
Starts at $2,200 Halibut Cove, Alaska Three, four, and five-day packages All levels
Insight Meditation Society
Best for Instructions 
Starts at $435 for retreats Barre, Massachusetts  One-week to three-week long retreats Beginner to advanced

Guide to Choosing the Best Meditation Retreats

Are Meditation Retreats Worth It?

The benefits of practicing mindful meditation are numerous. It can help reduce stress, lower heart rate, and improve sleep quality and immunity. Whether you’re looking to get started with the practice of meditation or want a more in-depth instruction, meditation retreats can be a great way to de-stress and recharge while learning techniques you can use in your daily life. 

Meditation retreats are not necessary. Some may find that visiting a local meditation center or following a meditation video at home may be sufficient ways to practice meditation. But if you’re looking to disconnect from a busy household, take a break from your job, or reenergize in a beautifully inspiring location, then you might find a meditation retreat a a unique and memorable experience

Some meditation retreats offer luxurious amenities—hot spring baths, vegan or vegetarian cuisine, guided hikes or eco-tours, yoga classes, spas and massages—in a gorgeous setting. Others offer more spartan accommodations but provide opportunities to connect with nature or with a community of practitioners. Some also offer workshops led by experienced instructors and teachers that can offer you the guidance you need. 

Comparing Meditation Retreats

Booking a meditation retreat can be as complicated as booking your next vacation. Here are a few things to consider before deciding on a meditation retreat.

  • Location: Many retreat sites are located in more remote areas (the better to provide the peace and quiet you need) so you may need to travel by plane. Think about whether you’re willing to travel far for a meditation retreat or would rather stay closer to home.
  • Cost: Rates for meditation retreats can vary depending on type of accommodations or length of stay. Consider how much you’re willing to spend, especially if you’ll mostly be spending time in workshops or sessions.
  • Type of classes, instructors: Research the site’s programs and see if they suit your needs and experience level.
  • Activities and scenery: Some meditation retreats offer activities outside of meditation workshops or instruction, such as massages, hikes, or other outdoor activities. If you would like to combine recreation with meditation, consider places that offer these extras. And if you’re looking to be inspired by your scenery, consider coastal locations or mountain destinations.

Embarking On Your Meditation Journey

Once you’ve decided on a meditation retreat, check out the location’s website to book early. Most programs fill early and may require early registration. Keep this in mind especially if you’re looking to work with a specific instructor or teacher. Once you’ve booked, do research on the site to confirm what you would need to bring and make arrangements with your workplace and family as some retreats have spotty cell reception. But most of all, relax and enjoy your stay and try to eliminate distractions so you can truly practice mindful meditation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Do Meditation Retreats Cost?

Depending on type of accommodations or length of the retreats, programs can cost anywhere from about $100 to $8,000.

What Are Meditation Retreats?

Retreats are designed to be a place to learn, deepen, and absorb a meditation practice. They are typically led by instructors that give you tools and practices to move into deep reflection. They’re usually multi-day programs or workshops, although many sites offer one-day retreats that allow you to immerse in practice for a day with no need for an overnight stay.

What Happens During Meditation Retreats?

Most meditation retreats combine workshops and classes led by the retreat leader, meditation sessions (some offer walking meditations), and of course, breaks and meals. Some retreats offer extracurricular activities such as yoga classes, hikes, or tai chi, and treatments such as massages.

Who Should Go On Meditation Retreats?

Meditation retreats are available to beginner or advanced practitioners. Some may have combined sessions and others might offer specialized classes. If you find that you truly need to disconnect from your daily routine to regain a sense of calm and perspective, a meditation retreat may be for you.

How We Chose the Best Meditation Retreats

There are several meditation retreats across the country that offer a variety of programs. To narrow our search, we gathered information about cost, location, duration of the retreats, and the type of workshops and programs offered. Based on what we wound, we selected the seven retreats in this list. These meditation retreats have garnered good reviews from previous participants and repeat visitors.They are known for their diverse programs, well-regarded and experienced instructors and teachers, and great locations.

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