Best Meditation Retreats

Esalen Institute is our choice for best meditation retreat for its many classes

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Meditation practitioners and researchers agree that meditation can help reduce stress, improve mental and physical well-being, and calm the mind and body. It does this by triggering the body's relaxation response and 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. Here, we’ve rounded up the best meditation retreats in the country.

Best Meditation Retreats of 2023

Best Overall : Esalen Institute

Esalen Institute

Esalen Institute

Key Specs
  • Cost: $540-$8,000, based on accommodations and program (some specialized workshops are more expensive)
  • Location: Big Sur, California
  • Length: Most workshops are weekends, or five to seven 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
  • Variety of workshops

  • Natural hot springs

  • Meditation Hut and Art Barn

  • Rustic accommodations

  • Can be pricey

  • Dates fill up fast


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.

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. Other options include modern life, music, meditation, and technology.

Longer retreats, lasting five to seven days, take on a more focused approach to helping participants integrate meditation into their daily lives. In addition to guided meditations and silent practices, you can spend hours of the day exploring more than 100 acres along the Big Sur coastline. Esalen is also home to a community farm and garden, a cliffside bathhouse, and natural hot springs.

Best Budget : Kadampa Meditation Center

Kadampa Meditation Center

Kadampa Meditation Center

Key Specs
  • Cost: Classes start at about $10; weekend retreats start at roughly $45
  • Location: Glen Spey, New York
  • Length: One-day classes, three- to five-day retreats available
Why We Chose It

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

Pros & Cons
  • Budget-friendly

  • Offers silent retreats

  • Good for beginners

  • Limited onsite accommodations

  • Pricing doesn’t include lodging or meals

  • Onsite dining has limited hours


Located in the Catskill Mountains in New York, the Kadampa Meditation Center and Tibetan Buddhist temple offer both personal and group retreats. With budget-friendly options and various offerings, the Kadampa Meditation Center is a good choice for those interested in exploring meditation without the hefty price tag often attached to meditation retreats.

Individuals looking to gain a fresh perspective through quiet relaxation will find peace and calm with one of their personal Finding Peace 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 and silent meditation. These guided experiences involve two days of teachings, followed by three days of a silent retreat.

Most Flexible : Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Spirit Rock Meditation Center 

Key Specs
  • Cost: Offers sliding scale for retreats, $140-$22,400
  • Location: West Marin County, California
  • Length: Drop-in, day and week-long, up to two-month 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
  • Sliding scale payments

  • Retreats for LGBTQ+ people available

  • Silent retreats available

  • In-person programs fill up fast

  • Some programs have prerequisites you must meet


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.

Spirit Rock also infuses meditation into every part of the day, including sitting, walking, and eating, which helps you better understand food and mindful eating. If you want to stay overnight, you can choose 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 just learning to deepen their practice.

Best for Beginners : Drala Mountain Center

Shambhala Mountain Center

Shambhala Mountain Center

Key Specs
  • Cost: Retreats start at $100 to $150 plus accommodation, with sliding scale available for some programs
  • Location: Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
  • Length: Two-day, three-day, and week-long retreats
Why We Chose It

Drala Mountain Center provides a stunning retreat setting for studying yoga, meditation, and contemplative arts, including introductory courses for beginners looking to connect and grow in their practice.

Pros & Cons
  • Offers several programs for beginners

  • Offers leadership retreats

  • Outdoor activities such as hiking

  • No cell phone reception at the site

  • Lodging expenses added on during registration

  • 10:30 p.m. curfew each night of retreat


Nestled in the mountains of northern Colorado, the Drala 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, yoga, and creativity, among other indoor and outdoor activities. While the variety of activities is set up to accommodate all levels, what sets Drala apart from other retreats is its programs focused specifically on beginners. Their “Learn to Meditate” retreats are designed for people curious about the teachings and practice of meditation.

One popular option, Slowing Down: A Yoga, Self-Care, and Loving-Kindness Retreat, is a weekend retreat that combines yoga and meditation to help guests find a sense of relaxation, peace, and calm.

Best for Wilderness : Alaska Stillpoint Lodge

Alaska Stillpoint Lodge

Alaska Stillpoint Lodge

Key Specs
  • Cost: Packages start at $2,860 per night, per person
  • Location: Halibut Cove, Alaska
  • Length: Three-, four-, five- and six-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
  • Guided local adventures and eco-tours

  • Group yoga, fitness and mindfulness classes

  • Zen garden and meditation cabin

  • Meditation retreats are only available from June through September

  • Not ideal if you're looking for an intensive program or study format


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 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

Key Specs
  • Cost: Sliding scale, starts around $315; extended stays have lower base rates
  • Location: Barre, Massachusetts 
  • Length: One-week to month-long retreats
Why We Chose It

Insight Meditation Society offers instruction and guidance in insight and loving-kindness meditations.

Pros & Cons
  • Option for extended stays

  • Courses for both new and experienced meditators

  • Sliding scale payment

  • Simple accommodations compared to other retreat sites

  • Limited dietary options for those with food allergies or preferences

  • Bathrooms shared with other guests on your floor


The Insight Meditation Society (IMS), located in Barre, Massachusetts, offers several retreat options tailored to both new and experienced meditators. IMS provides also detailed instruction and ongoing guidance to encourage personal growth based on Buddha’s Four Foundations of Mindfulness.

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.

Final Verdict

Esalen Institute tops our list as the best overall meditation retreat center, offering a serene environment with a wide variety of courses to choose from. Located in Big Sur, California, the beautiful center has been hosting guests since 1962. With hundreds of retreat options, there’s something for everyone at Esalen.

Compare the Best Meditation Retreats 

Company Pricing Location Length
Best Overall 
Esalen Institute  
$540-$8,000, based on accommodations Big Sur, California Most workshops are weekends, or five to seven days long
Best Budget
Kadampa Meditation Center
Classes start at about $10; weekend retreats start at roughly $45 Glen Spey, New York One-day classes, three- to five-day retreats available
Most Flexible 
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Offers sliding scale for retreats, $140-$22,400 West Marin County, California Day- and week-long retreats, some up to two months
Best for Beginners 
Drala Mountain Center
Retreats start at about $100, sliding scale available for some programs Red Feather Lakes, Colorado Two-day, three-day, and week-long retreats 
Best for Wilderness
Alaska Stillpoint Lodge
Packages start at $2,860 per night, per person Halibut Cove, Alaska Three-, four-, five- and six-day packages
Best for Instructions 
Insight Meditation Society
Sliding scale, starts around $315 Barre, Massachusetts  One- to three-week retreats

Guide to Choosing the Best Meditation Retreats

Are Meditation Retreats Worth It?

The benefits of practicing mindful meditation are numerous. According to research, it can help reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, lower heart rate, and decrease blood pressure—all of which are physiological signs of stress.

Whether you’re looking to get started with the practice of meditation or want 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 or meditation app at home may be a sufficient way 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, you might find a meditation retreat 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 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 the 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 want 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 quickly 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, confirm what you need to bring, and keep in mind that 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?

    Programs can cost less than $100 or more than $22,000. The wide range depends on the type of accommodations or length of the retreats. They also factor in what kind of activities are offered and whether food is included.

  • What Are Meditation Retreats?

    Retreats are designed to be a place to learn, deepen, and absorb meditation practice. They are typically led by instructors who 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 without 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), breaks, and meals. Some retreats offer extracurricular activities such as yoga classes, hikes, or massages. Every retreat location is a little different and offers its own unique offerings.

  • Who Should Consider a Meditation Retreat?

    Meditation retreats are available for 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.

  • Is Vipassana a silent retreat?

    Yes, Vipassana is a silent mindfulness practice. Silent retreats are offered at some meditation centers, including our Best Budget pick, the Kadampa Meditation Center.


There are several meditation retreats across the country that offer a variety of programs. To narrow our search, we gathered information about the cost, location, duration of the retreats, and type of workshops and programs offered. Based on what we found, we selected the retreats on 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.


 East Road / Ascent Xmedia/ Getty Images

Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Library of Medicine. Mindfulness mediates the physiological markers of stress: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

By Sara Lindberg, M.Ed
Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on mental health, fitness, nutrition, and parenting.

Updated by
Lindsay Modglin
Lindsay Modglin

Lindsay is a nurse-turned professional mental health and wellness writer. She uses her 9+ years of clinical healthcare and diverse medical background to write about mental health, chronic conditions, and medicine.

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Edited by
Ally Hirschlag
Allison "Ally" Hirschlag

Ally is a senior editor for Verywell, who covers topics in the health, wellness, and lifestyle spaces. She has written for The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC Future, and more.

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