Outdoors + Nature

The World's Most Leisurely Vacations

by Sarah Tuff

Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California

The pace: Swear off multitasking and quiet your mind through meditation in Big Sur.

The place: With scenery like the pounding Pacific Ocean, the dramatic Santa Lucia Mountains, and hot springs bubbling up from the ground, the Esalen Institute's 27-acre campus in Big Sur is a no-brainer spot for a wellness retreat. Founded in 1962 as an "alternative education center," Esalen offers more than 400 workshops each year in disciplines such as Tibetan Buddhist Meditation, the Art and Science of Mindfulness, and Mahamudra Meditation. Accommodations are basic—ranging from bring-your-own-sleeping-bag to private homes with decks overlooking the ocean—but the serenity of having no cell phone service is a hidden luxury. There are also the corporeal pleasures of yoga, massage, and the hot springs. Be aware that students sometimes strip not only their minds—but also their bodies—down to nothing: Swimsuits are optional in the cliff-side outdoor tubs.

Esalen Institute
55000 Highway 1
Big Sur, California
Tel: 831 667 3000
Weekend workshops from $385 per person, including meals and lodging

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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