The best retreats in the bay area for a dose of mindfulness & meditation

Life can be stressful and sometimes you just need to get away, for a day, a weekend, or more. If you already meditate at home or in a neighborhood studio, a retreat for more than a few hours in a beautiful serene environment can be a wonderful complement to your regular practice. In fact, many who have gone on week-long silent retreats find them to be life-altering. 

I'm a mom to a toddler so I can't get away for a week or even a weekend really. I've had the luxury of going on week long retreats in the past and know that it will happen again for me one day. But for now, day longs are my thing. I've set an intention this year to go on day-long retreats on a quarterly basis because whenever I make the time to do so, I always come back to the "real world" feeling serene, nourished, wiser and loved.

There are many retreats happening in the bay area at any point in time as a simple google search will tell you. But sometimes life can't be planned ahead. This is a time agnostic list of retreat centers in the bay area where no matter when you're thinking about getting away, you'll be sure to find something.

Spirit Rock

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Nestled in the hills of West Marin just 25 miles north of San Francisco, Spirit Rock was founded in 1988 to create a community rooted in buddhist philosophy and practice. Today it is one of the preeminent buddhist retreat centers in the country offering daily programming for individuals, teens and families with all levels of meditation experience. In addition to the beautiful facilities, there are hiking trails on-site for you to get in touch with nature. They also offer financial assistance. A few hours here will feel like days away. 

Retreat lengths: 1 - 2 hour classes, day-longs, weekends, week+ retreats

Green Gulch Farm Zen Center


Part of the SF Zen Center, Green Gulch is a Zen Buddhist retreat center and organic farm located in the Marin Headlands, a short 30 minute drive from the city and steps from the beach. They offer a variety of classes, workshops and retreats and an amazing Sunday program for the public. Hiking trails abound nearby and there is a variety of accommodation options. Best of all, with a farm on-site, you can expect the most delicious vegetarian meals in the cafeteria. Insider tip: there's also a cottage called "hope cottage" ~30 minute hike up from the farm itself that is literally perched on the hill. It is open to the public to book (meals not included) though it can be pricey. 

Retreat lengths: drop-in classes, day longs, week+ retreats

1440 Multiversity

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Located on 75 acres near the redwoods of Santa Cruz, 1440 Multiversity is the newest retreat center in the bay area that opened in May 2017.  It's founded by Silicon Valley tech executive Scott Kriens with the goal of helping people connect with themselves through learning and time away. They offer programs that range from professional development, to health & wellness to personal growth. No surprise the facilities are state of the art and the experience here is "equal parts learning and vacation."

Retreat lengths: Weekend, 5 day, week+ retreats

Ratna Ling Retreat Center


Located 100 miles north of San Francisco, Ratna Ling retreat center is a small Tibetan buddhist retreat center that offers programs to support the healing and wellness of body and mind. Not only do they offer 2 - 4 day personal retreats with a variety of wellness and meditation programming, they also offer massage and bodywork treatments on-site!

Retreat lengths: 2 - 4 days

Silent Stay Retreat Center


Silent Stay retreat center is located in the hills of Solano county, ~75 - 90 minute drive from San Francisco. It offers 2 - 5 day long personal retreats year-round with 2 guided meditations a day and lots of free time to be with yourself. There aren't specific classes or programming though. Guests bring their own food and cook their meals in a shared kitchen.  There is also a salt water pool that is open during the summer months.

Retreat lengths: 2 - 5 days

Are there other meditation based retreat centers that you love within driving distance of San Francisco? Let us know here