Weekend Getaway: Canyon Ranch in Northern California

Nurture body & soul.

If tech created the insatiable need to stay connected to a frantic world, a refuge west of Silicon Valley invites you to unplug and connect without a single device. It’s a stark contrast, less than an hour from the headquarters of Apple and Facebook, to the centuries-old redwoods that cradle Canyon Ranch at Woodside. Like a fairy tale, it’s tempting—often unsettling—to disappear into the stillness and solitude of a digital-less world, even for a few days. But once you reemerge, the lessons could carry you for months or years to come.

Canyon Ranch established a reputation for wellness four decades ago in Tucson and has since spread its services from as far as the Berkshires in Massachusetts to as near as the Las Vegas Strip. But it’s the California property—a recent acquisition—that figures into this story.

Located just beyond the town of Woodside, a 30-minute drive from SFO airport, this Canyon Ranch boasts forests that stretch from the hills of the Peninsula to the Pacific coast. To heighten the experience, the property hosts several treehouse accommodations. These glass-clad rooms immerse you in a magnificent canopy of redwoods as you begin and end your day.

While it would be easy to submerge in such a breathtaking living environment, the retreat journey beckons you to the main lodge. This three-story building offers everything you’ll need outside your room for the weekend. The first floor welcomes you to the lobby, where guest services will help with any additions or modifications to your itinerary.

The gym hosts regular classes indoors, on the patio and at select locations throughout the grounds. Start your day with a Roll & Release to wake up any tired or stiff muscles. Yoga, tai chi and other fitness classes are offered throughout the day. Meditative practices like qigong, creative drawing and forest bathing are also available.

Be sure to schedule an off-property hike, like the Djerassi Resident Artist Program Sculpture Hike, a magical three-hour adventure into the private woods donated by Carl Djerassi, developer of the oral contraceptive pill. There you’ll find decades of artist installations nestled among the trees for the curious hiker to discover and enjoy.

Also located on the first floor, the spa gives you the opportunity to nourish both the physical and spiritual being. Set up a soothing massage or invigorating facial inspired by sustainable NorCal ingredients. The resort also offers spiritual guidance and wellness coaching with its resident provider. Through open and nonjudgmental dialogue, you’ll be encouraged to connect with your personal mission or goals, allowing you to look to the future with optimism, awareness and clarity.

Moving on to the next level, you’ll find your culinary destination for your entire stay: The Hearth. Chef Isabelle Jackson Nunes works with regenerative farmers and ranchers to source the best local and seasonal ingredients for her creations. She also presents meals driven by wellness philosophies including root-to-stem use of vegetables and fruits, meat raised by humane animal husbandry practices, and ingredients and beverages that respect and do not strain the region’s natural resources. The results are healthy and delicious—served with forest views enjoyed on the wraparound patio.

Try the shakshuka for breakfast, then indulge in a gorgeous salad and seasonal catch for lunch. Finish the day with roasted artichokes and mushroom and rye panzanella for dinner, saving room for a tasty dessert and bottle of wine that you can keep handy during your stay at the adjacent Hideaway.

The top level, known as The Loft, hosts yoga, drumming, and other fitness and creative classes in a large open space. A fireplace provides the perfect gathering place for evening chats—many presented by outside guest speakers—on topics ranging from reconnection, mindfulness and forgiveness to living and working with purpose.

Like the mighty redwood, conclude your Canyon Ranch experience stronger, taller and fully rooted in the world. After the past year, there seem to be so many lessons that we can learn from nature’s resilience.

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