If you don't consider a getaway "a vacation" unless you cross state lines, here are a few New England retreats that offer specialized programs and a break from your daily routine.
New Hampshire — Contemplate the dharma
Just south of Durham, New Hampshire, Aryaloka is a Buddhist haven on 13 acres, offering day classes and meditation sessions, weeklong retreats (along with housing and vegetarian meals), celebratory festivals, and introductory programs at all price points.
Aryaloka Buddhist Center | Newmarket, NH | 603.659.5456 | www.aryaloka.org
Vermont — Women-only fitness
This "healthy living" retreat for women only is a fitness and weight-loss spa in Vermont's Green Mountains, near Okemo. No dieting here: just healthy, filling foods, rewarding (non-mandatory) exercise classes, workshops and lectures, and free time for hiking, swimming, and reprogramming. With a one-week minimum stay and personalized counseling, it's not cheap ($2200 to more than $10,000, depending on the season and the length of stay). But can you put a price on health and confidence?
Green Mountain at Fox Run | Ludlow, VT | 800.488.8106 | fitwoman.com
Massachusetts — Renew, restore
This 30-year-old center, located in the rolling hills of the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, is considered one of the largest and most established holistic retreat organizations in North America. The Retreat and Renewal program offers participants an à la carte menu of self-care workshops, fitness classes, and solo leisure time, plus meals and simple accommodations.
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health | Stockbridge, MA | 866.200.5203 | kripalu.org
Rhode Island — Culinary skills
Let's call this the culinary retreat (perhaps because its so small, there's a dearth of proper retreats in Rhode Island). Start things off with a Chef's Choice class (they run from three hours to half-day sessions) at Johnson and Wales University, a premier culinary institution in Providence. Classes offered in July and August include grilling techniques, sushi-making, easy chicken dinners, and classic pies. Then, arrange to stay the night at the Woody Hill Bed and Breakfast in Westerly (less than an hour from Providence), where host Ellen Madison offers historical hearth-cooking classes for groups of six to eight.
Johnson and Wales University | Providence, RI | 800.DIAL.JWU | jwu.edu
Woody Hill Bed and Breakfast | Westerly, RI | 401.322.0452 | woodyhill.com
Connecticut — Retreat for the Insane
Totes JK! But in case you're interested, the Connecticut Retreat for the Insane, which now operates as the Institute of Living (part of Hartford Hospital, and offering a wide range of psychological treatments), opened for admission of mentally ill patients in 1824, modeling its humane philosophy of treatment after similar institutions in England and France. Visit the "Myths, Minds, and Medicine: Two Centuries of Mental Health Care" exhibit, check out the "outsider art" display, stroll the grounds (designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who co-designed New York's Central Park and helped plan Portland's Deering Oaks Park), or attend an educational session about compulsive hoarding. Relax!
Institute of Living | harthosp.org/InstituteOfLiving