I love facilitating retreats for organizations and collaboratives, and exploring Southern California. I’m combining these two passions of mine into a list of retreat locations within 150 miles miles of of Downtown Los Angeles. Starting with sites in Downtown, this list expands ever outward into the hills, mountains, deserts and oceans that make for fantastic settings to host your organization’s retreat. Locations with stars* after their name are sites I have facilitated retreats at. Click on the name of any location to link to their website. If I missed a great retreat site or if you need a facilitator to help plan and facilitate your retreat, please contact me.
IN DOWNTOWN LA
California Endowment Center for Healthy Communities*: There are multiple meeting rooms, a lovely plaza and healthy, good food available for health-oriented organizations.
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles*: There are multiple meeting rooms here with varying levels of divine inspiration, all with access to a pleasant courtyard.
Central Library: The Central Library and many local branches have meeting rooms nonprofits can use.
City Labs (Boyle Heights)*: Get your creative juices flowing in this space where you can also network with other leading organizations like LURN.
Droplabs: This innovative co-working space in Downtown Los Angeles has a conference room you can rent out.
Grand Park*: Why meet inside when you can reflect outside in a wonderful civic space full of movable, pink furniture.
La Plaza de Cultura y Artes (Olvera Street): Meet in the historic heart of Los Angeles in this renovated space celebrating local culture.
Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (Little Tokyo): This space has several room options and a peaceful garden.
Joan Palevsky Center for the Future of Los Angeles*: If your nonprofit’s work is aligned with the mission of the California Community Foundation and you’re collaborating for change, this is the space for you.
Junction Box*: This historic building adjacent to the Cornfields houses Remap LA, a group I consulted for. Contact Fabian at Remap to inquire about the space.
The Hub LA (Arts District)*: Another innovative co-working space that brings all sorts of creatives together.
Opodz: This coworking space in Little Tokyo has a small conference room available for rent (good for 10 or less people).
WITHIN 5 MILES OF DOWNTOWN LA
Atwater Crossing (Atwater Village)*: This innovative space brings together a wide spectrum of people, institutions and organizations. It also has a conference room, tasty restaurant, shaded outdoor spaces and a bar.
Audubon Center at Debs Park (Lincoln Park)*: Located in Debs Park full of native plants and winged wonders, there’s a trail that starts just feet from two different sized rooms (one of my favorite places to retreat near the city center!).
California Science Center (Exposition Park): All the exhibits at the Science Center will also get your creative juices flowing and enjoy the rose garden!
Griffith Park Clubhouse (Los Feliz)*: Located in in the Wilson Harding golf course, this historic meeting room provides a great view and a stately space to retreat in.
LA Eco-Village (Koreatown)*: There’s a spacious courtyard garden and an upstairs room to use in this transit-accessible Koreatown neighborhood.
LA River Center and Gardens (Glassel Park)*: This beautiful site adjacent to downtown LA and close to the LA River provides an oasis of gardens and fountains.
LA84 Foundation (West Adams)*: Keep the inspiration of the 1984 Olympics alive by meeting in this facility with a nice courtyard.
Mercado la Paloma (University Park, USC)*: Just east of USC is Mercado Paloma, which has a nice sized meeting room for rent that can comfortably hold 15 people, along with delicious lunch options just outside.
The Cathedral Center of St. Paul (Echo Park): Perched above Echo Park Lake, this Episcopal center has a retreat center.
The Great Escape Club (Atwater Village): While you retreat, your kids can play nearby.
Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI, Eagle Rock, at Occidental College)*: Nestled under old oak trees adjacent to a vegetable garden, this spot is available to sustainability-oriented organizations that relate to UEPI’s mission.
WITHIN 10 MILES OF DOWNTOWN LA
The Autry (Griffith Park): Make your own history at this institution that celebrates the history of the west.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (Baldwin Hills)*: There’s an room inside as well as an indoor/outdoor room. Right outside the window are stunning views of Los Angeles.
Doheny Ranch in Franklin Canyon Park (Beverly Hills): “The middle of the city, yet tranquil.” -@neighbor2neighbor
Flintridge Center (Pasadena)*: This affordable space not only has a kitchen, but also gives you access to a robust library full of resources for nonprofits.
Kings Road Park (West Hollywood): “In the city, but miles away in a park setting.” -Ramon Mendez
LA Beautification Team Urban Forestry Classroom (Hollywood)*: This green building also offers some nice outdoor space.
La Casita Del Arroyo (Pasadena): “Nice, good space with a kitchen. Great views of the Arroyo.” – Kathy Perez
Los Angeles Zoo (Griffith Park)*: The “If you could be any animal, what would it be?” question takes on new meaning in the board room at the Zoo.
ReDiscover Center (Culver City): This creative space has a meeting room along with a back section filled with ingredients to add creativity to your discussions.
TreePeople Conference Center (Beverly Hills): Nestled up in the Santa Monica Mountains, this sustainably designed space is available for organizations that have missions related to TreePeople.
WITHIN 25 MILES OF DOWNTOWN LA
Aldersgate Retreat Center (Pacific Palisades): This cozy house at the base of Temescal Canyon and just above the Pacific Ocean is really nice.
Altadena Community Center (Altadena): At the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, this community center is close to the Eaton Canyon trailhead.
Angels Gate Cultural Center (San Pedro)*: This beautiful site overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has four different rooms available for meetings.
Annenberg Beach House (Santa Monica)*: This lovely spot on the beach has plenty of options and is literally on the sand adjacent to the mighty Pacific ocean.
De Paul Evangelization Center (Monrovia): South east of Downtown LA sits 14 acres.
Franklin Canyon Park (Beverly Hills)*: Nestled in the Santa Monica Moutains, this spot is alive with the spirit of William O. Douglas, with indoor and outdoor options.
Holy Spirit Retreat Center (Encino): This site sits in the Santa Monica Mountain range and looks like a nice spot.
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (Arcadia): This place is ideal for some walking meetings during a retreat and you may even see a peacock.
Japanese Garden at Sepulveda Basin (Van Nuys): Close to a beautiful section of the LA River, this sounds like a relaxing spot.
Mary and Joseph Retreat Center (Palos Verdes): A catholic retreat center on a couple of acres of land that rents its space out. Looks peaceful.
Monrovia Canyon Park Cabin & Conference Center (Monrovia): A 1400 square foot space that sits at a trailhead that takes you to a waterfall.
Old Mill Foundation (San Marino): This historic spot has a native plant garden to explore.
Reagan Banquet and Conference Center (Downey): The Center is located within the larger Arc facility, a place that transforms lives.
Serra Retreat (Malibu): A catholic monastery just a short walk up from one of the best surfing spots in the world!
Temescal Gateway Park (Pacific Palisades): Located in beautiful Temescal Canyon just up from the Pacific, this location provides some great overnight stay options, hikes and surfing.
The Huntington (San Marino)*: Multiple venues within this institution that also offers multiple gardens to explore.
WITHIN 50 MILES OF DOWNTOWN LA
Shalom Institute (Malibu): Located in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the sea, this retreat center offers 220 acres to explore.
Sierra Club Lodges (Mt. Baldy): This rustic lodge below Mt. Baldy requires a hike of a few miles, but you’re rewarded with stunning views and a remote location.
Sturtevant Camp (North of Sierra Madre): Established in 1893, this historic, rustic site is accessible by trail (with an option to pack your supplies with the help of mules).
The Conference Center at Brandeis-Bardin (Simi Valley): Plenty of places to explore on this 3,000 acre campus.
WITHIN 75 MILES OF DOWNTOWN LA
Banning House (Two Harbors, Catalina): This stunning, historic B&B on a hill overlooking the harbors could double as a retreat center (and a spot to get married!).
Boone Center (Two Harbors, Catalina)*: This “Camp David for the Environment” is inspiring (note your organization must fall within their mission to use their space)!
Calliote Canyon (Ojai): Nestled on five acres adjacent to Los Padres National Forest, this peaceful spot comes highly recommended by Erik from Root Simple.
Camp Pavika (Cedarpines Park): This historic, accessible camp is available for rental when camp isn’t in session.
Camp Ramah (Ojai): When this summer camp facility is out of session, it’s available for retreat rentals.
Ocean Institute (Dana Point): Located right on the Pacific of this former point-break, this center for oceanographic learning has several meeting space options.
The Ojai Foundation (Ojai): This place looks amazing. 40 acres. Peaceful. Nice facilities. Very Eco. Inspiring.
The Peppertree Retreat (Ojai)*: This place is the spiritual home of Krishnamurti, a wise guru who knew how to live in the moment. On the outskirts of Ojai, this place has a mellow vibe.
Retreat Agape (Perris): It looks like a peaceful location in the desert.
Villa Ojai (Ojai): This comfy looking house looks like a nice spot for a small retreat.
WITHIN 125 MILES OF DOWNTOWN LA
Alpine Meadows (San Gabriel Mountains): Another large site that looks like it handles lots of groups ranging in size.
Big Bear Retreat Center (Big Bear Lake): “Nestled in the ancient Juniper forests of the San Bernardino Mountains at a 7,000-foot elevation )… immersed in nature located amidst about 100 acres of forested land with direct access to several hiking trails…”
Crazzy Wasewagon Retreat (Angelus Oaks, near Big Bear): This site looks like it can handle large groups of people when it’s not in summer camp session.
Pali Retreat (Lake Arrowhead): This large site in handles large groups and can lead you in lots of team-building activities.
Old Mission San Luis Rey (Oceanside): This historic mission has several meeting rooms to choose from and grounds to explore.
Pinrose (Twin Peaks): Close to the lovely Lake Gregory, a pleasant swim spot, this location looks like it can handle groups of various sizes.
UCLA Confrence Center and Resort (Lake Arrowhead)*: Another large site near the lake with lots of different meeting rooms.
Vina de Lestonnac (Temecula): Looks like a peaceful, spiritual site in wine country.
WITHIN 175 MILES OF DOWNTOWN LA
Blue Sky Center (Cuyuma): This place-based nonprofit working on building a more resilient rural economies has a nice spot in the high desert on the Central Coast.
Camp Stevens (Julian): This 250 acre site looks amazing! Lots of ground to cover on this site that prioritizes sustainability.
Deer Springs Mountain Retreat (Lake Arrowhead): This place looks pretty low-key. There are two cabins and another building for a meeting room.
Joshua Tree Retreat Center (Joshua Tree): Just outside the sublime national park sits this spiritual retreat center and its unique architecture.
La Casa de Gracia (La Mision, Baja California): This family beachfront home is perfect for a 10-20 person retreat, especially if you want some beach time south of the border.
La Casa de Maria (Santa Barbara): Currently closed because of the 2017 fires & 2018 mud/debris flows, this spiritual renewal center is going through a rebuilding process.
Lazy C Ranch (Palm Springs): This historic ranch sits adjacent to some mountains in the desert.
Liberty Station (San Diego): This former naval facility offers several meeting locations and a healthy mix of green spaces and shops, adjacent to water.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Mountain Station (Palm Springs): After riding the tram up 8,000 feet, be sure to schedule time to explore the San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area.
Pathfinder Ranch (Mountain Center): This spot in the San Bernadino forest can handle large numbers and has multiple program activities onsite.
Powerhouse Community Center (Del Mar): During the week, this spot right along the water offers discounted rates for nonprofits.
Spirit Mountain Retreat (Idylwild)*: This spiritual, welcoming environment handles small group retreats.
Villa La Paz Conference & Education Center (Keene, CA): This inspiring spot connected to Cesar Chavez will connect you with generations of activism in California.
Yokoji (Mountain Center): This places looks very zen, peaceful, calm and eco.
Zaca Lake Retreat (Los Olivos): This secluded spot tucked in the hills north of Santa Barbara looks like a nice spot.
BEYOND 175 MILES OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
Check out my Places to Retreat along the Pacific Coast Blog post.
In addition to all of these, there is a website called SpaceFinderLA that contains a database of available spaces in LA where you can hold meetings, among other things. There’s also another site hosted by Cvents that has a comprehensive database of traditional hotels.
Here’s some additional resources on retreats I have developed:
- Planning Effective Retreats
- A Guide to Planning and Implementing Effective Retreats
- Hiring a Facilitator
- Reflections on various retreats I have led
- Process suggestions to make retreats more effective
how very helpful. and timely. thanks
Thank you. This is a great resource. Hank Gastineau
Thanks Ron, this was fantastic.
Ron, you’re awesome. Great list!
Ron, have you ever considered the Pacific Palms Resort and Conference Center for any of your retreats? I am curious as I am considering it and did not see it on your website.
Thanks for sharing. I did not know about the Pacific Palms Resort. It looks like it’s more suited for larger corporate gatherings and conferences. My list of retreat centers is geared more towards smaller, more intimate spaces with a more limited number of hotel rooms, if there are any. If you wind up using it, please let me know how your experience was.
Thank you for your wonderful work. Whenever you are in the area, feel free to come by The Ojai Retreat (a non-profit organization). We invite you to stay 2 nights here for free during the week. Please bring this email with you.
Ron, Thanks for this great list. We are opening Mountain Valley Retreat in January 2014. We are located on S22 at the 3 mile marker between Borrego Springs and Warner Springs under Hot Springs Peak. check out http://www.mountainvalleyretreat.org (under development now.)
Sounds great! Please let me know once you’re open for visitors.
This is a fantastic list. For those looking for more economical retreat opportunities, there are Boy Scout summer camps that are always on the lookout for weekday off-season groups to fill their facilities outside of the summer. In LA you have Camp Emerald Bay, which is on the West End of Catalina Island (www.campemeraldbay.org), as well as Camp Josepho (www.campjosepho.org) right here in the Pacific Palisades.
Hi Ron, just to mention Old Mission retreat center in Oceanside, CA. http://www.sanluisrey.org/retreats/
So glad to have this, Ron. Will use it when we are full and need to make a referral. Thanks.
This is a great list, thank you Ron!
What a fantastic resource! Do you know of anyone who does what you do in Northern California?
I highly recommend Odin Zackman from DIG IN: http://www.digin.org
Awesome list – thanks for mentioning us at Pali Retreat!