The 9 Best Small Towns in the US for a Wellness Centered Vacation
Wellness travel is booming. By one measure, the amount that people spend on wellness travel has grown 12 percent each year since 2020, and will continue to grow another 52 percent by 2027. That said, the concept of “wellness” is a broad one. For some, it’s a soak in a natural hot spring in a place like Matador’s wellness destination of the year, Calistoga, California. For others, it’s a chance to partake in yoga classes or learn from meditation experts.
These days, it’s not too difficult to find some sort of wellness related activity anywhere you travel. However, there are some areas of the United States that particularly stand out as conducive to feeling better when you leave than when you arrived. Those trips are all the more charming when based in small towns that don’t have just a spa or two, but an entire wellness ecosystem with many ways to embrace a mentally and physically satisfying lifestyle.
These are the nine best small towns in the US for a wellness-centered vacation in 2024.
Contributors: Alex Bresler, Eben Diskin, Katie Scott Aiton, Morgane Croissant, Suzie Dundas, and Tim Wenger
We hope you love the places we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.
Life in the small community of Nāʻālehu is slow and low-key. And that is exactly how the locals like it. Nāʻālehu, Hawai’ian for “the volcanic ashes,” is indeed located in a highly volcanic region, around 60 miles from Kona Town on the Big Island. Visitors en route to Volcanoes National Park tend to pause here for refreshments, but if you’re looking for a peaceful wellness getaway without tourists, Nāʻālehu is a little haven.
Known for its tranquil atmosphere, the remote coastal hamlet is surrounded by lush forests and nearby coffee plantations. The stunning region also has a couple of notable beaches — the green sand beach at Papakōlea (one of only four green sand beaches in the world) and Punalu’u’s black sand beach (one of the most famous black-sand beaches in Hawai’i).
Don’t plan a trip to the community expecting luxury modern spa amenities. In Nāʻālehu, healing comes from slowing down and connecting with yourself and nature. If you’re looking for guidance, consider joining a yoga retreat at Earthsong Sanctuary. Throughout the year, it offers transformational experiences at the sustainable, off-the-grid ashram.
Relying on the sun and wind for power and without WiFi, Earthsong Sanctuary offers you an opportunity to tune into the land. This June, you can join yogis Cole Chance and Christine Calvert for an eight-day, seven-night retreat. With teaching on topics such as the importance of community, nurturing rest, permaculture, and practical exploration of asanas, somatic movement, and holotropic breathwork, the week promises a holistic experience. It’s also worth noting that both Chance and Calvert specialize in recovery after trauma and chemical dependency. Prices range from $2750 to $3250, depending on the choice of accommodation.
Wellness lovers, say “oh, hi” to Ojai. Located an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, Ojai is a city that eats, sleeps, and breathes the balanced life, from its vineyards and farmers markets, to its recuperative inns, to the open-air trails in nearby Los Padres National Forest that welcome hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians alike.
For a place with fewer than 8,000 residents, Ojai manages to fit an impressive number of well-being spaces into its city limits. There are day spas and spa resorts. (Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn is particularly renowned for signature treatments such as its sauna-like kuyam sessions, inspired by traditional Chumash practices, and its flower seed CBD scrub and massage.) There are several yoga studios and fitness centers. There are also venues for the spiritually inclined, notably the Krotona Institute of Theosophy and the Krishnamurti Education Center, which has a library that grants visitors encyclopedic access to the teachings of the Indian thinker, writer, and speaker Jiddu Krishnamurti.
For the ultimate wellness experience in Ojai, beeline to Meditation Mount for a quick visit or a longer retreat. The full-moon meditation sessions are a specialty, but you can also participate in goings-on ranging from morning or sunset sound meditations to yoga nidra sessions.
Traveling to Southern California? Check out Matador’s California accommodation guides:
Driving through the mountains of western Massachusetts, it’s hard not to be relaxed. The bucolic towns and quiet pace of life alone are enough to take the stress out of life, and when you add in the area’s world-class spas and wellness centers, the Berkshires ranks as one of the most rejuvenating parts of the country.
That’s largely thanks to the town of Stockbridge. With a population of under 2,000, the town is regionally famous for Kripalu, its popular health and wellness retreat. A former Jesuit seminary, the 160,000 square-foot property now hosts workshops on yoga, mindfulness, meditation, Buddhist healing, and self-help. There are also over 100 acres of hiking trails with picturesque views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and Lake Mahkeenac. When you book a stay at Kripalu, daily classes and workshops are included, as well as all-natural meals.
For those seeking a more traditional spa experience, the Seven Salon Spa is just down the road in downtown Stockbridge. Offering massages, facials, waxing, and hair and beauty treatments in a historic building, the spa is perfect for those looking to add a dose of wellness to their trip but who don’t have time for a full multi-day retreat.
Lenox, the town just 10 minutes away, also has a wide range of wellness offerings. Canyon Ranch offers a luxurious spa retreat, similar — though much smaller in scale — to Kripalu, while outdoor spaces like Kennedy Park and Parsons Marsh Reserve offer plenty of opportunities to disconnect, immerse yourself in nature, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Berkshires (which especially pops on a Berkshires fall road trip).
An hour from Fairbanks and surrounded by Alaskan wilderness, Chena is a town of just over 100 people on the Tanana River. Formerly used as a shipping and mining town during the Alaska Gold Rush in the early 1900s, it’s now famous for its Chena Hot Springs Resort, known all over Alaska as one of the most luxurious and relaxing hot springs in the state. Whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, Chena is the perfect day trip or even full weekend getaway from Fairbanks, offering pools, spa treatments, a restaurant, and an ice museum.
The main attraction here is the geothermal Rock Lake, with forest views on all sides. There’s also an indoor and outdoor hot tub. If you don’t mind enduring six excruciating seconds of frigid temperatures when you get out, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as dipping into an outdoor hot tub in the Alaskan winter while surrounded by snow-covered trees. Small cabins serve as massage therapy centers, and there’s an onsite greenhouse where the resort’s cozy restaurant gets all its produce. But even when you’re done lounging in the pools and hot tubs, and finished with your massage, there’s still the property’s many hiking and horseback riding trails. In the winter, you can go dog sledding and try your luck spotting the northern lights. There’s even an ice museum on the property. The world’s longest year-round ice environment, the ice museum features over 1,000 tons of ice formed into sculptures.
You can stay onsite at the resort itself, in one of its lodges, yurts, or traditional hotel rooms, or spend the night in your own camper or RV. Since Fairbanks is just an hour away, it’s also easy to stay in Fairbanks and head to Chena for a day trip.
Traveling to Alaska? Check out Matador’s Alaska accommodation guides:
Maine is nicknamed “Vacationland” for a reason. The state’s southeastern beach towns are just over an hour from Boston, but when you pull into your cozy seaside inn or historic hotel, breathe the salty air, and smell fresh seafood pretty much everywhere you walk, the stress of everyday life melts away.
For those really looking to plunge into a pampered wellness experience, head to the Cliff House. Perched high above the rocks about a 5-minute drive south of Ogunquit, the Cliff House is a sprawling, yet secluded, resort where you can spend the night in the hotel and take advantage of the world-class spa. The spa has everything from massage and advanced skincare treatments to body rituals, wraps, and facials. In keeping with the aesthetic of the resort itself, there are several nautically-inspired treatments like “A Walk on the Beach” (full body massage and foot ritual), the “Untamed Maine” (massage and mud wrap), and the “Soul of the Ocean” (a healing and stress-relief treatment). The Meadowmere Resort is another upscale spa experience right in the heart of Ogunquit, offering everything from body scrubs to wraps and facial rejuvenation. And since it’s so centrally located, you can easily walk from here to any of the town’s seafood restaurants or coastal walking paths.
You might think it doesn’t get more relaxing than an upscale spa resort, but in Ogunquit, the most tranquil activity is probably walking Marginal Way. This leisurely 1.25-mile cliff walk runs along the water and rocky beaches from the Sparhawk Oceanfront Resort to Perkins Cove. Along the way you’ll find viewpoints, benches to sit and relax, a lighthouse overlooking Ogunquit beach, and sailboats pulling in and out of the cove.
Sedona is one of the best small towns to visit in 2024 if you’re keen on wellness – but that’s nothing new for Sedona, which has long been the center of new age wellness in the West. Even before it rose to prominence in the 1979 as one of several energy “vortices” (i.e. a vortex, or sacred spot where natural energy from the earth can lead to healing and peacefulness), it was a popular spot for modern wellness seekers looking for natural beauty and a place to find peace and quiet.
Today, the town still has that reputation, and with a population of around 10,000, it’s not hard to find views without any other people in sight. If anything, Sedona has leaned into its reputation for holistic, modern, and nonconventional wellness. Yes, it still has fantastic spa resorts like the luxurious L’Auberge de Sedona and the Wilde Resort. But New Age wellness runs the gambit, and there are plenty of places where visitors on more of a hostel budget can experience the vortex energy.
You can hike to one of the seven sacred sites around Sedona, all said to radiate their own healing energy (popular Cathedral Rock is one of them). The town has dozens of yoga schools and classes, as well as traditional spas and self-care destinations. Fitness activities like mountain biking, running, rafting, and golfing are also popular. For a well-timed visit, plan around the Sedona Yoga Festival from March 14 to 17.
But what really makes Sedona a top wellness town is the people, and it doesn’t take very much time wandering Sedona’s downtown main street to see that the town embraces an open-minded, self-care philosophy. There’s no shortage of crystal stores and spiritual shops, healing hikes and rebirth journeys are a totally normal thing to do on the weekends, and you’ll find near-daily activities focused on self-care, detox, and Eastern-inspired wellness techniques. And when you chat with locals, whether that’s a yoga instructor, a restaurant server, or even fellow nature enthusiasts on the town’s hundreds of desert hiking and mountain bike trails, you’ll quickly notice that it’s a town where nature is valued, personal growth is encouraged, and wellness is as much about mental fortitude as it is physical activity.
Traveling to the Sedona area? Check out Matador’s Arizona accommodation guides:
Throw a dart at the map toward the Colorado Rockies and there’s a good chance you’ll end up somewhere near Aspen. This is a good thing for those seeking a mental health reset, particularly if that dart lands on Glenwood Springs. Forty-five minutes from the acclaimed ski town and its airport, Glenwood offers a mountain town experience free from the glitz, glamor, and purse-bound poodles found in Aspen, and is an ideal place to turn your mind inward while soothing the body and soul.
The town is most known for its Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, which features large mineral pools of varying temperatures and a new addition of smaller, more intimate soaking pools. To unwind in a quieter setting, head to nearby Iron Mountain Hot Springs and settle into its nearly three dozen cozy mineral baths. To fully disconnect and really focus on your wellbeing, rent a cabin or shepherd’s wagon at nearby Avalanche Ranch and take advantage of 24-hour access to the ranch’s mineral pools in a beautiful, high-altitude setting surrounded by the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and the towering 14,131-foot Capitol Peak.
Glenwood Springs is built to be bikeable and walkable and public transit is free, so there’s no need to stress about driving to get to The Yoga Collective, a wellness-focused yoga studio located on the south end of downtown. Nourishing cuisine can be found downtown at Masala & Curry, with The Local on Cooper being the spot for a morning coffee and journaling session. The town is lined with hiking and biking trails, including the popular Hanging Lake hike and the short-but-steep jaunt to Doc Holliday’s gravesite. The Rio Grande Trail runs a mostly paved path from Glenwood Springs to Aspen that takes much of a day to bike but comes with excellent views of the Rockies in all directions.
The Hotel Denver offers the easiest access to the town center, located directly across from the train station on the pedestrian-friendly Seventh Street. From here, you can walk to the hot springs resort and stop to take in the view from the pedestrian bridge across the Colorado River en route. Alternatively, The Hotel Colorado is a historic property across the river from downtown that overlooks the hot springs and city.
Rumor has it that, in the late 19th century, a woman cured her severe dementia by drinking water from the town of Mineral Wells in Texas. While the story remains unverified to this day, it made for good publicity for the then newly laid out little town. The well from where the healing water came from was quickly named the “Crazy Well,” its mineral water was branded “Crazy Water,” and visitors started flocking to the small town in the hope of relieving their ailments. Well over 100 years later, people still visit Mineral Wells to enjoy its wellness offerings – including full glasses of Crazy Water (AKA the Famous Mineral Water Company), the only local brand of mineral water remaining today.
But, of course, there’s more to Mineral Wells than just glasses of miracle water. The town has exceptional health and wellness opportunities, including the yearly Crazy Wellness Day festival where those in need of some me-time can take part in mindfulness and nutrition workshops, yoga classes, dance lessons, and more. In 2024, Crazy Wellness Day will take place on June 8 at the beautiful Crazy Water Hotel. Whether or not you participate in the festival, the Crazy Water Hotel is the place to stay in town if you want to relax in infrared saunas, get massages, body or facial treatments, try out rooftop yoga, or soak in the local therapeutic mineral waters. The establishment is also home to a newly opened farm-to-table restaurant Second bar + Kitchen, so you can refuel after loosening up. If you’re not staying overnight, go straight to the Crazy Water Bath House & Spa and try out one of the many spa services, including body scrubs, deep tissue massages, and more.
Mineral Wells is less than 1.5 hours west of Dallas, and 3.5 hours from Austin, making it a great option for a wellness weekend getaway from the city.
While sailing and historic mansions have primarily defined Newport, Rhode Island, the town has another claim to fame for the wellness minded: its spas. The city is packed with wellness institutes offering just about everything you need to let loose and thrive, from hydrotherapy to Thai body rituals, traditional Chinese medicine treatments, yoga classes, sound healing sessions, and much more.
If you’re looking for a deluxe massage and a facial in a beautiful setting, pay a visit to the upscale Castle Hill Inn Spa. The 40-acre property is also a lovely place to stay and dine if you’re able to splurge a little. Similarly, the newly renovated Newport Harbor Island Resort is an elegant venue where you can get manicures, massages, facials, hair removal treatments, and more – all with ocean views. Of course, you can stay in one of the lovely guest rooms and enjoy the four on-site dining venues. Both properties are outside of the downtown so you can relax well away from the urban hustle and bustle.
But, of course, in a town where wellness offerings abound, you’re likely to be tempted into trying something a little more niche. The Bodhi Spa specializes in what it calls the Water Journey, a way of healing and relaxing by applying water to the body in all its forms and temperature: steam and sauna sessions, ice plunges, and hot mineral soaks. DRIPBaR offers more unusual treatments such as intravenous vitamin drips and intramuscular shots meant to give you an immunity a boost. Similarly, the Avalon Medical Spa menu includes injections to improve sexual wellness such as “O-shots” (Orgasm shots) for women and “P-shots” (Priapus shots) for men, as well as a wealth of laser treatments, collagen inductions, and more. Those who’d rather enjoy less clinical and more New-Age wellness offerings can head straight to Recharge Newport to take part in ecotherapy sessions, transformational soul coaching sessions, dream analysis sessions, tarot reading, among other alternative choices.