Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

The first Soto Zen monastery established outside of Asia, Tassajara is open to day and overnight visitors between May and mid-September. Located in a remote part of California's Ventana Wilderness, the monastery offers a limited number of guest rooms and cabins. Sign up for one of the many retreats — including The Zen of Baking, July 20-25, 2008 — or come to simply enjoy the hot springs and gourmet vegetarian fare. The center is nestled 1½ hours down a rustic dirt road from Carmel Valley (or a three-day hike through the Santa Lucia mountains from Big Sur). You don't have to be a student of Zen to appreciate the retreat's profound, natural peace.

  • DO: Soak in Japanese-style baths and hot-spring pools; walk down river to the “narrows” for a dip in natural swimming holes. Enjoy many miles of hiking trails. Participate in morning and evening meditation (zazen) sessions, all levels welcome.

  • EAT: Tassajara is renowned for its elegant vegetarian cuisine; gourmet brown-bag lunches are also available. Don't miss the famous fresh-baked breads.

  • INFO: 415.865.1899; sfzc.org/tassajara/