How to explore California like a local
Destination resident Luciana Bellini knows California like the back of her hand. Beyond Hollywood, sandy beaches and tech startups, the state is home to some of the wellness industry’s most successful regimes. Join us on a tour of The Golden State’s top offerings
Soak your cares away in a Galactic Crystal Intention Tub in Los Angeles
Los Angeles has long been hailed as the birthplace of woo-woo wellness crazes, and its latest opening is no exception. The brilliantly-named IntoMeSea in Santa Monica focuses on the healing power of the sea for its treatments and experiences – come to sweat it out in the infrared sauna, try a flotation meditation session or take a soak in one of the Galactic Crystal Intention Tubs (complete with chakra bath bombs), which are carved out of white quartz and used for energetic healing.
“As a Californian, born and raised by the water, I have always felt a profound love of the ocean and a deep awareness of the healing it can bring to one’s soul. My vision for IntoMeSea was to harness that energy.”
Jen Williams, founder of IntoMeSea
While you’re there, don’t miss… the chance to explore LA’s most popular beachfront neighbourhood, known for its laidback vibe and delightfully gaudy pier. The best way to get around is by bike – rent one and follow the 22-mile South Bay Bicycle Trail, the longest ocean-front beach path of its kind in the world, which will take you from the northernmost point of Santa Monica through the Venice Beach Boardwalk and down to Hermosa and Redondo beaches.
Immersive yourself in VR fitness in San Francisco
Virtual reality workouts may be one of the biggest new trends in the fitness world, being designed to improve your health, strength and endurance all while playing a game, but the craze originated in San Francisco, where Black Box opened the world’s first VR gym in 2019. Created as an antidote to boring exercise routines, it now has several locations across California, where fitness fans come to don the headset and get an intense 30-minute cardio workout while playing a game that’s so immersive they forget they’re even exercising.
“F Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote: ‘The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.’ That perfectly describes the spirit of California. On one hand, it’s the centre of the high-tech world, constantly pushing society to improve and prosper through innovation. On the other hand, it’s a paradise with beautiful beaches, gorgeous mountains and endless vineyards.”
Ryan DeLuca, founder of Black Box VR
While you’re there, don’t miss… a ride on one of the city’s charming trams. From the gym’s Market Street location, you can hop on one that will take you all the way to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco’s main tourist hub. Here you can spot the local sea lions (they tend to hang out by the wooden walkway behind Pier 39), play a game in the retro arcade and pick up a loaf of Boudin’s famous sourdough at the San Fran institution’s headquarters.
Downward dog with your pooch in San Diego
When a bog-standard dog walk won’t cut it, try Leash Your Fitness. The San Diego-based business is the only company in the country that offers workouts where you can bring your furry friend along, whether that’s for boot camps, yoga or the weekly ‘Butt, Gut & Strut with Your Mutt’ sessions, which mix cardio with strength training. Founded by Dawn Celapino and her adorable Cairn terrier Jack, all the classes are held outdoors and incorporate sections for your canine pal, too, meaning you get a workout and a dog obedience lesson all at the same time.
“Holding the classes in San Diego has allowed us year-round outdoor adventures on beaches, trails and hills. I love that we get to move our classes all over the city so that we can introduce people and their dogs to new areas.”
Dawn Celapino, founder of Leash Your Fitness
While you’re there, don’t miss… having a snoop around the storied Hotel del Coronado – or the Del, as it’s affectionately known. First opened in 1888, when it was the largest hotel resort in the world, it’s played host to everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Katharine Hepburn to Brad Pitt and Madonna, and is where Some Like It Hot was filmed during the height of Marilyn Monroe’s fame in 1958. Afterwards, drive over Coronado Bridge and spend some time in Balboa Park, home to 17 museums, beautifully landscaped gardens and the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.
Experience sonic healing in the Mojave desert
If you’re searching for an out-of-this-world experience, the Integratron is the place. This white-domed structure in the heart of California’s Mojave desert – known for its powerful geomagnetic forces – was originally built in the 1950s to communicate with aliens after its founder, George Van Tassel, went for an alleged jaunt on board a Venusian spaceship. These days, it’s best known for its monthly sound baths, hour-long sonic healing sessions held in the main chamber that use crystal bowls to resonate around the acoustically perfect structure.
“California is so incredibly diverse, both in terms of people and in terms of ecosystems. The wide-open deserts of Southern California have become a welcome respite of quiet beauty for visitors from all over the world.” Nancy Karl, co-founder of the Integratron
While you’re there, don’t miss… stopping off at Joshua Tree National Park, where you can explore giant granite monoliths and rock formations. Spend the day hiking and rock climbing among the boulder outcroppings and the night gazing at the stars – this is a designated International Dark Sky Park and its nocturnal displays are dazzling. While you’re in the area, pay a visit to live music mainstay Pappy & Harriet’s in nearby Pioneertown, where Paul McCartney and Arctic Monkeys have played.
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