Top 10 Amazing Monasteries To Visit In California USA
Many may know it as the “Land of Milk and Honey,” “The Golden State,” and “The Grape State,” but California is much more than its coined names.
Each city in the state promises something different, just like the hilltop city of San Francisco, known for the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and Los Angeles, where you’ll find the Hollywood entertainment industry.
It is a lovely destination for everyone and the whole family, whether you are after pristine beaches, forest adventure, hiking in the mountains, or music festivals in the desert.
It also has great places to stay, including farm stays and Airbnb vacation rentals. Furthermore, it is home to several monasteries where peace can be had.
If you’re after this aspect of California, check out our list of amazing monasteries to visit in California, USA.
St Andrews Abbey
When you want peace and solitude, St. Andrew’s Abbey, a monastic Benedictine monastery of the Congregation of the Annunciation in Palermo, is the perfect place to visit.
This is a famous retreat center in California where everyone can go because the monastery is not related to any parish. Apart from being a place of prayer, it is also famous for ceramics.
In addition, many monks here teach at madrassas and nearby colleges. Given its location in the Mojave Desert, you’ll find much-needed silence here.
Deer Park Monastery
Located on a 400-acre (161.87 km) property in Escondido, California, Deer Park Monastery was established in 2000 under the guidance of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who is also a peace activist and founder of the Plum Village Tradition.
The monastery offers themed and simple retreats as well as mindfulness days twice each week. Furthermore, in addition to the normal duties of the monastery, it offers an annual retreat when Thich Nhat Hanh visits. In addition, the estate has two hamlets, Solidity Hamlet for men and Clarity Hamlet for women.
Hsi Lai Temple
Hsi Lai Temple was established in 1988 by Ven. Master Heung Yoon. Located on a 15-acre (6.47 ha) estate in Hacienda Heights, this hilltop monastery features the traditional Chinese monastic architectural style and an area of 102,432 square feet (9,516.24 m²).
The monastery was built to help spread Chinese culture and Buddhism to the West. Furthermore, the temple served as a home for Buddhist missionaries and a venue for charitable events and cultural activities that would help spread the ideologies of Buddhism. So, to know more about Buddhism and Chinese culture, you must visit Hsi Lai Temple.
Abbey of New Clairvaux
The Abbey of New Clairvaux, a Trappist monastery in Tehama County, is open to all, whether you’re a day visitor, retreatant, or looking for a longer guest program.
The monastery offers self-guided tours, Mass in the abbey church, a retreat house, and a welcome center where you can learn more about the monastery and its cause.
In addition to the usual amenities, it also comes with a wine-tasting room where you can sample wines and a gift shop for souvenirs to bring back home.
As a foreshadowing, you cannot have a picnic here to avoid disturbing the people who go there to pray and observe silence.
Mount Baldi Zen Center
With an area of 5.4 acres (2.1 ha), Rinzai Zen Monastery is located on a property in the San Gabriel Mountains; the Mount Baldy Zen Center was once a Boy Scout camp, which gained popularity when the famous poet and musician Leonard Cohen joined it.
The monastery is also home to its founder Kyōzan Jōshū Sasaki, and it serves as a training center for his descendants who wish to join the monastic order.
They offer a variety of retreats and programs, catering to every need and level, from introductory, beginner, to Zazenkai, which is a one- to three-day Zen practice, and Seishin, where you delve into a more intensive Zen practice. I will remain immersed, which can last for seven days.
Located in the Berkeley Hills, Avatar Monastery is one of the best places to spend a contemplative day near the Bay Area.
This hilltop monastery follows the traditions of the Benedictine Camaldolese and provides a beautiful place for retreat, meditation, and spiritual guidance.
Visitors can choose to stay in the guest rooms, but there must be silence at all times, especially in the evening. The monastery’s daily program includes Lauds and Vespers with sitting meditation on Mondays and Fridays and the Eucharist on weekends.
New Kamaldoli Hermitage
The New Camaldoli Hermitage, also known as the Immaculate Heart Hermitage, is located in the Santa Lucia Mountains. It is a Camaldolese Benedictine hermitage founded in 1958 by two monks from Camaldoli in northern Italy.
The monastery is home to 20 monks living in a small hut with a garden. It is open to those seeking refuge for short or longer periods.
Typically, the retreats here are non-guided and silent. Additionally, the monastery is famous for its fruitcake, “Holy Granola,” and date cake made from a recipe prepared by the monks.
If you are looking for peace, quiet and spectacular views, you must visit the Carmelite Monastery. It is a convent run by nuns under the order of St. Teresa of Avila.
The monastery is situated near the foothills of Santa Lucia, with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. You and your family can attend Mass every morning at 8 am, except Thursdays and Sundays at 9 am, and here the cloistered nuns chant.
If you want to avoid attending the Mass, the chapel and the beautiful, well-kept garden are open for prayer.
City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Founded by Hiuen Hua, a key figure in spreading Buddhism to the West, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is one of the first Chan Buddhist temples in the Americas and the largest community in the Western world.
It is a monastery home to nuns and monks conducting Buddhism courses. The temple’s main attraction is the 10,000 golden Buddha statues that line the property.
Apart from this, it has beautiful courtyards, lush green landscapes, gardens, and ornamental peacocks.
Another thing worth checking out here is the gift shop, which sells souvenir items and literature, and the famous Jeun Kang vegetarian restaurant.
Deer Park Math Bell
California is one of the most visited vacation destinations in America. With its many beaches, historical attractions, theme parks, world-class restaurants, and places to snowboard, you certainly couldn’t ask for more.
Remember to pray and pay your respects at its many religious buildings and sites. Discover amazing monasteries to visit in California, USA, as you explore the state.
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