Taos makes the writer’s retreat a mutt.

There are hundreds of literary retreats every year, from Colorado’s sprawling Jagged Mountain Ranch to the Barone Diaries Retreat Center in Millwood, N.Y. A prime hub is Taos, where thousands of Americans a year make this delirious, 17th-century bazaar their place to refuel and recharge.

Perhaps a little too much for the power-driven modern caterer, Taos is a mesa of cafes, and hawkers of unprocessed foods; vibrantly exotic plants and artworks; grocers hawking fancy, personalized chocolate. Even the ubiquitous sunset treks are far from sleepy. Where to eat when there’s so much going on? Fine. Where to stay? Too congested. Where to find inspiration? Take a hike. (I also tried a few options in the nearby Mountains View area, where, remarkably, many settlers escaped Mormon invasion and later developed a distinct American blue-grass sound.)

Here are a few suggestions for good lassitude. A little foreign nirvana or tranquility never hurt anyone.

Ridgefield, Washington, hosted by: Vi Szabo

The warm-up program at Vi Szabo’s retreat has 12 categories. For an overview of the path, see the Spiritual Paths entry on her website. Photo courtesy of Vi Szabo.


Vi Szabo calls herself “a single-starred Polish chef.” When she notches a star, she goes on vacation to a small village in Poland. All work and no play make her a dull girl, and she turns her jadedness on itself. She conducts a cross-country walk to conceive an all-vegetarian cafe, through which she seeks enlightenment.

The center’s intersection with hiking informs the homages to Stravinsky and Shakespeare. At Eastern Star Yoga, plan to visit the room where the world can feel as vast as a massive blue pool. Photo courtesy of Vi Szabo.

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