Getting the flavor of...A California Zen retreat

Tassajara, a Buddhist monastery in Big Sur, was the first Zen monastery outside Asia when it was founded in 1967.

A California Zen retreat

People stressed out by today’s “always-on” culture have been finding a reprieve at the 1960s birthplace of Western Zen, said Rachel Levin in Sunset. Looking for a reboot myself, I booked a short stay at Tassajara (, a Buddhist monastery in Big Sur that opens its doors to guests from late April through mid-September. Tassajara was the first Zen monastery outside Asia when it was founded, in 1967, and Joan Baez was among the first in a long line of celebrities who visited seeking peace. No famous faces joined me in the meditation circles, but there were plenty of fellow tech-slaves seeking downtime in a place where the occasional toll of a gong marks time. Between meditation sessions, I worked—dusting cobwebs one day, chopping apples the next. Soon, I felt deeply relaxed “for the first time in a very long time.” When I eased into the 100-degree-plus water of Tassajara’s hot springs, my calm “kicked into another gear.”

Wisconsin’s throwback capital

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Madison, Wis., is a “mythically quirky place” that fully embraces nostalgia, said Emily Wax in The Washington Post. As my husband and I discovered during a recent visit, this free-spirited state capital willfully conjures the past—and without irony. Take the “many dark-wood supper clubs that have popped up in recent years.” During Prohibition, supper clubs were speakeasies and live-music venues. Today, they casually channel the spirit of the skinny-tie postwar years, with Don Draper–approved retro cocktails and hearty food. We added to the throwback feel of our stay by spending time eating ice cream cones near Lake Mendota, perusing independent bookstores, and visiting the quirky National Mustard Museum in neighboring Middleton. One surprise highlight was the “epic” Saturday Dane County farmers market, which stretches for blocks and is said to be the largest market in the country whose produce is exclusively local.

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