While the Los Angeles wellness crowd has been busy opening 5,000-square-foot fitness studios and health-food stores peddling $12 adaptogenic lattes—to much media fanfare—its healthy neighbors up north have been quietly cultivating a pretty cool holistic scene themselves.
In fact, locals claim that San Francisco rivals any town in the USA as a healthy travel destination. “There is undoubtedly a growing appetite for integrative and spirituality-based wellness among the Bay Area folks,” says Leigh Winters, neuroscientist and holistic wellness expert. “Many San Francisco residents are highly educated and work in technology or the hard sciences, yet they have this incredible open-mindedness that makes for a creative and highly informative wellness scene.”
That said, holistic health isn’t as in-your-face in the Bay Area as it may be in other places. “The wellness scene can be a bit underground in SF,” says Tiffany Lester, MD, an integrative physician at Parsley Health. “However, once you dig below the surface of boutique stores and fancy burritos, there is a whole oasis of wellness awaiting.”
To help with the excavation process, I asked Dr. Lester, Winters, and holistic health coach Molly Alliman—all San Francisco locals—to share a few of the region’s can’t-miss wellness destinations. One thing’s clear: The city by the bay is certainly giving LA and NYC a run for their matcha.
Read on to discover the wellness spots you should visit next time you’re in the San Francisco area.
Facials and spa services
“This is my favorite holistic wellness and skin care spa in SF,” says Alliman. “I’ve been coming here for almost five years. Book with Genevieve and pamper yourself with an oxygen or vitamin C facial.”
“This spot has all of my favorite spa essentials in one place: CBD-infused massage, communal hot tubs, a cold plunge, and steam room,” says Dr. Lester.
“Ayla is one of the most expertly curated, high-end clean beauty and skin-care boutiques that you’ll find,” Winters says. “Resident esthetician Beth Robert brings her Zen presence—she’s a longtime Cali yoga teacher—and healing touch to facials that leave your skin and entire being feeling more balanced.”
“I love coming here for essential oils, and they carry my favorite scented magnesium salt for baths when I need to de-stress,” Alliman says. “The staff is so knowledgeable, and they really care about providing non-toxic products for better health.”
Yoga, Pilates, and meditation
“Once you step into this urban oasis, be prepared to sweat and stretch your way to wellness in a barre or Pilates class designed by [studio] owner Elaine Hayes, who takes a holistic approach to mind and body,” says Alliman. “I have felt my body heal and strengthen over time from just coming here two to three times a week.”
“This studio offers a variety of classes you can dip into before work or during your lunch hour,” says Dr. Lester.
Dr. Lester describes this as “the ‘SoulCycle of yoga’—a 50-minute, fast-paced vinyasa in a heated room. The cool eucalyptus towel at the end and brief neck massage during savasana are heaven.”
“Hosted in a small and comforting space, you can choose guided or private meditation classes and attend workshops as well,” says Alliman.
PRIDE WEEKEND HOURS: Saturday, 6/23, 11am – 6pm, Sunday, 7/25, 11am – 4pm. Come on in and say hi, grab a kombucha and chocolate for the dyke March, and (just in case there’s some overindulgence) some liver tonics for the morning. What a GORGEOUS day for Pride weekends festivities! Gays Are Great! 🏳️🌈❤️ #prideweekend #sanfrancisco #missionsf #smallbusiness #lgbtq
“I’ve been to many, many acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists across the globe, but Dr. Esther Zheng’s deep knowledge and skills are unparalleled (in my experience),” says Winters. “She’s a healer so renowned that even top Stanford University doctors come to see her.”
To experience the benefits of float tanks—a modality that’s said to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia—Dr. Lester books time in one of these “state-of-the-art pods filled with Epsom salt water.”
“Scarlet Sage Herb Co. is the most legitimate apothecary in town,” says Winters of this 23-year-old herbalism hub and bookstore. “If you walk into the store on a Saturday and suddenly hear sound bowls from seemingly out of nowhere, that’s likely Carsten Spencer doing a crystal card reading and sound healing.”
“This is the fanciest marijuana dispensary in Northern California—with some of the most knowledgeable, friendly staff,” says Dr. Lester. (In case you didn’t hear, cannabis is fully legal for everyone in CA now—and it may have some major health benefits.)
✨Hey, you! Just in case we haven’t met, we’re The Assembly, a women’s health and wellness space in San Francisco. 💛 It’s a place to sweat, work, and connect. We have daily fitness classes, a stunning clubhouse perfect for meetings or friend dates, and evening programming unlike you’ll find anywhere else. 🌵At The Assembly you can do the things that make you feel good while surrounding yourself with a community of amazing women. It’s designed for you to take care of you. 🙌 We’d love to have you in for a kombucha and tour. Can’t wait to meet you!✨
All-in-one wellness destinations
“Once a recording studio for major artists, Harmonia has successfully re-branded as membership-based wellness retreat and social club. And, it’s just plain cool,” says Winters. “Harmonia offers 33 weekly [yoga and meditation] classes, plus a slew of bodywork and wellness services, like energy work and body ringing [sonic healing using singing bowls, hand bells, and cymbals].”
“A converted church that is now a co-working space for women, The Assembly also offers fitness classes and community talks,” says Dr. Lester. “It feels like a home away from home, and it’s an excellent way to connect with like-minded women.”
“1440 is all about holistic learning, where you can come to study almost any topic related to spirituality, mind, and body—like neurosculpting, family constellations, and qigong,” says Winters. “It embodies so much more than your typical wellness retreat center because of its academic focus—a Bay Area must!—rooted in the most recent research and science.”
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