Find me a nice retreat spot
June 15, 2008 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to spend a week or two of vacation in a kind of "intellectual retreat". Let me rephrase that and try to make it less pretentious - I want to get away from it all and read/write in peace. Please help me find a suitable place.

These are the requirements:

0) Preferably in the US of A. But if you have ideas of offshore locations I will gladly listen to them.
1) Very, very cheap. I mean dirt cheap.
2) Accommodations can be spartan, but cleanliness, electricity, hot water and hot meals are non-negotiable
3) Accessible from New York by public transportation (bus, train, ferry, whatever - I'd just like to avoid renting a car if possible)
4) Beautiful nature setting a big plus
5) Weather is not really an issue, but let's try to avoid life threatening situations and try to stay on the warm side
6) Time of the year is not really an issue

I was thinking about somewhere in the Southwest but maybe there's somewhere a little closer. Anyway, be creative!
posted by falameufilho to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The Omega Institute might be a good match for you -- it's in the Hudson Valley, very close to NY, and it's gorgeous. They offer classes and workshops but they also offer R&R Retreats which involve a lot more solo time.

The accommodations vary depending on the pricepoint. They offer tent camping, shared or solo cabins, and single rooms.

I stayed there several years ago and it really hit the right note for me.
posted by kate blank at 5:28 PM on June 15, 2008

Vermont State Parks.
posted by mdonley at 5:29 PM on June 15, 2008

The New York Times profiled this place, run by quakers, in mass. It sounds pretty idyllic, though I don't know how hard it would be to get there.
posted by Morpeth at 5:47 PM on June 15, 2008

You want dirt cheap? Take the bus or a train to a neighbourhood or town you don't know and spend the day at the library there. Take breaks at lunch and at the end of the day to go walking and explore the area. Then go back home at night for the cleanliness, hot water, and electricity you have there.
posted by orange swan at 6:06 PM on June 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

If you qualify, The Macdowell Colony may be exactly what you're looking for.
posted by mewithoutyou at 6:15 PM on June 15, 2008

I think you're looking for a writer's colony. Here is a directory of some of them. I stayed at one in Eureka Springs one time. They had a "suggested" price they wanted you to pay for lodging and meals, but I couldn't afford it. They told me to pay what I could and it worked out well: very quiet, in a beautiful natural landscape, like minded people, and a total escape from daily life. I highly recommend it.
posted by Ugh at 6:43 PM on June 15, 2008

I don't think an intellectual retreat is pretentious at all; in fact I wish more people followed in your lead and realized intellectual life can be just as thrilling as anything else! At Oxford, and I assume others unis, there are weekend reading retreats, where one heads off for a weekend to somewhere quite and pristine for some quite reading and study. It's a perfect time to break the shackles of everyday life and really give the mind a chance to shine.
posted by oxford blue at 7:06 PM on June 15, 2008

Eastern or Southern Oregon.

Nobody's there.
You can do whatever the hell you want (which will be to run back to civilization - but don't do it).

Being truly and honestly alone for a few days in nature is the best reset button that exists for your humanity. Your brain will be in tip-top shape once you pass the rocky parts of being truly alone. Not that I feel strongly about it... :)

Do not do this in the fall, winter or spring without prior experience in high desert camping.

Don't forget the sunblock. I've done it, and many a real tear was shed.
posted by terpia at 7:30 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

My boss did this at a local Catholic monastery outside the city. There were no religious strings attached, and it was dirt cheap and *extremely* quiet.

I don't know of specific ones in NY, but you might google it or call around some parishes. Buddhist monasteries might have a similar hospitality setup.
posted by MissSquare at 7:33 AM on June 16, 2008

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