The Instagram Guide to Vista, California

This under-the-radar Southern California town might make you think you’re in the French countryside

Vista, California
(Image credit: Courtesy)

North of San Diego, the small town of Vista, California has been quietly attracting notables like Oprah, Michelle Obama, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, and Tyra Banks for decades. They come for Cal-a-Vie, an expansive 450-acre destination designed like a French village. From the charming grounds dotted with lavender fields and vineyards to the historic chapel (now a meditation center) rebuilt stone by stone from Dijon, France, the meticulously designed estate will transport you to the Provincial countryside.

Stay at a luxe health resort

Within the 32 captivating suites and villas at Cal-a-Vie, find old-world charm like antique writing desks along with modern touches like towel warmers. With a 5 to 1 staff-to-guest ratio, your every need will be attended to from your curated activity schedule to any whims—like fresh fruit following an afternoon swim. The holistic approach to health offers everything from hikes to fitness classes, Labyrinth meditation to star-gazing.

Savor nutritious meals

While meal portions are individually tailored to your desired caloric intake, with the incredible flavors, colors, and variety in the gourmet dishes, you might just forget they are supposed to be healthy! Produce and herbs are grown in their onsite organic gardens and greenhouse for three daily meals and two official snack and smoothie breaks (though you can get additional snacks brought to you whenever you feel peckish).

Turn your yoga practice upside down

From ashtanga yoga to aerial yoga, you can expand your practice (or learn in a beginners' yoga class!). At Cal-a-Vie, yoga is used for everything from building strength to restful stretching, creating a mind-body practice that will channel energy and set a foundation for your day.

Taste the estate wine

The 16 acres of vineyards at Cal-a-Vie produce Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Currently, the intimate 17th-century parish house from the Burgundy region that was rebuilt in Vista houses the Château Cal-a-Vie wine tastings. In the future, plans for a much larger tasting room across the street will allow more people to sample the estate-grown varietals.

Get pampered at the spa

Daily spa treatments are a hallmark of Cal-a-Vie, with rest and relaxation being just as important as movement and activity. Each package comes with a range of treatments from facials to massages to beauty services, with additional spa services available to add onto your package, like watsu aquatic massage or a lavender honey wrap.

Take a cooking class

Within the L’Orangerie, a 300-year-old French reception hall, is a state-of-the-art cooking demonstration kitchen where you can learn the art of healthy cooking from accomplished chefs. With techniques, tools, and ingredients that are easy to replicate at home, the hands-on cooking class is a turnkey way to make delicious meals out of healthy recipes.

Get crafty

Creating small art projects can help open up your mind in a new way. At Cal-a-Vie, they have daily opportunities to get crafty, from designing jewelry like chakra energy bracelets to journaling classes. 

Taste the beer of the region

Belching Beaver is one of the favorite breweries of the area. At their Vista tavern, try the Peanut Butter Stout—the fan favorite—and a few of their other beers in a design-your-own tasting. 

Michelle Stansbury

Michelle Stansbury is a San Diego-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, and relationships. Misuse of the word "literally" drives her figuratively insane.