Calistoga

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Calistoga is at the north end of the Napa Valley in the Bay Area region of California. Calistoga was founded as a hot springs resort in the 1860s by Sam Brannan, California's first millionaire, and has long been a destination for its natural hot springs and mineral water and their supposed health benefits. Its position at the north end of the Napa Valley also makes it a gateway to Sonoma County wine country. Calistoga is a visitor's destination that celebrates being different - franchise fast food is against the law (really!) and healthy hedonists are celebrated. Go wine tasting, have a fabulous dinner, then take a bike ride and have a mud bath before you leave.

Understand[edit]

At least since the 1700s, Calistoga's distinguishing characteristic has been its hot springs, used initially by the native Wappo for medicinal purposes. After the time of Spanish missions and Mexican ranchos, Samuel Brannan bought 2000 acres, founding Calistoga and starting the Indian Springs resort. The resort eventually went into the hands of Doctor John Wilkinson, the founder of the spa industry.

Due to the spa industry, the California wine boom of the 1970s (which Calistoga is responsible for through Chateau Montelena Winery's surprise Chardonnay win at the 1976 French blind tasting,) the ensuing tourism, and the proximity to San Francisco (which in turn has fueled more tourism,) Calistoga, like the rest of the Napa Valley, has maintained very high property value which has increased the cost of living and essentially the price of everything from coffee to gasoline.

Get in[edit]

By air[edit]

[1] to and from Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego and Seattle/Tacoma. The airport is 11 km (20-40 min) west of Calistoga by car.

By car[edit]

From San Francisco:

Highway 101 North over the Golden Gate Bridge, to Highway 37;
Highway 37 East towards Vallejo/Napa, to Highway 121;
Highway 121 North towards Napa to Highway 29 North to Calistoga.

Alternatively,

Highway 101 North over the Golden Gate Bridge, to Mark West Springs Road exit, just north of Santa Rosa;
Mark West Springs Road East becomes Porter Creek Road;
Continue on Porter Creek Road to stop sign;
Left on Petrified Forest Road to Calistoga.
This route avoids the traffic in Napa Valley.

Yet another route from San Francisco goes via the East Bay.

Interstate 80 East across the Bay Bridge;
Follow directions from Oakland, below.

From Oakland:

Interstate 80 East to Highway 37 at Vallejo;
Highway 37 West to Highway 29;
Highway 29 North to Calistoga.

From Sacramento:

Interstate 80 West to Highway 113 at Davis;
Highway 113 North to Covell Road exit in Davis;
Covell Road West to Winters. Covell Road becomes Highway 128;
Highway 128 West to Highway 29 at Rutherford;
Highway 29 North to Calistoga.

Get around[edit]

Calistoga is a very small town, with most of the shops and restaurants on two crossing streets, Lincoln Avenue and Washington Street. Walking is the best way to explore the town.

Bicycles are another good option, especially for those wishing to visit the wineries and other attractions a little farther from the center of town. Bicycles can be rented at The Calistoga Bike Shop [2], which also dispenses tips and route advice. The Bike Shop can also arrange "Calistoga Cool Wine" tours, with arrangements for the shop to pick up and deliver any purchased wine, so the bicyclist is not weighted down.

A relatively new bike path connects the eastern end of Washington Street to Dunaweal Lane, providing easy, car-free access from the center of town to several wineries, including Sterling, Twomey, Clos Pegase, Paoletti and Cuvaison.

See[edit]

  • Old Faithful Geyser1299 Tubbs Lane +1 707 942-6463. 9AM-6PM daily. Named after the far larger geyser in Yellowstone National Park, this geyser puts on a good show every 10-15 min. Bring a lunch and have a picnic while waiting for the show to start. $10 adult, $3, 6–12 years old, free for under 6 years old.
  • Petrified Forest4100 Petrified Forest Rd (off Highway 29 south of Calistoga, then a few miles west along Petrified Forest Road). 9AM-7PM (9AM-5PM in winter). Big-old honking redwood trees which were petrified after being covered by ash from a nearby volcano. You will never see a bigger petrified tree anywhere. Adults $8, Children 6-11 $3.
  • The Sharpsteen Museum1311 Washington St +1 707 942-5911fax: +1 707 942 6325. Daily 11AM-4PM. Presents the history of the upper Napa Valley. Free; $3 donation recommended.

Do[edit]

  • Bothe-Napa Valley State Park3801 St. Helena Highway North (Highway 29),  +1 707 942-4575. ☎+. Hiking or horseback riding (see below) through redwoods on 10 miles of trails in over one hundred acres including Ritchey Canyon. Also ruins of Napa Valley's first church and a pioneer graveyard with the graves of some of the Donner Party. Swimming pool (extra fee). Day use $5/car.
  • Triple Creek Horse Outfit +1 707 933-1600. Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Horse back ride through beautiful Bothe-Napa Valley State Park on guided group or private tours. Group tours: 1 hr $60/person, 1 & 1/2 hr $70/person. Private Tours: 1 hr $130/person, 1 & 1/2 hr $155/person.

Spas[edit]

In addition to the businesses below, many of the local resorts also offer spas.

  • Lavender Hill Spa1015 Foothill Blvd. (HWY 29) +1 707 942-4495. Beautiful garden grounds with full spa packages perfect for couples on a romantic vacation. Check their website for specials, they often have discounts of gift cards that can be printed in advanced and used for treatments.

Wine tasting[edit]

  • Sterling Vineyards1111 Dunaweal Ln, toll-free: +1 800 726-6136. 10:30AM-4:30PM. View the Napa Valley from high above on the aerial tram that delivers you to the Sterling Vineyard tasting room; $15 and includes tasting of 4-5 wines and a self-guided tour for 21+ and $3 for under 21. Pay a little extra and taste the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots from single vineyards and other premium wines. Great place for those traveling with their whole family. Great Cabernets, too.
  • Clos Pegase1060 Dunaweal Lane, +1 707 942-4981. Daily 10:30AM-5PM. Estate wines grown, pressed, vinified and bottled on their 450 acre winery. Wine, art, architecture, picnic area. Try their great red wines and enjoy their public tours. Tour: Free.
  • Vincent Arroyo Winery2361 Greenwood Av. +1 707 942-6995. Daily 10AM-4:30PM. Their wines can only be bought through the winery and usually sell out before the grapes are picked. Big red wines, especially Petite Sirah.
  • Summers Winery1171 Tubbs Lane +1 707 942-5508. 10:30AM-4:30PM. Beautiful setting with bocce court and entertainment center. Taste their Charbono wine, a wine grown exclusively in California and primarily in Calistoga. Wine Tasting: $7/person waived with any purchase of wine.

Buy[edit]

  • Ca'toga Galleria D'Arte1206 Cedar St. 942-3900. Wed-Mon. This gallery features ceramic, tile, sculpture and painted artwork and home furnishings by artist Carlo Marchiori, whose extensive historic murals can be seen in public locations and in stores and restaurants all over Calistoga.
  • Calistoga Wine Stop (Calistoga Depot), 1458 Lincoln Ave. #2 +1 707 942-5556, toll-free: 1 800 648-4521fax: +1 707 942-4528, e-mail: . 10AM-6PM. Napa & Sonoma County wines from smaller wineries. Housed in the historic Calistoga Depot, the oldest surving railroad depot in the state.

Eat[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Bosko's Trattoria1364 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-9088. Daily 11:30AM-10PM. Fresh made pasta, wood fire oven pizza, sandwiches. Starters $4.75-8.75, fresh pastas and pizzas starting at $12:50.
  • FlatIron Grill1440 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-1220. Dinner Daily from 4:30PM. California cuisine on a budget, one of the best values in town. Try the flatIron steak and the sauteed mussels. Appetizers starting at $6, mains starting at $12, and desserts $7.
  • Cal Mart1491 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-9686. A grocery store offering take out sandwiches and prepared foods.
  • Palisades Deli Cafe1486 Lincoln Ave +1 707 842-0145. Offers take-out sandwiches and prepared food as well as on-site dining. Take-out from either place can be taken to any of Calistoga's parks, where consumption of beer and wine is also permitted. Both may be purchased at Cal-Mart, or at any number of wine stores or wineries in and around Calistoga. Note, however, that open containers of alcoholic beverages are not allowed on city streets--only within the parks.

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • Brannan's Grill1374 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-2233. Lunch 11AM-3:30PM, Bar Only 3:30PM-4:30PM, Dinner 4:30PM-9PM (weekdays)10PM, (weekends). Fine dining in a beautiful facility. Mains $16-39.
  • JoLe Farm to Table1457 Lincoln Ave (insdie the Mount View Hotel),  +1 707 942-5938. Sun, Tues-Thurs 5PM-10PM, Fri-Sat 5PM-11PM. Mostly organic and locally farmed ingredients. Small plates allow for sharing. Most wines available by the glass or pitcher, as well as by the bottle. Starters $7-12, mains $12-20.
  • SolBar755 Silverado Trail, toll-free: +1 866 942-7442. Breakfast: 7AM-11AM, Lunch 11AM-3PM, dinner 5PM-11PM. Restaurant and bar at the Solage Calistoga Resort was awarded a second consecutive Michelin Star for its cuisine in 2010. Daily menu based on seasonal changes. Mains $10-29..

Drink[edit]

Coffee[edit]

  • Yo el Rey Roasting1217 Washington St +1 707 942-1180. Small, art-filled, creative hangout. The upper Napa Valley's only Fair Trade or organic coffee shop. Fifty cent discount for bringing your own mug or cup, and no charge for the WiFi or in-shop bookcase.

Bars[edit]

Calistoga has more bars per capita than any other Napa Valley city, and may even have more than the City of Napa itself.

  • The Calistoga Inn1250 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-4101. The Inn houses Napa Valley Brewing, which produces 4 beers as well as seasonal offerings, and a full pub-style bar, as well as a restaurant and lodging. Weather permitting there is also a back bar and beer garden along the Napa River, with picnic tables and horseshoe pitches. The Inn features live music nightly.
  • Susie's Bar1365 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-6710. Less touristic than the others on this list.
  • Hydro Bar & Grill1403 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-9777. The Hydro features an extensive offering of specialty beers and top-shelf liquors. Hydro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and features live music on the weekends.
  • Barolo1457 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-9900. Small plates and a wide range of local and imported wines from 4PM daily.

These restaurants have separate bar service areas for still more nightlife options.

  • Brannan's Grill1374 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-2233. An elegant atmosphere does not preclude televised sport at this restaurant's popular bar. Brannan's features Herb Gibson on vibes.
  • Checker's1414 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-9300. The bar features a number of wines by the glass.
  • Kitani Sushi1631 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-6857. Traditional sushi restaurant with the usual lineup of Japanese beer, sake and plum wine.
  • SolBar +1 866 942-7442. 755 Silverado Trail. Restaurant and bar at the new Solage Resort aims to compete with Brannan's for the upscale clientele.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Dr Wilkinson's Hot Springs1507 Lincoln Ave +1 707 942-4102. Calistoga's landmark resort. Mud baths, three thermal pools, renewed lodging and great package rates. Founded in 1952, this is a resort that has consistently upgraded, family owned and reasonably priced for Napa Valley.

Mid-range[edit]

  •    Craftsman Inn1213 Foothill Boulevard +1 707 341-3035, e-mail: . Elegant Craftsman-style bed and breakfast with beautiful new rooms with flat screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, private porches. Full breakfast included. Rooms Starting at $166.
  • EuroSpa & Inn1202 Pine St +1 707 942-6829. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Spa services, and Wine Country California vacation packages. $125-210.
  • Roman Spa1300 Washington St +1 707 942-4411. Hotel and spa in a Roman theme with baths and pools that compliment the romantic cottage rooms. Rooms starting at $120 (midweek) and $160 (weekend).

Splurge[edit]

  • Calistoga Ranch (An Auberge Resport), 580 Lommel Rd +1 707 254-2800. 46 room 157 acre resort in a private canyon with a private restaurant, outdoor activities including hiking, fitness center, yoga, pool overlooking vineyard and spa treatments at The Bathhouse. Lodges starting at $550.
  • Solage Calistoga755 Silverado Trail, toll-free: +1 866-942-7442. 89 studio style loft-inspired rooms with an eclectic design offering spa facilities. From $350 (Nov-March), $450 (Oct-April).

Campground[edit]

  • Bothe-Napa Valley State Park3801 St. Helena Highway North (Highway 29),  +1 707 942-4575. 40 sites. Restrooms and hot showers. $15.

Go next[edit]

There's more wine to the west in Sonoma County, with Healdsburg close by.

Lake County, with recreation opportunities at Clearlake as well as Harbin Hot Springs, is just over Mount St. Helena to the North.


This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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