There are so many pretty parts of the northern Napa Valley to visit and explore. Calistoga could well be considered the cream of the crop. Home to several of California’s top spas, retreats, and wineries, it makes a perfect getaway from nearby Sacramento, Santa Rosa, or San Francisco.
Make time to spend some down time with your spouse or partner. Retreat for a weekend of relaxation and indulgence. Spoil yourself with meals prepared by Michelin-starred chefs, a massage package made for two, and sample wines from some of Napa’s top producers. An afternoon in a hot spring will slow time down. And a sunset hot air balloon tour will bring your adrenaline level right back up again!
Famous across the state for its hot springs, mineral pools, mud baths, and massage packages, Calistoga is Napa’s #1 spot for spas. The original inhabitants of the area, the Wappo Indians, recognized the healing properties of the local waters. More recent residents include a growing population of professional masseuses.
Nowadays, visitors can choose from deep tissue, sports, Thai or classic massage treatments. Facial and foot massage services are available, and couples can create a customized package for two at most spas.
Mineral and mud baths are reputed to release toxins that build up in the body while simultaneously relaxing and rejuvenating you. Reiki treatments are increasingly popular. This is an ancient Japanese technique that has practitioners releasing, and guiding one’s “life force energy” by manipulating and massaging the body’s various pressure points.
There are accommodation options in town to fit every taste and budget. A perennial award winner is the Calistoga Ranch Resort and Spa. Nestled in its own private canyon, the 157-acre property boasts 50 separate guest lodges and a private lake. More refined than rustic, the lodges are well-spaced out, and surrounded by magnificent forests of ancient oak and pine.
Inside, each guest lodge has been outfitted with a full kitchen, tastefully decorated bedrooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Step outside. Enjoy a drink before dinner, and then dine al fresco on your private cedar deck. The Calistoga Ranch has gained widespread recognition for their commitment to sustainable resource use, and environmentally-sensitive design. Knowing that future generations will be able to enjoy this gorgeous getaway only improves the experience.
As difficult as it may be to drag yourself away from the creature comforts at the ranch, you must. The wineries, restaurants, and other sights in this corner of the Napa Valley must be explored. Often the food and drink experience can be combined, with many wineries offering meals that pair wines with perfectly matched, fresh cooked dishes. It’s an interesting, informative, and informal way to sample new food and wine, and to make new friends.
Chateau Montelena lives up to its motto “old-world wines, new world hospitality”. Constructed in 1888 by its founder Alfred Tubbs, the Chateau is unique in the Napa region for several reasons. The majority of structures in the area are primarily built using wood. Montelena resembles an English Gothic castle and is made from stone. Tubbs chose to build the Chateau into the side of a hill. This, combined with the thick stone walls, makes it easy to regulate and maintain a steady temperature. Which in turn aids in the production of top-notch wines.
In the mood for Italian? Castello di Amorosa comes highly recommended. Wandering the halls of this Tuscan-inspired “Castle of Love” will transport you back in time. Choose to explore on your own, or join a guided tour. The Castello di Amorosa has partnered up with the Napa Valley Wine Train to provide visitors with an unforgettable adventure.
Guests board a Pullman dining car and enjoy a scenic ride through the Napa valley. On board, a gourmet meal is served up, showcasing the finest local food and drink produced in the area. The Castello also offers wine and cheese pairing tours, as well as customized private tastings for larger groups.
Both the Chateau Montelena and the Castello di Amoroso are pet-friendly, and polite dogs kept on a leash are welcomed on the property. Check before you make your booking, but many resorts, B&Bs, and lodges also accept pets with advance notice. Restaurants with outdoor patios usually don’t mind if your four-legged friend joins you (quietly!) outside while you dine.
Smaller, family-owned wineries can be found all over Calistoga. Some offer bed and breakfast style accommodation, many have excellent restaurants located on site, and virtually all offer guided tours and tastings. Rare and specialty wines can be purchased in the winery stores, and make great gifts for those who got left at home.
Calistoga is located in the upper Napa Valley about seventy miles from San Francisco.