"Hot Springs, Massage, and Wine" Top 5 Page for this destination Calistoga by atufft
Calistoga Travel Guide: 62 reviews and 184 photos
Although the California Indians had long been familiar with its value, Sam Brannon, the newspaper owner whose headlines announced the discovery of gold in 1849, was the first to recognize that the natural supply of hot water and beautiful mountain backdrop in Calistoga would make for a health summer resort town for San Franciscans wanting to get away from the fog. Brannon envisioned a Saratoga in California, hence the town's name. Calistoga, northernmost town in the Napa Valley, has enough geothermal water to heat the city government buildings, schools, and health spa resorts, and the water itself is bottled by the Calistoga Water and Crystal Geyser companies (actually, the bottled water by these companies typically contains little if any of the authentic spring water). Many of the town's quaint cottages built by Brannon have been restored and the pools and spas have been upgraded and otherwise improved. Massage and meditative arts are big in Calistoga.
Despite the beauty of the Palisades and Mt. Helena, which frequently is capped with snow in mid-winter, few hikers wander up there. My brother and I used to hike on moonlit nights with our dogs in this area. Without flashlights, my white poodle-terrier mix helped define the trail. Meanwhile dashing into the forest, my brother's German shepard mut in search of rabbits and deer. The moon streaked through the pine forest, and toward the top of the mountain, there's a break in the forest with a clear view south over the valley and the San Francisco Bay. Robert Lewis Stevenson State Park has the spot where Stevenson honeymoon in the bunkhouse of a squatter. Also in the area are the privately held Old Faithful Geyser of Calistoga and the Petrified Forest. The route from Calistoga through to Santa Rosa or Geyserville are very pleasant wine country drives off the normal beaten path of winery tours.
Since Calistoga is at the top of the valley, winery wanders often expire before reaching the best of Calistoga. Chateau Montelena, Storybook Mountain, Robert Pecota, and others are great wineries not beyond the reach of tourists on a day trip from San Francisco, but the hundreds of wineries inbetween the city and Calistoga can easily side track visitors. Since the upper Napa Valley is furthest from the moderating San Francisco Bay, the varieties the grow best up here include Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc. While accommodations tend to be pricey in Calistoga, the benefits of a mud bath, massage, and glass of wine is a rare combination of delights in this part of California.
- Pros:Great Combination of Resort Activities in a Small Town
- Cons:It's Difficult to Pass Up So Many Great Wineries Along the Way
- In a nutshell:Calistoga is the Venerable Resort Town of the Upper Napa Valley
North of Calistoga, Hwy 29 turns into Hwy 128 and curves to go over a low point in the Mayacamas range to reach into... more travel advice
Sterling Vineyards has changed corporate hands many times, and today is just one of the wineries in the valley owned by... more travel advice
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