"Hot Springs, Massage, and Wine" Top 5 Page for this destination Calistoga by atufft

Calistoga Travel Guide: 62 reviews and 184 photos

Calistoga Has Always Been a Resort Town

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.

Mt. St. Helena and the Palisades are Under Valued

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.

The Wineries are Also Undervisited

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 and Cons
  • 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
  • Last visit to Calistoga: Jan 2006
  • Intro Updated Dec 19, 2007
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Reviews (6)

Comments (4)

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Mar 17, 2008 at 11:09 PM

    Alan, It’s been a while since I’ve been to Calistoga. I need to plan a return trip. It makes for a nice winter retreat. You provide some great information. I never knew the Brannon connection to Calistoga. Nice detail on the winery tips!

  • Stargazer1's Profile Photo
    Feb 12, 2007 at 9:49 AM

    Alan, great page. I enjoyed Calistoga when we went. And the Sterling Vineyards (only one of these we went to) and the gondola ride were great.

  • Sep 22, 2006 at 9:23 PM

    Mr.Tufft the page on Calistoga is amazing. I never knew that Calistoga did winery. I will also like to visit Chateau Montelena it looks and sounds like a beutiful place especially with all that greenry and lots mountins. Engl41 MWF 10-11

  • mary2u99's Profile Photo
    Jul 12, 2006 at 10:37 AM

    Alan!! Great tips on wine!!! :-)

atufft Used To Live Here!


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