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Getaway Guide: A Weekend in Calistoga
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Getaway Guide: A Weekend in Calistoga

Escape to the idyllic town of Calistoga, where natural hot springs, luxe resorts, and standout restaurants will restore your body and soul.

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8 min read

September 09, 2022

Following the winding road past endless rows of vineyards and towering mountains, you immediately drop into a state of tranquility in the world-renowned Napa Valley. Though nearly four million tourists flock to this wine mecca each year, one small city remains largely under the radar – Calistoga.

Some storefronts have come and gone over the years, but much remains as it was in this historic community. After pioneer and entrepreneur Samuel Brannan capitalized on the area’s natural wonders by building the first hot-springs resort as a spa, he invited the first taste of tourism to the northern tip of this fertile valley.  A forty-minute drive covers the distance from Calistoga to Napa, drawing in droves of visitors with its natural mineral baths and luxe spas — not to mention its standout restaurants, quirky shops, and posh resorts — that beckon with their promise of rejuvenation. So if you’re seeking a relaxing and intriguing getaway with all of the characteristics of the famed Napa Valley–minus the crowds – Calistoga is calling your name. 

Getting to Calistoga

Situated in the renowned Napa Valley, Calistoga is home to unique boutiques, artisanal coffeehouses, and world-class restaurants—all housed in historic buildings that provide a peek into the past.

Merely a 90-minute drive from San Francisco and Sacramento City, Calistoga is easy to reach by car. So start your day early to beat the traffic, crank up the radio and take in the scenery as you cruise down the highway. Those traveling from farther distances can fly into the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport and then rent a car for the 30-minute ride out to Calistoga. No matter which way you choose to travel, you’re bound to feel at peace as soon as you arrive in the tranquil resort house at Indian Springs Calistoga.

Day 1

Afternoon

Lunch

The beloved Buster's Original Southern BBQ has been firing up its grill since 1965, serving up succulent chicken, tri-tip, hot links, and pulled pork to Calistoga residents and visitors alike. 

Roll down your windows, as you drive on Highway 128. Let your hair down as you take in the sweet smoky scent of authentic Louisiana barbecue and make your way to Downtown Calistoga. Situated at the top of the main drag, Buster’s Original Southern BBQ is a 54-year-old joint and every carnivore’s dream. Enjoy the savory dishes with juicy tri-tip, ribs, chicken, pork loin, pulled pork, and hot links – all slathered in house-made sauces crafted from family recipes, and passed down from generation to generation. Order what you please at the window, then snag a seat out on the scenic patio to soak up the surrounding scenery and relaxing vibes.

Lincoln Avenue

Follow up your hearty meal with a stroll down Lincoln Avenue. Lined with early 20th-century buildings and historical landmarks, the town’s main thoroughfare remains largely untouched by time. Spend an hour to two browsing the boutiques — ranging from stylish gift and apparel shops to eclectic art galleries and home decor stores

Sharpsteen Museum

After that, it's time to carry on with a list of things to do in Calistoga. To learn more about the region’s rich history, visit the Sharpsteen Museum, located right off Lincoln Avenue. The museum was founded by an Academy Award-winning animator, director, and producer for Disney,  Ben Sharpsteen. Featuring detailed dioramas chronicling Calistoga’s early days up through the World War II era, you’ll have a great time enjoying a view of the impressive displays showcasing electric trains, restored stagecoaches, rare artifacts, original artwork, and more.

The spa at Indian Springs boasts numerous treatments and healing mineral baths thanks to the resort's four on-site geysers, making it a top destination for Calistoga visitors wanting to unwind.  

The Resort

Once you’re ready to rest your weary feet, head to your home away from home for the weekend and enjoy the perks of the oldest, continuously operating pool and spa facility in California. This luxurious 16-acre property has perfected the art of relaxation with its laid-back atmosphere and spectacular scenery.

Settle into your chic accommodations, then take a dip in the Olympic-sized swimming pool—filled with heated, mineral-rich water from the property’s four natural geysers—and enjoy poolside drinks while reveling in the upscale-retro feel of this Calistoga stay. Enjoy the quieter side of the resort, at the adults-only pool as you play bocce ball, shuffleboard, or croquet or meander through the gorgeous garden dotted with bright blooms. Take in this relaxing afternoon as you kick back by the outdoor fireplace and savor the views of the lush landscape and rolling hillsides surrounding you.

The main thoroughfare in downtown Calistoga, bustling Lincoln Avenue is lined with various shops and eateries worth exploring. 

Evening

Dinner & Unwinding

Once the sun sinks behind the mountains, freshen up and prepare for a delectable dinner at Evangeline. Less than a 10-min drive from the resort will take you to this charming bistro, where you’ll be greeted by the mouthwatering aromas of classic French fare with a Creole twist. 

Evangeline provides a lush, romantic dinner setting with its verdant, ivy-covered patio and delectable Creole-influenced French food.

If you’re craving a taste of the deep South, we recommend you go for the comforting gumbo ya-ya, starring succulent shrimp and Andouille sausage in a spicy and hearty broth flecked with rice. End the evening on a sweet note with a slice of spongy Meyer lemon cake topped with creamy mascarpone and house-made huckleberry compote. 

After savoring your epicurean delights, enjoy a leisurely walk through the serene, quiet streets. The wonderful silence is only broken by the ringing strums of guitars and rich voices echoing out of the occasional bar—as you make your way back to the resort. Lounge by the fire pits and reflect on your incredible first day in Calistoga.

HOW DO I SPEND A DAY IN CALISTOGA?

Day 2

Morning 

Breakfast

From fresh-baked cookies and banana bread to flaky croissants and fruit-infused muffins, morning treats abound at the cozy Bella Bakery. 

Don’t bother wondering what to do in Calistoga next. Rise and shine to beat the line at the locally owned Bella Bakery, a popular spot to grab a rich cup of coffee. Though deciding what to order can be a tough choice, you can’t go wrong here. A fresh-from-the-oven raspberry muffin, an orange poppy seed sweet roll, or a ginger scone, take your pick and grab a seat at one of the outdoor tables, watching passersby as you enjoy your morning treats.

The Petrified Forest

Then, drive 10 minutes to witness the natural splendor of The Petrified Forest, where you can walk among majestic petrified redwood giants dating back more than 3.4 million years. This ancient forest in Calistoga is one of the few of its kind in the world, featuring a collection of redwood trees that were turned to stone after a nearby volcano erupted and buried the area in layers of volcanic ash that gradually excavated the wood over time. Meander along the one-mile loop hiking trail leading through the expanse, taking in the views of Mount Saint Helena in the distance and admiring the petrified tree exhibits.

Old Faithful Geyser of California

The famed Old Faithful Geyser offers quite the show, with natural eruptions taking place at least once every hour. 

Continue your outdoor adventures at the nearby Old Faithful Geyser of California. Proudly making the list of the Golden State’s weirdest attractions, this natural geyser shoots a graceful stream of steam and hot water about 20 to 80 feet into the air every 5 to 55 minutes. Check out this magnificent piece of nature as you witness it forming a breathtaking rainbow as the light travels through certain times of the day in this magnetic Calistoga setting. While you wait, you can explore the small farm—home to sheep, llamas, and notorious fainting goats—peruse the geology museum, walk amongst the garden of native California plants, or play a round of bocce ball. 

Afternoon

Lunch at The Resort

Tucked away on the Indian Springs resort property, Sam's Social Club is the perfect place to dine alfresco over a meal of seasonal, farm-to-table fare. 

After a fun-filled morning, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite. Head back to Indian Springs Calisgo to enjoy lunch at Sam’s Social Club. Named after the resort founder–Samuel Brannan, this convivial, rustic-chic eatery is the place to gather for seasonally inspired, farm-fresh cuisine. Ask for a table on the expansive patio for an alfresco dining experience under olive trees and a canopy of heritage oaks. Grab the seeded avocado toast adorned with a soft-boiled egg; the po’boy loaded with lightly fried soft-shell crab, Calabrian chile aioli, and refreshing slaw. Make sure to leave room for dessert. You can’t miss out on the signature candy cap churros served alongside a dulce de leche dipping sauce. 

Spa Time

Spend the rest of the afternoon soothing your muscles and recharging your soul at this Calistoga resort spa, as the attendants slather you with heavy volcanic ash and steam away your cares on your Napa vacations. Feel the relaxation and nourishment offered by a full menu of facials, body scrubs, and mas­sages, often using local natural remedies.

Evening

Dinner

Refreshed after this rejuvenating spa, you’ll be a new person by nightfall–and there’s no better way to celebrate than with an elevated dinner at Solbar. Tucked away inside the five-star Solage resort, this Calistoga favorite is where you’ll find local vintners sipping drinks after-hours, friends unwinding over leisurely meals, and couples letting time slip away under the glow of a 20-foot fire pit. Offering light, delicate flavors to stimulate your palate and bold, savory dishes to comfort your spirits, Solbar showcases all the fresh, seasonal ingredients of Napa Valley.

Why calistoga?

Day 3

Morning

Calistoga Balloons

Go for an aerial adventure to gain a unique perspective of Calistoga and witness its gorgeous scenery from up above the clouds. 

Arise at dawn to spend your final morning soaring above the clouds with Calistoga Balloons. Your early wake-up call will be worth it, once you take in the bird’s eye view. Presenting dramatic panoramas of the vineyards, undulating mountains, and verdant forests, take in the breathtaking views as the sun spreads unveiling California’s iconic natural landscape

Brunch at Lovina

Local favorite Lovina is the ideal spot to conclude any trip to Calistoga, offering down-home, seasonally inspired food that reflects the region.

After flying high in the sky, enjoy the simple pleasures of being on land by having brunch at Lovina, a farm-to-table restaurant that beckons to locals and tourists alike with its quaint front patio, retro look, and crave-worthy eats. Indeed, the outdoor sign saying “Great Food” isn’t just good marketing; it’s a promise to provide delicious fare to every guest, and you will not leave disappointed. It’s the perfect way to end your weekend of pampering and indulgence in Calistoga.



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