Where is Calistoga you ask? It’s at the very top of Napa Valley in Northern California! After having been to Napa and Sonoma several times, I realized that this unexplored but highly rated town of Calistoga needed to be visited. After experiencing this amazing place, I knew I had to create a travel guide to Calistoga, for others who may be curious.
Quick History Plug
Calistoga was founded in 1859 as a health spa by Sam Brannan, an American Journalist, due to the area’s natural hot-water geysers and mineral and mud springs. To this day, travelers from all over the world go to Calistoga to experience the “healing powers” of the natural springs and volcanic mud baths.
Upon my arrival to Calistoga, I couldn’t help but notice the small-town, western-style, quaint and charming feel. Just as the rest of Napa, it is surrounded by wineries, open fields and mountains.
To me, there isn’t a huge difference between Calistoga & the rest of Napa other than its unique hot springs and that small-town community atmosphere. Meaning to say that, it’s just as amazing as any other place in Napa, it just offers a more unique experience given those factors.
During our stay, I felt relaxed, content and really pleased with how convenient it was to get everywhere. We stayed at a resort in the heart of the downtown area so anything you needed was right there. Being able to throw on a bathing suit, cover up and walk to get some coffee and breakfast was amazing. It made time more well-spent by not having to travel so far within the town.
While we didn’t take advantage of this during our stay, it’s also really popular to ride bikes or go on hikes! An awesome alternative if you like activities other than the pool and going to wineries.
Overall, I loved how at peace, thankful and comfortable I felt in Calistoga.
COVID Measures & Questions
- Did you feel safe? Yes.
- Did it feel overcrowded? No.
- Was the downtown area clean? Yes.
- Were the restaurants seating inside or outside? Outdoor seating only.
- Did the hotel have safety measures in place? Yes, they required masks when walking around the property, had hand sanitizer and soap available, had staff clean the rooms thoroughly and placed social distancing cones around the pool area.
- Did the wineries have safety measures in place? Absolutely. All tastings are outside and the pourers all wear masks when pouring or have glass barriers set up to separate us from them.
To add, all cards and pens that were exchanged were clean and immediately put in a dirty bin after every use. Every place had its own rules, stickers on the ground for social distancing and asks of everyone that came onsite. It was extremely efficient and the reason why they are able to stay open during a pandemic. I was very impressed.
Where to stay
In order to get the full Calistoga experience, you have to stay at a hot springs resort and experience the spa (post-COVID world). We stayed at the relaxing and beautiful Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort.
What I love most about this resort is its proximity to downtown, the ease and comfort of rooms being outside, the luscious and gorgeous gardens, greenery and water fountains throughout the property, the decor of the rooms, the comfort of the king bed, the bathrobes, the pool and hot tub area and the complimentary bottle of sauvignon blanc!
It’s truly a decompressing and peaceful place, with a lot of fun mixed in! The aspect that stood out to me the most, however, was the customer loyalty. We spoke with several people by the pool area who have been coming to this resort for decades! They said things like “there’s just nothing like it” and “this place is addicting.” I was blown away by their kindness, passion and amazing stories having come here for so many years, celebrating holidays and bringing friends and family along.
The Roman Spa Hot Spring Resort is a special place and I’m so happy I was able to experience it.
Where to eat
- Breakfast – Sam’s General Store – Quaint little shop, great for coffee, bagels & pastries
- Lunch – Calistoga Inn & Brewery – One of the highest rated outdoor seating spots in all of wine country with a beer garden, lively atmosphere and delicious American and Italian food
- Dinner – Sam’s Social Club – Beautiful and high-end American restaurant with outdoor patio & fire pits
What wineries to visit
- Chateau Montelena Winery – Founded in 1882 – Famous for Cabernet Sauvignon & Zinfandel
- Bennett Lane Winery – Founded in 1989 – Famous for Cabernet Sauvignon & Chardonnay
- Tank Garage Winery – Preserved 1930s gas station – Famous for sparkling wine & rosé
I hope you enjoyed this travel guide to Calistoga! If you have time to get there for your next trip to wine country, I highly recommend.
Happy travels xx