Calistoga is a small town located in Napa Valley that is best known for it’s natural hot springs, mud baths and quality wineries, making it the perfect spot to detox and then retox 😂. Located in the northernmost part of Napa Valley (or “Up Valley” as the locals call it), Calistoga offers an easygoing, relaxed vibe and is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Andrew and I just got back from Up Valley and I’ve put together this guide to help you plan the perfect trip.
Where to Stay
Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Hot Springs
Dr. Wilkinson’s is Calistoga’s original wellness resort and has been providing wellness, relaxation and good times since 1952. It’s located right in downtown Calistoga and close to all the amazing wineries. The resort recently completed a total renovation but still maintains the mid-century charm. Lodging includes 50 guest rooms and cottages, and the Victorian House which can accommodate up to 15 guests.
Hot springs and mud baths are a must when visiting Calistoga! Dr. Wilkinson’s offers 3 geothermal pools on the property as well as a full service spa offering massages, mineral baths, and the famous volcanic ash mud bath.
The “Backyard” features firepits, lawn games, and tree swings, in addition to the on-site restaurant House of Better.
Where to Eat
House of Better
Located at Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Hot Springs, House of Better is a casual outdoor eatery. No reservations are required and you can enjoy Southwest inspired dishes, wellness tonics, and specialty cocktails.
Lovina Restaurant is located in a historic home on the main street of Calistoga and is a local favorite for brunch and dinner. The house was built in 1904 and was the mayor’s home before becoming a doctor’s office and, later, a restaurant. The menu features upscale American fare with extensive vegetarian and vegan options.
Sam’s Social Club
Located at Indian Springs Calistoga, Sam’s Social Club offers farm-to-table American fare in a vibrant atmosphere. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a seasonal menu. Please note: seating is currently only available on the outdoor patio.
Where to Wine Taste
Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa is an authentically-styled Medieval Tuscan castle in the middle of wine country. I recommend the Diamond Estate Tour & Reserve Wine Tasting, which includes a tour of the production area, underground cellars, torture chamber, armory, and the spectacular Grand Barrel Room. After the tour, you get a sampling of five current release reserve and small production wines. The tour last approximately 2 hours and costs $70/person. Reservations are required.
The historic Schramsberg vineyard is best known for the extensive 34,000 square foot caves that house their aging sparkling wine and they are truly spectacular! I recommend the Cave Tour with Traditional Tasting which includes a tour of the caves followed by a tasting of four Schramsberg sparkling wines and one Davies Vineyards red wine. The tour last approximately 75 minutes and costs $70/person. Reservations are required.
Bennett Lane Winery
Bennett Lane is a hidden gem and home to some of the best Cabernets and red blends in Napa Valley. Sixty-two Bennett Lane wines have earned scores of 90-plus points from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and The Wine Advocate. You can enjoy a seated tasting in the winery garden with incredible views of the Palisades Mountains. The Reserved Seated Tasting lasts approximately 90 minutes and costs $42/person.
Picayune Cellars & Mercantile
Located in downtown Calistoga, Picayune Cellars & Mercantile is a boutique tasting room and curated mercantile shop. This small winery is owned by French Native, Claire Ducrocq Weinkauf, who is dedicated to making wines of outstanding quality that are also exceptional values. You can shop for unique items in the store and enjoy wine tasting on the front patio or courtyard. I recommend the Reserve Tasting where your host will guide you through a curated tasting of limited production reserve wines in addition to their core selections. The Reserve tasting lasts approximately 60 minutes and costs $35/person.
Best Time to Visit
Calistoga is a year-round destination and each season offers a unique experience. Harvest season (August-October) is the most popular time to visit as the valley is bursting with the excitement of harvest and many wineries offer special experiences. It’s also the most expensive time to visit. During winter the vines are barren but the valley is much less crowded and you will find the best deals. It’s also the perfect time to visit a hot spring or cozy up to the fire with a glass of wine. During spring and early summer, the weather is mild, the vines are leafing and fields are blossoming with wild flowers, making it an ideal time to visit.
Getting to Calistoga
There are three airports nearby…Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento. The drive from the airport will take around an hour and a half to two hours depending on traffic. The drive from Los Angeles will take around 6-7 hours.
I hope you find this guide helpful in planning the perfect trip to Calistoga and Up Valley Napa! Let me know in the comments if you’ve been here before or are planning a visit soon.
And be sure to check out these other California wine destinations:
This post in collaboration with Calistoga Chamber of Commerce. All opinions are my own.