Plan a trip to Calistoga, CA
My husband and I took a lovely trip out to Napa Valley, California in February, 2016. It was a wonderful getaway and the nice people at the Calistoga Visitors Center helped me to plan a retreat to recharge myself and enjoy a little time away. Tucked away in the northern part of Napa Valley is Calistoga. There are a lot of amazing places, people, and activities to do there and we were fortunate to get to visit them. Erik and I are already looking forward to our next visit there. So get on it and plan a trip to Calistoga, I’ve got a sweet collection of things to do, places to eat, and experiences to try!
For over 20 years, my parents have been traveling to Napa Valley to go wine tasting before heading on to Lake Tahoe for a week in the mountains. My husband and I have joined them several times and have enjoyed going from tasting to tasting and spending way too much money on wine. We even celebrated my daughter’s 1st birthday in the wine cellar at V. Sattui. This year was very different for us. We didn’t focus so much on the wine, but on the destination and, of course, desserts! Calistoga – it’s a Sweet Destination!
A little history lesson about Calistoga first – Millions of years ago, eruptions of nearby Mount St. Helena left behind volcanic ash. Four thousand years ago, the native Wappo Indians knew the curative powers of Calistoga’s hot water and earth. These same natural resources made the town a wellness destination in the 1860s when it was founded by Sam Brannan, California’s first millionaire. Now, it’s a thriving community and a top destination to visit.
On our first night there, we stayed at the Calistoga Inn. It was a lovely Inn with just 17 rooms. The Inn is located on the main thoroughfare of Calistoga and everything was within walking distance from the Inn. We had a delightful dinner with some of their homebrew and, of course, a selection of desserts! Erik fell in love with Martino’s peanut butter pie and the brownie chunk ice cream. I loved the tangy Meyer Lemon ice box pie with huckleberry compote and seasonal strawberry-rhubarb crisp. For a place that has a vineyard on every corner, it was nice to come across a brewery. Erik and I enjoyed a cheese plate with a glass of locally brewed IPA and Pilsner.
In the morning, we enjoyed a light breakfast of hot coffee, fresh tangerines, homemade blueberry scones, and the best granola I’ve had in a long time. We just spent one night there, but I really wish we could have stayed longer.
A word of advice – Do not be scared off by their shared bathrooms. During our stay, I ran into one other person in the restroom and my husband reports that he never had anyone else in the men’s room. The main door to the restrooms lock and the private stalls lock, as do the private showers. This is definitely not a hostel. You have a sink in your room to brush your teeth, do your makeup and comb your hair. You’ll survive.
Everyone needs to take some time out to enjoy a rejuvenating hot mud bath and massage. We stopped in to the Baths at Roman Spa to take a deep breath and relax. We were treated to a mud bath and mineral water Jacuzzi tub. Don’t be squeamish with this experience. Just get in there and do it! Trust me on this one. The attendants are all professional and come and go with complete warning. I never felt awkward while there. Ok… finding the mud on your body later is awkward, but being there wasn’t. Once the muscles were warmed up, we were ready for our massages. It was all I could do not to fall asleep on the massage table. I left the baths feeling like a new person ready to face the world again.
After the massage, it was time for some more food! A visit to the Solbar at Solage is a must. The grounds are beautiful and the resort is stunning. Located on the Silverado Trail, this resort blends into the surroundings and makes you feel like the rest of the world has disappeared. We were guests for an afternoon dessert tasting, but we loved it so much that we went back for breakfast the next day. I enjoyed a marvelous cashew pavlova with coconut ice cream and cara cara orange slices. It was so good! My husband has a cheese platter with local cheese, delicious apricots, mixed nuts, and honey. He paired it with a glass of tokaji that was sweet!
After a lunch of desserts, we walked around some of the spa areas. Their pool is filled with water from a natural hot spring. The water comes out of the ground at 200 degrees F and is cooled down to a more comfortable +80 degrees to swim in. A short walk over the spa and I knew I had to come back and stay here. Oh wow! We didn’t see anyone around the spa, so we figured everyone was out and about. I was wrong! I made a pit stop into the lady’s room and this was no ordinary ladies’ room. I swear it was bigger than the main floor of my house. This was the ultimate in changing rooms. There were more lockers than at my local Gold’s Gym. Everything was spotless and immaculate. There was everything that you could possibly want or need in the dressing area. Brushes, hairspray, clips, mouthwash, deodorant, baby powder, razors, q-tips – you name the toiletry, it was there!
And breakfast the next morning was just as good! I had some lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry syrup, while my husband devoured their Mount Washington Eggs – poached eggs on a biscuit with ham, kale, and hollandaise, and my brother chowed down on the duck confit hash with potatoes, poached eggs, and pepperoni. We also shared a basket of their homemade cinnamon sugar donut holes while sipping french pressed coffees. We set off that morning with full bellies and a content heart.
You know at some point between the massages and the desserts, we had to eat real food, right? Dinner and dessert at Bosko’s Trattoria was a great place for a family gathering. We met up with my parents, my brother and his boyfriend, and my aunt and uncle for dinner. Bosko’s has this wonderful wood fire hearth for their handmade pizzas. We stuffed our bellies with Burrata Cheese platters, lemon-baked artichoke, pizzas, chicken Marsala, and way too many desserts! Dining at an Italian restaurant one must order the Tiramisu, but we also got the chocolate triple layer torte, cheesecake, and caramel pudding. Yeah, we went to bed full.
When you wake up on a Saturday morning and you’re on vacation, what do you do? We went for brunch of course! Weekend brunch at Evangeline’s is a MUST! It was a wonderful atmosphere with amazing food! We started off toasting to the weekend with a passion fruit bellini and a sloe gin & tonic. Of course, there was coffee involved, it was still the morning after all. Erik broke his fast with a Croque Martin and I indulged in buttermilk fried chicken and waffles. Calling this yummy is an understatement. I haven’t had fried chicken like that ever. It was crispy, but not greasy and it was moist and tender inside. I’m drooling just thinking about it again.
Then we were treated to brunch dessert! Hubby just had ice cream, but I went for the Baumkuchen! It’s a German layer cake, kind of like crepes but thicker, with huckleberry compote and creme anglaise. After brunch, we didn’t eat again until 5.
Believe it or not, I was treated to a second massage. The first massage at the Roman Spa was relaxing and tranquil, but when I saw Ron Rose from Rose Bodyworks, my aching muscles were turned to jelly. He specializes in Esalen LomiLomi massage and let me tell you – it was a great massage. The Lomilomi technique is all about long strokes from my neck to my hip and down to my legs. Instead of just revealing my back and working on my shoulders, he revealed the entire right side of my body and worked on the entire length of it. This was definitely more of a therapeutic type of massage that you may be looking for if you have more chronic body aches. My stepdad also laid down on the massage table and he came out commenting on how strong Ron’s hands were and how much better he felt afterward.
One last place to visit is Calistoga Pottery. Jeff and Sally have been making handmade pottery for over 35 years and they couldn’t be happier. Tucked away off Highway 29, their shop and studio are filled with specialty bowls, plates, dishes, mugs, and serving trays. They make a lot of specialty spittoons for the wineries as well as dishes for the local restaurants and inns. I bought a serving dish, mini creamer, and a matching bowl. The creamer and bowl are covered with an ash glaze. The ash was collected from local grapevine ash from burn piles at the vineyards. Each piece is unique and nobody else has the exact same one that I have. When you’re in Calistoga, stop in and say Hi!
Thank you again to the Calistoga Visitors Center for helping to plan my stay. While some of the services were discounted or complementary, all opinions and experiences were my own.
Read more about Napa Valley and all the sweet things I did there.
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