Beautiful Calistoga sits serenely on the northern end of California's verdant Napa Valley wine country.
Peppered with hot springs and wineries, the popular area also features its own Old Faithful geyser and Petrified Forest.
Locals embrace a storied past where the town’s founder was the state’s first millionaire and also founder of its first English newspaper and first natural hot springs spa.
Mother Nature graces visitors with Mt. St. Helena, Palisade Cliffs, a petrified redwood forest, hot springs, geysers, vineyards, and tranquil rolling hills.
Weekend visitors can stroll through charming downtown Calistoga, bike Napa Valley, take wine-tasting tours, view the area from a hot air balloon, visit a brewery or a speed raceway.
1. Old Faithful Geyser of California
© Old Faithful Geyser of California
Old Faithful Geyser of California is situated in Old Faithful Park and Gardens and is, of course, the crown jewel of the park.
It’s one of only three geysers in the world with “faithful” status, meaning it predictably erupts with regularity. Visitors should expect eruptions every 20 to 30 minutes.
If not, it means an earthquake is likely in the area within a few weeks. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the geyser in different light throughout the day – it’s one of the most photographed scenes in California.
The romantic park also includes gardens, a goat farm, an upscale picnic area with bocce courts, a geology museum, and a gift shop.
1299 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, California, Phone: 707-942-6463
2. Petrified Forest
© Courtesy of Charles - Fotolia.com
The Petrified Forest outside Calistoga has been the subject of countless scientific researchers since its discovery by Charles Evans, aka Petrified Forest Charley, in 1870. The 3.4 million-year-old forest was petrified as a result of a massive volcanic eruption by now extinct Mt. St. Helena. Thousands of years of permineralization created the detailed petrified wood visitors see today. Besides numerous academic papers, details of the forest appear in Robert Louis Stevenson’s book The Silverado Squatters, a good pre-visit read (free on Kindle). The Bockee family has managed the property for over 100 years. Visitors can take a docent-led 1.5-hour walk on the two half-mile trails or choose a self-guided walking experience.
4100 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga, California, Phone: 707-942-6667
3. Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
© Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
The Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park (BGMSHP) was once the social activity center for Napa Valley settlers due to its water-powered grist mill. The original mill and 36-foot wheel was built to grind their wheat and corn into flour and mea; it has been partially restored since 1846 and has been declared a State Historic Landmark. The park features Pioneer Cemetery, the first church of Napa Valley, and a two-mile hiking trail that connects to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Guests are welcome to explore the park and participate in historic tours and milling demonstrations on the weekends.
3369 St. Helena Highway North, St. Helena, CA, Phone: 707-963-2236
4. Bothe-Napa State Park
© Bothe-Napa State Park
Bothe-Napa State Park sits in the heart of verdant Napa Valley and offers a great place for visitors to camp, swim, picnic, and hike trails. Stunning sets of coastal redwoods, tanoaks, and towering Douglas firs line the hiking trails to create a tranquil setting. Guests are encouraged to take a leisurely stroll of Ritchey Canyon by following the Redwood Trail; they’ll find a natural display of ferns and hear the water trickling down the rugged creek bed. The park also features an on-site swimming pool that’s perfect for warm days and camping options that include historic cabins or funky Yurts.
3801 St. Helena Highway North, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-4575
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5. Villa Ca'Toga
© Villa Ca'Toga
Italian mural artist Carlo Marchiori is one of the top five muralists in the world. Hailing from Venice, Italy, he bought the land where Villa CA’TGOA now sits 30 years after emigrating to the U.S. He promptly began to recreate the aura of Venice and Verona based on Palladian architectural elements with the construction of the villa. Manicured grounds include a sculpture courtyard of statuary, columns, and gates, grotto and Roman theater, Greco-Roman ruins, a Roman pool, hot tub, and fountains. Inside the villa, guests will find a primary salon and six themed rooms. CA’TOGA art gallery houses Marchiori’s world-renowned art at 1206 Cedar Street. Villa tours are seasonal and only take place on Saturday mornings.
3061 Myrtledale Road, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-3900
6. Castello di Amorosa
© Courtesy of Melastmohican - Fotolia.com
The Castello di Amorosa is inspired by 13th century Tuscan castles and wineries offering wine tasting experiences and guided tours. It features general admission access that allows guests the opportunity to tour its two floors and enjoy a six-wine reserve tasting menu or a five-wine premium tasting menu. For those looking for a more in-depth experience, they can opt for the guided tour and tasting, which includes a walk through the Armory, Grand Barrel Room, and Torture Chamber followed by a private wine tasting. Castello di Amorosa also offers a Royal Food & Wine Pairing Tour, Cheese & Wine Pairing Tour, and Napa Valley Wine Train & Tour.
4045 Helena Highway, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-967-6272
7. Brian Arden Wines
© Brian Arden Wines
Sitting along the Silverado Trail at the edge of Calistoga just below the Palisade Mountains is the vineyard known as Brian Arden Wines. Built on a lifelong dream in 2008, this property opened in 2014, producing a heavenly harvest from well-educated wine lovers. Their state-of-the-art building with hospitality center was opened in 2015 and began offering an extraordinary tasting experience featuring their 2008 Cabernet Franc. Now guests are welcome to come in for a 45-minute wine tasting of five to seven of the winery’s most current releases. Visitors gather in the energetic and upbeat Tasting Room with a knowledgeable guide to walk them through the tasting experience.
331 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-4767
8. Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
© Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
Calistoga Spa Hot Springs is situated in the heart of charming downtown Calistoga, a great place to relax and feel at ease in the beauty of the Napa Valley. This boutique hotel with an upscale spa is perfect for a romantic getaway or wine tasting excursion. Guests can unwind in their renovated modern rooms with in-room kitchenettes before enjoying one of the hotel’s amazing spa experiences. Visitors are encouraged to rejuvenate their bodies in the geothermal mineral pools, de-stress with a volcanic ash mud massage, or indulge in a covered outdoor mineral whirlpool with temperatures that can reach up to 104 degrees.
1006 Washington Street, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-6269
9. Davis Estates
© Davis Estates
Davis Estates is a family-run winery in the Calistoga area of Napa Valley. They are dedicated to providing a sustainable environment and producing premier wines. Visitors are welcome to sit on their outdoor terrace, which boasts stunning panoramic views of the estate and northern Napa Valley. They also offer an array of intimate tasting experiences including the Terrace Tasting, Terrace Wine & Food Pairing, Historic Tour & Tasting, and Library Tasting. The VIP Experience is the perfect tour for serious wine enthusiasts, with a behind-the-scenes look at the property that ends with a platter of seasonal gourmet bites and private tasting in the VIP Crush Room. Things to Do in Napa Valley
4060 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-0700
10. Heibel Ranch Vineyards
© Heibel Ranch Vineyards
Heibel Ranch Vineyards is a family-owned-and-operated “old school” Napa Valley winery opened in 2001. They’re as committed to sustainability as they are to serving premier wines like their Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. They offer wine tastings in a newly opened Tasting Car, a one-of-a-kind tasting experience aboard an actual railcar, with interesting selections like the 2013 Captain Bubba Napa Valley red. Guests are also encouraged to partake in one of their Back Country Tours where they can walk the 185-acre ranch with guide Trent and his dog Chachi while sipping delicious wines and nibbling from a rustic cheese, salami, and olive assortment.
1241 Adams St #1043, St Helena, CA 94574, Phone: 707-341-3351
11. Napa Valley Winery Bike Tour
© Napa Valley Winery Bike Tour
The Napa Valley Winery Bike Tour company provides guided, self-guided, private group, and corporate team building biking opportunities to visitors. Many consider biking the best way to explore wine country because it’s such an immersive experience. Riders can join daily guided tours like the Classic Napa Valley Bike Tour where a knowledgeable tour guide leads the way from winery to winery or follow a detailed route with planning guide for a self-paced, self-guided experience. Independent types can also rent bikes and either explore on their own with a map provided by the shop, set off on one of their Top 9 Local Rides, or check out the car-free Napa Valley Vine Trail.
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12. Sterling Vineyards
© Sterling Vineyards
A well-respected Napa Valley winery, Sterling Vineyards boasts an array of distinctive wines that result from their collection of ten single vineyard estates. The historical winery features stunning modern stucco architecture capped by two towers with salvaged bells from St. Dunstan’s Church in East London that ring on the quarter-hour. Guests choose from three tasting levels: general admission with self-guided winery tour and current release tastings, sit-down tastings of limited release wines with artisan cheese and charcuterie, or one-hour food and wine pairing with educational tastings. All tasting experiences begin with a ride from the parking area to the winery on Napa Valley’s only aerial tram.
1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 800-726-6136
13. Tank Garage Winery
© Tank Garage Winery
Tank Garage Winery is located in a repurposed gas station from the 1930s. The spirited winery has created a collection of “one-off” wines that reflect the owners’ tastes and lifestyles. Forty-five minute tastings take place in their lubrication bar exploring four of their California wines. There’s also a hush-hush secret back room experience here. The winery hosts private events and large parties with reservations. They also host industry tastings for current owners/employees of local Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries, vineyard farmers, tour drivers, restaurants, and others in the industry. Besides their bottles of new releases, they sell fun winery swag.
1020 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-8265
14. Calistoga Balloons
© Calistoga Balloons
Calistoga is a quaint town on the north end of Napa Valley, a place made famous by the multitude of geothermal hot springs, and an area known for healing, relaxation, and beauty. Guests of Calistoga Balloons can view the area in a completely unique way where hot air balloon rides are never the same. These tours set off each morning before dawn and glide visitors over some of the area’s most distinctive geological places. Hot springs, geysers, including Old Faithful Geyser California, Palisade Cliffs, Mount St. Helena, and several vineyards are just a few of the scenic vistas that delight visitors on any given trip.
1458 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 15, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-5758
15. Calistoga Bike Shop
© Calistoga Bike Shop
The Calistoga Bike Shop offers one self-guided wine tour and various customizable guided tours through Calistoga, as well as the opportunity to simply rent bikes. Their Cool Wine Tour is completely self-guided, allowing guests to choose their own check in times and routes without the hassle of a schedule. Upon arrival at the bike shop, each person is completely fitted with bikes, gear, and free wine-tasting wristbands for the select wineries they want to visit and are given a guided map to locate each one. For those looking for a guided biking tour experience, they offer customizable wine, road, and mountain biking tours to fit any wine connoisseur’s preferences.
1318 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-9687
16. Calistoga Inn Brewery
© Calistoga Inn Brewery
The Calistoga Inn Brewery was opened in 1987 and was the first commercial beer brewery after the end of Prohibition. They feature four signature beers, Calistoga Pilsner, Red Ale, Wheat Ale, and Porter, as well as several seasonal beers brewed yearly, including a Dugan Oatmeal Stout and German Kolsch, among others. The brewery produces 450 barrels each year and sells 22-ounce hand-filled bottles made in their seven-barrel, gas-fired brewhouse. They’ve won countless awards for their beers finishing in both the bronze and gold categories, including wins at the Great American Beer Fest in Denver, Colorado. Guests can tour the brewery Monday through Friday year-round.
1250 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA, Phone: 707-942-4101