8 Enjoyable Things to Do in Calistoga

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If you need proof that the Napa Valley is more than just wineries and vineyards, look no further than Calistoga. Walking down Lincoln Street instills a sense of how a small Wild West town might have felt; in a lot of ways, Calistoga is the last frontier in the Napa Valley, and its slow evolution from a sleepy old western town to the present day remains its greatest distinction from the rest of the valley. There’s no ego here, and no need for pretense: just a small, charming town with a lot to offer.

Natural Hot Springs

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Indian Springs Resort
1712 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4913
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 851 Reviews
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Maybe it’s been a long day of wine tasting, or perhaps you just want to take advantage of health benefits like stress relief and improved circulation. Whatever the reason, Calistoga is a haven for hot springs and is the reason the area was developed back in the 1880’s. Float for the day at Indian Springs Resort in olympic-sized mineral pools filled with 92-100°F water. When you need a break, give the steam room a try. Don’t worry if you’re staying at another hotel: you can book a spa treatment which includes a complimentary day pass to the pool and steam room Monday-Friday ($30 additional on weekends).

Sweeping Views of Calistoga

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Palisades Hike

The Palisades trail is a great way to live like a Californian and explore the rustic landscape of Calistoga. Outdoor adventurers will enjoy some of the most spectacular views in all of Napa Valley on the 11-mile trail, outfitted specifically for experienced hikers. It’s a one-way hike that will require some planning—look into a shuttle car so you don’t have to backtrack. Insider tip: For a shortened version, opt to hike Oat Hill Mine Road. It’s a four-mile round trip, and no shuttle is needed.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

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Calistoga Balloons
1458 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-5758
TripAdvisor: 3.5 stars, 288 reviews

Though not an inexpensive ticket ($239 per person), the views and experience of flying high like in a hot air balloon are worth the cost. A ticket includes breakfast at SolBar at the swanky Solage resort (breakfast location can be subject to change), and a glass of bubbly or a mimosa. Keep in mind, this adventure is for the early birds, and most rides require an arrival before sunrise, anywhere between 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Insider tip: Keep an eye peeled for Old Faithful Geyser: it’s been known to erupt up to seven times in one flight.

1976 Judgment of Paris

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Chateau Montelena Winery
1429 Tubbs Ln.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-5105
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 330 reviews

The 1976 Judgment of Paris has been one of Napa Valley’s greatest success stories. At the forefront of the tale is Chateau Montelena, the vineyard that broke the hearts of many a francophile when its wines beat out their French counterparts at an illustrious blind tasting in Paris. This “sip heard ‘round the wine world” was a catalyst for California’s wines being taken seriously on a global scale. Today, Chateau Montelena still produces beautiful wines and is open to visitors who are attracted to the Chateau’s stunning Gothic architecture. After a tasting, leave time to walk around the five-acre Jade Garden, complete with Chinese gardens and swans. Insider tip: Join the wine club for complimentary tastings, private access to the secluded gazebo located in the Jade Garden, and reservations for the bocce court.

Tasting Room with an Edge

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Tank Garage Winery
1020 Foothill Blvd.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-8265
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 15 reviews
Reservations: Not required

One of the more interesting and unusual tasting rooms to visit, Tank Garage Winery is situated in a completely renovated car garage with killer sound system that blasts classic rock: definitely a twist on the typical Napa Valley experience. The wines are produced by the same team from T-Vine, and change from year to year with rarely a repeat. Insider tip: Signing up for the wine club will grant access to the room behind the curtain, a speakeasy for members with tufted velvet couches. No appointment is needed, so it’s worth a drop-in at the very least.

Geysers and Rainbows and Sheep, Oh My!

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Old Faithful
1299 Tubbs Ln.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-6463
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 2,123 reviews

Yellowstone National Park isn’t the only home of a regularly erupting geyser, but it’s not just the gushing water that makes this Old Faithful so special. The cost of admission gives access to the picnicking grounds, complete with bocce courts and a convenient picnicking station equipped with plates, silverware, ice, a microwave, and even wine glasses. Hang out with the sheep, goats and llama’s on the farm as you wait for the next eruption (they happen every 30 to 40 minutes). Insider tip: A brilliant rainbow often appears post-eruption at sunset. The best view can be seen just to the left of the geyser on a clear day.

Million Year Old Trees

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Petrified Forest
4100 Petrified Forest Rd.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-6667

If an outdoor experience with the family is what you seek, don’t miss the Petrified Forest. Mother nature wreaked havoc on the forest millions of years ago when a nearby volcano erupted and lava buried the trees. Over time the trees emerged, but in a phenomenon called petrification, the wood was turned to silica and quartz. The process essentially fossilized the trees, which exist today in a privately owned park where you can either opt to walk the half-mile trail on your own, or opt for the hour-and-a-half guided tour for the full scoop on this unusual phenomenon. Insider tip: Free guided tours are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

The towns surrounding Calistoga offer a wealth of natural, wine-centric, and historic excursions, but for some truly unique attractions anchored to a quiet town with an old-West feel, put Calistoga at the top of your itinerary.


WineCountry Staff


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