On this three-day adventure, explore local history, hidden gems, and iconic landmarks of Napa Valley’s northernmost town, Calistoga.
If you’ve ever visited Calistoga, you’ve likely heard about Sam Brannan – the state’s first millionaire – who developed the town as a hot springs resort destination. His resort (originally located where Indian Springs Resort is today) opened to California’s rich and famous in 1862.
The town’s name comes from Brannan’s tipsy wine-fueled quip that he would make this the Saratoga of California, which came out as the “Calistoga of Sarafornia” (we've all been there).
Coffee first, then adventure. Fuel up before a morning hike at Sam's General Store – we recommend their honey latte with bee pollen! Grab some pastries and breakfast bites, like the avocado toast with everything seasoning or a breakfast empanada.
Walk just up the road to the trailhead at Oat Hill Mine Trail. The hike follows 8.3 miles of an old stagecoach route between Calistoga and Pope Valley (where quicksilver and cinnabar were mined in the late 1800s and early 1900s) and offers expansive views of the valley floor. For a short hike, take the trail up to the bench for a panoramic valley view that makes for the perfect photo opp. Be sure to pack plenty of water because it can get hot in the summer months.
It’s time for wine! Head to Sterling Vineyards for a wine tasting adventure. You'll take an aerial tram up to the winery, which sits 300 feet above the town of Calistoga, with breathtaking views of the valley on the ride. Enjoy the stunning architecture of this winery, which was modeled after that of the Greek island of Mykonos, where Sterling founder Peter Newton once lived. You have several options for wine tasting – from seated tastings in the tasting room or on the terrace to a self-guided sip and stroll around the grounds.
Now that you’ve worked up a winemaker-sized appetite, it’s time for lunch. Grab a riverside table on the patio at Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery. This Calistoga classic is a favorite among local winemakers and offers up California cuisine using farm-fresh ingredients, and also brews its own beer (there's an old saying in Napa Valley: "it takes a lot of beer to make great wine").
Book an afternoon tasting on the relaxing back patio at Frank Family Vineyards. You’ll have the opportunity to taste both sparkling and still small-production bottles that aren’t available anywhere outside the tasting room, and you’ll feel like part of the family by the end of the experience.
Check in to The Bungalows at Calistoga. These cozy mid-century modern Craftsman cottages are perfect post-wine tasting digs, complete with private patios, fire pits, and all the amenities of home.
Take a short stroll a few blocks over to Evangeline, often referred to as Calistoga’s French bistro with a Creole soul. Don’t miss their famous shrimp etouffee — pan seared blackened gulf shrimp with etouffee sauce, served over fluffy delta rice with hush puppies — or their delicious fried chicken. The New Orleans-inspired cocktails are a welcome detour after a day of wine tasting.
Insider Tip: If you’re not quite ready to call it a night, pop into Susie’s Bar for a nightcap with the locals. It’s one of the few spots in the valley open late, and you’ll often find wine industry locals swapping stories and enjoying a cold beer off the clock.
On day two you’ll dive deep into Calistoga’s rich history, checking some iconic stops off the bucket list and indulging in local favorites.
Start your day bright and early with a morning hike through the Petrified Forest. This hidden gem features petrified redwood trees that are over four million years old, and it’s a quick hike so great for all ages. If you’re traveling with little ones, they’ll love pouring over boxes of gemstones and fossils in the gift shop.
Make a stop at Calistoga Depot, the gourmet grocery that has coffee, pastries, breakfast food, lunch, picnic supplies, and plenty of wine bottles for purchase. This building is a part of Calistoga history – Sam Brannan built the depot in 1868, making it the second-oldest train depot in California. The new Calistoga Depot, renovated recently, is a contemporary grocery, Mexican restaurant, distillery, and meeting space.
Hit up Lincoln Ave, Calistoga’s main drag, for a dose of retail therapy. Mad Mod Shop is a must-see for vintage lovers, and you’ll definitely want to take home a handmade treasure from Calistoga Pottery — if you pick a pot that matches your outfit you’ll earn a shoutout on their Instagram! The Gallery at Indian Springs (across the street from Indian Springs Resort) is also a wonderful stop to soak up a little bit of Calistoga culture. Featuring rotating works by Napa Valley artists that are often created with locally sourced materials, there is always something new and interesting to see.
At the north end of town you’ll hit up Tank Garage Winery, a renovated 1950s gas station-turned-wine tasting room. This laid-back tasting space captures the essence of the Calistoga-cool vibe, and visitors can play pinball and sip on inventive small-batch wines that aren’t available anywhere outside the tasting room.
For lunch, Calistoga's best BBQ is on the menu. Buster’s Southern Barbeque has been a Calistoga staple for over 20 years, and Charles, the owner, has manned the barbeque pit every day since its inception. They often have live music on the patio on Sundays, and you’ll find locals lining up for their weekly barbeque fix.
Time to check in! A Calistoga getaway wouldn’t be complete without a visit to The Doc. Since 1952, Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs has been providing wellness, relaxation, and good times. Home to healing mineral waters, "The Works" mud bath, and a backyard that keeps you connected, this classic resort has recently undergone a complete makeover.
Spend the rest of the afternoon sipping at one of Napa Valley’s most storied wineries. Chateau Montelena Winery was built in 1882 and is most famously known for its chardonnay, which took top honors in the 1976 Judgement of Paris — the notorious wine competition in which Napa Valley wines beat out French wines for the first time in history, placing Napa Valley firmly on the world’s wine stage.
To top off a historic day in Calistoga, head to dinner at Mangia Mi. You'll be treated like family at this favorite local Italian restaurant. All pastas and pizzas are homemade daily from scratch, and are absolutely delicious! Order from their ever-changing chalkboard menu of pastas, seafood, meat, and veggies, all locally sourced. Come with your family and friends, or make new friends while you're here, and share a few plates from their extensive antipasto menu. The wine list is also carefully selected from friends and neighbors in Calistoga and Napa Valley. The perfect end to a Calistoga adventure!
Day three is all about splurging — it’s time to treat yourself! Luckily, there is no shortage of splurge-worthy experiences in Napa Valley’s northernmost town.
Start with an early breakfast at Sam’s Social Club, and don’t miss the candy-capped churros (after all, it’s a splurge day!).
Next, it's time for a relaxing and detoxifying spa treatment at The Spa at Indian Springs Calistoga. Calistoga has some of the most healing waters in the world, so why not take advantage while you're here? Indian Springs is the state’s oldest continuously operated mineral pool and spa venue. Try their iconic mud bath, followed by a soak in pure mineral water from their own geysers. Follow that up with a massage or time in the Buddha Pool for a truly indulgent morning.
It’s time to check in to the Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley. This 5-star resort offers all the luxury touches for your perfect splurge in Napa Valley wine country. You'll be pampered during your stay here, as all accommodations have fireplaces, private terraces, and views of the vines, with many looking out onto the Palisades Mountains. Everything you need is onsite, with several restaurants, pools, bocce courts, fire pits, resort bicycles, and, of course, a luxury spa.
Or, if you’re up for more exploring away from the resort, head over to Canard Vineyard for an afternoon of wine tasting. This small, family-run winery began hand-crafting wines in 1984. But the history of the property goes back much further – the residence at Canard was built in 1859 and the Zinfandel vines, which still produce a small quantity of incredibly elegant fruit, were planted over 135 years ago. Enjoy an outdoor wine tasting in their lush gardens with the backdrop of the gorgeous valley.
Top off an indulgent day with Michelin-rated delights at the Four Seasons' fine-dining restaurant, Auro. Auro is the latest Napa Valley restaurant to receive a coveted Michelin Star. Sit against the backdrop of the Palisades Mountains and indulge in the five-course tasting menu of seasonal dishes. Chef Rogelio Garcia came to Auro following impressive stints at The French Laundry and Top Chef Season 15.
Insider Tip: Four Seasons Resort is Napa Valley's first and only resort set within a working winery, Elusa Winery. Take a guided tour of the vineyard and winery, and taste some spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon. The best part is that it's a short walk back to your room.