One of California history's greatest characters gave Calistoga its name, or so the story goes. Sam Brannan, who once owned most of the town, was asked what he planned to do with his northern Napa property. He intended to make it the Saratoga Springs of California, but with his diction slurred by alcohol Brannan replied, "I'm going to make it the Calistoga of Sarafornia!"
Calistoga's small town ambiance, coupled with sophisticated dining and shopping, make it a favorite of many wine country visitors. Underground thermal features give rise to natural hot spring spas here. Grapevines and vineyards sprout in the surrounding countryside, and it's all so compact that you can get around easily.
Why Should You Go? Will You Like Calistoga?
- Get a Preview: Take a look at our Calistoga Pictures
- Calistoga is California's cute little spa town, with natural hot springs and mud bath spas to relax the tensest of visitors. It's a low-key place compared to the rest of the Napa Valley and with lodging and a bicycle rental shop right in town, it's an easy place to have an automobile-free weekend or to take the family.
- See how other California for Visitors readers rate Calistoga
Best Time to Go to CalistogaWeather is best in spring and fall and surprisingly, Calistoga can the hottest spot in the entire Napa Valley on a warm summer day (because it's furthest away from the San Francisco Bay).
Don't MissIf you've only got a day, the best thing to do is take a leisurely stroll down Lincoln Avenue, where you'll find some nice art galleries, bookstores and other fun shops.
4 More Great Things to Do in Calistoga
- Spa-a-a-h!: Calistoga calls itself the "Spa Capitol of northern California," and the title is well-deserved. With more than two dozen spas and massage therapy salons in town, the only stress you'll have to deal with is picking which one to go to.
- Wine Tasting, Winery Tours: Top wineries near Calistoga include Schramsberg (sparkling wine) and Castello di Amorosa, a fascinating recreation of an Italian castle.
- Ca'Toga: Italian artist Carlo Marchiori's whimsically-decorated, Palladian house Villa Ca'Toga is open for tours on Saturdays from May through October, and his works are on sale at his Ca'Toga Gallery in downtown Calistoga.
- Safari West: Take a mini-safari through this 400-acre wildlife preserve, (which is also a safari-style bed and breakfast). It's just one of the best places to take the kids in Napa Valley, most of which are near Calistoga.
Annual Events You Should Know About
- March: Napa Valley Marathon - closes Silverado Trail until early afternoon
- March: Jazz Festival
- November: Christmas Tractor Parade
Best BitesWhile Calistoga isn't quite so thick with well-known restaurants as other Napa Valley towns, you'll find a selection of places to eat along the main street, at a wide range of prices. All Seasons Bistro (1400 Lincoln Avenue) is a perennial favorite, with a great wine list.
Where to Stay
- Napa Valley Accommodations Guide
- The Calistoga RV Park offers 70 RV and tent sites, 25 with hookups.
What Do You Think?We rate Calistoga 4 stars out of 5 for its hot springs-fed spas, small-town charm and relaxing atmosphere.
Others may disagree. You can See what others think, then bookmark this page and after you've been there, come back and tell us what you think.
What do you think of Calistoga as a tourist destination?