I would recommend any visitor to San Francisco to plan a two day trip to the beautiful Napa Valley and stay in Calistoga. Located at the very top of Napa Valley, Calistoga is a great base to visit the many wineries, the geyser, the petrified forest and the health spas. The town has a nice atmosphere. There are many restaurants, hotels and motels to cater for the visitor.
Calistoga Health Spas
The town is situated a magma pocket. The town can boast hot spring health Spas as a tourist attraction. Calistoga has naturally heated spring waters, filled with minerals. They are used by the many different Spa establishments. Warm mud baths are the most popular relaxing beauty treatment. The combination of clay, peat and hot mineral waters in the mud bath is supposed to relax muscles and joints, cleanse impurities, and leaves the skin soft and renewed. Once you are in the mud an attendant comes in and puts a cool towel on your forehead and paints a mask on your face.
You stay in the mud for about 10 minutes. Laying in the very warm mud bath, you'll find yourself becoming very drowsy. The therapeutic relaxing mud bath is followed by a hot Jacuzzi after you have sprayed the mud off. You can then request other beauty treatments. We tried the blanket-wrap which was extremely relaxing and cooling. The massage afterwards was just a perfect end to the afternoon session. We went to Golden Haven Hot Springs 1713 Lake St, Calistoga as it had good competitive rates.
The Old Faithful Geyser of California (1299 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga)
About every 30 minutes, the old Faithful Geyser of California in Calistoga erupts,. A stream of scalding water shoots 60 to 100 feet up in the air. The term "old faithful" means that this geysers ahs regular eruptions. Water from an underground river flows over the Calistoga hot molten magma pocket deep in the earth, it boils and expands and is collected in large holes in the ground.
Under tremendous pressure from the heat, and assisted by a constriction of the passage upward, the superheated water is forced through the cracks in the earth and erupts in a plume of steam. If there has been recent earthquake activity the time between each eruption will change. During my last visit the normal 45 minute gap between eruptions reduced to every 15 minutes because the previous evening there had been an earthquake centered 100 miles away. www.oldfaithfulgeyser.com
The Napa Valley Wine Train
The Napa valley wine train takes you on a leisurely 3-hour journey through the beautiful wine country of the Napa valley. The vintage railway coaches have been meticulously restored and the restaurant car serves a lovely meal to compliment the Californian wine it serves. The Train Station is located in Napa, just off Soscol Avenue and First Street. Getting Here Via Public Transit. You must arrive at the station before 11:00am for lunch trains and, 6:00pm for dinner trains.
Aerial Gondola ride to Sterling Vineyards
No trip to Napa Valley should be without a ride up the gondolas to Sterling Vineyards, (1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga) perched 541 feet above the valley floor. You can taste this vineyard's wines among the Greek architectural styled buildings. www.sterlingvineyards.com
Other nearby wineries
- Chateau Montelena - www.montelena.com
- Hawk and Horse Vineyards - www.hawkandhorsevineyards.com
- Calistoga Cellars - www.calistogacellars.com
- Bennett Lane Winery - www.bennettlane.com
- Summers Winery - www.summerswinery.com
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Seven miles north of Calistoga on Highway 29. The hike to the top, and the memorial, are off to the left if you are going north. Robert Louis Stevenson and his new wife moved here right after getting married. The future author of Kidnapped and Treasure Island could not yet afford a nice house in town. So he built a small cabin here. It's still a wilderness, now named for him. Mt. St. Helena (not to be confused with Mt St Helens in Washington) stands over 5,000 feet above sea level. It's a long, hard hike to the top. On a clear day, the view is tremendous.
The mountains between Calistoga and Santa Rosa, leading through the Anderson Valley, are full of petrified forest rocks. The best place to appreciate this geology is at the privately owned Petrified Forest. These are trees that have been turned into stone fossils. This place has the distinction of having been visited by Robert Lewis Stevenson and is described in his 'Silverado Squatters'. www.petrifiedforest.org