Calistoga is at the north end of the Napa Valley in the Bay Area region of California. Calistoga was founded as a hot springs resort in the 1860s by Sam Brannan, California's first millionaire, and has long been a destination for its natural hot springs and mineral water and their supposed health benefits. Its position at the north end of the Napa Valley also makes it a gateway to Sonoma County wine country. Calistoga is a visitor's destination that celebrates being different - franchise fast food is against the law (really!) and healthy hedonists are celebrated. Go wine tasting, have a fabulous dinner, then take a bike ride and have a mud bath before you leave.


At least since the 1700s, Calistoga's distinguishing characteristic has been its hot springs, used initially by the native Wappo for medicinal purposes. After the time of Spanish missions and Mexican ranchos, Samuel Brannan bought 2000 acres, founding Calistoga and starting the Indian Springs resort. The resort eventually went into the hands of Doctor John Wilkinson, the founder of the spa industry.

Due to the spa industry, the California wine boom of the 1970s (which Calistoga is responsible for through Chateau Montelena Winery's surprise Chardonnay win at the 1976 French blind tasting,) the ensuing tourism, and the proximity to San Francisco (which in turn has fueled more tourism,) Calistoga, like the rest of the Napa Valley, has maintained very high property value which has increased the cost of living and essentially the price of everything from coffee to gasoline.

Get in

By air

to and from Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego and Seattle/Tacoma. The airport is 11 km (20-40 min) west of Calistoga by car.

By car

From San Francisco:

Highway 101 North over the Golden Gate Bridge, to Highway 37;
Highway 37 East towards Vallejo/Napa, to Highway 121;
Highway 121 North towards Napa to Highway 29 North to Calistoga.


Highway 101 North over the Golden Gate Bridge, to Mark West Springs Road exit, just north of Santa Rosa;
Mark West Springs Road East becomes Porter Creek Road;
Continue on Porter Creek Road to stop sign;
Left on Petrified Forest Road to Calistoga.
This route avoids the traffic in Napa Valley.

Yet another route from San Francisco goes via the East Bay.

Interstate 80 East across the Bay Bridge;
Follow directions from Oakland, below.

From Oakland:

Interstate 80 East to Highway 37 at Vallejo;
Highway 37 West to Highway 29;
Highway 29 North to Calistoga.

From Sacramento:

Interstate 80 West to Highway 113 at Davis;
Highway 113 North to Covell Road exit in Davis;
Covell Road West to Winters. Covell Road becomes Highway 128;
Highway 128 West to Highway 29 at Rutherford;
Highway 29 North to Calistoga.

Get around

Calistoga is a very small town, with most of the shops and restaurants on two crossing streets, Lincoln Avenue and Washington Street. Walking is the best way to explore the town.

Bicycles are another good option, especially for those wishing to visit the wineries and other attractions a little farther from the center of town. Bicycles can be rented at The Calistoga Bike Shop, which also dispenses tips and route advice. The Bike Shop can also arrange "Calistoga Cool Wine" tours, with arrangements for the shop to pick up and deliver any purchased wine, so the bicyclist is not weighted down.

A relatively new bike path connects the eastern end of Washington Street to Dunaweal Lane, providing easy, car-free access from the center of town to several wineries, including Sterling, Twomey, Clos Pegase, Paoletti and Cuvaison.




In addition to the businesses below, many of the local resorts also offer spas.

Wine tasting








Calistoga has more bars per capita than any other Napa Valley city, and may even have more than the City of Napa itself.

These restaurants have separate bar service areas for still more nightlife options.






Go next

There's more wine to the west in Sonoma County, with Healdsburg close by.

Lake County, with recreation opportunities at Clearlake as well as Harbin Hot Springs, is just over Mount St. Helena to the North.

Routes through Calistoga

Lakeport Middletown  N  S  St. Helena Vallejo
Cloverdale Geyserville  W  E  St. Helena Winters

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, August 11, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.