Calistoga is the most sybaritic town in America. Possessing both the power and glory of the Napa Valley wine district and its bounty of warm mineral springs water, the town can soothe your mind and body in countless ways. Yet, in spite of its international appeal and growing reputation, the town remains as friendly and approachable as ever.
Sheltered by oak-covered foothills at the northern end of world famous Napa Valley, it is surrounded by lush vineyards and renowned wineries. The village also hosts a remarkable cluster of small hot springs resorts, and a bottling plant that ships mineral water worldwide.
Calistoga was founded in 1859 by Sam Brannan, a San Francisco newspaper publisher who became California’s first millionaire dreamspinner. Recognizing the potential of the area’s warm springs, volcanic mud, hot-water geysers, and semitropical climate, he developed what was intended to become the “Saratoga of California,” rivaling the famous New York resort. He and others also cultivated grapevines. Thanks to Brannan’s foresight, Calistoga has quietly prospered ever since as the benefits of natural hot springs and the quality of wines improved.
Today, the classic main street retains a delightful turn-of-the-twentieth-century feeling thanks to skillful renovations and compatible new buildings. Most major spas and lodgings, art galleries, specialty shops, and a coterie of restaurants and bars are located on or near this handsome thoroughfare. Surrounding hills and the picturesque valley feature landmark wineries, a natural geyser, and a petrified forest. Still, Calistoga’s unique claim to fame remains the celebration of wine and water–like wine tasting in memorable locales, or soaking in hot mineral water whirlpools, taking ash baths, and enjoying massages in salubrious surroundings.