Napa is no big mystery for the Bay Area day-tripper but what exactly do you know about Calistoga besides bubbly mineral water and wine? Set between two mountain ranges, the northernmost city of the Napa Valley features some amazing finds such as an Italian Tuscan style 13th century castle, a forest with dinosaur-age petrified trees and the last working mill of the Bay Area – oh, and the only state park with a public outdoors swimming pool.
Until the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is saved from California budget cuts, there is no camping option in Calistoga but families on a budget can stay at the Best Western Plus Stevenson Manor where the morning waffle bar and free wi-fi attract Bay Area regulars. To enjoy a variety of pool options and your own outdoors patio with grill and picnic area, the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs resort (see more details under Play) is your ticket to relaxing family days by the pool. For an upscale experience, the Solage Calistoga resort features condo-size studios, complimentary bikes to explore the area, a family pool with toys and beautifully-landscaped grounds with artwork.
Wake up at the Calistoga Roastery (1426 Lincoln Avenue) where you can get your coffee fix while the kids munch on fresh baked scones, oatmeal, home-made granola (with honey and cranberries, yum) or bagels. For lunch, try Busters Southern BBQ for its yummy barbecued meats, soda fountain and hearty side dishes. When night falls, indulge in elegant dining at Solage’s SolBar restaurant where the outside patio and Calistoga take on local seasonal food will make you wish you saw starry skies more often. From May through October on Saturday mornings, the Calistoga Farmers Market will help you pick the best of the season for the winery picnic you’ve been dreaming of.