Road Trip Calistoga: Where to Eat, Stay & Play

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Just a couple of hours north of the Bay Area you’ll find the quaint, little city of Calistoga, perfect for a summer staycation or a family getaway anytime of the year. Famed for its natural hot springs, this Napa Valley town is filled with California history, eateries, wineries, attractions and accommodations that appeal to both adults and littles alike. Checkout our recommendations below for a Calistoga road trip the whole family will enjoy.

Nella DuBon-Koch

Explore

Old Faithful Geyser of CA
Just a short drive from downtown Calistoga, the geyser erupts multiple times a day forcing plumes of water and steam up to 80 feet high for up to 10 minutes long, depending on the season. The geyser’s sun and water conditions make it the perfect rainbow generator and it’s also a reliable earthquake predictor when its eruption patterns become irregular. There are onsite picnic nooks, cabanas and utensils for visitors to use, serene gardens, an earthquake and history exhibit, the popular Jacob’s Four-Horn Sheep, Guard Llamas and Tennessee Fainting Goats that make for the perfect day outing for your bunch.

1299 Tubbs Lane
Calistoga, CA
Online: oldfaithfulgeyser.com

Safari West
This “Sonoma Serengeti” will transport you to another continent. Its 400 acres are home to over 900 species of wildlife. Go on a safari jeep tour and view wildebeest, rhino, zebra, and giraffe, in their open habitat, while pink flamingoes and ostriches take a peek into the jeeps. Walking tours and overnight “glamping” are also available.

3115 Porter Creek Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA
Online: safariwest.com

The Petrified Forest
A preserved ancient forest created by a volcanic explosion 3.4 million years ago by the extinct volcano that is now Mt.St. Helena, the Petrified Forest is a collection of fossilized redwood trees that laid beneath volcanic ash for millions of years. There are two family friendly 1/2 mile trails. The Main Trail loops through tree exhibits and petrification information and the Meadow Trail winds through small meadows ending at a large open meadow with stunning views of Mt. St. Helena, as well as a remnant ash fall, great for exploring. 

4100 Petrified Forest Road
Calistoga, CA
Online: petrifiedforest.org

Castello di Amorosa
Kids and kids at heart will enjoy this 121,000 square-foot replica of an Italian medieval castle. Book a private guided tour and explore areas like the knights Hall, Chapel and Dungeon and maybe spy the winery cats, dogs and farm animals while you’re at it. Your mini wine connoisseur's can sip grape juice and enjoy coloring in the grand Knights Hall tasting room. Note: strollers not allowed inside the winery.

4045 St. Helena Hwy
Calistoga, CA
Onlinecastellodiamorosa.com 

Nella DuBon-Koch

Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
This California Landmark was built in 1846 and is one of only a handful of mills of its kind still functioning in the U.S. today. The mill offers tours, milling demonstrations and educational activities teaching the history of the region. Explore the easy-to-moderate History Trail hike stretching from the Mill to the eastern edge of Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Climb a hill dotted with Oak and Madrone trees and take in a historic pioneer cemetery with gravestones from the 1800s. Consider packing a lunch to enjoy at the picnic tables at the trail’s end or around the Mill. 

3369 St. Helena Highway North
St. Helena, CA
Online: napaoutdoors.org

Copperfield's Books
Located on Calistoga's main street—Lincoln Ave., Copperfield's Books has a wide variety of books, jewelry, quirky gifts, garden starter kits, local artisan treats and so much more to keep your gang entertained for days. Your little bookworms will especially like the oversized animal kites that decorate the stores ceiling.

1330 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
Online: copperfieldsbooks.com/calistoga

Sharpsteen Museum
Come learn about Calistoga's history through up-close displays, detailed interactive dioramas, pop ups and exhibits built with kiddos in mind.  Established in 1978, by Ben & Bernice Sharpsteen, the museum also features Ben's work as an animator, producer & director for Walt Disney who earned the studio 11 Oscars and Sam Brannan's (the founder of Calistoga) cottage from the 1800's.

1311 Washington St.
Calistoga, CA
Online: sharpsteenmuseum.org

Bothe Napa Valley State Park
Located in beautiful Napa Valley, this State Park offers over 10 miles of hiking trails, day use picnic areas, camping accommodations and a spring fed swimming pool for visitors to enjoy. Check out their outdoor education programs including the Junior Rangers which meet every Saturday at 10 a.m. throughout the Summer.

3801 St. Helena Highway North
Calistoga, CA
Online: napaoutdoors.org

Nella DuBon-Koch

Eat

Bella Bakery and Cafe
Indulge in fresh, made from scratch goodies at this locals go to. Your little monkeys will go bananas for their nutella-banana croissant and their breakfast burritos, generous quiche slices and flavorful fruit tarts don’t disappoint. All the delicious treats will have you packing a box for the road for sure.

1353 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
Online: Bellabakery.com

Palisades Eatery
Palisades is the marriage between Checkers Pizza and Palisades Deli, making it a family hit with its welcoming laidback setting and crowd-pleasing menu of burgers, pizza, pasta, tacos, salad, a kids menu and more. 

1414 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
Online: palisadeseatery.com

Buster’s Southern BBQ
Buster's has been cooking up authentic Louisiana  BBQ since 1965. Sample their award-winning family recipes at their casual joint at the end of Lincoln Ave. There’s indoor and outdoor seating and live Jazz and Blues on Sundays from 3-6 p.m. Be sure to try their dessert specials and corn bread.

1207 Foothill Blvd.
Calistoga, CA
Online: busterssouthernbbq.com

Cafe Sarafornia
This locals favorite serves up classic diner cooking and offers breakfast all day in its homey, welcoming cafe. Some of our favorites are the Luis Burrito, the 2-2-2 Breakfast and the Bacon, lettuce, Tomato and Egg Breakfast Sandwich. There's also a mini breakfast and kids meal, perfect for the half-pints.

1413 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
Online: cafesarafornia.com

Puerto Vallarta Restaurant 
For some fresh, delicious Mexican, that tastes like abuelitas kitchen, head over to this small family owned and worked restaurant dishing out authentic meals big in flavor. From quesadillas to fajitas, you'll find something to satisfy everyone's tastebuds—great post hike or pre-hot spring soak.

1350 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
Online: puertovallartarestaurant.business.site

Nella DuBon-Koch

Calistoga Creamery
Cool off after a long day of exploring with a yummy cone, frozen yogurt or custom, thick milkshake, in fun flavors like Cardamom, Lemon Cookie or good ol' Madascar Vanilla, always organic and locally made with fresh ingredients you can taste.

1473 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
Online: visitcalistoga.com

Cal Mart
Conveniently located in downtown, this gourmet grocery market is stocked with a deli, smoothie and espresso bar, a bakery, hot food items and everything you need for a picnic, as well as those last minute snacks or toiletry needs.

1491 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
Onlinecalmartnv.com

Gott’s Roadside
A short drive from Calistoga is the original Gott’s Roadside, now with several locations in the Bay Area. Savor their popular burgers, salads, shakes and more, all made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Parents can enjoy the extensive beer and wine list while the minis stretch their legs in the grassy picnic area in the back.

933 Main St.
St. Helena, CA
Online: gotts.com

 

Nella DuBon-Koch

Stay

Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort
Golden Haven is known for its natural hot spring spa and mud baths. They also feature a variety of spa packages and large, comfortable rooms with kitchenette, suitable for families. Youngsters can enjoy hanging by the fire pit, playing a round of chess or cornhole on the lawn, complimentary bikes ideal for a short ride into town, and night swims in the spacious, naturally heated pool.

1713 Lake St.
Calistoga, CA
Online: goldenhaven.com

Indian Springs Calistoga
Luxury meets comfort at what was the original planned site for Stanford University. An olympic 1910 mineral pool and family pool, hot tubs, picturesque gardens adorned with roses, olive and palm trees and mission style bungalows and cottages with sweeping Napa Valley views make for topnotch accommodations your whole party will appreciate.

1712 Linciln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
Online: indianspringscalistoga.com

Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa
The Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa's decor celebrates the “great American road trip.” Rooms are inspired by vintage camper vans, including a “Camper King Suite” that features a table banquette that turns into a bed for the little ones. The warm geothermal, mineral-water fed pools and wading pool are also a hit with little travelers. There is bocce ball, hula hoops and tons of board games onsite for guests to enjoy.

1880 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA
707-942-0991
Online: calistogamotorlodgeandspa.com

Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection

Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection
If you are looking for the ultimate in comfortable, luxury accommodations, this is the spot. Located in the quiet town of Calistoga, Solage has everything your family will need for their wine country stay. Cottage-style suites provide privacy for your family including outdoor patios to enjoy morning espresso or an afternoon glass of wine. The two-bedroom Estate Suites offer even more private outdoor space and your own personal hot tub for relaxing in the evenings. 

Head to the pool to enjoy the newly-opened Picobar with poolside service (we definitely recommend the Cowgirl Creamery queso and the whipped avocado to share). Bikes are available to borrow throughout the property, s'mores are offered on Friday and Saturday nights and spa services are available on-site. 

755 Silverado Trail N
Calistoga, CA
Onlineaubergeresorts.com/solage

Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
The multiple geothermal mineral pools—including a kiddie pool, a large whirlpool, a Spa, fitness center, picnic areas and ample sun deck, along with guest rooms equipped with a kitchenette with cooktop and refrigerator, make this an ideal home away from home for your getaway. 

1006 Washington St.
Calistoga, CA
Online: calistogaspa.com

Nella DuBon-Koch

Getting There

V. Sattui Winery
One of our favorite stops for a picnic on the way to Calistoga is V. Sattui Winery, located off Highway 29 in St. Helena. This family friendly winery features beautiful lawns with picnic tables, an artisan deli stocked with cheeses, sandwiches, salads, desserts, disposable tableware and more. Check out their website for their weekend outdoor BBQ's that include dishes such as thin crust pizzas—a hit with the kiddos, tri-tip steak and bruschetta with fresh mozzarella made onsite. Grab yourself some vino and grape-juice for the kids, enjoy the ample grounds and let the minis burn some roadtrip steam. 

1111 White Ln. (@ Highway 29)  
St. Helena, CA
Online: vsattui.com

Insiders Tip: Also on the way is Traintown in Sonoma. It features a four mile track quarter scale railroad that takes visitors to a miniature town and petting Zoo (bring quarters for food), a concession stand, all about trains gift shop and amusement rides for the whole family to enjoy. Check it out for some added fun and adventure.

 

—Nella DuBon-Koch and Kathy Chouteau

feature photo: Nella DuBon-Koch

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