This is our first entry in the Weekend Getaway series. Check back often for more getaway and mini-trip guides!
Every year around February, I realize I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for a few weeks too long and I’m not properly enjoying California. I mean, we all pay to live here, whether in higher than average rents, a long commute, or a 50 plus hour work week here and there. A former client of mine, the President of Hotwire.com, recently wrote an article titled Fixing America's Vacation Problem, which states that in 2015, "more than 135 million Americans (that's 56 percent) said they hadn't taken a vacation in the last 12 months." Living here takes a lot out of us and I’m here to remind you that you need to demand something back. What you need is some Farm to Table cuisine, wine tasting, and mineral spring soaking relaxation time to remind you to slow down and enjoy what the Bay Area has to offer.
So take your honey and maybe even your kids and do what I do every winter: escape to Calistoga for a day or two. If you love to plan and use Yelp, you can pore through the 4-5 star restaurants in wine country to decide on the perfect brunch places and cafes, but for those who are not planners, here is an easy to follow, tried and true itinerary (tested with enthusiasm by yours truly).
Pre-Getaway: Make a Reservation at Indian Springs Resort.
Do this now! I recommend advance reservations for the best prices. March and early April are great times to go to get a better deal on a room.
I actually almost want to keep this place a secret for selfish reasons, but I want you to enjoy Calistoga as much as I do. Why Indian Springs? The Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with healing mineral water from the on-site geyser. There is a child-friendly pool and a separate adults only pool. So relaxing!
Pro tip: Go in the winter or early spring when the warm waters contrast with cooler daytime temperatures
11 AM: On the way up to Calistoga, stop for brunch at Brix in Napa. If it's Sunday, make a reservation for their famous all-you-can eat gourmet buffet. The buffet includes an oyster bar with all the fixings, breakfast staples, baked clams, pastries and fine cheeses, farm fresh green beans, and an omelette station. Have a mimosa and stroll the grounds after brunch or enjoy the outdoor patio with a vineyard view.
1 PM: Make your way to Calistoga's beautifully-preserved downtown and pick up some magazines or a good book at Copperfield’s books. You will need some reading material for chillaxing under the poolside awning in your recliner at Indian Springs.
3 PM: Check into Indian Springs and head straight to the pool.
5 PM: Walk or bike (Indian Springs has loaner bikes throughout the property) down to Evangeline for an early dinner. Try the Shrimp Etouffee (divine!) and Lola Pinot Noir. I hear they have amazing cocktails as well but I am a wine lover myself…
9 PM: Head back to the mineral water pool at the resort. After 7, Indian Springs allows only hotel guests to use their facilities, so you can relax in even more peace and tranquility.
9 AM: Grab a delicious coffee drink and pastry at Yo el Rey, my favorite Calistoga café featuring sculptures and paintings by local artists. I like supporting local artists so I visit this café whenever I am in town and buy a small painting if something catches my eye.
Next…bike a mile or two to the Oat Hill Mine Trail and check out wine country from above. Hiking up through Spanish moss covered Oak trees, you can see the vineyards, farms, and a truly unique view from the mountainous hills above Calistoga. Be sure to take water and snacks if you plan to hike for hike the whole trail. We just went a few miles along the trail but we loved this hike!
11 AM: For a well deserved breakfast (or brunch) after all that exercise, visit Sam’s Social Club, Indian Springs’ own newly-completed restaurant. It’s easy and convenient, and it’s on the way back to the hotel. Don’t be shy… get the eggs Benedict.. they are amazing!
1 PM: Go back to the mineral pools! You can use the pools until 7pm even though the hotel check out is at 11am.
Before you choose to you leave Calistoga itself, be sure to visit the Sharpsteen museum if you are curious about the area's original inhabitants (Wappo tribe) and how Calistoga got it’s name.
On your way home, check out Castello di Amorosa. It’s a 13th Century inspired castle built right outside of Calistoga! General admission pricing includes a map of the winery, wine tasting, and access to the Front Ramparts, Chapel, Great Hall, Courtyard, Stables, Main Tasting Bar, and Knight's Hall. The rustic wine tasting room below ground at the Castello is one of my favorites in wine country.
Go now! Just do it.
Make your own wine country itinerary and have a weekend adventure. I promise you will not regret it.
Love, Move Bay Area