One of my favorite places to go for major relaxation is Calistoga, located in the northern end of the Napa Valley. The magical mineral waters have been providing rejuvenation and healing for over a century.
Calistoga became a destination spa town beginning in 1862, when an entrepreneurial Sam Brannan, opened his first hot springs resort. The town retains its historic roots with beautiful architecture that houses restaurants. spas, shops, and hotels.
It is the restorative mineral waters that draw me back for additional relaxation. A short drive from the Bay Area, it is worth every moment to spend in those waters. And it doesn’t hurt that there are great restaurants, shopping and accommodations. Did I mention that you can park your car once and walk to everything that you might need in town?
For this visit I’ve arranged to stay at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort. They popularized the mud bath process. a five step blissful treatment they call “The Works.” This restorative process takes over 2 hours and will leave you feeling like a new refreshed person.
Bliss begins with the mud bath containing peat and volcanic ash and the famed Calistoga mineral waters to soothe, relax, and detoxify in a comforting spa environment. After showering the next step is in a bubbling mineral bath where you sip cool water while bubbling into further relaxation.
A steam room follows where soothing heat envelops you as you sweat away the remaining toxins while you sip more fruit-infused water.
After the steam room, you enjoy a blanket wrap to return your body to room temperature while drifting between reality and sleep, while cocooned in a soft blanket. Just as you are drifting off to sleep, they collect you for your massage.
Whatever tension you are still holding melts away once the massage commences. At the conclusion of the massage (30 or 60 minutes) you feel relaxed, happy, and in need of a nap. The Works takes about 2.5 hours, where you can experience complete bliss.
If you haven’t experienced enough relaxation, you are free to enjoy the mineral pools: an indoor hot pool, and two outdoor cooler pools.
Staying at Dr. Wilkinson’s comes with the added benefit of continued enjoyment of the mineral water during your stay. I think this might be my favorite part of the experience. Floating on my back under the stars at night is a magical experience and one to be savored.
You will probably want to tear yourself away from the pool for a meal or two and you won’t be disappointed by the selection of restaurants in Calistoga. Whether you desire American, Asian, California, Italian, Japanese, or Mexican, you will enjoy delicious cuisine.
This time, after a healthy treatment, a healthy meal seemed a good choice, so we chose Sushi Mambo. They offer a wide assortment of both sushi and teriyaki dishes from which to choose. You can also select from sake, wine, and beer. The beef teriyaki was an excellent choice and so delicious. While the sushi looked amazing, the beef was calling out to me. After a delightful meal and great service, it was a short walk back to the magical mineral waters. There was just enough time to catch the moon and stars from the outdoor pool before bed.
The next morning dawned with a beautiful sunrise over Mount St. Helena and Calistoga’s famed geyser. While I was sad to leave, I felt refreshed and rejuvenated from the magical Calistoga mineral waters and was already planning my next visit.
Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort is an ideal place to stay and to experience The Works and the relaxing mineral waters. From their location you can walk to restaurants, shops, and wine tasting. Visit their website to learn more.
Calistoga is a short drive (1.5-2 hours) from most Bay Area locations and from SFO. For a list of Calistoga Restaurants, click here. Calistoga has over 50 wineries a short drive away, click here to learn more.
About: Karla Erovick is a travel and wine writer. She loves traveling to undiscovered locales and sharing with her readers so they can enjoy a more authentic travel experience. Read from over 400 articles about destinations, food, and wine.