A travel journal
to Calistoga by Barb B
Quote: If you haveever been spoiled -- or never been spoiled, this is your place! Calistoga caters to the whims of tourists--Magnificent restaurants, fabulous spas, superb wineries, unbeatable year-round scenery and unbelievable culinary experiences - all less than two-hours from San Francisco. Cometo Calistoga, let us spoil you!
When you arrive in San Francisco, rent a car, then you have transportation for the entire trip. Another possibility - From San Francisco Airport or Oakland Airport you can take Evans Airport Service to Napa. Comfortable buses cost per person, each way. Buses are air conditioned and have restrooms. They run approximately every 90 minutes and the Trip takes about 60-90 minutes (depending on traffic). Then rent a car in Napa. You can get information about Evans Service at their website--http://www.Evanstransportation.com.
Hotel | "Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort"
Calistoga was once the home of Native American Wappo Indians. As early as 1800, history records the Wappo Indians using the local mineral pools, mixing ash and mosses with the mud and retreating to sweat houses to relax.
Golden Haven is located on Lake Street, just a short 3 block walk from downtown Calistoga. It has lovely landscaped gardens, a large outdoor mineral water pool, Jacuzzi and 27 rooms including individual cottages complete with in-room Jacuzzis.
Although we live only 25 miles from Calistoga, we like to stay overnight after a lovely, relaxing day. Golden Haven offers many Room and Treatment Packages. Rooms are reasonably priced and quite comfortable, but are not luxurious.
Generally, Autumn and winter rates are the lowest, but rates will vary depending on your choice and day of the week. A comfortable room for two, including a small kitchenette is priced from $95-$115 per night. King-sized Jacuzzi rooms are also available for $135-$165 per night. It is important to know that reservations are necessary usually 2 months in advance during the peak tourist season!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 10, 2000
Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort
1713 Lake Street
Calistoga, California 94515
Brix is an oasis of brilliance on winter evenings with over 150,000 lights illuminating the towering trees in front. The inviting lounge shares its gigantic fireplace with a section of the dining room set with intimate tables for two. Expansive views of the Mayacamas Mountains, and the large trellised terrace beyond are viewed through the floor to ceiling windows.
Art deco chandeliers, wall scones, banquette lamps and hanging glass shades in grapevine motifs tie the entire dining room space together. An Open kitchen with brick oven wraps around two sides of the dining room and adds to the comfortable ambiance.
The entire menu excels in every way -- from velvety Foie Gras and exquisite oysters with caviar to, smoky rack of lamb, seared Ahi and grains and noodles. This is truly a unique experience in visual and culinary elegance, all picturesquely presented with flair. Imaginative wine pairings accompanied each entree and service was attentive without being intrusive.
Dessert proved to be the Grande finale to a great dining experience. Hawaiian Chocolate Napoleon, Creme brulee trio, Gelatos, Sorbet, Mouse Cheesecake--each has a special charm of its own. I suppose that is why a dessert sampler is offered for two or four.
Brix is a fantastic choice for a marvelous gourmet lunch or dinner, flawlessly served in a delightful setting. You can view BRIX menus at http://www.Brix.com TIP: Reservations are not only recommended, but at times they are mandatory!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 11, 2000
7377 St Helena Highway
Napa, California 94558
+1 707 944 2749
Restaurant | "Brannan's"
The restaurant opened in 1998 and as you enter you will see a wide expanse of redwood, stone and beamed interior ceilings. Although the restaurant has dining tables next to a wall of accordion type windows which look out onto Lincoln (Calistoga's Main Street), and in spite of the fact that the restaurant was virtually empty (with less than 12 patrons), we were seated at a table near the rear. I got the impression that they were short on waiters that evening and decided to seat everyone in one area.
The ambiance is pleasant; soft jazz in the background, a 19th century Brunswick Bar stretching the length of one wall, and a stone fireplace and murals of the Napa Valley enhance the other walls. Our server came to the table, dropped two menus and said "I’ll be back in a few to see what you want to drink" (a rather cold welcome in my opinion). I selected a glass of Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay (at $7.25 a glass) and my husband chose Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet (at $8.75 a glass).
Appetizers range from Fried Calamari ($8, I thought it had too much cilantro), Braised Short Ribs ($11) to Oysters in Mignonette Sauce ($20 a dozen, which were OK, but nothing special). My husband had a Seafood Minestrone ($10 good, but a little heavy on basil).
We did not see our waiter during the Appetizers and Soup courses. He stopped back afterward to see if we wanted to order wines for our Entrees. We chose not to have more wine, since we had already had quite a bit to drink during tastings that day. He seemed disappointed that we were not drinking more.
Entrees range from Sea Bass ($22), Smoked Pork Chops with Cabbage and Applesauce ($20), Curry Poached Salmon ($18 which I found dry), and a Blue Cheese and Walnut Crusted Filet Mignon (again, seemed dry at $27). We decided not to have dessert, and waited for what seemed a very long time before the check was finally delivered.
In Summary: Reservations are recommended, but not always required. Brannan’s has a wonderful wine list and a very nice atmosphere. However, I find the service to be slow and the waiters inattentive (at least on the two occasions we were there). The menu items sounded very innovative, but I found them disappointingly dry and over seasoned. The Calistoga area has an abundance of wonderful restaurants, and in my humble opinion, most are better.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on May 16, 2001
1374 Lincoln Ave
Calistoga, California 94515
Attraction | "Spa Treatments-Is that Mud clean??"
If you really want to relax and indulge yourself while visiting Calistoga, give yourself a treat at one of the spas for which the town has become so well known. Mud baths, mineral baths, massage, body scrubs, facials and mineral pools are all available.
Here's how it works. The "mud" is a mixture of peat moss, clay, and hot mineral water. You shower first, then step into a large tub of warm "mud" (an attendant is at hand to help you into the tub). You relax there for about 10 - 15 minutes. Then a warm shower removes most of the "mud" and it's into a hot mineral-water whirlpool soak. An attendant will bring refreshing mineral water to drink. This is followed by a relaxing steam in the sauna and finished off with an herbal blanket wrap.
This treatment draws the toxins from your skin and leaves you with an incredible sense of well being. Now its time for a massage and you will truly feel rejuvenated. Actually, I usually feel like a wet rag, everything is SSOOO Relaxed! A manicure, pedicure and facial completes the day.
Routines vary from spa to spa and some spas offer treatments for couples. Many spas offer mid-week specials and weekend specials including lodging. Gift certificates are a wonderful treat and my own introduction to the spas was the result of a gift certificate from my sister who lives in Calistoga.
Go ahead, treat yourself, your are special and deserve it!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 4, 2000
Numerous spas to choose from
Margaret and Bill have sought out some of the most talented artisans to provide unique inspired jewelry, wearable arts and gifts created and designed around food and wine themes.
Display shelves are filled with hand crafted items and there is a broad range of prices for these tempting delights. Exquisite sophisticated jewelry by designer Elisabeth Prinz is displayed next to superb wearable art works in timeless materials like linen and silk in classic cuts done by Rita Hall. A collection by the PBS culinary show host, Narsai David, is also sold here. Chef Narsi has created silk cummerbunds, vests, bow ties and traditional ties for men with a culinary inclination.
Particularly popular with students and staff of the nearby Culinary Institute of America at Greystone are the tiny sterling silver kitchen utensils in miniature. Ladles, forks, whisks, knives and corks crews make for dangles on tie tacs, bracelets, lapel pins or earrings.
Open Monday to Saturday from 10 to 5:30 and Sunday, Noon to 5. Stop by and find something Special
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 6, 2000
On The Vine
1234 Main Street
Calistoga, California 94574
Attraction | "Visit to the Culinary Institute of America
Our son-in-law works part-time at the CIA and as a special Christmas treat; he invited us to be his guests for a guided tour, cooking demonstration and a sampling of some of the tempting array of foods at the CIA and Greystone Restaurant.
We began our visit with a tour through the historic Greystone facility, built in 1889; it formerly served as the Christian Brothers’ Winery. Then we saw the Culinary Institute classroom we’d seen so often on the PBS TV presentations, and lastly we stopped at the huge 15,000 square foot open teaching kitchens. One of the master chefs provided a brief cooking demonstration in the polished "eco-lab" cooking area and we enjoyed tasting the final product - a delightful puffed pastry encrusted pear tart.
A roaring fire greeted us as we entered the Restaurant’s lounge. The dazzling restaurant, created by noted designer Adam Tihany, offers a wide expanse of wood, natural rock and native volcanic flooring. Seated at one of the unique handcrafted tables, we were served a sumptuous array of small bites or tappas as we sipped a bottle of the house wine and watched the activity within the open kitchen beyond. Samplings change from day to day depending upon season and availability of fresh ingredients.
A stop at the Campus Store and Marketplace completed our trip. Here cookware, bake ware, cooking tools, cookbooks and specialty foodstuffs from all over the world are showcased. I loved the Marketplace and spent almost an hour there selecting a few items to use has hostess gifts throughout the coming year.
Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm Menu prices range (first courses - $7 to $18) and (second courses - $18 to $27)
An extraordinary wine selection is available on you can enjoy a very good house label wine (bottled by Markham) at$8 glass / $40 bottle. Corkage fee is $15.
Guided tours are offered Mon - Fri for $3 at 10:30, 1:30 and 3:30
Cooking Demonstrations are open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays for $7.50 at 10:30, 1:30 and 3:30
The Marketplace is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
Numerous "Specialty tours, dinners, receptions and activities are available throughout the year. For information, visit the website at www.ciachef.edu
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2001
Culinary Institute of America
2555 Main Street
Calistoga, California 94574
The historic Bale Grist Mill is located just South of Calistoga on the West Side of scenic Highway 29. The modest $2 park entry fee will take you back to a simpler time in California’s history. Long before wine was the "Agricultural King" of the Napa Valley, wheat production reigned supreme.
Dr. E. T. Bale’s Grist Mill was an important element of the California scene in the mid-to-late 1800’s. This milling operation was a focal point in the settlement of the Napa Valley, whose economy during that period centered on the production of wheat and its milling into flour. Early mills, in general were mechanical marvels of their day, and the Bale Grist Mill with its immense wooden overshot waterwheel was the most imposing of California’s mills.
Dr. Edward Turner Bale, an English physician and Surgeon was employed by General Vallejo as Surgeon-In-Chief of the Mexican Army and in June 1841 he was awarded a grant of four square leagues of land in the upper Napa Valley. He constructed an adobe and used Indian labor to construct a sawmill and a grist mill. The mill began operating in 1847 when Florentine Kellogg completed the mill’s ironwork. Kellogg’s house still stands across the Mill Creek.
By the mid 1800s, the mill was a major center of community attention because of its spectacular size. Unfortunately in 1848, Dr. Bale forsook Napa Valley’s golden fields of green and went of to the Mother Lode to join the rush for precious gold. There he contracted a fever and never recovered. He died October 9, 1849 at the age of 38. A series of owners followed and the mill fell into disarray.
In 1972, The Mill was entered on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1974 was conveyed to the California State Park System. By 1980, donors reached their goal of $100,000 for the Mill’s restoration, and the structure came down piece by piece. By a twist of irony, the massive 12"x12" redwood timbers needed to restore the mill’s foundation were salvaged from redwoods which had been vandalized in State Parks along the Northern California coastal belt.
Restoration was completed on June 10, 2000, and the Mill once again provides an accurate artifact of a past generation restored for the enlightenment of countless visitors. The Bale Grist Mill is open daily from 10a.m. to 5p.m. offering visitors a quiet interlude and a pleasant break from current-day activities of the Napa Valley. PICNIC TABLES ARE AVAILABLE.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 16, 2001
Historic Bale Grist Mill
South of Calistoga
Over a decade has now passed since Walt and Vicky McAllister opened their Water Garden Nursery in Yountville in California’s Napa Valley. Their goal was (and still is) to provide the BEST water garden nursery in the state. They are fast-becoming a renowned name on the Northern California Water Gardening Scene. Since "full sun" means something quite different in San Francisco than in California’s Inland areas (or other parts of the country) Walt and Vicky are always available for assistance and advice.
The gardens provide a tranquil setting with a wide variety of plants, water garden landscapes, quiet spots to sit and reflect and areas for a "hands on" gardening experience.
The McAllisters are available to assist you with help with your private garden plantings:
>Over 35 varieties of Water Lilies are offered in a variety of colors
>Water Iris and Water Cannas provide height and color in your water garden, and aquatic varieties are capable of living year-to-year because roots are submerged. Their broad foliage adds a tropical look from Spring to Fall
>Water Striders are common plants of the water growing variety which skip across the top of your pond. Varieties included are; Butterfly Clover, Water Hawthorn, Water Hyacinth, Mare’s Tail, Parrot’s Feather, Water Poppies, Water Primrose, Water Wisteria and Water Zinnia
>Dramatic Foliage is provided by shallow water varities of uniquely attractive foliage and form. Placed properly, Egyptian Papyrus, Umbrella plants, Indian Rhubarb and Variegated Parsleys will add drama to your garden.
>Plants which provide bog color Arrowheads, Rushes and Grasses are also available
>>MC ALLISTER WATER GARDENS is located at 7420 St. Helena Highway in Napa Valley (Yountville), CA (East Side of Highway 29 North, across from MUSTARD’S RESTAURANTand the Cosintino’s Winery
The Gardens are open free to the public from 9 AM until 4PM March to September. Feel free to come by, visit and enjoy the gardens, ask questions, and sit and enjoy the tranquility of the Gardens.
"People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share,
And no one dare disturb the Sound of Silence."
Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 23, 2001
McAllister Water Gardens
7420 Saint Helena Highway
Calistoga, California 94558
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona