California is a world-famous tourist destination, but little does everyone know that it still hides secret travel hotspots.
One such place is Calistoga, a piece of history with enough things to do and places to see from summer to winter.
The city of Calistoga traces its history to the Mexican period, under the control of the Mexican government.
In the 1840s, the first American settlers arrived and made themselves at home in the area.
Sam Brannan led one expedition.
In 1862, he turned Calistoga into a resort town similar to Saratoga, New York.
Sam Brannan also gave the new town its name when he drunkenly claimed to transform the city to the Saratoga of California.
Instead, what came out as the “Calistoga of Sarafornia.”
Do you want to know more about Calistoga, CA?
Check out this list of the best things to do in town.
Go Medieval at the Castello Di Amorosa
If you want to taste good wine at an authentic 13-century Italian Tuscan castle, go to Calistoga and find the Castello Di Amorosa.
This 171-acre medieval winery sits in the western hills south of Calistoga.
Dario Sattui began building the castle in 1994, after years of studying medieval castles and wineries throughout Europe.
The property spans 136,000 square feet, includes 107 rooms, and has a spacious Great Hall that carries 2-story replicas of Tuscan frescoes.
Likewise, the castle has a 500-year-old fireplace, a drawbridge, a dungeon, and even a torture chamber!
You’ll need to book a reservation for the guided tour, but it’s worth it.
Visit the Castello Di Amorosa at 4045 St. Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Try the Wine at Tank Garage Winery
Napa wine veterans James Harder and Jim Regusci run Tank Garage Winery, one of the unique tasting rooms in the Napa Valley.
What makes this place unique? It’s the only tasting room located at a 1930s mechanic’s garage and gas station.
You’ll still find old gas tanks in front of the place.
These tanks are authentic, too, and they’ve fooled enough people who asked if they can pump gas from them.
Besides this eye for design, Tank Garage Winery also offers terrific wines.
You can buy them online, or you can also join their wine club.
Visit the Tank Garage Winery at 1020 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Feast Your Eyes at the Old Faithful Geyser
This place might be the little brother to Yellowstone’s Old Geyser, but Calistoga’s version is a top-tier attraction in its own right.
The Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga is smaller but hyperactive.
The geyser erupts every 15 to 30 minutes, spewing out steam, which is always a delight to watch.
Between the gaps in eruptions, you can take photos of the gorgeous scenery or have lunch at the nearby picnic grounds.
Likewise, you can visit the petting zoo and get to know mountain goats and llamas.
There’s also a nearby geology museum, where you can learn more about how geysers work.
Gain a new appreciation for the wonders of nature at Calistoga’s Old Faithful.
Visit the Old Faithful Geyser of California at 1299 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Go Hiking along the Oat Hill Mine Trail
On the other hand, if you prefer to get active, you can go to the Oat Hill Mine Trail, an 8.3-mile-long old stagecoach route.
This route passed between Calistoga and Aetna Springs Road, elevating 1,500 feet.
How do you explore this trail?
You can hike, ride a mountain bike, or ride a horse.
This trail gives any outdoors enthusiast a thrilling challenge.
You’ll need to sharpen your skills because the trail can be quite rocky and rough.
However, you’ll get treated to a spectacular view of the Napa Valley and eye-catching volcanic formations.
The Oat Hill Mine Trail starts at 2082 Oat Hill Mine Trail, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Try the Signature Wines at the Vincent Arroyo Winery
If you just want to try superior wine, you can simply visit the Vincent Arroyo Winery.
Every year, the winery makes more than 8,000 cases, ranging from Chardonnay, Cabernet, Petite Sirah, Merlot, and Sangiovese.
The Vincent Arroyo Winery also offers a signature wine, the Petite Sirah, in variations.
For example, the Napa Valley Petite Sirah is a blend of several Petite Sirah vineyards.
You have the Greenwood Ranch, Rattlesnake Acres, and the Winemaker’s Reserve Petite Sirah if you're looking for more.
You’d also better hurry up and buy their wine when it becomes available.
The Vincent Arroyo Winery sells out its stock every year, so don’t waste time.
Visit the Vincent Arroyo Winery at 2361 Greenwood Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Learn Local History at the Sharpsteen Museum
If you want to learn more about the rich history of Calistoga, you might want to visit the Sharpsteen Museum.
It’s an unmissable destination because of its artistic displays showing the history of Calistoga and the upper Napa Valley.
Oscar-winning Disney animator, producer, and director Ben Sharpsteen built the museum.
Its success has led to a feature on the Travel Channel and continued success.
What can you see inside the museum?
If you want to see what a legit Oscar looks like, the Sharpsteen Museum has one.
It’s one of the 11 Oscars given to Sharpsteen.
Likewise, the museum contains an expansive diorama featuring Calistoga’s Hot Springs Resort in the 1860s.
This display also pays homage to California’s first millionaire, Sam Brannan, a man of many talents.
Visit the Sharpsteen Museum at 1311 Washington St., Calistoga, CA 94515.
Sip Wine among the Horses at the Tamber Bey Vineyards
Another unique winery waiting for you at Calistoga is the Tamber Bey Winery, located at a world-class equestrian facility called Sundance Ranch.
The facility’s mission is to train top-quality horses to fit for competition worldwide.
The winery’s tasting rooms are inside the barn’s original clubhouse.
While sipping wine, you can wander among the 16 barn stalls surrounding the courtyard.
You can mingle with other guests or check out the horses.
In the past, the winery was a 15,000-square-foot riding arena.
However, in 1999, Barry Waitte founded Tamber Bey, and he began remodeling the arena into a cutting-edge winemaking facility.
This facility now contains 36 fermentation tanks that fit wines for the vineyard.
Visit the Tamber Bey Vineyards at 1251 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Travel Back in Time in the Petrified Forest
History doesn’t just involve great people but also includes nature itself.
If you want to know what the planet looked like more than 3 million years ago, look for The Petrified Forest in Calistoga.
Bring your family and gaze at these imposing petrified redwoods looming over everyone walking through the grove.
How did these trees get petrified?
A local volcano once erupted 3.4 million years ago, and its lava turned this ancient forest into stone.
If you look to the northeast from this forest, you’ll also see the extinct volcano Mt. St. Helena.
Visit The Petrified Forest at 4100 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Check Out Masterpieces at Ca’Toga Galleria D’Arte
Besides nature, Calistoga also offers cultural attractions for curious travelers.
For example, you can visit the art gallery called the Ca’Toga Galleria D’Arte in downtown Calistoga.
The Ca’Toga also has another location in the city, the Villa Ca’Toga.
The world-famous artist Carlo Marchiori founded the Ca’Toga gallery in 1998.
He intended the gallery to showcase his works exclusively, such as paintings, ceramics, sculptures, prints, and drawings.
Likewise, the gallery shows a selection of gift and design items that are carefully curated.
Visit the Ca’Toga Galleria D’Arte at 1206 Cedar St., Calistoga, CA 94515.
Watch an Artist at Work at the Villa Ca’Toga
Meanwhile, the Villa Ca’Toga is Marchiori’s residence and studio.
If you want to see a master artist working in person, book a tour at his villa.
The house itself is an inventive replica of a home in the Palladian style, popular in Veneto, Italy.
Time and again, Marchiori has reinvented his home.
He has transformed his residence into a playful fusion of Italian Renaissance art, personalities taken from myth, and beautiful gardens fit for reflection.
Visit the Villa Ca’Toga at 3061 Myrtledale Rd, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Sip More Wine at the Clos Pegase Winery & Tasting Room
Delight yourself with a taste of exquisite wine while enjoying the marvelous views of the Macayamas Mountain Range at the Clos Pegase Winery & Tasting Room.
The place offers a treat for the eyes and taste.
You’ll find this winery and tasting room among vast estate vineyards.
Likewise, the first thing you’ll notice is the building’s first-class architecture.
The next would be the delicious hand-crafted wine delivered in a unique experience.
Take a breath at the Heritage Garden, or enjoy seated tasting inside the Cave Theatre.
Clos Pegase provides a stellar wine-tasting experience every time.
Visit the Clos Pegase Winery & Tasting Room at 1060 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Enjoy the Outdoors at Pioneer Park
If you prefer laid-back activities, you can go to Pioneer Park and spend the day hanging out with friends or family.
The park offers plenty of pleasant amenities, such as a kid’s playground, a gazebo, and a picnic area.
You can also walk around and while away the day on the lush green grass.
The kids’ playground also features cutting-edge playground equipment, which guarantees fun for your children.
You can also catch concerts at the gazebo area from time to time.
It’s also a popular spot for small outdoor weddings.
Meanwhile, the two picnic areas have barbecue pits so that you can grill as many burgers as possible.
You can rent both the gazebo and the picnic areas for private events.
Visit Pioneer Park at 1308 Cedar Street, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Check Out More Art at the Sofie Contemporary Arts Gallery
General art lovers could also drop by the Sofie Contemporary Arts gallery to find some brilliant artwork from California artists.
These contemporary pieces showcase mastery, uniqueness, and a great eye for design.
Likewise, the gallery collects and displays work from various artists in different stages of their careers.
Most of the exhibits feature group displays or solo shows.
What do all these artists have in common?
They all show a unique mastery of concept, form, content, and willingness to explore materials and techniques.
Visit the Sofie Contemporary Arts gallery at 1407 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Spend the Day at the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Besides wine, the Napa Valley area offers extraordinary outdoor leisure experiences.
Just go to the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park to see for yourself.
The park allows visitors to go camping, picnicking, and hiking all year.
You can even swim there, depending on the season.
If you don’t want to camp, just bring a picnic basket and wine.
Sit under the park’s shaded areas and enjoy wine with friends or family.
Bring your swimsuit and cool off in the park’s spring-water swimming pool.
The 1,900-acre park hosts more than 10 miles of trails that pass among trees like redwoods, maples, oaks, and madrones.
Visit the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park at 3801 St. Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Revisit History at the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
Between the towns of Calistoga and St. Helena stands the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, which features a 19th-century water-powered, and working, grist mill.
In 1846, Edward Turner Bale built the first version of the mill, which underwent a full restoration.
Today, you can see the original French Buhr millstones turn grain into signature Bale Mills flour and meals.
Back in the late 1800s, this grist mill was a godsend to the Napa Valley farmers. They brought all their grain to the mill and marveled at the grinding process.
They saw the grain lifted via elevator to the upper level, where various equipment sifted and cleaned them.
After the slow grinding, their grain turned into a fresh meal fit for baking delicious cornbread, shortening bread, spoon bread, and yellow bread.
Today, you can also bring home a bag of Bale Mill products in exchange for a small donation.
These products are various flour, cornmeal, buckwheat, and rye, among others.
All of them are fully organic, too.
The granary gift shop also sells souvenir items you can show off to your family and friends.
Visit the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park at 3369 St. Helena Hwy, N, Calistoga, CA 94515.
Its location in the Napa Valley means Calistoga produces various types of delicious wine that satisfy even the most discerning palate.
However, that’s not all the city has to offer.
You can go there simply to enjoy the outdoors through its parks and hiking trails.
Otherwise, you can also visit the historical sites that populate the city.
Don’t skip out on these experiences, and book your Calistoga trip today!