Why we like Calistoga Wine Country

Visitors to the Napa Valley often wonder what town in the Valley they should choose as a base while planning a wine vacation. “What town is the most fun?” we are often asked. Fun meaning good places to lodge, many choices for dining, boutique shopping, and of course wineries and tasting rooms to visit. The four major towns from south to north are Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Janelle and I have stayed in each town many times over our years of adventures in the Napa Valley. Each town has something unique and delightful to offer. But if we had to make a choice as to which one was our favorite town, we would have to go with Calistoga.

I don’t think Calistoga has changed much since I was a young boy. My parents would vacation in Clear Lake and we would always stop in Calistoga for a snack on the way to our Lake County camping spot. On our first trip together Janelle and I stayed at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort, which today looks exactly the same as it did some 40 years ago. A trip down Lincoln Avenue in Calistoga is a trip down Napa Valley’s memory lane.

Calistoga has always been, and we hope will always be, a laid-back town. The pace in Calistoga is less hectic and the shops and eateries a little more down-to-earth. It is definitely a quaint environment. We visit each December for Pauper’s Night at the Calistoga Inn. The natives come in droves and sing and party to Christmas cheer. It is an experience you won’t get in any other town in the Napa Valley. Unfortunately, the Calistoga Inn had a fire a couple of months ago and will not re-open for several months. I’m afraid there will not be a Pauper’s Night at the Inn this December.

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