A Celebration weekend in Calistoga

Our 10th anniversary fell on a Friday, so we made arrangements to wake up in Calistoga and celebrate it properly! Driving through the Napa valley felt so reminiscent of that May when we got married—in Los Olivos, at a winery in the Santa Ynez Valley—and is just an hour-and-a-half outside of Davis, so it made for the perfect romantic escape.

Here’s a look back…

I drove into town early in the day with my parents—it was my father’s birthday, and we put the top down for the drive, and shared lunch at Sam’s Social Club—before checking into the hotel. The first room I was sent to was one of the original 1930s-buildings, called The Lodge, and though recently updated it had a distinctly motel-feel. I walked back over to registration to see if there were alternatives and was happy to be sent over to “The Hills” for one of their newer rooms. There are a few different set-ups on the property, including standalone cottages and houses as well.

Indian Springs is famous for its Olympic-sized mineral pool—which was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit during our visit, but is lower in temperature during the summer. On-site geysers (you can see the steam) feed the pool with mineralized water. There’s also a smaller adult pool, but we never felt the need to use it.

I noticed that on the first day, Thursday, the pool was pretty empty—and most guests were women. On Friday, it filled up a bit more, and mostly with couples. By Saturday, there were a handful of families who joined.

Aron got off work later in the afternoon and drove in before dinner!

There are cruisers set around the property for borrowing as needed. We had reservations at SolBar, the restaurant at Solage (where we once stayed just before Skyler was born) right next door.

They just installed a new chef, and we’d been given a bit of caution, but I thought it was a wonderful meal!

After dinner, we went back to the room and threw on our suits. The pool closes at 7pm for day-visitors, but stays open until midnight for guests. It feels a little like you’re breaking the rules, sneaking in! On a clear night, it’s wonderful to lay back and look at the stars.

Our anniversary began with breakfast at Sam’s Social Club—the egg-in-the-hole is rich and decadent and hard to pass up!

That morning, we spent some time floating in the pool, and then checked into the spa for massages. We skipped the classic treatment—mud baths, where one is immersed in hot volcanic ash—this time around, but I wrote all about the experience on our last visit, if you’re curious about it. (It’s kind of wild!)

After our large breakfast, we kept close to the pool for lunch, but rode into town to pick up a small cake at the bakery (riffing on our tradition).

Calistoga was one of the first towns in the valley to become a tourist destination: back in the mid-19th century, a developer bought a few thousand acres with the intention that the natural hot springs around the area would draw tourists. Visitors made the trip by rail from San Francisco; the town still retains a sort of old-west feel today.

There’s a grocery (Cal Mart), and a handful of shops and restaurants in town. There’s also a bike shop where we once rented bikes for a ride along the Silverado Trail.

Above, Doc Wilkinson’s is the classic (slightly kitschy) old-guard mud bath spot.

(Aluminum is the traditional 10th anniversary gift. Thus the foil wrapped box of chocolates.)

We considered going off the grounds for dinner but decided instead to keep it simple. We found a lovely footpath that goes over one of the hills at the back of Indian Springs to walk back to Sam’s Social Club.

We shared some amazing oysters and a plate of cheeses and charcuterie to start, and finished with the candy cap churros. If you ever stop by, be sure to try them! Candy Cap is actually a variety of mushrooms that taste slightly sweet. When dried, they reportedly smell like maple syrup. The churros are a bit more like fresh beignets in texture, and are served with a large bowl of thick whipped cream, drizzled with dulce de leche. So good!

After dinner, we changed into our bathingsuits again for one more float under the stars.

We have followed in Aron’s parents’ tradition of holding up fingers for the number of years married.

You can order off parts of the menu and have lunch delivered to the pool. We added eggs to our pizza.

The place is really the perfect escape. While we stuck close to the pool, it would be a great base for exploring all of Napa Valley—and Sonoma, too!

Here are some more posts about visiting Napa and Sonoma, including:

48 hours in Napa / Mother’s Day weekend in Sonoma and Napa / Shopping at Oakville Grocery and SHED Healdsburg / Planning a wedding in the valley

What are your favorite wineries and restaurants in the area? Where should we try next? 

P.S. On the way home, we did our best Aerosmith-video impression (below):


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