Thursday, September 23, 2010

Travel Tip: Calistoga's Golden Haven Spa

Calistoga is a small town located at the northern end of Napa Valley.  It attracts many tourists and celebrities alike... all looking to get away and relax at one of Calistoga's many spas.  If you take time to look in the Lincoln Street shops, you'll find many Calistoga mud products.  Apparently, there is magic in that darn mud... magic like you wouldn't believe.  Facial specials cake the streets, small restaurants invite you to try their gourmet cuisine, and a festival of boutique shops show off a local California style.

The street of Calistoga

 Since my arrival to Napa Valley, I've made a slight effort to try out some of their spas... just for kicks (obviously, that has a large splurge factor!).   At the Calistoga Village Inn and Spa, you can pay $20 to swim in all of their mineral pools after regular hours, for instance.  If you've never had a dip in a mineral pool, it is quite the experience!

But, one of my favorite experiences was trying out the mud baths.  Now, you can do this individually or as a couple.  I strongly encourage the couple experience as it will leave the two of you laughing and relaxing for a good hour.  Laughing from the fact you are dipping yourself into hot (magical) mud and relaxing because the heat surely makes you feel like you had a 2 hour massage!

The Entrance to Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa

As you soak in the mud bath for about 30 minutes, they'll cover your face in a cool, clay mask (take your picture if you'd like), and drink ice cold water with hints of lemon in it.  It's quite the calming experience.  After your mud bath, you get to wash down (which is an experience in and of itself), and then take a dip in their mineral jacuzzi.  This is quite the calming experience, especially after you get over the fact you just dipped yourself in magical mud.  The minerals in the water make the water extra soft, leaving your skin feeling completely refreshed.  You magical mud experience ends in a quiet room where they wrap you in cooling blankets and turn the lights down low.  By the end of this nap, you'll feel like you've been sleeping for days!

After your mud bath, Golden Haven opens up their own mineral pools to you for the remainder to the day (unless you are staying at their resort spa as a hotel guest).  

Mid-day, break for lunch or an early dinner in downtown Calistoga.  You'll see a line of tourists lining up for the Calistoga Inn, where they brew their own beer.  If you're in the mood for something divine (that you are willing to pay for) I recommend Jole.  It's got some of the best food in town.  Of if you are in the mood for Chinese, Soo Yuan hosts some of the best Chinese food I have ever tasted (and I did taste in Chinatown).  Just watch out for the fortune cookies - sometimes they are a bit fishy.  Try the local Mexican favorite, Miguel's.  The chilequiles comes highly recommended!  But Barolo's is also something worth talking about, especially if you are in town on a Thursday evening (as for the $15 special - salad, homemade lasagna, and creme brulee).  Stop at the Wine Garage and pick up a bottle of local Calistoga wine (all bottles are $25 or less - a true bargain!) right off of Highway 29.  Head to Palisades Deli and get a local sandwich.  Or, if you're in the mood for a coffee, the Village Bakery and the Calistoga Roastery are primary choices.  There's no shortage of food on Lincoln Street!

Despite your choice, you're sure to have a day of relaxation, romance, and fun in lil' ol' Calistoga!

Flower and Art Shop Near Palisades in Calistoga

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