From natural landmarks to man-made marvels to so many storytelling spots, Calistoga is a photographer’s dream destination. Have your cell phone at the ready to capture these picturesque treasures to post on Instagram, and be sure to use the hashtags #ThisisCalistoga and #VisitCalistoga:
- Castello di Amorosa: This 13th century-style Tuscan castle and winery is authentic, right down to the Grand Barrel Room’s intricate, 40 cross-vaulted ceiling arches crafted from ancient, handmade European bricks. But here’s the surprise: the magnificent structure is new, built at the start of 1992 and over a 15-year period. You can spend an entire day exploring the 121,000 square foot building’s 107 rooms spread over eight levels under and above ground. Admire the five defensive towers, too, plus the 170 acres of vineyards, forests, lake, and a pasture of sheep, goats and chickens.
- Old Faithful Geyser: This six-acre attraction features much more than its signature, natural geothermal fountain that erupts every five to 55 minutes, depending on the season. You’ll also want to wander amid the gardens, the geology museum, and the farm, home to Tennessee Fainting Goats, Jacob’s Four-Horn Sheep, and guard llamas.
- Villa Ca’Toga: At the residence/studio/retreat of 1937 Italian-born artist Carlo Marchiori, this spectacular mansion channels exquisite Venetian masterpieces with a grand dose of whimsy. Each room wows with an elaborately painted theme, be it the Italian museum salon, library, or the Pompeian-, Greek-, Birdcage-, Cow- and Southwest-inspired rooms. Stroll amid the property’s Greco-Roman ruins, courtyard of sculptures, and take the river walk to peek inside the Thai stupa, and take a snapshot of the small-scale pyramid, Roman pool and fountains. Tours are offered Saturdays at 11 a.m. May through October.
- Chateau Montelena: Famous for winning the ’76 Judgment of Paris competition when its chardonnay bested French wine entries, the stone winery is also renown for its English Gothic castle-style architecture. Built in 1888, it boasts walls 3-12 feet thick, battlements with crenels and merlons for shooting arrows (should the need arise), narrow arched windows and a large arched front door. The gardens and lake are spectacular, too.
- Brannan Cottage Inn: Built in 1860, this inn is the only resort cottage built by Calistoga founder Samuel Brannan that remains in its original location. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, this six-room Victorian inn features dramatic gabled roofs, gorgeous gingerbread scroll work, and a wraparound porch enclosed by arches.
- Culinary Institute of America at Greystone: Built in the late 19th century, the imposing castle-style mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now an extraordinary academy for world class food and wine education, the stone building offers a museum with more than 1,000 corkscrews, a state-of-the-art kitchen that looks like it came from a movie set, culinary gardens brimming with unusual produce, a restaurant with a vineyard view patio, and, each spring, thousands of chattering swallows nesting in the eaves.
- The patio at Solbar: Tucked in the luxury Solage, an Auberge Resort, the restaurant’s al fresco seating boasts stunning views of the Palisades mountains, seating under twinkle-lit shade trees, and a dramatic, stone sculpture pond dappled with plants and centered with a fire feature. The sophisticated food is snap-worthy, too: seared halibut with saffron patty-pan squash and uni crema decorated in fennel-Sun Gold tomato relish, basil citrus emulsion and pickled blueberries, to name a few.
- Murals: Downtown Calistoga is rich with public art created by world-renowned artist Carlo Marchiori. Depicting life in Calistoga around its founding in the 1860s, accented with Marchiori’s Italian style, the creations are vibrant and two-dimensional, perfect for posing. Scenes include ladies shopping at a mercantile, a barbershop, jail and stagecoach stop, among others. These murals can be found at Brannan’s Social Dining, Enoteca Wine Shop, Romeo Vineyards and Cellars, Vermeil Wines and along a driveway in downtown.