Calistoga is primarily known as an adult destination for wine and wellness, but there are lots of fun things to do here with the kids. If you’re traveling as a family, you can all enjoy the attractions, outdoor activities and laidback dining with this Calistoga kid-friendly itinerary.
Here’s a plan to get you and your family started:
Check into your room at one of many kid-friendly hot springs resorts such as Carlin Country Cottages, with family suites and private cottages, or Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa, which features road trip-themed décor, board games and a hula hoop in the rooms. Other great options include Calistoga Arbors, which features one- and two-bedroom cottages, and the Best Western PLUS Stevenson Manor, where the breakfast room is family-friendly.
Go for a walk or ride bikes along the Vine Trail from Washington Street to Dunaweal Lane. It’s a flat, easy ride that takes you past the town’s water treatment area which is a lot more interesting than it sounds, with large turtles sunning themselves on logs, wildflowers, and a variety of songbirds to see and hear.
By the time you head back downtown, everyone should be hungry!! Try the handmade pizzas at La Prima Pizza or go for Mexican food at Pacifico Mexicano Restaurante. If your kids like pasta—an all-time favorite for most—try out Mangia Mi, Calistoga’s newest Italian restaurant featuring fresh pasta made daily, pizza, house-made meatballs, and a sampling of small plates, antipasti, and salads. And wine, of course, for the chaperones of a certain age.
If you’re staying at one of the hot springs resorts, this would be a good time to take an evening swim in the mineral pools before bedtime.
The quirky Café Sarafornia is a good stop for an old-fashioned diner-style breakfast of pancakes or waffles for the kids, while huevos rancheros or more upscale options are on the menu for adult palates. While you’re there, you’ll learn a bit about the history of Calistoga and how the town is rumored to have been named! Or try the Calistoga Roastery, a 30-year-old classic coffeehouse with a laid-back vibe, yummy pastries, juice, coffee, hot cocoa, and other goodies. There’s even a toy box in the back.
Continue the history lesson with a visit to the Sharpsteen Museum, which features a massive diorama of what Calistoga looked like in the 1860s, complete with an authentic stagecoach. Walk through the restored cottage that was one of the original buildings in Calistoga, and explore the history of our town.
Next, drive down to Castello di Amorosa, a winery modeled after a 13th-century Tuscan castle. Sign up for a guided tour through the vaulted barrel room, torture chamber, dungeon and other fun areas of the castle complex. While the adults taste wine in the main tasting room, kids can try the winery’s non-alcoholic grape juice! And the kids will love the outdoor “zoo” with peacocks, chickens, pigs, sheep, and goats in abundance.
For another historic stop, check out the Bale Grist Mill just to the south of the castle. The mill was built in 1846 and has an impressive 36-foot water wheel. If visiting on a Saturday, you can even watch the attendants mill grain — and you take home a bag of freshly milled flour!
Another fun side trip is a visit to Sunrise Horse Rescue, a nonprofit horse rescue and sanctuary located on Tubbs Lane, just outside the city. Children and adults in the community are involved in assisting the rehabilitation of rescued horses. Tours are available by appointment only by contacting Denise at email@example.com. Tours generally happen at 9:30 or 11:00 am; the horses love visitors, and children have an amazing connection with the herd.
On your way back into town, stop by Buster’s Southern BBQ and pick up pulled pork sandwiches to go. Take your dinner to Old Faithful Geyser of California, where you can head to the picnic prep area and help yourselves to wine chillers, glasses, silverware, plates and napkins. Relax in the covered cabanas with a view of the geyser as it faithfully erupts amid a backdrop of the setting sun. Once you’ve finished eating, stroll to the geology exhibit about learn more about the region before partaking in a bit of bocce ball. Be sure to walk over to the petting zoo where you will find Tennessee fainting goats.
Another fun option for dinner is the Napa Valley Wine Train, a delightful experience for children and adults alike. You will enjoy a meal, wine and beautiful vistas of the Napa Valley while the kids will thrill at riding on a real-life train!
On your way out of Calistoga, drive up to the Petrified Forest, where you can hike a mile through new growth forest and trees petrified 3.5 million years ago when the nearby volcano, Mt. Saint Helena erupted. Learn all about the geology of the area and get a little exercise while you’re at it!
As your final stop, go on safari at Safari West, known as the Sonoma Serengeti. There are nearly 900 animals from over 90 unique species on the property, including giraffes, rhinos and zebras, and you can tour as a family in a custom canvas-covered vehicle. After your safari tour, head to the Sonoma County Airport (STS) where you can catch your flight home, or an easy hopper flight to connect to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO)!