California Coast Road Trip: 24 Hours in Calistoga California
Day one of the California Coast road trip series: Day one was spent in Calistoga California, a city at the top of Napa Valley. In this travel blog post, I’ll be sharing where we ate, stayed, had a wine tasting, and the spots we explored.
Calistoga California is a great budget-friendly way to explore the Napa Valley area. It’s classy, yet laid back. This quaint town is known for its gorgeous castle-like wineries, hot springs, mud baths, delicious dining, and some of the best Napa Valley wines. The 24-hours spent here has me wanting to come back and stay for an entire week. Have you seen the Netflix movie Wine Country? It was filmed in Calistoga!
Our first couple of days of the California trip were spent in Lake Tahoe. When we were planning out our itinerary, we knew that we had to kick off the official road trip in Calistoga California. After spending three days with a large group of people, we needed a spot to unwind and decompress. The views, food, and wine were everything we dreamed of it to be. You don’t even have to be a wine lover to appreciate a place like this. You’ll be able to find hiking trails, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, cute shops, and spas to spoil yourself at during your trip. Calistoga is Napa’s #1 spot for spas!
FIRST STOP: CALISTOGA CALIFORNIA
Since we had less than 24 hours in Calistoga, we decided to visit a couple of wineries, enjoy our gorgeous hotel, walk the town and have dinner with some of Caitlin’s family. We didn’t want to overload the itinerary because that would take away the point of it being relaxing, and we had a long week of traveling ahead of us.
Our first stop in Calistoga California was the gorgeous Castello Di Amorosa winery, an authentically-built Tuscan castle that took over fourteen years to complete. This winery made you feel as if you took a plane to another country. It was constructed with 8,000 tons of Napa Valley stone and iron and brick imported from Europe. The 121,000 square foot castle had all the features of a fairytale castle with a drawbridge, moat, prison, chapel, and gargoyles. Castello Di Amorosa is known for its heavenly Italian-style wines, and it’s the perfect place to escape to for a change in scenery.
You can experience more than wine tastings here. What’s a castle without a grand ball? Make sure to check out their events calendar for parties, dinners, and celebrations. If we didn’t have an appointment for a wine tasting at another winery, we would have taken the tour! After seeing this place in person, I’d recommend taking that tour if you can. And if you do, come back here and tell me all about it. I had been looking forward to the wine tasting at Chateau Montelena Winery for months! The estate is drop-dead gorgeous.
Most people know of Chateau Montelena as the famous winery that won with it’s Chardonnay against nine wines from France at the “Judgment of Paris,” a blind taste test competition. This tasting was what broke the misconception that only great wines could be grown in France. After reading about the history of this winery, I was eager to join a wine tasting and experience it all, especially the Chardonnay! You may also recognize this winery if you’ve ever seen the movie Bottle Shock!
Chateau Montelena was so kind enough to give us a complimentary wine tasting, and our wine steward was so incredibly knowledgeable. He loved answering our questions, and when we were finished, I felt like I learned so much about the process of winemaking. It’s a beautiful craft.
We tried the Potter Valley Riesling, Napa Valley Chardonnay, Napa Valley Zinfandel, and the Napa Valley Petite Sirah. There wasn’t a wine I didn’t like. I usually lean more towards a red, but even their white wines had my taste buds dancing. After our tasting, I purchased the Napa Valley Zinfandel and the Petite Sirah. I knew my brother, a red wine lover, would enjoy these!
If you can’t make it out to Napa Valley anytime soon, check out their online shop to have it sent to you! 🍷
Exploring the grounds and beautiful gardens was the best way to end our time at Chateau Montelena. Again, this place will make you feel like you’re no longer in the United States.
After touring a few wineries, it was time to get settled into our hotel for the night! Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa were so kind as to host us, and their lodge was a dream. What better way to end a day of wine tasting than with their mineral pools, a whimsical spa, lawn games, or a walk down the street into town?
We loved the laid-back and chill feel of this place, and the whole vibe was relaxing. The layout was unique, retro, and not like your typical hotel. The convenience of everything was ideal for a traveler; Parking right by your rooms, dog-friendly, drinks & snacks at the front desk, the most delicious coffee, and steps away from the quaint downtown area. Don’t feel like walking? No big deal, they have complimentary bikes for their guests, too! You can tell so much work was put into the design and hospitality of this fun spot. I would 1000000% come back and stay for a more extended period. And the best part? It looks like a fancy Napa Valley hotel, but it’s very affordable. I’m really looking forward to traveling back to try out their new restaurant once it’s finished.
I couldn’t stop taking photos of this place. I hope you enjoy the overload.
When you visit, make sure to set up an appointment at the spa. It’s not one of those “be quiet and talk to no one” kind of spas. As I said, this place is laid back. The spa is meant for good-spirited fun while relaxing during your trip. You can treat yourself to a mineral water-fed pool, cover yourself at the apply-your own mud bar, or try one of their massages. If you’re big into CBD, you should look up their spa menu and sign up for a CBD soak or CBD massage.
We stayed in the Camper King Suite. The room came with custom-designed hoodie bathrobes, complimentary high-speed internet, a mini-fridge, large screen T.V., rainfall showers filled with signature grapefruit sage scented products from MoonAcre Spa, and daily fresh ground organic pour-over coffee! Are you kidding me? Can every hotel get on this coffee level, please! There’s nothing better than waking up early and being able to make your own coffee instead of waiting for a restaurant to open up. Plus, pour-over coffee is the queen of all coffee. When you check into the hotel, they give you a little jar of fresh ground coffee to take back to the room with you. As a coffee lover, I really appreciated that.
**stay tuned on my Instagram for a special giveaway announcement coming soon* *hint* hint* ^^^
After getting checked into the hotel and exploring a bit, we headed to Tank Garage Winery for another wine tasting. Tank Garage Winery is a 1930’s era gas station turned into a fun and retro tasting room. If you’ve been touring all the fancy Napa Wineries all day and need a change in scenery, this is it.
The tasting was at your own pace type of thing. Since we were meeting up with Caitlin’s family, it was nice to have them come to the table to pour, talk a bit about the wine, and let you enjoy it at your own pace. They serve limited production, one-off wines, and change them up with the seasons.
After all the wine, and walking around the town, we were so ready for dinner!
skirt / eyelet top / necklace / straw bag / tassels on bag / boho slide sandalsWhile looking for places to eat in Calistoga, I came across Sam’s Social Club. I took one look at the menu and knew right away that this was the spot!
The restaurant itself is charming, and from the outside, it looks like a movie set with a gorgeous Napa Valley sunset backdrop. The inside interior is so fun and vibrant, perfect for any occasion! You can choose to sit inside or outside, but I was ready to cool off from walking around outdoors. Sam’s Social Club is a farm to table restaurant serving seasonal food with an always-changing menu. They were excellent about accommodating allergies at the table and went out of their way to offer substitutes to make sure we had a great dinner experience. I always like to mention when the service at a restaurant is spectacular, and this place was indeed that.
It was so hard to decide on a meal. Everything on the menu looked fantastic!
Because I do not like oysters, I started with the butter lettuce salad. The colorful plate was filled with avocadoes, radishes, shallots, micro herbs, and a lemon vinaigrette. It doesn’t get more refreshing than that!
Caitlin and her cousins shared the chilled hog island oysters which came with housemade amber mignonette, hot sauce, and cocktail sauce. The presentation was pretty, and I’ll go by their reactions, and say that these were also a pretty good menu item to start with!
For my entree, I ordered the Piri Piri Pepper Chicken. It had free-range Mary’s chicken with rosemary brine, haricots verts, almonds, and grilled lemon. I also had garlic jalapeno aioli on top.
The food was a 10/10, and I really hope you consider this spot during your Calistoga trip!
Ending the night at the Calistoga Motor Lodge pool was one of the most relaxing parts of the day. The weather was fantastic, they had lawn games, the fireplaces were cozy, and we met some cool people that we talked to for a while. I think the down to earth people vacationing here is what made me love it even more. It definitely went high above my expectations.
We were up bright and early on Tuesday morning. I wanted to have some time to enjoy coffee, go for a run, and pack up before heading to our next location. The cool thing about making this California trip during the week is you don’t have to deal with a crowd of travelers.
This morning view had me second-guessing the rest of our trip. I almost said, “let’s just stay here the whole time”, and the funny thing is Caitlin would have probably agreed with me. Calistoga is a unique place filled with kind people, great food, and I’m so excited to get back there. I can’t wait until my vlog is finished because you’ll be able to see this photo come to life. It was as dreamy as it looks.
After packing up, we headed to Soul Rebel Coffee for smoothies for the road. We didn’t have time to sit down and enjoy a big breakfast since we had a long trip planned for the day, and this spot looked like the perfect place. There’s a reason this place has a five-star review on Yelp. The friendliness of the man working was something I’ve never seen before.
The coffee shop was a small bar area made for to-go orders, or you could sit outside on their patio surrounded by picnic tables and plants. When it was my turn to order, I told the man working to make my smoothie as green as possible, and he was so awesome at accommodating my request. He made us feel like locals that had been coming in for years, or as if we were friends. This is a perfect spot for coffee, pastries, smoothies, acai bowls, or other tasty breakfast items on their menu. I’m so happy we stopped in here before leaving Calistoga!
I’m so excited to get the rest of the California Coast road trip series up for you! I have five blogs ready to go, and each one will have a fun giveaway included. When I’m finished with all of the blogs, I’ll add a separate post with our entire itinerary that you can print as a guide to help you plan your trip along the coast! 💜 I’m also working on the travel vlog for this trip, which is turning out so fun! I can’t wait for you to watch it.
Questions for you!
- Have you ever been to Napa Valley?
- Is traveling the California Coast on your bucket list?
- Where did your last road trip take you?
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