The Upper Napa Valley was once the home of a significant population of Indigenous People, called the Wappo during the Spanish colonial era of the late 18th century. With abundant oak trees providing acorns as a food staple and the natural hot springs as a healing ground Calistoga was the site of several villages. Following Mexican Independence, mission properties were secularized and disposed of by the Mexican government with much of the Napa Valley being partitioned into large ranchos in the 1830s and 1840s. The first Anglo settlers began arriving in the 1840s, with several taking up lands in the Calistoga area.
Today, Calistoga retains its charm of yesteryear with a walkable downtown much as it was when spa visitors arrived by train. At the very top of the Napa Valley, centrally located between Napa and Sonoma counties, Calistoga remains the historic hot springs resort destination of wine, water, and wellness. Named a Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2001, Calistoga enables a visitor to see wine country as it was before freeways and fast food – only two-lane roads lead there and fast food franchises are banned by law.
Calistoga is now home to 5300 people and a host of great visitor attractions, such as the Petrified Forest and the Old Faithful Geyser and more recently venues such as the Castello di Amorosa, a spectacular re-creation of a 13th century Italian Castle and Safari West, a wild animal park just a few minutes out of town.
For nature lovers, there is hiking on Mount St. Helena on the Oat Hill Mine trail.The Napa County Fairgrounds are located in Calistoga and feature a golf course, RV campgrounds and car races in the summer.
Music events include the Marsh jazz festival and the Downtown Blues Fest in October.Calistoga is also home to numerous wineries and fine restaurants. This is a place for people who want to know their neighbors but also be a part of an active social life. Restaurants are open later, there are often live bands playing in intimate venues and home is usually a brisk walk away.