Rivaling the wineries for popularity in the Napa Valley, the Calistoga hot springs spas have been drawing visitors for over 150 years. Underneath Calistoga, early pioneers to the area found a geothermal spring. It wasn’t long before that spring was channeled into pools, and thus the Calistoga spas began. Now, almost a dozen spas compete for the business of locals and tourists alike, offering an array of standard spa services, plus the famous Calistoga mud and mineral baths.
The award-winning Calistoga Oasis Spa (1300 Washington St., 707/942-2122) offers a complete range of day-spa treatments and services. Their signature service, the mud bath, includes time in a tub full of Calistoga mud followed by a soak in a local mineral water bubble bath and finishing with a few minutes wrapped in cotton blankets in a peaceful dark room. Each private treatment room is set up for two people. Throughout your treatment, an attendant will see to your every wish, providing cold cucumber water to drink and wrapping chilled towels around the your neck to create a wonderful juxtaposition of hot bath and cool head. For a special treat, add a massage to the end of your mud bath for a full-fledged pampering session. At the Oasis, the therapists have training in an array of techniques, including reiki energy work. Or pick an herbal facial using your favorite scents to complete your perfect day.
For an old-school Calistoga spa experience, head down the main drag to Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort (1507 Lincoln Ave., 707/942-4102, www.drwilkinson.com, daily 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.). Tucked into a charmingly run-down 1950s motel building, this spa was opened by “Doc” Wilkinson in 1952. Doc’s proprietary blend of Calistoga mineral water and volcanic ash, Canadian peat, and lavender is still the gold standard for the Calistoga mud bath today. “The Works” includes the mud bath (complete with a soothing mud masque for your face), mineral bath, and finishing blanket wrap. And of course you can also get or add a facial and a massage to your treatment. The men’s and women’s spa areas are separated at Dr. Wilkinsons. If you’re a guest of the hotel, be sure to take a swim or a soak in one of the three mineral water pools (there are two outdoor pools and one huge spa inside).
At the Calistoga Hot Springs Spa (1006 Washington St., 707/942-6269, www.calistogaspa.com, Tue.–Thurs. 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Fri.–Mon. 8:30 a.m.–9 p.m.), indulge in a mud bath, mineral bath, or all the usual spa treatments. Also available to the public and guaranteed with a spa reservation is access to Calistoga Hot Springs’ four outdoor mineral pools. The lap pool is the coolest at 80,° and set up for serious swimmers. The 90° wading pool with fountains offers fun and health benefits for the whole family. Another large soaking pool is set to 100° and meant primarily for adults. Finally, the 104° enormous octagonal jetted spa sits under a gazebo—the perfect location to relax and enjoy the serenity of spa country.
Two other lovely Calistoga spas, both of which offer full mud and mineral baths as well as spa services are Golden Haven (1713 Lake St., 707/942-8000, www.goldenhaven.com, daily 8 a.m.–11 p.m.) and Indian Springs (1712 Lincoln Ave., 707/942-4913, www.indianspringscalistoga.com, daily 9 a.m.–8 p.m.). The Lincoln Avenue Spa (1339 Lincoln Ave., 707/942-2950, www.lincolnavenuespa.com) does not have mud bath facilities, offers a wider array of spa and esthetic treatments.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition