In my experience, people from Napa tend to discuss Calistoga with an air of levity. Is this fair? I’m not sure, but there may be a few reasons for this attitude. Perhaps it’s mainly because Calistoga has remained somewhat rustic, despite the tourism boom that seems to have affected the rest of the valley. Or maybe it’s because Calistoga is the very last stop to the north before you cross from Napa County over into Sonoma County (surprisingly enough, Calistoga is actually two miles closer to Healdsburg than it is to the City of Napa, which says quite a bit about our geography).
As the culinary centerpiece of Solage Resort & Spa, Calistoga’s Solbar is easily the town’s finest restaurant, having maintained its Michelin star since 2009. Though Solbar can easily be overlooked because of its up-valley location, it certainly remains a destination worthy of the drive. All told, the distance from Napa to Calistoga is about 27 miles, but this jaunt through the heart of wine country can be a scenic and relaxing commute, so long as you remember to take the Silverado Trail.
As the road less traveled, “The Trail” features just one lone stop sign between Napa and Calistoga. Driving northbound, this stretch of single-lane road offers pastoral scenery, with the Vaca Mountains to the right and the beautiful valley floor to the left. (Conversely, if you take Highway 29 to Calistoga, you’ll still enjoy some great views, but you’ll have to deal with several stop lights in St. Helena, much lower speed limits through Oakville and Rutherford, and much more tasting room traffic in general.) However you decide to get to Solbar, a memorable plate of lemon ricotta pancakes will be the reward for your journey.