At the end of August, me and my hubby enjoyed four glorious days in San Francisco (SF) and Calistoga (what we dubbed as “California’s toga” — get it?) in wine country. It was a terrific way to celebrate the end of summer. My hubby had been spending a lot of time for work in SF, and I decided to join him to carve out some all-important “us” time with sunshine, gorgeous scenery and a bit of local vino.
This trip was fantastic, and I’m so glad we did it. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in work and the daily grind, but stealing time away with someone you love reminds you why you work hard and just how wonderful life really is.
And having all that with a glass of wine in your hand isn’t half bad!
Where We Drove:
The two-hour drive to Calistoga was gorgeous. We left SF via the Bay Bridge and drove past a scenic patchwork of small vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. Clear skies and friendly sunshine all the way. We really do live in a beautiful country.
When we drove back to SF, my hubby took the Golden Gate Bridge. Though it was wrapped in predictably thick fog, it was quite a sight to drive up to it, and as we drove over the bridge, it was like floating through clouds. Then, suddenly, the bridge ends and the fog breaks, and you’re in the city!
What We Did:
Our two days in Calistoga were really lovely. It’s a nice little town that is close to several great vineyards. We visited two of them, the Vincent Arroyo Winery and Sterling Vineyards. Both experiences were awesome. You’re privy to gorgeous views of the mountain and valley. Because harvest was about a month away at that point, everything was lush and green, the air pungent with earth.
Sterling Vineyard is a fun excursion. You take a gondola up a hill to wine tastings, glorious views and some art.
There are two main streets in Calistoga, both which tout several B&Bs, restaurants and cute shops. Me and my hubby enjoyed our post-tasting afternoons sauntering down the street, soaking up sunshine and window-shopping.
If you have a car, just driving around in the area will give you ideas of what you want to do. There’s a petrified forest and nature walks, if you want to do something more outdoorsy (that doesn’t include wine), or you can book appointments at one of the local spas for something more relaxing. Something for everyone!
Where We Ate:
There are many good restaurants in Calistoga. We tried Bosko’s for a delicious Italian lunch of salad, pasta and brick-oven pizza. Whatever you have, make room for dessert — the tiramisu is to die for!
Another great Italian option that is the more family-friendly is Checkers. (We did takeout pizza and pasta from there, and it was simply delicious.)
If you are in the mood for all-American fare, try Gott’s Roadside, especially if the weather is pleasant. It’s an outdoor, roadside diner that has “tray gourmet” food. Burgers, hot dogs, french fries, soda, beer — it was so fun and relaxing here. It reminded us of a British garden, actually.
For “modern” Mexican food, or for drinks and appetizers, check out La Condesa. It has a great, open atmosphere. Very chill and perfect for post-tasting pick-me-ups!
Where We Stayed:
For the two nights we were in Calistoga, we stayed at the Wine Way Inn. If you ever go to wine country, I highly recommend staying here. It is quaint and so well-maintained on the outside. But don’t be fooled: it isn’t old-fashioned. The rooms are large, luxurious and modern. When I saw our room, I decided I never wanted to leave. (Sadly, we had to.) Big fluffy bed, electronic fireplace, 50+” TV, jacuzzi bathtub with chromatherapy, glass-walled shower with two jets… Oh, I could go on and on! It was heaven.
And the breakfasts were divine. One of the innkeepers, Nick, prepares a different delicious breakfast every day: on our first morning, there was frittata, homemade banana bread, fresh fruit and granola; on the second morning, there was french toast. And in the late afternoons, local wines are laid out along with tasty baked goods.
For our one night in SF, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Fisherman’s Wharf. It is a nice, neat hotel, but its real draw is the location. It is barely a five-minute walk to the Wharf, where you can enjoy the beautiful views, the sea, fun little shops and activities, and lots of restaurants to choose from.