As a twenty-something it is not always easy to afford a vacation anytime you please, let alone once or twice a year. Let’s face it, most of your savings and extra spending money goes toward going out with your friends on the weekends, and saving up for holiday trips home to visit family. There is nothing wrong with spending your extra earnings on drinks and food with your friends to unwind after a crazy week, but maybe it is possible to treat yourself to an affordable trip every once in a while. We all know how it feels to get that itch to get out of town. Recently I took a trip to Calistoga, CA in Napa Valley. I discovered there is plenty to do without digging too deep into your pockets.
Here are 5 ways to make a two-day visit to the valley a reality:
- Finding a place to stay can sometimes be daunting when looking at rates, but Groupon is a great resource when looking for affordable getaway deals. I know most of the cheap rates land on days in the middle of the week, but sometimes even the weekend can be cheaper than normal. Often times the Groupon will include extra deals with your purchase such as a dinner credit. I found a Groupon for the Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery, which included a room discount for the weekend, a casual breakfast each morning, a dinner credit, a free tasting of all the inn’s brews, and a wine tasting at a local winery in town. It’s easy to add the Groupon app to your phone and check it every day to see if something new in your price range has popped up.
- Now that you have one wine tasting booked you can plan to do one or two more. It’s hard to fit in much more in a single day. Wine tasting can add up so it is good to do your research ahead of time and check the wineries websites for tasting prices. This way you can budget just how much you prefer to spend and decide which vineyards offer the biggest bang for your buck. One of my favorites was Sterling Vineyards, because it offers pretty good wines to taste, a self-guided tour, and a terrace with beautiful views of the valley and Mount St. Helena. I enjoyed taking extra time finishing my last glass of wine and basking in the sun while appreciating the view. Sterling also offers a fun and dramatic entry with a gondola ride up to the entrance. By taking the time before you leave to price check and choose where you want to go, you won’t find yourself caught off guard.
- The second most popular thing to do in Calistoga after wine tasting is to treat yourself to the spa. I know what you’re thinking and yes most of the spa treatments such as a massage or mud bath tend to be a bit pricey, but there are other options. Calistoga Spa Hot Springs offers entry to their mineral pools for non-resort and spa members between the hours of 7pm and 9pm for a much more affordable price of 15 dollars. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a full day of drinking delicious wines.
- One way to save quite a bit of money depends on where you dine. Since you already have breakfast taken care of, you just have lunch and dinner to cover. I know those fancy restaurants look enticing, but it’s not entirely necessary. Calistoga has plenty of reasonably priced and tasty restaurants located on the main street. Check the menu for prices before being seated, or maybe just split a variety of appetizers. Wherever you happen to stay the front desk can also be a good resource and can recommend places in your price range. The Inn was helpful in pointing me in the direction of a couple different spots. Another option is the Calistoga Farmers Market, which is open every Saturday 8:30am to noon. In between your wine tastings fill up on a variety of free samples, fresh fruit and listen to some live music.
- While you spend the first day wine tasting, why not spend the next day outside exploring the area. There is plenty to do other than drinking wine that costs much less. Plus, then you won’t have to worry about being too buzzed to drive home! The Petrified Forest and Bothe-Napa Valley State Park are only a few miles away from downtown Calistoga and cost no more than 10 dollars. The Petrified Forest offers a short trail no longer than a mile, while the State Park offers several trails that range in distance. Grab a sandwich to go at the Village Bakery or Calistoga Roastery and head out for the day on a hike before heading home.
So there you have it. If you live near Napa Valley and you are itching for a reason to head in that direction, here are 5 ways to make it happen.