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  • Calistoga, California
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    Calistoga,

    California

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    Calistoga is a city in Napa County, in California's Wine Country. During the 2010 census, the population was 5,155. The city was incorporated on January 6, 1886. In 1868 the California Pacific Railroad was built to Calistoga, becoming a hub and destination. The name comes from a combination of California and Saratoga referring to Saratoga Springs, New York, which is famous on the east coast for its hot springs. Founders of the town wanted to make Calistoga the Saratoga Springs of California drawing tourists to its hot springs.
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    Calistoga Articles

    Inspiration

    Love Beer? Here's How to Sleep at a Brewery (Really)

    Europe is spilling over with taverns—the suds flow downstairs while travelers tuck in for the night upstairs. Although that tradition sailed the Atlantic and found an early foothold in the United States, it nearly went the way of the black rhinoceros during Prohibition. These days, though, the craft beer craze is rekindling this custom, with "bed-and-brews" offering accommodations steps away from a great pint. Here are a few places to stay on your next U.S. beer-centric vacation. 1. Fredericksburg Brewing Company: Fredericksburg, Texas (Courtesy Fredericksburg Brewing Company) At this bed-and-brew, the restaurant host doubles as front-desk staff for the dozen guestrooms in the building. The Fredericksburg Brewing Company founders established the brewpub in 1994—shortly after Texas legislation allowed them to do so—and followed it later that year with a bed-and-brew, which makes this inn the granddaddy on this list. The tavern-style lodgings, housed in a restored 1890s building, fit right in with Fredericksburg’s German roots. Most of the guest rooms branch off a central hallway just like the boarding houses of yesteryear. Upon check-in, guests get a token for a pint of beer in the pub for each night’s stay. From $99; yourbrewery.com. 2. The Source Hotel: Denver, Colorado (Courtesy Stephan Werk Media) The influential New Belgium Brewing Company, an early name in craft brewing, usually brews from its Rocky Mountains perch in Fort Collins, Colorado, but in the fall of 2018, it opened its inaugural Denver brewery at the Source Hotel, where guests can help themselves to a complimentary craft beer at check-in. There’s a tap at the front desk, which has a perfect view of the brewery’s 10-barrel system. But most of the pints are poured upstairs at the hotel’s eighth-story restaurant and bar, The Woods, which also houses New Belgium’s barrel-aging program. Most menu items—both the food and cocktails—feature New Belgium beers as an ingredient. And even if they're not beer-infused, all the dishes here are designed to pair with the house brews. That thoughtful attention to craft extends far beyond the brewpub. The hotel sits adjacent to The Source, an 1880s foundry building that now houses an artisan market. From $249; thesourcehotel.com. 3. McMenamins Brewery: Portland, Oregon; Troutdale, Oregon; Bend, Oregon; Bothell, Washington; Kalama, Washington (Courtesy McMenamins Brewery) With 26 breweries dotted across Oregon and Washington, McMenamins is a bold-faced name in the Pacific Northwest’s crowded brewing scene. It also operates a dozen hotels, seven of which have breweries on site. (And look out for a new one opening April 2019 in Tacoma, Washington). The hotels offer Beer 101 Overnight packages, which include two taster trays of guests’ choice of handcrafted ales plus a growler filled with their favorite to take home. Brewery tours are also available, but guests may prefer to spend their free time wrapped in a bathrobe, pint in hand, roaming the eccentric properties. Each McMenamins hotel has a unique past life. The Kennedy School in Portland, for instance, once housed an elementary school, and the Elks Temple in Tacoma, Washington, is a former lodge for that fraternal order. From $70; mcmenamins.com. 4. Woodstock Inn, Station & Brewery: North Woodstock, New Hampshire Guests get the full North Country experience at this property that includes a brewery, the Main Bar brewpub, which sometimes features live music, and 40 unique rooms and suites located across six buildings on the property. The accommodations are outfitted with cozy quilts and stone fireplaces, and all lie within easy walking distance of the brewery, which offers daily tours that end with a sampling session. From $96; woodstockinnbrewery.com. 5. Brewery Creek Inn: Mineral Point, Wisconsin (Courtesy Brewery Creek) Guests may sample Brewery Creek’s farmhouse ales at check-in before climbing the stairs to one of five homey rooms above the brewery. The brewery/inn building dates to 1854, when Mineral Point was an industry town and the limestone building housed mining materials—a far cry from the working brewery of today. During their stays, guests can sample beers and schedule a personal tour from the brewer/proprietor, who lives on site. This year, the inn plans to start offering tours to other regional breweries and award-winning cheese makers, too. (It is Wisconsin, after all). From $112; brewerycreek.com. 6. Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery: Calistoga, California (Courtesy Calistoga Inn) Even in the heart of Napa Valley wine country, beer is top of mind for some travelers. This turn-of-the-century European-style hotel has all the charm of Napa Valley, with a micro-brewery (Napa Valley Brewing Company) on site. Seventeen guest rooms are arranged on four floors above the ground-floor pub and there’s a private cottage located behind the hotel. The proprietors are also constructing a second bar to serve guests on the popular patio and beer garden during the height of summer. Lodging packages include tastings of the breweries four house beers and seasonal creations. From $129; calistogainn.com. 7. Norwich Inn: Norwich, Vermont Established in 1797, the Norwich Inn has welcomed some esteemed guests throughout its storied past, including President James Monroe, who is said to have dined there in 1817 during a tour of frontier New England. The inn brewed small-batch beers on the premises even then, but the most recent chapter in its beer history dates to 1993 when Jasper Murdock’s Alehouse, the inn's present-day eatery, began producing English-style ales. The alehouse now brews in a historic adjacent livery building, then pumps the suds underground to its taps. The menu items here pair with house-made beers like the signature Whistling Pig Red Ale. The inn is comprised of three buildings and the main one evokes its 1890s beginnings with Victorian-style furnishings. From $144; norwichinn.com. 8. 1777 Americana Inn: Ephrata, Pennsylvania Set in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, this inn has, during its 240-year history, been a military shop, stagecoach stop, hotel, restaurant, and doctor’s office. Today, the Colonial-era building is a rather traditional bed and breakfast — complete with four-poster beds — but it also has another “b” in its backyard: the Black Forest Brewery, known for its tavern-style ales. The brewery lodging package includes Black Forest Brewery logo pint glasses and a growler, a tasting-room credit, and a county-wide brewery trail guide. From $125; 1777americanainn.com. 9. BrewDogs DogHouse: Columbus, Ohio At BrewDog’s hotel, aromas of fermenting sour beer rouse guests in the morning. The Scottish beer company has such a solid base of committed fans that they funded the construction of the Columbus hotel through crowdfunding. The 32 guest rooms are inside the brewery building—and select rooms overlook BrewDog’s sour beer facility, BrewDog OverWorks. Lodgers can head downstairs for breakfast dishes paired with beer. If they opt to stay in, beer is still close at hand via in-room BrewDog taps. (There’s a fee for the drafts). The hotel also stocks room fridges with BrewDog’s founders' favorite beers. If that wasn’t enough already, guests can also shower with locally made craft beer soap. That’s taking suds to a whole different level. From $182; brewdog.com. 10. Dogfish Inn: Lewes, Delaware Dogfish Head Brewery is one of the beer industry’s best examples of the trajectory that countless brewers dream of: scrappy upstart to cool corporate darling. The company established a basecamp for beer lovers when it opened its own inn less than seven miles from the brewery in 2014. The inn’s 16 rooms have the brewery’s signature off-beat approach—and its dedication to craft creations, including a signature coffee that blends Columbian beans, chicory, and dark-malted brewers barley and is available only at the inn. An inclusive lodging package grants guests a private tour of the brewhouse, the barrel-aging room, and bottling line, as well as a VIP tasting and priority seating at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats for lunch. From $169; dogfish.com.

    Inspiration

    Why I Took a Road Trip for My Honeymoon

    Despite what Pinterest would have us believe, weddings are stressful. Even “carefree” moments are scheduled with military precision. In travel and in life, I don’t love that kind of structure. So when it came to my honeymoon, I wasn’t inspired to race around airports, making connections. All I wanted was to unwind, wear hoodies, and eat carbs. My husband, Andrew, and I have always shared a love of road trips: the flexibility, the spontaneity—the simple pleasure of serendipity. California makes an especially good backdrop for such an easygoing journey, with its dramatic shifts in landscape; drive a few hours and you’ve crossed from desert into lush greenery, from the shore into mountains. Andrew and I took our time getting hitched, exclusively dating in L.A. for years beforehand. By our wedding, we had driven as far south as Rosarito, Mexico, and as far north as Portland, Oregon. So, for us, there was an implicit romance to this honeymoon concept: As anyone who has ever driven cross-country knows, road trips represent a kind of shared freedom. We decided to do this one like the “adults” we suddenly felt we must be. This wouldn’t be some haphazard slog to worn-down shacks labeled “cottages.” We’d still hold fast to our money by eating inexpensive snacks on the road—albeit high-end Kettle Chips and coconut water this time around—but since we were saving on airfare, we would splurge on the high-end hotels I’d always fantasized about visiting. On a crisp fall day in early November, with The Clash blaring, we rode that tailwind of change up the 5 freeway, away from the past year’s stresses.  As is often the case with memories, when I look back on the trip, I am rewarded with ephemeral impressions: crisp breezes carrying scents of salty sea and rosemary, bucolic walks through what felt like enchanted forests, strolls in impossibly quaint towns sampling olive oil and coconut sorbet, a perfect song erupting from the radio, laughter as we relived our wedding or happened upon a pen of adorable baby fainting goats. Still, one experience from each leg of the journey stands out—four in total. They are the chapters of my storybook dream trip, hard-won with budgeting, and savored to this day, the edges gilded in my mind. I. Sausalito We landed first on the other side of the bridge from San Francisco in lesser-known Sausalito at Cavallo Point Lodge, a hotel converted from a onetime U.S. Army post, Fort Baker (cavallopoint.com). To me, it was the embodiment of the Golden State’s signature relaxed luxury: at once historic and contemporary, organic and geometric, pampering and utilitarian. I have gauzy memories of enjoying our spa treatments and nature hikes. But the moment that crystallized for me was just after we arrived: Alone in our impeccable, earth-toned room, we peeled off our jackets and looked, spellbound, out the large windows. The Golden Gate bridge loomed orange above us; its lights twinkled as the sun went down. II. Point Reyes Our next stop was Point Reyes, where oyster farms line the foggy, protected shoreline. At Manka’s Inverness Lodge, high-end log cabins sit nestled among redwoods and firs (mankas.com). Open since 1917, the hotel had recently lost their lauded restaurant to a fire. As a result, simple yet transcendent meals were brought to our room. The kitchen culled all their ingredients from within a couple of miles, and you could taste it. One morning, we opened our front door to find a tray waiting. We carried it to our dining nook, where we unwrapped impossibly fresh yogurt, homemade granola, local apples, and hot cinnamon buns made from scratch, served straight from the oven. It was the best breakfast of my life. III. Napa Valley At Calistoga Ranch, the Napa Valley wine country stop on our journey, our room felt like the world’s most lavish treehouse (calistogaranch.aubergeresorts.com). Tucked amidst greenery, an actual oak grew through the sun deck beside an indoor/outdoor fireplace. We adored the bathroom: Beyond two distinct sleek sink areas opposite each other (what Andrew and I consider “living the dream”), an outdoor shower and garden awaited. We hardly wanted to leave the room, but eventually, we made it outside, accidentally happening upon quirky Prager Winery and Port Works (pragerport.com). My only previous experience with the sweet drink involved stealing it from a friend’s parents’ liquor cabinet when I was a teenager. But here we swirled it, inhaled it, really tasted it. Andrew ended up falling hard for a tawny port, tucking it into our trunk before continuing to our final destination. IV. Big Sur We had spent enough time in Big Sur in years past to hear buzz about Post Ranch Inn (postranchinn.com). We couldn’t wait to try it for ourselves. The rumors were true: Our room was extraordinary, massively windowed and overlooking rolling hillsides where wild turkeys roamed. In the brisk fall evening, Andrew suggested that we throw on plush robes, grab wine, and hustle to one of the hot plunges embedded in the cliffside. I was initially resistant because of the chill, but as soon as we climbed into the warm water, I knew he’d been right. The moon was full and bright. Gazing out over the dramatic cliffs, we passed the ambrosial wine back and forth, swigging from the bottle. Just when it seemed like the moment couldn’t get more idyllic, we turned to find a deer regarding us calmly from just feet away. It was as though a fairy godmother herself were designing our own personal fable. When the sun rose on the final morning of our honeymoon, we were melancholy, of course. The afterglow of a hotly anticipated journey is bittersweet. But as we wound through peaks and valleys on our way home, luckily we weren’t on anyone else’s schedule…and we took our sweet time. Nora Zelevansky is the author of Will You Won’t You Want Me? (out April 19) and Semi-Charmed Life.

    Family

    12 Awe-Inspiring American Castles

    Who doesn't go a bit giddy at the sight of a castle? The good news is that you don't have to head to Europe for honest-to-goodness ones of the Cinderella variety—we have plenty right here in our own backyard. Railroad barons commissioned most of these estates, but at least one housed a legitimate king and queen (bet you didn't know this country had its own history of royalty!). Each is an engineering wonder in its own right, with some even constructed out of old-world castles that were shipped across the ocean. And each is open to tours should you decide to make a trip (a select few will even let you spend the night). Read this and you might just discover a side of America you never knew existed. SEE THE 12 AWE-INSPIRING CASTLES 1. GREY TOWERS CASTLE  Most colleges contend to be fortresses of learning, but Arcadia University in the suburbs north of Philadelphia can back it up with battlements acquired in 1929. Grey Towers was built by eclectic sugar refiner William Welsh Harrison between 1893 and 1898 and modeled after Northumberland's Alnwick Castle (a.k.a. the most archetypal expression of the medieval style). The 40 rooms wowed with gilded ceilings, tapestries, ornamental paintings, and hand-carved walnut and mahogany woodwork in styles from French Renaissance to Louis XV—and of course a Mirror Room—while secret passages behind fireplaces and underground tunnels. Self-guided tours of public areas are possible while classes are in session (the building now contains dorm rooms and administration offices). Free brochures outline the history. 450 South Easton Rd., Glenside, PA, 215/572-2900, arcadia.edu. 2.'IOLANI PALACE  Other properties on this list may be bigger and more lavish, but the 'Iolani Palace has one thing above them all: legitimacy. America's only true palace—as in, royalty resided here—was built from 1879 to 1882 by King Kalakua and Queen Kapi'olani. The goal was to enhance the prestige of modern Hawaii in a kind of Victorian-era keeping up with the Joneses. (The palace had electricity and a telephone even before the White House.) Stone-faced with plenty of koa wood inside, the two-floor American Florentine–style building includes a throne room, grand hall, and private suites, including the upstairs room where the queen was imprisoned for five months following the 1895 coup. Today, concerted efforts are underway to find artifacts and furniture (like the king's ebony and gilt bedroom set) that were auctioned off by the post-coup Provisional Government. 364 South King St., Honolulu, HI, 808/522-0832, iolanipalace.org. Admission $12, guided tour $20. 3. HAMMOND CASTLE  Like a modern-day Frankenstein's castle on Massachusetts's rocky Atlantic shore, Abbadia Mare (Abbey by the Sea) served as both home and laboratory for prolific inventor John Hayes Hammond Jr. after it was completed in 1929. Hammond is largely credited as the "Father of the Radio Control," as in tanks and planes and remote-controlled cars. He was also a lover of medieval art, and the castle was designed to showcase his collection. The building itself is a blend of 15th-, 16th-, and 18th-century styles, including a great hall with elaborate rose windows and pipe organ plus a courtyard featuring a two-story meat market/wine merchant's house brought over from southern France. And, yes, like any proper mad scientist, he made sure there were secret passageways. Self-guided tours are available along with annual Renaissance Faire fund-raisers, psychic gatherings, and spooky Halloween events. 80 Hesperus Ave., Gloucester, MA, 978/283-2080, hammondcastle.org. Admission $10. 4. FONTHILL CASTLE  Celebrating its centennial in 2012, the former home of industrialist-turned-archaeologist Henry Mercer is an ode to artisanship: All 44 rooms (10 bathrooms, five bedrooms, and 200 windows), 32 stairwells, 18 fireplaces, and 21 chimneys are hewn from hand-mixed reinforced concrete in a mishmash of medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine styles. Thousands of handcrafted ceramic tiles were inset throughout, including Mercer's own Moravian-style tiles plus Persian, Chinese, Spanish, and Dutch productions he collected. Today, the 60-acre Bucks County estate serves as a museum to pre-industrial life, with 900 American and European prints at Fonthill and even more artifacts (like a whale boat and Conestoga wagon) in its sister building, the Mercer Museum, a fun house–like six-story castle in its own right. East Court St. and Rt. 313, Doylestown, PA, 215/348-9461, mercermuseum.org. Admission $12. 5. CASTELLO DI AMOROSA  Word to the wise: Imbibe the cabernet sauvignon and pinot grigio at the Castello di Amorosa winery carefully, because somewhere in the 121,000-square-foot, 107-room, eight-level complex there's a dungeon with a functional Renaissance-era iron maiden. It took 14 years to construct the castle using historically accurate medieval building techniques. The end result is an "authentic" 12th- and 13th-century Tuscan castle with drawbridge and moat. The frescoes in the Great Hall and Knights' Chamber are hand-painted, some 8,000 tons of Napa Valley stone hand-chiseled, the Hapsburg-era bricks, hand-forged nails and chandeliers, and 500-year-old fireplace all tediously imported from Europe. That sense of awe? Very modern. 4045 N. St. Helena Highway, Calistoga, CA, 707/967-6272, castellodiamorosa.com. Admission $18, including wine tasting. 6. BOLDT CASTLE  What do you do when you come across a heart-shaped isle while vacationing with your wife in the Thousand Islands? If you're upstart industrialist George Boldt, you buy it and hire 300 stonemasons, carpenters, and artists to build a six-story, 120-room testament to your love. There were Italian gardens, a dove-cote, and a turreted powerhouse, plus all the imported Italian marble, French silks, and Oriental rugs money could buy. But when his wife Louise died in 1904, the heartbroken Boldt ceased construction on the Rhineland-style Taj Mahal and left it to the elements for 73 years. Today, tourists can visit from May to October for self-guided tours—or book a wedding in the stone gazebo. +44° 20' 40.29" N, -75° 55' 21.27" W, Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, NY, 315/482-9724, boldtcastle.com. Admission $8. 7. GILLETTE CASTLE  It's elementary: Get famous (and rich) by playing Sherlock Holmes on the stage; build your own Baskerville Hall. Pet project of campy eccentric William Hooker Gillette, the 24-room castle was completed in 1919 by a crew of 20 men over five years using the actor/playwright's own drafts and designs. It's also the focal point of his 184-acre Seventh Sister estate, a forested bluff overlooking the Connecticut River. Outside, the local fieldstone reads like crumbling medieval; inside, the built-in couches, curious detailing, and inventive hand-carved southern white oak woodwork is all arts and crafts. As for cat images? There are 60. (Gillette had 17 feline friends.) Gillette Castle State Park, 67 River Rd., East Haddam, CT, 860/526-2336, ct.gov. Grounds open year-round; interior tours available Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Admission $6. 8. OHEKA CASTLE  Second behind Asheville's Biltmore as the largest private estate in the nation, OHEKA—an acronym of Otto Herman Kahn, its millionaire financier original owner—ended up abandoned in the late 1970s and sustained extensive damage from fires, vandals, and neglect. After a 20-year renovation, it's back in form and is now a 32-room luxury hotel. Think Downton Abbey just an hour from Manhattan (themed packages available), or for that matter, Citizen Kane (photos of it were used in the film). Originally set on 443 acres, massive tons of earth were moved to make the hilltop location of the 127-room, 109,000-square-foot manse the highest point in Long Island. The Olmsted Brothers planned the formal gardens, the Grand Staircase was inspired by Fontainebleau's famous exterior one, and 126 servants tended to the six-person family when they came for weekends and summers. The 1919 price tag: $11 million. That's $110 million in today's money. Sounds about right for a man whose likeness inspired Mr. Monopoly. 135 West Gate Dr., Huntington, NY, 631/659-1400, oheka.com. Admission $25. Double rooms from $395 per night. Guided tours available. 9. BISHOP'S PALACE  Of all the Gilded Age Victorians built by Nicholas Clayton along Galveston's Gulf Coast, the Bishop's Palace (née Gresham Castle, 1893, after its original owner, Santa Fe railroad magnate Walther Gresham) remains the grandest—and not just because its steel and stone hulk survived the Great Storm of 1900. Its small lot and oversized proportions with château-esque detailing of steeply peaked rooflines and sculptural chimneys still dominate the street, while inside the 14-foot coffered ceilings, 40-foot octagonal mahogany stairwell, stained glass, plaster carvings, and Sienna marble columns exude richness. Keep a lookout for the bronze dragon sculptures. After serving as a Catholic bishop's residence for 50 years, the house is now open for tours. Book a private guide to see the usually off-limits third floor. 1402 Broadway, Galveston, TX, 409/762-2475, galveston.com. Admission $10, private tours from $50. 10. CASTLE IN THE CLOUDS  Location, location, location—as important in castles to fending off conquers as forgetting Gilded Age woes. And for millionaire shoe baron Thomas Plant, that meant setting his 1914 Lucknow Estate (named after the Indian city he loved) on the rim of an extinct caldera high in the Ossipee Mountains with unbroken views over 6,300 private acres of woods and lakes. The mansion by comparison is relatively subdued: A mere 16 rooms, it's practically minuscule compared to the other castles on this list. Throughout, the arts and crafts philosophy of artisanship and living in harmony with nature is expressed in the stone walls, inventive handiwork like the jigsaw floor in the kitchen, and functional decor that eschews ostentation—all planned at Plant's 5-foot-4 height—plus a few technological innovations like a needle shower, self-cleaning oven, brine fridge, and central-vacuuming system. Much remains wholly preserved today. Route 171, 455 Old Mountain Rd., Moultonborough, NH, 603/476-5900, castleintheclouds.org. Admission $16. 11. THORNEWOOD CASTLE  It's not every day Stephen King chooses your luxury B&B as setting for his haunted-house TV miniseries Rose Red. Then again it's not every day that a 400-year-old Elizabethan manor house is dismantled brick-by-brick and shipped round Cape Horn to be incorporated into an English Tudor Gothic castle in the Pacific Northwest, as Thornewood was from 1908 to 1911. The property was a gift from Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma, to his wife and apropos of its origin, the 54-room castle is now a prime wedding venue, with antiques and artwork galore plus an Olmsted Brothers–designed garden and three acres of fir-dotted grounds overlooking American Lake. Book a room to get an inside look at the building; there are also tours and events that are occasionally open to the public. 8601 N. Thorne Lane Southwest, Lakewood, WA, 253/584-4393, thornewoodcastle.com. Double rooms from $300 per night. 12. HEARST CASTLE  Understatement of the millennium: William Randolph Hearst's 1919 directive to architect Julia Morgan to "build a little something" on his ranch in San Simeon. Then again, a 115-room "Casa Grande" inspired by a Spanish cathedral is a relatively modest proposition compared to the 250,000 acres and the 13 miles of coastline it's set on. It's when you add in the three additional Mediterranean Revival guesthouses (46 more rooms total), 127 acres of gardens, the Neptune pool with authentic Roman temple pediment, the zoo with roaming reindeer and zebra, Egyptian Sekhmet statues on the terraces, and the private airstrip that things get a bit over-the-top. Magnificent doesn't begin to describe the museum-quality artwork, which drove the architecture as much as anything, from Renaissance statuary to Gothic tapestries and entire ceilings, nor the palatial scale of the publishing magnate's vision for "La Cuesta Encantada" (The Enchanted Hill)—still unfinished upon his death in 1951. 750 Hearst Castle Rd., San Simeon, CA, 800/444-4445, hearstcastle.org. Admission from $25.

    Road Trips

    Driving Mendocino County

    What you'll find in this story: California travel, Mendocino culture, Mendocino County attractions, Mendocino County lodging, Boonville San Francisco travel As most people who live in San Francisco will tell you, there are an infinite number of things to love about the city. What they might not say is that one of the reasons they love it so has nothing to do with the city proper. It's the easy proximity to the stunning terrain to the north. Not Marin County--which is nice but no surprise--but Mendocino County, where in a matter of hours you can be zooming back and forth between the dramatic coastline and rolling inland hills. Day one: San Francisco to Boonville The first tunnel I come to after crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge, five minutes into Marin, is framed with a rainbow painting, nicely reflecting the region's laid-back, eco-friendly leanings. I breathe a little deeper, relaxing to the scent of wildflowers and sage that seeps in through the car windows. In Calistoga, famous for its mineral water and mud-bath spas, I pick up a friend, and we head west on Highway 128. In true Sunday fashion, the drive is glorious. It's sunny, the hills are deep green, and the curves in the road are just sharp enough to keep me engaged but still allow for satisfying speed. Our first stop is blink-and-you've-missed-it Jimtown. The Jimtown Store, with its vintage Ford ornamentally parked out front, is an endearing pit stop both for road-trippers like us and spandex-clad bicyclists hydrating with fresh lemonade on the benches out front. A tiny counter doubles as a gourmet deli and wine bar, and a tastefully eclectic array of objets de kitsch, craft, and nostalgia are scattered around for sale. Healdsburg, not far west, is far more developed--wineries with boutique-like storefronts, upscale clothing stores, and a tree-shaded town square that's often the site of alfresco art fairs. We have a lunch of fancy sandwiches and strawberry aguas frescas at the Oakville Grocery. Once home to apple orchards, the area is equally suited to grape growing, and the linear rows of vines appear with greater frequency the deeper we venture into Anderson Valley. It doesn't take long to reach Boonville, our first overnight stop. In fact, we arrive so soon that we haven't quite gotten our fill yet, so we forge ahead a few miles to Philo (population 400) for a bit of wine tasting. In contrast to the larger, corporate-owned Napa vint-ners, the wine business here is in the hands of families and individual owners, and we're pleasantly surprised when the proprietors don't charge us. We begin with reds at Brutocao Cellars, and then at Navarro Vineyards--highly recommended by a sommelier-wannabe friend--we expand to include whites. The pourer is approachable and knowledgeable, and the patio has a fantastic view of the flourishing vines. I'm so impressed that I buy three bottles. Outside the entrance to Hendy Woods State Park, we encounter a cluster of buildings called the Apple Farm. There's a stand selling ice-cold organic apple juice, three rustically chic cottages (they rent for a little more than we want to spend), and a cooking school headed by Don and Sally Schmitt, the former owners of the famous French Laundry restaurant in Yountville (which they sold to Thomas Keller in 1994). The Boonville Hotel, run by the Schmitts' son Johnny, is a tasteful update of an old roadhouse. The fresh touches in the room include geometric-print bedspreads, designer mint-green walls, and aromatic lavender in a vase on the side table. After a few glasses of wine in the flower garden, we're happy to discover that the hotel has a well-regarded restaurant on the ground floor. We're less happy that the three-course prix fixe and a glass of wine cost almost as much as the weekday rate for one of the rooms. But we enjoy our dinner just the same, and the quiet of the evening allows for a night of uninterrupted sleep. Day one Lodging Boonville Hotel14050 Hwy. 128, Boonville, 707/895-2210, boonvillehotel.com, from $100 Food Jimtown Store6706 Hwy. 128, Healdsburg, 707/433-1212, lunch $10 Oakville Grocery124 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 707/433-3200, lunch $15 Attractions Brutocao Cellars & Vineyards7000 Hwy. 128, Philo, 707/895-2152 Navarro Vineyards5601 Hwy. 128, Philo, 800/537-9463 The Apple Farm18501 Philo-Greenwood Rd., Philo, 707/895-2333, cottages from $200 Day two: Boonville to Mendocino The road toward the Mendocino coast winds through the lush forest of Navarro River Redwoods State Park, where the air develops a chill. As in San Francisco, the climate is generally cool but punctuated with rare crystal-clear days that are close to perfection. (I'd find it significantly more refreshing if I weren't wearing flip-flops.) Our first sight of the Pacific Coast is when it's blanketed in atmospheric fog. What we can see: steep, craggy cliffs, crashing waves, and Victorian buildings with shingles hung out offering respite from the bracing outdoors. Here, B&Bs have their own official highway markers--with a little icon of a house--to help travelers find their way. We drive past entrances to numerous state parks and beaches, misty views lending a bit of drama. Twenty minutes past the turnoff to Mendocino--we'll come back to that later--is Fort Bragg, a working-class coastal town with a remarkable array of musty shops selling 20th-century bric-a-brac. This is also the place to board the Skunk Train, a logging railroad turned into a tourist attraction. On the main drag, we stop at a hole-in-the-wall called Eggheads. Omelets, appropriately, are the highlight of the menu; less appropriately, the room is done in an elaborate Wizard of Oz theme. Still, I can't resist ordering the Wicked Witch Burger, which lives up to its name in spiciness. Having been sequestered in the car long enough, we switch to exploring on foot. Our first stop is Glass Beach, a former city dump, where broken bottles have been worn down by the sea into glistening, colorful, translucent pebbles. We hike a few short trails at MacKerricher State Park, three miles north of town, then return to Mendocino.  Mendocino is a quaint mass of old Victorian-style buildings perched on a cliff. We arrive just as the sun is setting, and the early evening streets bustle with visitors of all ages and styles. At MacCallum House, a stately hotel, it's possible to people-watch in the bar/café while having a dinner of tasty appetizers. We're staying at the Sweetwater Inn & Spa. Rooms at the inn and the spa include use of a communal hot tub, which we learn is clothing optional. After spending an hour or two in this New Agey town, frankly, I'm not surprised. We upgrade to a private tub. By 10 p.m., the streets are deserted. I sleep like a baby--that is, until I'm awakened in the middle of the night by the exotic beat of bongo drums thumping in the distance. Day two Lodging Sweetwater Inn & Spa 44860 Main St., Mendocino, 800/882-7029, mendocinoinn.com, from $85, private tubs at the spa, $15.50 per hour per person Food Eggheads Restaurant326 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, 707/964-5005, lunch $10 MacCallum House Inn & Restaurant45020 Albion St., Mendocino, 800/609-0492, maccallumhouse.com, dinner $20 Attractions Navarro River Redwoods State ParkHwy. 128, two miles east of Hwy. 1, 707/937-5804 Skunk TrainFoot of Laurel St., Fort Bragg, 800/866-1690, skunktrain.com, tickets from $35, kids $20 Glass BeachElm St. at Old Haul Rd., Fort Bragg MacKerricher State ParkHwy. 1, north of Fort Bragg in Cleone, 707/964-9112 We grab sandwiches at the Little River Market (which, for some reason, is attached to the post office) and take them to one of the tables in the back, where there is a splendid ocean view. A couple of minutes south is Van Damme State Park's Pygmy Forest, a romantic name for a natural aberration. Here,  cypress, pine, and other trees only grow to a stunted height, due to the mineral-challenged soil. It's a bizarre, understated spectacle. Trees that look like they should be towering above us are just my height. Next stop, Gualala--pronounced "wah-la-la," FYI--and the St. Orres hotel, where we're staying. It's difficult to miss, as the building looks like some kind of Russian Orthodox fantasy, all cedar and stained glass. Deer and wild turkeys peacefully graze on the hillside nearby. The main structure has eight rooms and a restaurant, but we're issued a spacious and secluded cabin a few hundred feet up the road. Tuckered out from canoeing, we stick close to home for dinner. The restaurant's menu, which we thumbed through in the cottage, suggests you can order hearty pastas and appetizers, but the actual experience is more formal--and pricey-- than we were bargaining for. So we make do by ordering an assortment of light appetizers--tiny morsels of baby abalone with seared scallops, a savory wild mushroom tart, garlic flan, and a salad. It's delicious and just about enough to tide us over for the night. Day three Lodging St. Orres36601 South Hwy. 1, Gualala, 707/884-3303, saintorres.com, rooms from $90, dinner $40 Food Little River Market7746 North Hwy. 1, Little River, 707/937-5133, lunch $6 Attractions Catch a Canoe & Bicycles, Too44850 Comptche-Ukiah Rd., Mendocino, 707/937-0273, canoe rental $20 per hour, two-hour minimum Van Damme State ParkPygmy Forest, three miles south of Mendocino, Hy. 1, 707/937-5804 Which is not to say we don't make a few more stops. The upscale Sea Ranch resort community has award-winning '60s modernist architecture by William Turnbull and others. The houses are clustered in private enclaves with no-trespassing signs, but there are public walks along the beach at the Sea Ranch Lodge. In Bodega Bay we veer inland, passing the locations for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and then the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Running Fence Historic Park, a tiny spot of green that commemorates the artists' 1976 art installation. (The 24.5-mile-long curtain of fabric wound its way from Cotati down to the sea.) As parks go, it's not much. But it drives home the point that this area is full of lovely surprises. Day four Sea Ranch Lodge60 Sea Walk Dr., 800/732-7262, searanchlodge.com Christo and Jeanne-Claude Running Fence Historic Park15000 Bodega Hwy., Bodega, 707/565-2041 Day oneSan Francisco to Boonville, 136 Miles  Follow Hwy. 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge. At Santa Rosa , take the Guerneville/River Rd. exit. Turn right on Mark West Springs Rd., left on Petrified Forest Rd., and left on Hwy. 128. Jimtown is 18 miles up. Just past Geyserville, 128 meets back up with Hwy. 101. They separate again just before Cloverdale; stick with 128 north. Boonville is 26 miles past that break.Day twoBoonville to Mendocino, 39 Miles  Continue north on 128. Navarro River Redwoods State Park is two miles before the point where 128 meets Hwy. 1, at the coast. If you reach the water, you've gone too far. The town of Mendocino is 10 miles past the junction of Hwys. 128 and 1. To get to Fort Bragg, pass through Mendocino and keep driving north on Hwy. 1 for 10 miles. Backtrack on 1 to return to Mendocino for the night.Day threeMendocino to Gualala, 49 MilesVan Damme State Park is in the town of Little River, three miles south of Mendocino on Hwy. 1. Gualala is 46 miles farther south.Day fourGualala to San Francisco, 115 Miles  Jump back on Hwy. 1 to leave Gualala. At Bodega Bay, Hwy. 1 leads past Hitchcock's The Birds site. Continuing south 68 miles past Bodega Bay, the road drops you right back onto the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco.

    Adventure

    Last-minute Labor Day deals

    With airfare and hotel costs skyrocketing, the already-daunting summer travel season probably seemed even more out of reach this year. According to Bing.com, the average price of domestic air tickets has jumped about 16% in the last year (from $485 to $561), and hotel rates have gone up about seven percent (from $227 to $242). But there's good news: Great deals still exist, even if it takes a little more dedication to track them down. If sticker shock has kept you homebound this summer, we'll help you plan a budget-friendly getaway before the season's end. SEE MORE REAL DEALS FUN IN THE ORLANDO SUN FOR THE KIDS Orlando, From $99/Night The Deal Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is celebrating the dog days of summer with rates of $99 a night—reflecting a discount of up to 38% off normal prices—and the last days of its Weekend Splash Parties, featuring poolside tunes and movie screenings, scavenger hunts, and sidewalk chalk. The 15-acre resort is both kid- and grown-up-friendly, with two championship golf courses, a European spa, and an 850-foot lazy river. Plus, you can snag complimentary shuttle service to all Disney World parks. Price is per room. Gateways A recent search on Kayak.com showed great flight deals to Orlando: $177 from Philadelphia on Delta, $211 from Detroit on Spirit, $222 from Phoenix on Delta, $241 from Chicago on US Airways, and $335 from Denver on AirTran. When Through Sept. 5 Contact Omni Hotels, 407/390-6664, omnihotels.com OUTDOORSY IDAHO FOR DAD Idaho, 3 Nights, $385 The Deal Spend the weekend right on the river that boasts the best steelhead fishing in the West—early September marks the beginning of peak steelhead harvest season. You'll get three nights in a river view room with two queen beds at the Best Western Plus Lodge at River's Edge on the Clearwater River in Orofino, Idaho; a $75 gift card for dinner at Dining on the Edge, a restaurant featuring fresh local fare; a guided fishing trip for one adult and one child; daily breakfast; parking; and taxes. The price is per room, and accommodates a family of four. The AAA Three-Diamond hotel is located on the Lewis & Clark Trail—rooms feature decks that allow you to take in the expansive views, and there's an indoor pool as well as a hot tub. Gateways A recent search on Kayak.com showed great flight deals to Lewiston, Idaho: $198 from Seattle on Alaska Airlines, and on Delta, $288 from Los Angeles, $325 from Houston, $335 from New Orleans, and $451 from Boston. Lewiston Nez-Perce, the nearest airport, is about an hour's drive away from the hotel (virtually a straight shot on Interstate 12), and you can rent a car for the weekend for as low as $24 per day, including taxes. When Through Sept. 5 Contact Best Western, 208/476-9999 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WINE ESCAPE FOR MOM Northern California, Air/Car/2 Nights, From $599 The Deal Santa Rosa's Flamingo Conference Center and Spa—a AAA Three-Diamond resort complete with 20,000-square-foot health club and spa and two Olympic-size pools—is your home base for a weekend trip that includes a car rental, so you can explore the towns of California wine country, including Sonoma, Napa, Calistoga, and Healdsburg. The price covers airfare from Chicago, two nights' accommodations, and a three-day car rental with unlimited miles, plus daily breakfast and parking. Price is per person. Gateway Chicago When Depart Sept. 2 Contact Gate 1, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com BERMUDA ADVENTURE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY Bermuda Cruise, 5 Nights, $699 The Deal A five-night cruise to Bermuda's King's Wharf on Royal Caribbean's 989-foot Enchantment of the Seas, sailing round-trip from Baltimore. The ship has something for everyone: for the kids, an interactive fountain made for splashing; for teens, a rock wall, bungee trampolines, and a lounge with games, TVs, and dancing; for the adults, an open-air shopping arcade, putting greens, and a champagne bar; and for everyone, the solarium, with a retractable roof over one of three pools onboard. You'll dock for two nights in King's Wharf, Aruba—from there, explore the island's pink sand beaches, boutiques, and markets, or take advantage of a shore excursion offered through the cruise line, like a glass-bottom boat tour (from $49). Price is per person. Gateway Baltimore When Departs Sept. 3 Contact Royal Caribbean, 866/562-7625, royalcaribbean.com LONDON CITY BREAK FOR A LITTLE ROMANCE London, Air/6 Nights From $1,089 The Deal Jet across the Atlantic for an escape to central London—where events such as The Thames Festival, celebrating the city's arts community, and the 2011 season of the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park are in full swing. Roundtrip airfare from New York and six nights at London's Central Park Hotel, just across the street from Hyde Park. Price is per person, and does not include approximately $206 in airport taxes. When Departs Labor Day (Sept. 5) Gateway New York Contact Virgin Vacations, 888/937-8474, virgin-vacations.com CARIBBEAN BEACH FOR A MULTIGENERATIONAL GETAWAY Aruba, Air/7 Nights, From $829 The Deal Why not spend the last days of summer lounging on a white-sand beach? This package includes air from Baltimore and seven nights at the Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino, on Eagle Beach in the town of Noord. The beachfront hotel features a swim-up bar and a 150-foot waterslide. Aruba is one of the ABC islands (along with Bonaire and Curaçao), which don't face significant hurricane threats, so it's a good Caribbean vacation spot in the off-season. Price is per person. Gateway Baltimore When Depart Sept. 2 Contact Apple Vacations, 800/517-2000, applevacations.com SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: The End of Summer is Nigh, But Isn't Fall Travel Better Anyway? One-Tank Escapes for Seven Cities Poll: Are quick trips abroad worth the travel time?

    Inspiration

    B&B Bargains for Fall (From $99)

    It's no surprise that our friends at BedandBreakfast.com know how to celebrate B&B month (a.k.a. October) with spectacular deals across the U.S.. We're seeing B&Bs to suit every traveler's taste, and the best part is that each of these eight standouts is well under $200/night (one even starts at $99). Katrina's Cabin, Fredericksburg, TexasA historic cabin in the heart of Fredericksburg, Katrina's Cabin has a private hot tub, a front porch and back porch, a fully stocked kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a loft, a dog-friendly attitude, and plenty of character. A light breakfast is included in your stay. The house sits on a beautiful shaded lot, just across from the famous Fredericksburg Herb Farm. Rates start at $99/night. Union Gables, Saratoga Springs, New YorkExperience old-world hospitality with exceptional service, charm and elegance. Union Gables, built in 1901, is a romantic mansion restored to its original beauty with modern amenities. All rooms are unique in style and have antiques, gas fireplaces, 43-inch flat screen televisions, most have king size beds, and complimentary wireless internet service. The grounds are gorgeous with a garden oasis, heated outdoor pool and wrap around front porch. Enjoy a full gourmet breakfast cooked fresh to order each morning. Complimentary wine every evening, and fresh baked cookies. Rates start at $125/night. Buchanan Lofts, Lafayette, LouisianaThis is your artsy stay in the heart of Cajun Country. Built in a renovated warehouse, Lafayette's Buchanan Lofts is the studio you wish you were creative enough to own. Each loft is unique, with quirky touches, creative furnishings, and stacks of art magazines on every polished surface. Seventeen-foot-high ceilings soar over airy rooms furnished in a minimalist-industrial style. Guests can enjoy super-cool inclusions like fiber-optic Internet, fully fitted stainless steel kitchens, and Blu-Ray players before heading out for Lafayette's stomping music scene and Cajun eats.  Rates from $100/night. Villa D' Citta, ChicagoAt Villa D'Citta, innkeeper Cathy Hartman expertly brings Tuscany to the Windy City. Luxurious rooms and modern amenities (DirecTV, high-speed Internet) marry well in this Chicago mansion smack-dab in the middle of Lincoln Park. Come for the massive suites and jetted tubs, the pillow-top beds and Juliet balconies, the steam rooms and fireplaces. But the reason you'll return is stored inside a Subzero fridge: Italian charcuterie, eggs, ham, and freshly baked Italian breads, perfect for a midnight panini. True Italian hospitality makes leaving near impossible. Rates from  $129/night. Rainbow Hearth Sanctuary and Retreat Center, Burnet, TexasOn nine lakeside acres in Texas Hill Country, you’ll find a treehouse yurt with king-size bed and domed ceiling. Rainbow Hearth offers an on-site spa and lakeside organic dining, and is pet-friendly. Rates start at $139/night. Glendeven Inn Mendocino, Little River, CaliforniaGlendeven is a luxury, eight-acre, ocean-view farmstead overlooking w meadows and lush forests. Its four buildings are developed around a fully restored 1867 New England-style farmhouse where a typical room is a suite with wood-burning fireplace, ocean views, a view balcony, queen or king bed and a private bath. A full three-course hot breakfast is served in-room each morning; complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres are available in Glendeven's own Wine Barn, which is Mendocino's only wine purveyor serving and selling only local Anderson Valley wines by the bottle. Stunning botanical gardens, grazing llamas, and 100 laying hens contribute to Glendeven's feeling of a luxury ocean view farmstead. Rates start at $175/night. The Owl's Perch, Robbinsville, North CarolinaThis uniquely decorated remote 200 square foot one room rustic guest house with private deck overlooks beautiful Squally Creek nestled in the tree tops of Nantahala National Forest. It's definitely off the beaten path, located on a bumpy graveled old logging road but accessible by car and experienced motorcyclist. Rates from $105/night.Craftsman Inn, Calistoga, CaliforniaNapa Valley's Craftsman Inn provides an affordable way to explore Calistoga and the surrounding region without sacrificing amenities. Outfitted with touches like L’Occitane bath products and sleek subway-tile backed waterfall showers or Jacuzzi tubs, the eight guestrooms balance English and American antiques with a modern. The icing on the cake: Craftsman Inn’s lavish daily Champagne breakfast is lauded by guests near and far. Rates start at $149/night.

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