Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort Spa and Mud Bath

Referred to as “Disneyland for Adults” by many of our wine tasting hosts, Napa Valley and neighboring Calistoga offer plenty of options for indulgence - great food, ample wine, and more spas than you can shake a hot stone at!  While visiting Calistoga, your “Set of Drifters” decided to check out an “old school” pampering experience at Dr. Wilkinson’s Spa, located right in the heart of “downtown.”

The spa itself was opened in 1952 by John “Doc” and Edy Wilkinson, who, enticed by the natural healing powers of the region, moved to Calistoga from the San Joaquin Valley.  The spa still has somewhat of a vintage ‘50s vibe to it (thanks in part to that amazing neon sign outside), but have no fear, the spa has certainly been renovated in more recent years now that Doc and Edy’s children have taken over for their parents who are now both deceased.

One of Dr. Wilkinson’s specialties is the mud bath, a truly unique experience that undoubtedly will seem a bit awkward to the uninitiated.  The process is actually quite simple.  Hot lava mud from the surrounding volcanic environment of Calistoga is mixed with peat moss in a large stone tub to create a warm, mushy vat of skin-soothing minerals!  So, how does it all feel?  Well, imagine submerging yourself into a tub of hot oatmeal that gives you lift with a surprising buoyancy.  It is almost as if the surrounding mud/ ash mixture has created your own personal throne, perfectly form-fitted to your body!  The mud and peat moss are certainly soothing, but after about 20 minutes of being 80% submerged, you will definitely be looking forward to a shower and the subsequent mineral whirlpool bath. 

Mud bath treatments also include a cucumber mask facial, time in the steam room and a blanket wrap cool down period.  This standard mud bath and spa treatment costs $89 USD and lasts for about 1 ½ hours.  If you really feel like spoiling yourselves, a massage can be added to the package in ½ hour or hour increments, the latter referred to as “The Works” for $169 USD. 

Dr. Wilkinson’s Spa is open daily with spa treatments beginning at 8:30 AM and massage starting at 9:00 AM.  Additional skin care treatments are also available.  Various types of facials run in the $99 USD range with appointments available starting at 10:00 AM.  Dr. Wilkinson’s closes at 5:30 PM; reservations are required.)

Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort - 1507 Lincoln Ave. Calistoga, CA  94515, (707) 942-4102


shopping along Lincoln in Calistoga

Have an hour to kill before your Calistoga mud bath treatment (see above)?  Why not take a quick jaunt down Lincoln Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare?  There may not be a lot of choices when it comes to shopping (hokey art and bad consignment shops abound), but the surrounding views of the mist-laced mountains make the three-to-four block trek worth it, especially if you are looking for a way to ward off those calories you took on during the previous night’s food coma!

There are a few shop windows which may easily entice you in.  One boasts sturdy lounge chairs made from recycled oak wine barrels, while another, aptly named “A Man’s Store,” offers a plethora of outdoorsy gear with a 50’s rockabilly edge.  (This is probably the hippest place in town.)

Set of Drifters tip:  While strolling through Calistoga, make sure to take some of the side-streets that fan off from Lincoln Road.  Here, you will find some great examples of classic Californian Craftsman and Victorian architecture - in various states of of habitability.  One of the most intriguing abodes lies at the corner of Spring and Myrtle Streets.  We were not able to catch the history of this foreboding manse, but suspect some debauchery ensued here at some time or another.  There is a fence around the crumbling structure and a “DANGER” sign out front, but that certainly did not stop us, or the other lookie-loo who got out of his car to take a photo or two, or three.

A Man’s Store - 1343 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA   94515, (707) 942-2280,       http://a-mans-store.com/

Wine Barrel Furniture - 3380 Highway 128, Calistoga, CA  94515,  (707)-337-2539, http://www.winebarrelfurniture.com/ 

V. Sattui Winery

Any visitor to V. Sattui will agree that the stone castle-style winery and surrounding picnic grounds are nothing short of inspiring.  Situated in the heart of Napa Valley, the gorgeous grounds of V. Sattui, erected in 1885, literally pull hordes of visitors off Hwy 29 each year.  “Set of Drifter” Brady and his family first checked out the winery in 1991.  Years later, while scouting locations for his short film Allusions, Brady returned to sample the delicious gourmet sandwiches up for grabs in the illustrious Marketplace & Deli.

Looking to surprise your friends with sumptuous condiments at your next get-together?  This place will do the trick.  Whether you are hungering for Parmesan dipping sauce, roasted garlic marmalade, chipotle BBQ glaze, or sets of dessert sauces, V. Sattui is a food shopping experience like no other (well, maybe in the continental United States).  And did we mention the assortment of over 200 cheeses!!?!  Ay-yi-yi!  Of course, if you are still looking for a decent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, the winery’s assortment of vintages is also pretty staggering.  Come prepared to V. Sattui... with an open shopping cart, and an open stomach!

Hours of operation vary depending on the season, but you can be sure that V. Sattui will be serving delectable goodies from at least 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day of the year (except Christmas).

V. Sattui Winery - 1111 White Lane, St. Helena, CA  94574, (707) 963-7774