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CA: Napa Valley: Chill out in Calistoga, Part 1

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Suffering from a holiday hangover? Here’s a cure to start the New Year off right. Head straight to Calistoga and relax in alluring hot springs and mud baths, then savor delicious wines and dishes driven by local ingredients. You’re guaranteed to decompress after the crazy holiday season.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Calistoga a “Distinctive Destination.” The town has history and character and best of all, it’s laid back and inviting.

Stay: From retro motels and country inns, to a sprawling resort, Calistoga has a little bit of everything for those hangover blues. Here’s what we tried.

Recently opened after a complete redo, The Sunburst Calistoga, sits on the eastern edge of Lincoln Avenue near the Silverado Trail. Despite the modest profile, find bright interiors (think orange, green, white), comfortable contemporary furnishings and large floor plans. It’s a good walk to downtown or submerge yourself in the pools’ thermal waters. In the morning, a boxed breakfast (choices include cold cereal, yogurt, juice) is delivered to your room.

Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort, closer to town on Lincoln Avenue, has been a mainstay in Calistoga for over 60 years. From poolside rooms to a Victorian House, find a variety of options to stay the night. Even with all of the upgrades at the resort, you’ll always find the mud baths, mineral pools and the original neon sign.

Dine: For a relaxing brunch, try Michelin-star rated Solbar. The signature restaurant at Solage Calistoga triumphs in the use of local ingredients in its creative dishes. Its interior combines the dining room seating and bar in an open area. On the lush outdoor patio, you’re surrounded by the Mayacamas and Palisades Mountains, the 22 acre resort, bocce ball courts and glowing fire pits.

The menu offers both lighter options and hearty fare. We chose a few of each. The sumptuous sugar pie pumpkin bruschetta combined queso cotija, Mexican chorizo, tatsoi and toasted pumpkin seeds. The spicy shrimp lettuce wraps are kicked up with pickled carrots, tamarind dressing and nam pla dipping sauce. The sol fries with picanté sauce are a great accompaniment. Several good wines from the tap included the 2012 Fisher Vineyards Unity Pinot Noir and the Qupé 2009 Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Grenache.

Located in an 1888 restored historic building, Boskos Trattoria has served traditional Italian cuisine since it first opened as a deli in 1983. Exposed stone and lots of wood add a rustic feel to the interior. We ordered the flavorful Crispino, a thin-crusted wood-fired pizza made with prosciutto, mozzarella and fontina cheese and arugula. We devoured the rich and delicious mushroom risotto. The Arborio rice was cooked al dente and the Portobello, shitake, oyster and white cap mushrooms gave it a wonderful umami flavor. With our meal, we paired the 2011 Krooked Horn Pinot Noir from Alta Vista Vineyards. Vanilla bean gelato was a sweet finish. Boskos is real Italian cooking made with the same enthusiasm you find in Italy; close your eyes and you might think you were in a trattoria in the middle of a piazza.

OTHER ESSENTIALS: Calistoga Chamber of Commerce; Napa County Visitors Bureau; Calistoga Winegrowers:

@pattygb

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