There's More To Do Than Just Drink

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calistogaBalloons.jpgAlcohol-Free Activities In Calistoga
by Deirdre Bourdet

Whether you're a tippler, a toddler, or a teetotaler, everyone needs to do things other than drink wine on a trip to wine country.  These non-alcoholic activities are also some of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time in the Calistoga area.

Take to the Air
What better way to experience the beauty and distinctive landmarks of the northern Napa Valley than to fly above them? Whether you fantasize about lazy balloon rides through early morning air, or World War II-era biplane missions, or swift and exciting modern glider plane trips, Calistoga has got you covered.  Calistoga Balloons offers one of the Napa Valley's best hot-air balloon experiences, thanks to the incomparable scenery of the northern valley.  You will cruise over Castello di Amorosa, the Palisade Cliffs, Mt. St. Helena, Ch√Ęteau Montelena, Old Faithful Geyser, and the Petrified Forest, and then enjoy a complimentary champagne brunch at Hydro Grill.  Balloon rides are $225 per person, all inclusive, but only $199 if booked online. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance. 

crazyCreekGliders.jpgIf floating at the speed of the wind isn't fast enough for you, head slightly out of town to Crazy Creek Air Adventures in Middletown, which offers scenic trips in sleek gliders and restored historic bi-planes, as well as flying lessons to those who yearn to rule the skies. Book your flight directly online where rates range from $149 to $330 for the ultimate glider ride!

Go On Safari 
Animal lovers and intrepid young adventurers should head northwest from downtown Calistoga towards Safari West, a Wildlife Preserve and African tent camp.  Over 80 different species of exotic animals--including giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, lemurs, ibis, and laughing kookaburra--wander around on this privately-owned property, offering a unique opportunity to see these animals up close in something actually resembling their natural habitat. 

safariWest2.jpgVisitors can go on full safari in open-top jeeps, or schedule a visit during the fall Open Houses in November.  On selected Sundays (November 7th, 14th and 21st) by reservation only, you can take a tour of the "wilds" on the African Queen trailer or the Nairobi bus, and check out what Safari West and its animals are all about.  For these special open house visits, which are scheduled at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3:00pm on the specified dates, adult admission is only $20 per person, and two kids under thirteen can get in free with each paying adult.  Call 707-566-3667 for reservations.

Or... Beautiful Bothe State Park is located just west of Highway 29 to the south of downtown Calistoga, and offers swimming, hiking, horseback riding (through a private company), and plenty of excellent picnic spots.  This is a favorite family destination for folks all over the valley, and for good reason.  Pack your hiking shoes and see for yourself.

Once you've worked up an appetite, celebrate Calistoga's culinary diversity at Buster's Southern Barbecue (707-942-5605), which dishes out down home barbecued tri-tip, pork, chicken, hot links, and sides at the T-intersection of Highway 29 and Lincoln Avenue.  CLICK HERE for other restaurants in the area.

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