Wellness Centers - LEAD
Credit: Courtesy Calistoga Ranch

When the word “Napa” is uttered, the first thing that comes to mind is typically a giant glass of wine and a cheese plate, not green tea and the recital of mantras. However, I recently discovered the California hotspot is so much more than a destination for sucking down the sauce (don’t get me wrong, I love it just as much for that, too).

Napa Valley, Sonoma, and the surrounding regions have become a burgeoning destination for those looking to relax, unwind, and leave feeling healthier and lighter than when they arrived (imagine that, a vacation where you come home and your pants actually zip). With an increase in wellness activities popping up, an influx of health-minded travelers are choosing this as their mindful escape. Below, 6 reasons why the area has become a sought after wellness destination.

Fresh healthy fare

Of course there is incredible food in Napa, but my recent discovery is that the fare is not only seasonal with many organic restaurants to boot, but because of that there are an abundance of healthy dishes to nourish the soul. One of those spots is inventive California eatery Solbar, which whet my health-centric appetite with farm-fresh dishes that made me feel like my New York diet was in need of a serious makeover (no seriously, I had a moment of panic thinking about how fresh my diet actually isn’t). My favorite part was a divided menu, where healthy items are one color and indulgent items another so that they are easily identifiable from one another. Added bonus for the gorgeous outdoor patio blanketed with twinkling lights dangling from the trees above.

Organic wineries

Everyone has their opinion of organic and green items, but they have all come a long way. Case in point: Hall Winery, a stunning property nestled off a dusty road in St. Helena. Its wine--from their sustainably farmed vineyards—is award winning, and their ground—from underground caverns to stunning pieces of art, is breathtaking.

Wellness Centers - 1
Credit: Courtesy Calistoga Ranch

Rustic resorts

It’s all about green living out here, and that is showcased at Calistoga Ranch (above), a bucolic cabernet vineyard nestled in the middle of a forest of oak and olive trees, atop the picturesque Calistoga Mountains. From a host of wellness activities (morning Pilates in a sunlit cabin, anyone?) to private cabins scattered throughout an incredibly serene landscape, there’s no easier way to escape city grime and lack of fresh air than popping a squat at this gem for a few days. Everything here is centered around wellness and refueling that connection to nature.

Wellness activities

Hiking, biking, yoga: you name it, it’s available in Napa. Sure, you may spend a couple days visiting far too many vineyards, but you can balance that out with a biking trip or hike in the fresh outdoors. A calorie-torching afternoon hike on Oat Hill Mine Trail is about as picturesque as it gets (cue the hot air balloons floating by as you take in views of rolling hills.) Life is all about balance, after all.

Ahhhh the spas

If you want to work all the kinks out, there’s no better place to do so. The region is bursting with gorgeous spas that offer literally any kind of treatment you can think of, and they’re all set in a backdrop so scenic, it feels fake. I was feeling very stressed and out of balance for a few weeks leading up to my trip, so I decided a splurge on a spa treatment was my cure for what was ailing me. I explored my options (there are a lot, it’s glorious) and narrowed it down to the Attunement treatment at the Calistoga Ranch. A therapist worked out my every ache and pain during a restorative combination of multiple massage therapies, including stretches, deep tissue, warm stones, and local organic grape seed oil compresses. After 90 minutes I barely remembered what I was so stressed about in the first place. Afterward I drank iced lemon water while I sat next to a roaring fire and contemplated how I can move to Calistoga permanently. I’m still working on the answer to that question, but if you have any thoughts….

Green travel

Driving around in a car has never been an activity I associate with wellness in any way shape or form, but you’ve got to get to Napa somehow, and not all ways are created equal. So to balance out my weekend of wellness, I picked up the 2016 Green Car of the Year – the cute little Chevy Volt—to drive from San Francisco in style. As a New York City girl, I don’t drive often but couldn’t have felt more at home in my cobalt blue ride. I have to say; it made a difference (both physically and mentally) to drive around an electric car with advanced technologies like location-based charging which is doing the environment good instead of harm. And green transportation choices like this one are becoming the norm, tying in perfectly to the whole concept of a wellness trip (and wellness in life, overall).

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Credit: Courtesy Calistoga Ranch

Three days later, I was fully decompressed and felt good about my travel choices, every single one of them. Napa, I’ll be back when I’m in need of another life detox. So in a couple of weeks, I gather.