San Francisco | September 23, 2016 9:00 am

The 4-Hour Rule: Calistoga

Hot springs, hot mud baths and hot-air balloons at sunrise

Gas up the car. 

We’re going on a trip. 

Calistoga’s long been our favorite Napa destination — maybe because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. But also because it has so much to offer, from top-end hotels to down-home mud baths. 

It’s time to get dirty. 

In partnership with Audi® on demand

A romantic weekend up Calistoga way calls for something fancier than the family minivan. So leave that (and the kids) at home and opt for a 610-horsepower R8 from Audi on demand, a new service exclusive to San Francisco that provides access to nearly 20 different Audi models for short-term rental. Just visit, pick your model and an Audi concierge will deliver your wheels and give you a tour of the features before handing over the keys.* Tell ‘em InsideHook sent you and they’ll even knock $100 off the price.** Just use code INSIDEHOOK at checkout.

There’s nowhere for us in Calistoga but Indian Springs. The pool is nothing short of magnificent, but the rooms are just as good. Consider the private bungalows if you’re traveling with friends. Otherwise, we love the rooms in the new, Mission Revival houses. They all come with a view; we like the ones that look over the geyser. It’s peaceful. Which is why you came here in the first place. 

Want to really, really impress someone? Get them up before dawn (they won’t like this part, but it gets better) for a sunrise balloon tour over town, and its assorted hot springs, vineyards, and (more) geysers. A mimosa breakfast (the best kind of all possible breakfasts) follows. 

Want to relax after that intense morning experience? We’ve got the place: Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort. It’s low-key and fun and reminiscent of old-school Northern California in the best possible sense. Book a volcanic mud-bath followed by an hour-long massage. 

If you’re wiped, stay hotel-side and get dinner at Sam’s Social Club. If you’re looking to try something new, we recommend Evangeline, a French-Cajun bistro that serves everything we love, from shrimp étouffée to steak frites and grilled andouille sausage. Despite the francophile leaning, the menu is solidly backed up with local-to-us options — like the California sturgeon caviar on warm brioche. 

*Concierge delivery and pickup is only available during operating hours (7 AM-8 PM PST, seven days a week).

**$100 Audi on demand promotional voucher only for Audi on demand customers age 25 or older with a valid driver’s license. One driver per reservation. Excludes cost of fuel, parking, mileage overage charges, and damages not covered by insurance. Customer is responsible for insurance, which may be purchased through Audi on demand. Not valid for cash; no cash back. Not valid on A3 e-tron reservations. Maximum one promotional voucher or code per transaction. Promotional voucher must be redeemed by December 31, 2016. Vehicle reservation may be made up to six months in advance.